In this post, we’ll cover all you need to know before traveling to Los Angeles like what’s the best time to visit, how to get around the city and avoid traffic jams, and other practical information.
Los Angeles has both extremely safe as well as extremely dangerous neighborhoods. So always check where you’re going. Places like Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica are safe. Most areas in Downtown and some places on West Side like Venice Beach are relatively safe during the day but should be avoided at night.
Skid Row is an area with one of the largest homeless populations in the US and should be avoided. Areas located very close to downtowns like Pico-Union, South Central, Westlake, and Boyle Heights should be avoided as well.
There is some pickpocketing but mostly on the subway and places like the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Similar to tourist scams, so don’t buy your tickets on the streets.
Weather and climate
Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate, mild-to-hot and mostly dry all year. The warmest months are from July to September and the average temperature in August is 84 °F (29 °C). However, if you’re planning to swim in the ocean, the water temperature is relatively low even in the summer, usually around 68 °F (20 °C).
The weather in Spring and Fall is dry, the only exception is winter months, which tend to be more wet, especially February. The average high temperature in the winter is around 68 °F (20 °C) with the lows around 48 °F (9 °C) during the day. Unfortunately, smog is also a very common phenomenon in Los Angeles.
Best time to travel
The best time to visit Los Angeles is from March to May and between September and November, when there are fewer crowds, average temperatures range between 70 °F (21°C) and 84 °F (29°C) during the day, and the air is more breathable, which makes visiting Los Angeles great for both outdoor and indoor activities.
Where to stay
Finding good budget accommodation in Los Angeles can be tricky. An average three-star hotel costs around $150 per night, but you can get some deals for under $100 per night.
When it comes to luxury hotels Los Angeles offers plenty of options. Since tourist attractions are spread out, there is no ideal place in terms of being close to major sights so we recommend that you choose an area that you generally like so you can, for example, take a walk on the beach if you like the ocean.
Some of the best areas to stay are Downtown, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice, Beverly Grove, West Hollywood, and Westwood.
The main airport in Los Angeles is LAX, located 18 miles (30 km) southwest of Downtown Los Angeles. There are several options to travel from and to LAX, including renting a car, an Airport FlyAway Bus, a shuttle service that provides that provides non-stop transportation between LAX and designated bus stops in five LA neighborhoods, Uber or Lyft, Shared Ride Shuttles, and taxies. If you plan on renting a car, it is wise to do so in advance as you can get much better deals this way. Unfortunately, there are no underground connections with the airport.
Getting around the city Los Angeles is spread out and public transportation is not as efficient and organized as in other cities such as New York or San Francisco. So, check if your destination is covered by public transportation by using apps like Google Maps, where you can easily see public transportation options and how much time it takes to arrive at your destination. Some areas are still well covered by either metro trains or buses.
If you want to use public transportation, you can buy a reusable TAP card. Available from TAP vending machines at Metro stations with a $1 surcharge, the cards allow you to add a preset cash value or day passes. The regular base fare is $1.75 per boarding or $7 for a day pass with unlimited rides. A more convenient method of transportation for tourists in Los Angeles are car rentals or Uber and Lyft. You can also rent-a-car per hour, for instance with Zip Car.
Food in Los Angeles is not cheapest, but it is known for its quality and diversity. If you visit Grand Central Market in downtown LA you can experience fresh food from all over the world, all in one place. An average meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs approximately $14, and a mid-range, three-course meal for two costs about $55. You can find less-expensive options with a little research on Yelp or TripAdvisor.
Despite the public perception that tap water is not fit for drinking, the Los Angeles Department of Water ensures that their tap water is as clean as bottled water. It might not taste as good as bottled water, but it may save you some money.
Save money on attractions
Some of the famous attractions in Los Angeles are very expensive, for example, a daily ticket to Universal Studios is around $100. If you want to visit more attractions, we recommend buying a Go Los Angeles® Card to visit multiple LA attractions for the reduced price. Or buy SoCal City Pass if you plan to visit several amusement parks in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego and want to save some money. Amusement parks include Universal Studios, Disneyland, Sea World San Diego, Legoland, and others.
Best views of the city
For the best and amazing free views of Los Angeles, you can visit Griffith Observatory, Hollywood sign, Echo Park, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Mount Wilson Observatory, City Hall, Getty Center, etc. But you can also pay and see the city from another perspective from OUE Skyspace LA, the tallest observation deck in California and ride on their SkySlide stretching directly above downtown Los Angeles.