Answers from Our Experts (3)
From annual Oscar coverage to the pages of US Weekly, you may think you have an accurate perception of Los Angeles, but it's truly a different place than how it appears on awards shows and gossip magazines.
A few things you should know before visiting are:
Los Angeles means more than just Hollywood. It's a sprawling city—nearly 500 square miles—comprised of more than 272 neighborhoods each with its own individual personality.
Public transportation can be tricky. We're not like our New York, Chicago and San Francisco counter parts. Our metro system is in its nascent stage and the bus system may not be a traveler's first choice to get from point A to point B. If you opt to rent a car, note that traffic is also tricky. Use a GPS or Google Maps to scout your route before you take off. If you see a holdup on one of our freeways, surface sreets are usually a viable option to get you where you need to go—and you'll get a better picture of the city while you're doing it.
It can be cold at the beach. Our beaches differ from our Atlantic counterparts. Even though the weather is sunny and warm most of the year, marine layers near the ocean can make for chilly days at the beach, even if it's scorching in other parts of the city.
Know before you go. Los Angeles is so big and has so much to offer that visiting it is what you make of it. Do your homework to decide what kind of vacation you want. You can find everything from luxury shopping and world-class dining, to avant-garde galleries and eccentric ethnic cuisines, to a sublime seaside getaway.
Los Angeles is one of the greatest cities in the United States, perhaps only rivaling New York City in terms of diversity, opportunity, and things to see. It is big and vast, covering an area of 469 square miles, and has a regional population of almost 18 million people. It is essentially built on the edge of a desert, so the seasonal changes are mild, the summers can be stiflingly hot, and you might be able to wear shorts in the wintertime. It is the home of Hollywood, the capital of the entertainment industry, so expect to see all sorts of beautiful people and maybe if you’re lucky, a celebrity sighting during your visit. It is home to an ethnically diverse population of people, which also means we have some of the best and most interesting foods, so branch out from your safety net when dining. And before you leave, take a trip to one of the beautiful beaches and enjoy the sun, the views, and the water. Remember to pack your Ray Bans.
Los Angeles isn’t as intimidating as it may seem. It really has a lot to offer. Between the bustling Sunset Blvd and the chic Melrose Ave, there are only a few things in Los Angeles that may take some getting used to.
If you plan on driving during your stay in Los Angeles, be well aware that the traffic is crazy. Don’t let your map deceive you either and make sure you plan your schedule accordingly. Even if the restaurant you’re going to is two miles down the street from your hotel, don’t assume it will only take five minutes to get there.
You’re in Los Angeles! That means that you’re within miles of every major motion picture studio. Be prepared to see camera crews filming on the streets and roads blocked off for music video sets and commercials. Be careful though, most sets have very tight security so don’t try and get too close to sneak a picture of a celebrity.
You will see actors, actresses, musicians and paparazzi walking the streets any time of the day, any day of the week. Don’t be surprised when you’re at a local breakfast spot and notice an A-list actress sitting right next to you with sweatpants and a hat on. Embrace it. It’s the culture of Los Angeles and it’s certainly something to enjoy while you’re in town.