Los Angeles both confirms and dismantles all of its stereotypes. Yes, it's a sprawling metropolis with eternally congested freeways. But it also contains some of the most ethnically diverse and unique neighborhoods in the United States. It might be filled to the brim with the glamour of chic Hollywood name brands, yet it's also home to renowned art galleries and architectural masterpieces. The world's visual entertainment empire, L.A. offers tourists behind-the-scenes ... continue»
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The best times to visit Los Angeles are from March to May and from September to November, when the air is more breathable and the crowds are less oppressive. Average temperatures during these times remain in the 60s or 70s, which makes walking around and visiting outdoor attractions much more comfortable. During the summer, average high temperatures hover in the mid-70s; the heat coupled with heavy smog levels often drive visitors and residents alike to the already crowded oceanside neighborhoods. If you're looking for deals, consider a winter trip. Just make sure to pack an umbrella, since you're bound to encounter some rainfall in January and February.Best Times to Visit Los Angeles»
Los Angeles Neighborhoods
Los Angeles neighborhoods are some of the most distinct and diverse in the entire country. Citizens of around 140 different countries—who speak more than 224 different languages—live in the city, which creates a network of ethnically diverse towns and neighborhoods.
Accessible via the Los Angeles exit from the Pasadena Freeway (SR-110), Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) or the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5 and U.S. 101).
L.A.'s downtown used to be a boring business district often plagued by homelessness and crime. But it has recently received a makeover and attracts those seeking expensive cuisine and fun nights on the town. One of its most impressive sites is the Walt Disney Concert Hall on South Grand Avenue, which was designed by famous architect Frank Gehry and is renowned for its contemporary architecture and stellar performances.
Accessible via U.S. 101 to Hollywood Blvd. or Gower St.
Of course, L.A.'s most popular neighborhoods are those associated with movies, glitz, and glamour. The famous Hollywood neighborhood—located northwest of Downtown—is a must-see for any star-gazer and is still home to some of the largest film production companies. For a scenic drive through the area and a great view of Los Angeles, you can drive along Mulholland Drive.
Stroll along the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame—located along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street—and see the names of the 2,000 entertainment icons (fictional stars, too) that have earned a spot along the walk. On the walk is another legendary Hollywood locale: Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The theater's famous Chinese exterior and lush interior are some of the most renowned emblems of the Los Angeles film culture.
Accessible via U.S. 101 to Santa Monica Blvd. or Melrose Ave.
Sitting snug between Hollywood and Beverly Hills is West Hollywood, the epicenter of L.A.'s LGBT community. According to Frommer's, "You'll know you've arrived when you see the risqué billboards." West Hollywood features plenty of restaurants and nightlife spots, and hotels here are much more affordable than those found in nearby Beverly Hills. This trendy neighborhood is home to the liveliest stretches of Santa Monica Boulevard as well as the Sunset Strip, one of the most iconic and entertaining thoroughfares in all of Hollywood. The Strip is also a great locale for celebrity-spotting, and for seeing the image-obsessed commercialism that predominates much of the city.
Beverly Hills and Bel Air
Accessible via U.S. 101 to Santa Monica Blvd.
West of Hollywood is where the Fresh Prince made his name and many celebs make their beds. These über-chic, ultra-posh, and overly pricy neighborhoods in West L.A. are home to such stars as Jack Nicholson, Madonna, Pamela Anderson, and George Clooney. However, there's not much to do here aside from looking at the facades of celebrity homes and spending money. When it comes to shopping, it doesn't get much better than the designer boutique-lined Rodeo Drive.
The nearby Brentwood area is also home to the famous Getty Center, a 24-acre art museum renowned for its American and European art, sprawling grounds, and provocative architecture.
Accessible via I-405 to Santa Monica Blvd.
Nestled between Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, this tiny neighborhood houses some of L.A.'s most prominent entertainment centers, including 20th Century Fox Studios and the Shubert Theatre. Here, you'll also find the Westside Pavilion, a massive open-air shopping center.
Accessible via I-405 to Santa Monica Blvd.
Once the city's favorite nightlife haunts, Westwood lost its appeal several years ago due to overcrowding. However, it is once again on the rise because of its thriving culinary scene and abundance of cinemas, making it the best place for dinner and a movie. This neighborhood sits west of Beverly Hills, and is also home to the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Accessible via I-10
If you're not in Los Angeles for Hollywood, you're probably here for the beach. And when it comes to exploring the coast, most people head to Santa Monica. With 72 miles of shoreline, the area has more than enough sun and sand to offer. L.A.'s coast is arguably the most popular part of the city thanks to fewer bouts of smog and a more happy-go-lucky atmosphere.
This "working-class" neighborhood has a little something for everyone. The Santa Monica Pier—complete with games, food and rides—is popular with the young and young-at-heart. And if you can feel your wallet burning a hole in your pocket, this neighborhood overflows with prime shopping streets.
Accessible via I-10 to Nelson Way / Pacific Ave.
Sitting South of Santa Monica, this formerly run-down neighborhood is now one of L.A.'s most famous attractions. Inland, a series of canals and foot bridges wind around the trendy eateries and unique boutiques of Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Along the shore, stereotypical Venice Beach thrives, with scantily clad bathers occupying the boardwalk and tie-dye t-shirt vendors' calls echoing in the air. This is the place to have your fortune told, to find the perfect vintage tee, and even star-gaze; such celebrities as Nicolas Cage and Julia Roberts have set up camp here.
Accessible via the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1)
This exclusive neighborhood sits at the northern edge of L.A.'s waterfront. Its prime real estate and posh atmosphere have attracted such celebs as Mel Gibson and Cher. Beaches here are technically public, but they are shielded by private communities. Because of its stellar waves, Malibu is where the die-hard surfers head for the best ride.
San Fernando Valley
Accessible via I-405, I-5, or I-210.
To see where all the movie magic is made, head north to L.A.'s San Fernando Valley and the neighboring towns of Studio City and Universal City. North Hollywood—or "NoHo"—is a thriving spot for independent theaters and small boutique shops. The adjacent Studio City is perhaps best known as a production site for CBS Studio Center, and Universal City is home to Universal Studios and Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park.
Zuma Beach County Park
Accessible via Pacific Coast Highway (Rt. 1), a mile beyond Kanan Dume Rd.
Zuma is the county's largest beach park. Although it's around an hour away from Los Angeles proper along the Pacific Coast Highway, it's worth the trip for its clean water and gorgeous views. Bordered by sandstone cliffs, this beach is particularly popular with the surfing crowd.
The main tourist points in LA remain relatively safe, but a bit of caution can go a long way in this huge and sometimes dangerous city. In L.A. especially, credit cards are accepted almost anywhere, so don't carry around large sums of cash. Pickpocketing and petty theft are also common, so be sure to safeguard all belongings. Homelessness also remains a problem, but it generally poses little risk to your health or safety.
Also, you should avoid people who approach you on the street saying they're from a production studio or scouting agency. If someone does approach you, ask for their business card and check their credentials before you pursue anything.
The best way to get around Los Angeles is by car. Los Angeles is spread out over about 500 square miles, and while there is a public transportation system, it severely lacking compared to those found in other big cities. You can rent a car from one of the approximately 40 rental agencies housed within the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is located about 20 miles southwest of the downtown area. Another option is to take a taxi, but that can be expensive, with a rate of about $60 to get from LAX to downtown. The light-rail and bus systems also serve the airport, but be prepared for a slow ride.Getting Around Los Angeles»