6 Tips for First-Time Travel to Los Angeles

Summertime is always one of the busiest times of year here at LA City Tours because that’s when the most vacation-bound sightseers come to take a memorable California trip!

While some people just use summer vacation to experience their own city, many people that take our tour are from another city, state, or country!  We thought it would be useful to compile tips for those people traveling to Los Angeles for the very first time:

1. Yes, it’s sunny in California.  Bring sunscreen!  Stay hydrated!

Sometimes the urge to get a California tan is so strong that people visiting Los Angeles will forgo hats and sunscreen for those tell-tale tan lines that say “I just got back from the beaches of California…”  Well, we can understand that.  But it can get pretty hot, and the more inland you go (Hollywood is many miles east of the beach) the higher the temperatures get.  In the summer in Los Angeles, it is quite common to see a range of temperatures during the day from 80 degress to 100+ degrees Fahrenheit.  Don’t forget your hat and your water bottle!

2. Los Angeles is a very spreeeeeeeaaaaaaad oooooouuuuuttttttt city.

Los Angeles County covers over 1000 sq. miles and has 88 incorporated cities.  To go from Santa Monica on the “West Side” to Hollywood on the “East Side” (sort of) can take you over an hour in traffic, if you don’t get lost.  And parking?  Forget it!  Make sure to time your travel accordingly!  This is one of the reason are tours are so popular – it’s really the best way to get from one side of town to the other without wasting a lot of time.  Unlike many other big cities, Los Angeles public transportation is not always easy or convenient.  There is no easy way to go to the beach via Metro from Downtown LA.  Los Angeles is in the middle of making new changes, some call a new “Golden Age of Public Transportation” but those wont take effect for many years.

On a saturday, it will take you at least 1hr 22 min to go 11 miles on public transportation to the beach from Hollywood.  Don't even get me started on the funky hours!

On a saturday, it will take you at least 1hr 22 min to go 11 miles on public transportation to the beach from Hollywood. Don’t even get me started on the funky hours!

3. Los Angeles is a really diverse city – enjoy all the different foods you can!

If you’re traveling from somewhere that doesn’t have decent Mexican food, you HAVE to make sure you try as many different Mexican food joints as you can.  There are both spicy and not spicy, meat loving and vegetarian Mexican options everywhere in town.  Not to mention, Kimchee pancakes & Korean BBQ in Koreatown, a Salvadorean Pupuseria, a Vegan/Vegetarian/Raw/Macrobiotic food only place, Thai iced coffee, or German sausage kitchen with craft beers.  Try using Yelp.com to find places near you with good ratings.  And don’t forget, leaving a tip of (gratuity) is 15-20% the standard everywhere in America, and it’s not included in the check unless you have a big party.  And I should mention, when you take a tour with us, tip your drivers too!

4.  You can buy just about anything anytime anywhere.

Basically, if you’re traveling and you realize you need something important (like a hairdryer that is on the correct USA voltage = 110volts, NOT 220!) there’s hardly a block that goes by that doesn’t have a grocery store that has anything from hairdryers to food to emergency first aid to tequila.  Most stores in the Los Angeles are open everyday from 8am – 10pm, while some stay open later and occasionally 24 hours a day.

5.  While we get 60 million visitors a year, we are still one of the friendliest cities in the country!

While not everybody can be counted on to represent the City of Angels at any given moment, generally Los Angeles culture is open to new faces.  (So many Angelenos are transplants, afterall).  If you are lost or confused, it is perfectly normal to say “Excuse me..” to a random person in the street and ask them if they know what direction you should go.  If you need real help, remember that the Emergency Telephone number is 9-1-1 everywhere in the USA.  As with any big city, keep an eye on your valuables and don’t leave anything unattended, especially in the busy parts of town.

6.  Los Angeles is a city of real people, not just famous landmarks and hollywood stars!

People often forget that in between the iconic Hollywood sign and Rodeo Drive that they’ve seen in movies for so long, is a working city.  Bring your camera to catch all the landmarks, but don’t forget to meet some local Angelenos!


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