What’s the best time to visit Los Angeles?

©iStock/frankvandenbergh

The movies make it seem like Los Angeles is a summer wonderland 365 days a year; but L.A. does actually have seasons, they are just not the ones you know back home. The city's various microclimates mean it can be gloomy and cold in one part of town and scorching in another. The dry season starts around April or May, and the city doesn't see a drop of rain until November. Fog can make May gray or June gloomy, but July through October is the finest time of year in the beach communities. Typically, they enjoy sunny 75 F days and nights perfect for sleeping with open windows. Further inland and in the valleys, however, temperatures get into the 80s and 90s, making air-conditioning a must, so if you've planned a summer vacay pack the suntan lotion and a hat. By September or October, enclaves in the canyons and near national forests become hot and dry tinderboxes subject to devastating wildfires. Even during the season between November and April, there isn't that much rain. Just 15 inches falls in an average year, usually in the form of big downpours between January and March. When it's not raining, days are sunny and bright, with temperatures in the high 70s and 80s during the day and 50s or 60s at night.

  • On July 9, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    What are some things to know before visiting Los Angeles?

    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.
  • On July 2, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    What is the weather like right now in Los Angeles?

    After a month that alternated between the cool, grey, marine-layered days of what is locally known as 'June gloom' and days of searing dry heat, Los Angeles is finally settling into the hotter summer season we call 'beach weather'. This means midday temperatures range from 80s to 90s, while mornings are mostly cool and the best nights hover in the pleasant low-to-mid-70s. The temperature also tends to be cooler at the beaches and hotter inland and in the valleys. Because we are in a desert climate, flanked by mountains and the Pacific Ocean, LA doesn’t have too-predictable weather averages. Today, we are at the end of an intense weekend heat wave. Regardless of what it feels like outside, the surrounding waters warm up this time of year. We take that momentous event as an opportunity to dive in.
  • On July 2, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    What are the best activities to do in Los Angeles?

    Everyone says the best thing about LA is the weather. So it makes sense, whatever you do, do it outdoors. From hiking the canyons and dining al fresco to paddle surfing the waves and enjoying a concert in the open-air, it’s easy to plan days and nights that take advantage of the city’s best attribute. Year round, LA’s hills and mountains offer scores scenic hiking trails for every skill level. An easy hike up to the Griffith Observatory in Los Feliz boasts endless panoramic views from downtown to the Pacific Ocean, as well as a peek at the location James Dean made famous in Rebel Without a Cause. The workout and the occasional celebrity sighting makes Runyon Canyon Hollywood’s sexiest walkabout. In the Pacific Palisades, the incremental challenge of Temescal Canyon’s trails treat hikers to waterfalls and stunning views of the coast. A great day’s adventure is to start off with an early trek at Temescal Canyon Gateway Park, grab a fresh fish lunch at Malibu Seafood and head to Malibu’s El Matador or Zuma Beach. If the lounging on the sand doesn’t appeal, opt for Malibu’s laid back wineries and tasting rooms including Rosenthal Estate Winery, Cornell Winery and SIP.  Wrap the day up with an ocean side dinner at Nobu Malibu or Topanga Canyon’s romantic Inn of the Seventh Ray.

    From Venice Beach to Downtown LA, the outdoor culinary scene is vibrant and alluring.  In Beverly Hills, indulge in modern Italian fare by celebrity chef/owner Scott Conant on Scarpetta’s patio at the Montage hotel. In West Hollywood, knock back a gimlet and upscale versions of fish & chips and fried chicken among the glitterati at world famous The Ivy. Take in the skyline and an epic meal at Downtown’s Café Pinot—perhaps as a kickoff to the area’s famous evening art crawl or after tour of MOCA’s galleries.

    One of the most memorable experiences Los Angeles has to offer is catching a concert under the stars in a setting like Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre. These historic music venues host a long summer and fall season of concerts and performances in every genre. Book a box at the Bowl, pack an elegant picnic with your favorite champagne and savor the cool evening breeze.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    What are the best bars in Los Angeles?

    Los Angeles has a bar for every taste. I break them up into rough categories—cocktail bars, hotel bars, wine bars and dive bars. Of course you could get more micro than that, from spirit specific spots like Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Caña Rum Bar and Las Perlas for tequila and mezcal. It depends on your mood. Check out old-school speakeasy The Varnish, hipster Harvard & Stone and old jazz lounge style Pour Vous for craft cocktails. My favorite hotel bars are opposite in vibe. The gorgeous Library Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel is pretty much perfection for drinks made with fresh farmer’s market ingredients, while The Bar & Lounge at Hotel Bel-Air serves up solid cocktails in a place of Hollywood legend. For wine, I’d head to Covell or AOC. And on the West side SHOREbar’s proximity to the beach makes the libations even more delicious than they already are. For sentimental reasons my favorite dive is quasi-Polynesian, grimy and classic Tiki-Ti on Sunset.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    What are the best bars in Los Angeles?

    Los Angeles has a bar for every taste. I break them up into rough categories—cocktail bars, hotel bars, wine bars and dive bars. Of course you could get more micro than that, from spirit specific spots like Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Caña Rum Bar and Las Perlas for tequila and mezcal. It depends on your mood. Check out old-school speakeasy The Varnish, hipster Harvard & Stone and old jazz lounge style Pour Vous for craft cocktails. My favorite hotel bars are opposite in vibe. The gorgeous Library Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel is pretty much perfection for drinks made with fresh farmer’s market ingredients, while The Bar & Lounge at Hotel Bel-Air serves up solid cocktails in a place of Hollywood legend. For wine, I’d head Covell or AOC. And on the West side SHOREbar’s proximity to the beach makes the libations even more delicious than they already are. For sentimental reasons my favorite dive is quasi-Polynesian, grimy and classic Tiki-Ti on Sunset. 
  • On June 27, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    Where is the best shopping in Los Angeles?

    Generally, LA is not pedestrian friendly. Yet it’s home to legendary shopping drags people think of when they think of this city—Rodeo Drive, Robertson Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. For chic little pockets of great shopping where you can actually walk boutique to boutique, and grab a bite in between, a handful of neighborhoods are a shopper’s paradise.

    Venice’s Abbott Kinney is not only the place to find unique home wares, vintage stores, fancy bicycle shops, great restaurants and bars, it’s also good for people watching. Heist, Satine Convenience Store and Milkmade are apparel boutiques not to miss. For home wares, check out A+R, Tortoise General Store and Huset.

    On east Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park and Silver Lake are also pretty special. Drop into the Sunset Junction area of Silver Lake is home to great stores like Reform School and Mohawk General Store. Echo Park Independent Co-Op (E.P.I.C.) delivers a great sampling of emerging LA designers and artists.

    Mid-city, West Hollywood has many great shopping streets albeit a bit spread out. West 3rd St. between La Cienega and Fairfax, Melrose Place for couture and the western part of Melrose Ave delineated by Fred Segal and Alexander McQueen. Opening Ceremony and TenOverSix are my favorites in the area for edgier finds, as well as Clare Vivier.

    Hit Montana Avenue or Malibu Lumber Yard for west side retail therapy.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    Where is the best shopping in Los Angeles?

    Generally, LA is not pedestrian friendly. Yet it’s home to legendary shopping drags people think of when they think of this city—Rodeo Drive, Robertson Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. For chic little pockets of great shopping where you can actually walk boutique to boutique, and grab a bite in between, a handful of neighborhoods are a shopper’s paradise.

    Venice’s Abbott Kinney is not only the place to find unique home wares, vintage stores, fancy bicycle shops, great restaurants and bars, it’s also good for people watching. Heist, Satine Convenience Store and Milkmade are apparel boutiques not to miss. For home wares, check out A+R, Tortoise General Store and Huset.

    On east Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park and Silver Lake are also pretty special. Drop into the Sunset Junction area of Silver Lake is home to great stores like Reform School and Mohawk General Store. Echo Park Independent Co-Op (E.P.I.C.) delivers a great sampling of emerging LA designers and artists.

    Mid-city, West Hollywood has many great shopping streets albeit a bit spread out. West 3rd St. between La Cienega and Fairfax, Melrose Place for couture and the western part of Melrose Ave delineated by Fred Segal and Alexander McQueen. Opening Ceremony and TenOverSix are my favorites in the area for edgier finds, as well as Clare Vivier.

    Hit Montana Avenue or Malibu Lumber Yard for west side retail therapy.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Martine Bury answered the question: Martine Bury

    Where is the best shopping in Los Angeles?

    Generally, LA is not pedestrian friendly. Yet for better for worse it’s home to those famous shopping drags people think of when they think of this city—Rodeo Drive, Robertson Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. For chic little pockets of great shopping where you can actually walk boutique to boutique, and grab a bite in between, a handful of neighborhoods are a shopper’s paradise.

    Venice’s Abbott Kinney is not only the place to find unique home wares, vintage stores, fancy bicycle shops, great restaurants and bars, it’s also good for people watching. Heist, Satine Convenience Store and Milkmade are apparel boutiques not to miss. For home wares, check out A+R, Tortoise General Store and Huset.

    On east Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park and Silver Lake are also pretty special. Drop into the Sunset Junction area of Silver Lake is home to great stores like Reform School and Mohawk General Store. Echo Park Independent Co-Op (E.P.I.C.) delivers a great sampling of emerging LA designers and artists.

    Mid-city, West Hollywood has many great shopping streets albeit a bit spread out. West 3rd St. between La Cienega and Fairfax, Melrose Place for couture and the western part of Melrose Ave delineated by Fred Segal and Alexander McQueen. Opening Ceremony and TenOverSix are my favorites in the area for edgier finds, as well as Clare Vivier.

    Hit Montana Avenue or Malibu Lumber Yard for west side retail therapy.
  • On June 27, 2013
    Hayley Bosch answered the question: Hayley Bosch

    Should visitors rent a car in Los Angeles?

    Remember all that talk about "carmageddon" in the City of Angels? Well, it was only a bit of a hyperbole. Of course, shutting down a wide stretch of any highway (much less the 405) is bound to cause more traffic. It just goes to show that if you live in Los Angeles or any neighboring towns, you drive. And for visitors, the case is the same. It's rather difficult to get around the spread out city without your own car. Cabs cost a small fortune — I recently took one from LAX to The Ritz-Carlton, Marina Del Ray and it was upward of $30 (for six miles). Unfortunately, because Los Angeles has such a large surface area, public transportation is tricky. Over the last couple of years, the light rail has gotten better, creating routes between some of L.A.'s top attractions (think Universal City and Hollywood). Bottom line is, if you want to explore all that Los Angeles has to offer — and you do — rent a car.

    Some of the top-notch hotels offer house car services, but that's in a limited area; and to be honest, unless you're staying in Beverly Hills and are only going to Rodeo Drive (not a bad idea), the house car options are limited.
  • On June 25, 2013
    Christina Xenos answered the question: Christina Xenos

    What are the best free things to do in Los Angeles?

    You may arrive in Los Angeles with champagne wishes and caviar dreams—and there are definitely plenty of ways to live it up—but you don't necessarily have to max our your credit cards to enjoy your stay. Here are the best free things to do in L.A.

    Griffith Park/Griffith Observatory/Hollywood Sign
    After closing for four years and undergoing a $93 million renovation, Griffith Observatory reopened in the fall of 2006, and features a 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope, planetarium shows, some of the best panoramic views of the L.A. basin, and more. The observatory is situated in the middle of Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, so you can pair your visit with a hike. The park has a 53-mile network of trails, some allowing you to get stellar views of the Hollywood Sign, the Hollyridge trail will take you above and behind it.

    Museums
    Exploring the collections at the Getty Center and classical Greek and Roman art at the Getty Villa are technically free. It will cost your $15 to park, but you could consider public transportation or a shuttle from your hotel. Both locations also offer gardens and perfect photo-worthy views of L.A.. Over in mid-city, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art features a diverse collection that ranges from classical to contemporary. A visit to LACMA would not be complete without seeing Chris Burden's Metropolis II, a mini car racing masterpiece that involves an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one six-lane freeway, HO scale train tracks and 1,100 custom manufactured mini cars. Burden also created Urban Light, a large scale instillation of 202 restored street lamps, which has quickly become one of the most instagrammed places in the world. You can also interact and take your photo with Levitated Mass, a 340-ton boulder created by sculpture Michael Heizer. LACMA is free on the second Tuesday of each month, and on select public holidays like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day and Memorial Day. You can also explore the diverse modern art collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, which is free every Thursday from 5-8 p.m.

    Beaches
    When it comes to beaches, the sand and Pacific Ocean are always free. You have your choice from Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach in the South Bay; Venice Beach and Santa Monica a little farther north; and the pristine Malibu beaches like Point Dume and Zuma Beach north of that. If it's not the optimal temperature for you, stop by the Santa Monica Pier, which is home to the iconic Ferris wheel and carnival atmosphere of Pacific Park.

    Hiking
    Get your exercise and million-dollar views of the city while you're at it. No matter where you are in Los Angeles, a hiking trail is probably in your midst. Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country and offers a 53-mile network of trails, including the Hollyridge trail that takes you directly above and behind the Hollywood Sign. Not too far away, you can find Runyon Canyon where Hollywood and West Hollywood types hike up the steep incline and socialize—dogs in tow. Farther toward L.A.'s west side, trails at Topanga Canyon State Park and Temescal Canyon Park offer stellar views of the Pacific Ocean and west side of Los Angeles.

    Hollywood
    There is no cost to stroll down Hollywood Blvd. between Vine St. and Highland Ave., snap a few photos of your favorite stars on the Walk of Fame, gaze up at the Capital Records building, and check out the Hollywood & Highland Center, a shopping mall that is also the home of the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards are held annually. The second and third story decks Hollywood & Highland also offer stellar views of the Hollywood Sign. The Jimmy Kimmel show records across the street from Hollywood & Highland and tickets to attend a taping are free if you sign up through his website.
  • On June 25, 2013
    Christina Xenos answered the question: Christina Xenos

    What are the best things to do with kids in Los Angeles?

    Los Angeles isn't just a playground for adults, you'll find plenty of attractions and activities to keep your little ones occupied.

    Theme Parks
    In the immediate L.A. vicinity you have Universal Studios, and Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier. Just a short drive north of Los Angeles, your kids can ride the roller coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain; while to the south you have Disney Land, Disney's California Adventure, Downtown Disney and Knott's Berry Farm.

    Museums
    Dinosaurs and dioramas will occupy kids for hours at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County while they can get a hands on experience with all things science at the California Science Center. Smaller stellar museums include the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena and Star Eco Station in Culver City. The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits offers kids a first-hand look at ice age fossils and a bubbling tar pit.

    Beaches
    A visit to Los Angeles wouldn't be complete for adults or kids without a visit to the beach. In Santa Monica you'll find a sandy stretch of beach, roller coasters and a Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier, and the Annenberg Community Beach House, which offers beachside swimming and a children's play area.
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