Difference between revisions of "Los Angeles"
Revision as of 10:57, 25 August 2014
The city of Los Angeles  (also known simply as L.A., and nicknamed the "City of Angels") is the most populous city in California. Located on a broad basin in Southern California, the city is surrounded by vast mountain ranges, valleys, forests, beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean, and nearby desert.
The metropolitan area is the second-most populous in the United States and home to over 17 million people who hail from all parts of the globe. The metropolitan area is spread across Los Angeles County, Orange County, and parts of San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Ventura County.
Los Angeles is an important center of culture, medicine, agriculture, business, finance, energy, aerospace, science, food processing, media, international trade, and tourism. International tourists regard Los Angeles as most famous for "Hollywood," but a long-running trend in favor of outsourcing of film and television production has critically undermined the sector to the point where entertainment and media employ only about 120,000 people in the entire metro area (and most of them work in Burbank or Culver City, not Hollywood). Many major motion picture deals and premieres still occur in Los Angeles, but the vast majority of those films are actually shot elsewhere. However, some post-production, editing, promotion, distribution, and archiving work still occurs in Los Angeles. In addition, L.A. remains a major center for production of television shows and television commercials, as well as music recordings.
Nowadays, the economy of Southern California is primarily driven by its other sectors: its huge oil refineries, its thousands of rather mundane factories and food processing facilities, and its busy seaports and airports, with the result that the U.S. Customs district covering the region is the busiest in the United States. Regardless, Los Angeles continues to attract millions of tourists each year drawn to its history as the place where motion pictures traditionally came from (and where the management of the six major film studios are still largely based, even though they don't make most films there any more).
Furthermore, at least in the English-speaking world, it is still obligatory for most celebrities-to-be to live for several years in L.A. until they make it big in Hollywood. Most of them ultimately flee elsewhere after they get sick and tired of being chased by crazed fans, tourists, and paparazzi, and only after they've hooked up with the top talent agents in Hollywood (meaning that now the best scripts and songs come to them, rather than the other way around). Thus, L.A. is notorious for its celebrity-oriented culture, as exemplified by the "star maps" sold at tourist traps which feature known locations of celebrities' homes.
These districts are a part of the city of Los Angeles. See also Los Angeles County for destinations in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Even before the rolling blackouts, or O.J.'s ride in the infamously-slow Bronco chase, or Arnold "the Terminator" Schwarzenegger became governator of the state, Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles."
The Los Angeles metro area has been a "boomtown" since the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1876, first attracting some "folks" from the Midwest and East Coast with warm winters, becoming a gateway to a remarkable diversity of immigration from throughout the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
The city of Los Angeles is huge. From the Sylmar district in the north to the Port of Los Angeles in the south, the drive can be close to an hour and a half long; possibly longer once traffic is factored in. The L.A. metropolitan area includes smaller cities, such as Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena, Long Beach, Anaheim, and Riverside some of which were founded around the end of the nineteenth century and retain distinct identities. Geographically, some district names in the city of Los Angeles are so common, that they are believed by some to be separate cities when in fact, they are actually neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Hollywood, Van Nuys, Encino, and Bel-Air are just some well-known examples of neighborhoods that are actually within Los Angeles and not separate entities, while West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, for instance, are actually independent cities.
Los Angeles' primary newspaper is the Los Angeles Times , and another daily newspaper is the Los Angeles Daily News . The free LA Weekly  comes out on Thursdays and is a good source for concerts, movies, and other local information. A few local areas may have their own free neighborhood papers as well. "BrokeLA.com"  has a listing of under $10 events in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a very diverse city with nearly half of its population being born outside the United States. It has the third largest Mexican population in the world, behind the Mexican cities of Mexico City and Guadalajara, and is home to about a dozen of other large immigrant populations, many with their own little enclaves of restaurants, shops, and places of worship. It has numerous other ethnic-specific neighborhoods like Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Osaka, Little Ethiopia, Thai Town, Historic Filipinotown, Little Armenia, Persian Square, and so on. The gay-friendly areas include the city of West Hollywood, as well as the Silver Lake and the Westside areas.
The city has a sub-arid type climate. The sunniest and driest part of the year is from May - October. It rarely rains during these months and humidity is generally mild, but there often can be smog. Daytime highs in summer are about 81F. Although not frequent, a heat-wave could occur on occasion. Nighttime lows during summer are about 63F. December - April is when most rain will fall. Daytime highs in winter are about 67F, nighttime winter lows are about 49F. Climate varies depending on how far inland you are located. The Inland city and suburban locations typically have more smog. Inland suburban locations tend to have hotter temperatures as well, with summer days in the 90s, and on several occasions over 100F. Inland winter nights are generally around 39F. The water temperature of beaches in L.A., Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach and other locales is around 62F in spring, 66F in summer, 68F in fall, and 58F in winter.
English is the dominant language in Los Angeles. However, like much of the rest of California and any American state that borders Mexico, Spanish is also widely spoken. Even Los Angeles' name is a Spanish phrase meaning "The Angels." The city has one of the largest Spanish speaking populations in the world, with many business store signs and billboards in some parts of the city printed in both English and Spanish. According to the U.S. Census, roughly 70% of the city's population speaks English either as their first or second language, and roughly 44% speak Spanish as a first or second language. With a large immigrant population, many other languages are widely spoken such as Korean, Armenian, Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin), Japanese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Persian, and Amharic.
The Los Angeles area is served by five major commercial airports and more than a dozen private airports. The five major airports are located in Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Ana, Long Beach, and Ontario.
Los Angeles International Airport  (IATA: LAX) is the major international gateway to the Southland. LAX is gigantic, with nine terminals built in different eras in a variety of architectural styles, of which the common element is that they all seem rather cramped on the inside (that is, relative to the size and importance of the airport). Some terminals have been renovated recently and look relatively modern, while others are definitely showing their age. Most of the terminals were built before the Transportation Security Administration implemented modern security checkpoints, which means the checkpoints were shoehorned into the existing buildings with very awkward results.
If you find yourself in one of the older terminals (which can be recognized by the overcrowding, outdated décor, and unpleasant odor), keep in mind the last comprehensive renovation and expansion of LAX was just prior to the 1984 Summer Olympics. Since then, implementation of LAX's various master plans have been stalled for years by lawsuits filed by the airport's enraged neighbors. This is why LAX has never won any of the Skytrax World Airport Awards, and consistently tops lists of the worst international airports in the United States.
In 2013, LAX completed a new expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (abbreviated to TBIT or B) called Bradley West, which is the first LAX terminal to feature the broad corridors, high ceilings, and luxury retailers long since taken for granted in most international airports. However, the old TBIT is blocking Bradley West's east-facing gates, meaning that Bradley West will not be fully operational until the old terminal is demolished and removed.
LAX's lower level roadway is divided into inner and outer roadways. Private vehicles are supposed to do pickups and dropoffs on the outer roadway. Commercial vehicles, including shuttles, circle the inner roadway and stop at islands that divide the two roadways. The different pickup zones are clearly marked by brightly colored overhead-mounted signs facing you as you exit the lower level of any of the terminals. You are expected to cross the outer road when it is safe to do so and find the zone corresponding to the type of vehicle you are looking for. There are also directional signs that show whether you need to go left or right to find a particular type of zone.
A free "Airline Connections" ('A' line) shuttle bus loops around all the terminals on the lower level roadway; it stops under the BLUE "LAX Shuttle and Shuttle Connections" signs at each terminal. If you do not mind walking, it is no more than a 10-minute walk between any two adjacent terminals (with the exception of 1 and 8). If you are transferring between two directly adjacent terminals, walking is nearly always quicker than the shuttle. A streetside sidewalk connects all the terminals, except 1 and 8.
Airside transfers between the secure portions of terminals are limited at LAX. Terminals 6, 7, and 8 are linked on the secured side into a single complex (in a passageway), directly behind the security screening stations where passengers in any one of the three can walk over to one of the others without having to pass through security again (and that will work only if you arrived from a domestic flight). Between Terminals 5 & 6 there is an underground tunnel from the middle of Terminal 6 (by Ruby's Diner & Hudson News between Gates 65 & 66) to the middle of Terminal 5 by McDonald's, between Gates 53 & 54. There is also an airside shuttle bus between Gate 44 in Terminal 4 (American Airlines), Gate 39 in Terminal 3 (US Airways), Gate 65A (Alaska Airlines) in Terminal 6 and the remote American Eagle Terminal east of Terminal 8 (not accessible from Terminal 8 or from the street). Otherwise, you must incorporate time to go through security into your planning if you need to transfer between terminals or arriving internationally and had to clear immigration & customs inspection.
There is free WiFi in the terminals.  Paid WiFi is also available from T-Mobile for $6.00 per hour or $9.99 for the whole day. Boingo WiFi is also available for those who need high-speed Internet access which costs $4.95 per hour, or $7.95 for the entire day.
Many international flights do not leave from or arrive at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal TBIT or B). To avoid missing flights, always determine in advance which terminal(s) your international flights will be flying in or out of, especially if you are connecting through LAX.
There are also two executive terminals for charter aircraft, if time means money.
Public transportation connections for the airport are only provided via shuttle to a Metro Rail or Metro Bus station, and via the more direct FlyAway bus. When exiting any terminal, follow the signs for ground transportation. At the inner roadway's curb, you should see pickup zones marked with a green sign for the FlyAway and long distance buses, and a blue sign for shuttles (Lot C and Lot G shuttles stop under the blue sign).
LAX FlyAway  runs shuttles to/from the downtown Union Station (half-hourly, $7.00 one way to the Patsaouras Transit Plaza at the opposite side of tracks from the actual Union Station building), Westwood (In front of Parking Structure #32 along Kinross Ave between Veteran Ave & Weyburn Pl @ UCLA South Campus), Van Nuys (7610 Woodley Ave @ the NE corner of Woodley Ave & Saticoy, next to the Van Nuys Airport) and Santa Monica (1875 Main St just north of Pico Ave). At the airport they pick up from under the GREEN "Flyaway, Buses & Long Distance Vans" signs at the outer island in front of each terminal. Taxis to downtown LA cost $45.00 and take 30 min in good traffic but can be far slower (and more expensive) in rush hour.
Otherwise, take the "Lot C" bus from the airline terminals out to the "LAX City Bus Center" at Parking Lot C (W 96th St & Skyway) to transfer to local city buses (#3/3R (to Santa Monica), 6/6R (to Culver City), 8 (to Torrance), 111/311, 117, 232, 40 (night owl))  or take the "Lot G" bus out to the "Aviation/LAX" station of the Green Line Metro (subway)  ((Bus #3/3R (to Santa Monica), 6/6R (to Culver City), 120, 625 (to cargo terminals at other side)) further down on Aviation Blvd & I-105 freeway (nearest metro station). The parking lot shuttle buses pick up from under the BLUE "LAX Shuttle Airline Connection" signs at the outer island in front of each terminal.
On your return, be sure to arrive at the airport at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours before your flight (2-3 hours if traveling internationally). Check-in procedures and security lines can be long and time-consuming.
Unless you are visiting LA as part of an escorted tour group on a chartered bus, renting a car may be your best option for moving around Southern California. The Greater Los Angeles area is huge. Public transportation is barely adequate and is not likely to be an efficient use of your time unless all your intended destinations are accessible by Metro Rail alone without bus transfers (which is rarely the case).
LAX does not have any rental car lots located in the central terminal area, nor does it operate a centralized rental car center. Instead, each rental car company operates its own off-site lot. There are around 10 different companies with frequent shuttle buses picking up on the lower level around all terminals. If you want to compare prices, you will need to do so using the telephones in the arrivals area or on the Internet in advance of arriving. There are no details from the shuttle drivers or negotiable prices. Signing up for one of the car rental club membership schemes can get the shuttle bus to drop you at your car, thus saving substantial time. The car rental shuttle buses pick up from under the PURPLE "Rental Car Shuttle" signs at the outer island in front of each terminal to the car rental office. Multiple companies may contract with the same shuttle company to pick up customers so the same bus may make several stops at several car rental company offices. 
LAX is the airport many travelers use when visiting the Los Angeles area. LAX generally does feature lower fares, and more nonstop and frequent service when compared to the other airports. Flying into LAX is the best option if this is the closest airport to your final destination, and (even if LAX is further away) the fare is simply too good to pass up. However, if your destination is closer (or almost as close) to one of the other four airports, and the fare really isn't a huge difference, then consider those airports. For instance, if you plan to spend most of your time in the San Fernando Valley, there is the Burbank Airport. If your visit will be centered around Orange County, there's the Santa Ana Airport or even the Long Beach Airport. If you will be staying in the Inland Empire, there's the Ontario Airport. These airports can save a lot of hassle due to the fact that they are less busier than LAX. Don't forget that the L.A. area is so wildly spread out and so populous that going anywhere will generally require a lot of driving, as well as possibly enduring huge traffic jams. On any random day at any particular time (day or night), a traffic jam can develop and it is not unheard of to take an hour just to go a few miles on the freeway. So utilizing the nearest airport will only be of convenience to you.
Private pilots will prefer smaller general aviation airports such as Santa Monica (ICAO: KSMO), Van Nuys (ICAO: KVNY), Hawthorne, or any of the other small airports in the area that do not handle commercial flights. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Jetset Charter  fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstream's down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals into and out of SMO, VNY, and BUR. LAX does not cater to small general aviation; Burbank (ICAO: KBUR) does, but is considered high-traffic for this type of flight; Long Beach (ICAO: KLGB) does, but has a very complicated runway system and, again, is considered high traffic. General aviation will fare much better at L.A. area airports that do not handle commercial flights at all. Much of Los Angeles is Class Bravo or other controlled airspace, but due to the number of airports and the generally good weather, Los Angeles makes a fantastic flying destination.
The main Amtrak  station is at Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St. next to the Hollywood (US-101) freeway in downtown Los Angeles. The train station also has a Metro Red Line subway station (platforms in station's basement) and Metro Gold Line light rail station (on platforms 1 and 2, parallel to the Amtrak and Metrolink trains), while local city buses stop at various locations around the terminal, including some in the MTA (Patsaouras) bus plaza at the east portal of the station. The train station is patrolled by private security staff and people lingering too long in the seats may be asked to show a ticket. Taxis are available at the west exit and the station is within short walking distance to the Civic Center and Olvera Street. Chinatown and Little Tokyo are also nearby. Be warned that it can get quite uncomfortable in the station especially when it is hot and/or there are a lot of people. Great for business travel but perhaps not the best for families or any large group of people.
Amtrak routes serving Los Angeles are the following:
Metrolink  is an extensive regional train network with rail lines to Riverside, Lancaster, Oceanside, San Bernardino, Oxnard, and points in between. Union Station is the main station served by Amtrak, the hub of the Metrolink network, and it is well-served by the Los Angeles Metro.
Union Station is spectacular (opened in 1939 and features grandiose architecture typical of that era), but there are several stops within the county that may be better located to your destination. LA is massive so make sure you get the right stop. Unfortunately, while Union Station has the best bus, subway, light rail, and commuter rail connections (and a Hertz and Budget car rental desk), it may be far from other landmarks. If you are arriving in LA by train but planning to travel around the area, here are some alternate connection options:
Several Metrolink lines overlap Amtrak's routes or serve the same cities via a slightly different routing. Metrolink tickets can cost significantly less than Amtrak tickets; for example, LA to Oceanside is $14 on Metrolink but $19 on Amtrak. Train frequencies vary between Amtrak and Metrolink for given station pairs (some are more frequent via Amtrak and some are more frequent via Metrolink, since some Metrolink runs terminate before the end of the line).
The Greyhound  terminal is at 1716 East 7th Street, near I-10 and South Alameda Street, south of the city's Downtown Arts District and east of the vast, notorious Skid Row district. Though a growing residential population in the area has brought increased safety and services, this neighborhood remains largely underdeveloped. You should still not linger around here longer than you have to, and staff often ask people who are here too long to show their tickets.
Access to connecting transit services is limited. From the Greyhound station, take a taxi or bus 760 or 60 to connect to Downtown or a taxi to Union Station for the FlyAway bus to the airport, Amtrak or Metrolink trains.
Fortunately, other terminals are in far safer areas and have better access to public transportation. From the north, the North Hollywood station is located at 11239 Magnolia Boulevard, a quarter of a mile south of the Metro Red Line North Hollywood station. The Hollywood station, at 1715 North Cahuenga Boulevard, is a quarter of a mile west of the Metro Red Line Hollywood/Vine station. (The Hollywood greyhound station closed in July 2012)
Of note for passengers coming from the east is the El Monte station, at 3501 North Santa Anita Ave. The station also houses an M.T.A. and Foothill Transit bus station, and frequent express bus service to Downtown Los Angeles is available upstairs. The El Monte station also houses a substation of the local county sheriff. Also, from the east, the Pasadena Greyhound station, located one-quarter mile west of the Lake Avenue Metro Gold Line station, is an option.
From the south, Greyhound passengers should use the East Los Angeles station, located at 1241 South Soto Street, or the Compton Station, located at 305 North Tamarind Ave. The East Los Angeles station has many buses to downtown nearby, while the Compton station is across the street from a Metro Blue Line station.
Cruceros USA and Autobus Americanos are subsidiary brands of Greyhound Mexico  for travel within the American southwest and to Mexico from the U.S. They share the same stations & stops as Greyhound Lines in the U.S. Onward travel from Tijuana, Mexicali and other cities south of the border are with the partner, Grupo Estrella Blanca.
In addition to Greyhound there are other choices:
Unfortunately, there is no central bus terminal and different companies leave from their own terminals or stops. Some stop in multiple locations all over the city. The terminals or stops for El Paso-Los Angeles Limousine, InterCalifornias and Tufesa are in the sketchy skid row areas near downtown and are very close to each other.
Cycling in Los Angeles
When you are planning to hop on your bike in Los Angeles, don’t assume you can just bicyce from one side to the other side of the city. There are not necessarily enough cycle lanes, the crime rate may be high in certain areas, and the city is far too big. What you can do is cycle through certain areas which feature routes definitely worth discovering by bike.
Despite the fact there are almost no dedicated cycle lanes in Los Angeles, there are some parts of the city which are suitable for bicycling. You can bike along the Hollywood Walk of Fame or one of Los Angeles’s famous beaches. There also is a possibility of doing guided bike tours in LA. There are various bike tour companies which can lead you through the city in a few hours. For example Baja Bikes, Hollywoodtourz or Bikes and Hikes LA are bike tour companies which offer guided bicycle tours. With a local guide, cycling is a fun and safe way of discovering the City of Angels. You can cycle around places like the Walk of Fame, homes of the big Hollywood stars and LA’s famous beaches (especially beautiful is the stretch between Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach).
Public transportation or car?
Public transportation in L.A., as in most American cities, leaves something to be desired. Although the Los Angeles area has an extensive bus system and many transit agencies, and a fairly new subway and elevated network to boot, this is still not adequate considering the region's population and size. Although some bus routes have service every 10 to 15 minutes, many others (especially away from the main tourist areas) have service every 30 to 90 minutes. Also keep in mind there is not a bus line to reach every nook and cranny, and as such, it is not uncommon to find yourself walking up to a mile or so to your destination after you've gotten off the bus at the closest stop.
And because there are numerous bus transit agencies in the L.A. area, you may find yourself paying additional money when you get off one transit agency's bus and board another transit agency's bus to continue your journey. Keep in mind, some bus routes will end service in the early evening - although a number operate 24 hours a day - so you should plan your trip accordingly to make sure you are not stranded while on an outing, thus subjecting yourself to an expensive taxi ride back to your hotel - which, depending on how far away you are, may end up costing roughly the same as if you had just rented a car for the day in the first place.
Los Angeles also has an expanding subway/light rail system to help speed up journeys around the city. If you plan to stay near a Metro Rail station in the outlying areas, this may suffice as the rail network will take you to the tourist areas such as Downtown, Hollywood, Universal Studios, Westside/Culver City, Pasadena, LAX and Long Beach. However, those who will be staying or visiting outlying areas, and would otherwise have to take multiple buses during their visit, are strongly advised to rent a car if the budget allows.
For visitors who will routinely be traveling only a couple of miles or so, staying just a few days, and not minding the 10-30 minute bus wait, then they may find that the L.A. public transportation system can be sufficient. If you intend to travel in the areas of the West Side, downtown L.A., Beverly Hills, and Hollywood, and primarily travel during weekdays, then public transportation may reasonably accomodate your needs.
Metro Rapid buses come more frequently and make fewer stops than local buses and should be used when possible. Remember that many cities in the metro area (including Santa Monica, Culver City, Long Beach, Santa Clarita, and Ontario to name a few) operate their own bus agencies, independent of the Metro, thus charging different fares.
If you choose to rent a car, you will have the pleasure of directly experiencing the sprawling freeway system of the Greater Los Angeles Area along with its notorious traffic jams. Regardless, driving yourself will still be more convenient than bus travel for long trips, or visits to multiple destinations on the same day.
But if you choose to drive, please watch out for dangers unique to L.A. driving, such as road rage, high-speed police chases, and paparazzi chasing celebrities. If you see a helicopter following the freeway and pointing its spotlight at the freeway, that may indicate something big is going on.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Los Angeles once had one of the world's largest streetcar networks. Streetcars fell out of fashion during the 1940s and the last lines were dismantled in 1963. By the mid-1970s, it was recognized that dismantling the streetcars and then failing to complete most of the Los Angeles freeway network as planned (over half were canceled) had been a serious mistake. Most of Los Angeles was already afflicted with the legendary traffic jams which have persisted to the present. After many years of planning and construction, the Metro Rail subway/elevated light rail system opened its first line in 1990, and it has been rapidly expanding ever since.
Many neighborhoods and sightseeing destinations can be reached using Metro Rail, including downtown, Koreatown, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Chinatown, Pasadena, and Long Beach. Public transportation is preferable, when possible, to the gridlock that often occurs on Los Angeles area freeways and streets.
A single-trip fare valid on one line in one direction costs $1.50 (no transfers) and can be purchased from ticket vending machines located in the stations. Alternatively, a day pass (valid until 3 a.m. the next day) costs $5; a weekly pass (running Sunday to Saturday) costs $20, and a monthly pass costs $75. Passes allow unlimited access on Metro bus and rail lines. Day passes can be purchased through ticket vending machines in stations (on buses, day passes can be purchased only using a reusable TAP card), and weekly and monthly passes on TAP cards can be obtained online or at Metro Customer Centers. (The main one is at Union Station.) Metrorail and metrobus services can be used with the passes (a few express bus routes require payment of additional fare except for pass users). Route maps are available online and in stations.
Metro fare payment works on a proof-of-payment system. There are turnstiles in the subway stations and some light rail stations. Passengers using a TAP card must tap the turnstile to have a valid fare. Passengers using paper one-day passes can walk through some of the turnstiles which are still unlocked, but most turnstiles are now locked and can only be triggered with a TAP card. Tickets or passes must be purchased before entering boarding zones. Metro police randomly check for valid tickets on the trains or platforms, even if people did not board any train. The penalty for not being able to show a valid ticket is $250 and up to 48 hours of community service.
Unlike many cities whose local train systems allow free transfers between rail lines when the lines converge, trips that involve multiple lines or transfers in Los Angeles require separate tickets for each line. A better option will simply be to purchase a day, weekly, or monthly pass for travel on all the lines. Passes can be more cost effective than several single-ride tickets.
Metro Rail/Transitway Lines:
Note that Metro operating hours and timetables vary fom one line to another.
There is currently no direct rail connection between Downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but a free shuttle from the Metro Green Line Aviation/LAX Station to terminals is available. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) operates the much more convenient and direct LAX FlyAway shuttle every 30 min between Union Station and airport terminals.
One should not confuse Metro with Metrolink, the commuter rail system. Metrolink, centered at Union Station in Los Angeles, is a regional train network that runs to outlying suburbs. The system reaches as far as Ventura, Lancaster, San Bernardino, and Oceanside (northern San Diego County), but runs limited service at night and on weekends. Metrolink does not accept Metro passes and thus requires the purchase of a separate ticket. Metrolink, like Metro, uses the honor system, where no barriers are required to enter the system, but frequent random inspections are used to ensure that every passenger has a valid ticket. If a passenger is found without a valid ticket, the fine is $250, with 48 hours of community service. Metrolink tickets are honored as a day pass on Metrorail and Metrobus.
For information on the Los Angeles County bus system, operated by Metro, call 1-800-COMMUTE (1-800-266-6883) or go on the site first. The Metro bus system covers virtually all of central and southern Los Angeles County, including much of the City of Los Angeles.
Many Angelenos without a car use the bus as their primary mode of transportation. Within the central area, roughly from Santa Monica Blvd on the north, the Downtown area on the east, Pico Blvd on the south, and Santa Monica on the west, the buses are somewhat frequent. Outside of this corridor, however, service is not as frequent. An online 12 minute map is available.
Metro buses come in three basic kinds: Local (orange), Rapid (red) & Express (blue). Express buses have the fewest stops and use the freeways (if possible) to get closer to the end of the route, thus skipping some local areas. Rapid buses usually go on local streets (parallel local routes) with fewer stops than Local buses and are better at cutting through traffic because they are not constantly diving over to the curb to pick up or drop off passengers. Check the schedules in advance as many routes change and have reduced frequency in the late hours. Fares are currently $1.50 per ride (no transfers), $5 for a day pass (also good on Metro Rail, but note that on buses, day passes can be purchased only using a reusable TAP card), and $20 for a weekly pass. Day passes can be purchased from any Metro Rail station or bus operator; weekly passes can be purchased in selected stores in the county, and at Metro Customer Centers.. They are also available online.
Metro also operates extra-long Metro Liners on the Silver and Orange bus rapid transit lines, which appear on the Metro Rail map because both operate in dedicated transitways for most of their routes.
In addition to Metro, the City of Los Angeles' Department of Transportation (LADOT) operates its own white-colored buses on local shuttle lines to supplement Metro bus service in high-density areas like Downtown. 
Neighboring cities often operate their own bus systems with different fares which extend into the City of Los Angeles and overlap with parts of the Metro bus network and adjacent cities. Some of them also have 'Rapid Ride' route paralleling a local route with fewer stops. They are:
Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic conditions, and its freeway system can get extremely clogged at times. Still, automobile travel is the easiest way to see parts of the region. Many major car rental companies are located at LAX.
Many natural areas surrounding the LA metropolitan area can be reached only by car. See the article about Driving in Los Angeles County for more information. If you are going to be driving, make sure that you have access to extensive street and freeway maps or a GPS navigation system or you may get lost on the spaghetti map of freeways.
The freeways can be confusing for visitors. It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with your chosen route prior to setting out on your trip and pay attention to traffic and road signs. "Carpool Only" lanes may be entered with two or more occupants in a vehicle. Although the speed limit is 65 miles per hour, most people drive much faster. Do not drive in the carpool lane if you don't have at least one passenger and are comfortable with driving at least 80 miles per hour, traffic permitting. In the other far left lines, drive at least 75 miles per hour, traffic permitting. If you are not comfortable driving this fast, stay in the slower lanes to the right to avoid angering others.
Listening to a radio station is helpful for any long trip through LA since most stations regularly disseminate traffic information during the daylight hours. KNX 1070 AM and KFWB 980 AM are the most frequent and cover the metropolitan area, including Orange and Ventura counties and the Inland Empire.
Although LA's traffic jams are legendary, the freeway grid provides for an effective movement of traffic and a variety of alternatives. Be sure to have an alternative route planned out in advance; many freeways run parallel to one another and serve as viable alternatives, especially in long-distance trips. If possible, use a passenger as your navigator. You may also check SigAlert , TrafficReport  or "BigVerdict" for current traffic information before your trip. In addition, the electronic message signs placed along the freeways show estimated times to destinations as well as warnings about severe accidents that require lane closures or detours. For the worst accidents, Caltrans may deploy pickup trucks carrying large electronic signs to freeways approaching the accident site to give further warning.
The most severely congested areas of Los Angeles include downtown, Hollywood, the entire Westside, and everything in between. Assume the worst and plan for the possibility of traffic jams on all freeways in those areas (I-10, I-405, I-110, I-5, and US 101) at any hour of day or night, every day of the week.
As for driving on the street grid, most cities in the Greater Los Angeles Area (also known as the Southland) have well-maintained streets, but streets within the city of Los Angeles itself tend to have a lot of cracks and potholes. The city government spends about half of its annual budget on law enforcement and crime prevention, which leaves little for street maintenance. The most dangerous period is within two weeks after major rainstorms, when potholes can grow large enough for entire tires to sink deep into them. This means they can cause severe, irreparable damage to tires, wheels, and shocks, and force drivers to replace all three.
Both Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards are particularly notorious for extremely bumpy conditions, especially in the Mid-City area east of Beverly Hills. The city government has installed sensor loops on most major streets and publishes real-time traffic speed maps online..
Also, while many other California cities have dedicated left-turn traffic lights at major intersections, allowing for so-called "protected" left turns, most Los Angeles intersections do not have them. They operate under the rule where you must yield to opposing traffic, and turn only when it is safe. Some Los Angeles streets are so congested that it is impossible to turn until the traffic light reaches the yellow (caution) phase. Therefore, it is customary in Los Angeles for as many as two or three vehicles to creep into the middle of such intersections in order to turn against opposing traffic on a yellow light. During rush hour, once the light turns yellow and the two or three cars waiting in the intersection finally initiate their left turns, a fourth or even fifth car will sometimes follow them through (running the red light in the process). If you are a first-time visitor, you may find yourself being honked at by other drivers (or vice versa) until you become accustomed to this.
Such turning against a yellow light is legal as long as the vehicle enter the intersection while the light is green or yellow. But entering while red is considered running the red and a violation of California law. Suburbs outside of Los Angeles that are less congested tend to be much more strict about enforcing red lights in all cases (including left turns). Therefore, you must be careful as to whether you are driving in the City of Los Angeles itself or another city. One way to tell if you are in the City of Los Angeles is to look out for its distinctive street signs on corners, of which there are at least four major types because the city has never had enough money to upgrade all of them at once to the current design.
Driving around downtown Los Angeles is especially frustrating to deal with. Even when there are not a large number of vehicles present, drivers still tend to go slower in the downtown area because of the numerous turns, ramps, tunnels, potholes, and traffic lights.
Another frustration of driving in downtown Los Angeles is the very expensive cost of parking there. Many downtown hotels and many hotels outside of downtown (such as in high-density areas like LAX, Hollywood and Century City) have parking garages, but will charge you exorbitant daily parking fees. Even worse, they may have only valet parking, meaning you will be expected to also tip the valet. If you plan to bring or rent a car to drive around Los Angeles, consider looking for hotels that have free parking or at least reasonable fees for self-parking garages.
Red light cameras were a longtime menace for hapless visitors. The good news is that the City of Los Angeles has removed red light cameras as of July 2011.
Note that HOV/carpool lanes on the freeways which are operated as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) "Express Lanes" by Metro always require an electronic FasTrak transponder, even when driving with two or more passengers (unlike HOT programs elsewhere). Metro does not have a "pay-by-plate" program like other agencies for one-time use of the Express Lanes. Either you must set up a regular FasTrak account with Metro or any other California toll authority in order to obtain a transponder. Or you must rent a vehicle with a FasTrak transponder installed from a rental car agency which will pass through all toll charges to your bill.
If you do not have a FasTrak transponder in your vehicle, exercise extreme caution to avoid entering Express Lanes or the handful of freeway onramps that feed directly into Express Lanes. If you drive through an Express Lane toll gantry without a valid FasTrak transponder, or the highway patrol catches you illegally crossing double-white lines to avoid the toll gantries, you could end up with an expensive ticket (or if you're in a rental car, a huge surcharge on your bill).
Taxis can be expensive. You cannot flag them down on the street, but can call one of the taxi companies to send a cab to pick you up. You may have to wait awhile for a taxi to get to you depending on where you are. Remember, this city generally experiences a lot of traffic and is very spread out. Thus the overwhelming majority of citizens have their own vehicles; hence, cabs are expensive and less involved in the movement of people than in cities like New York, Chicago, or Washington, DC.
If you want to book a ride quickly without calling a taxi company, you can use OnCabs (http://oncabs.com/). OnCabs lets you catch local trusted Taxis, Executives Cars, SUVs and Airport Shuttles, whenever you need a quick catch or planning a perfect business trip, family visit or Airport transfer. It's a free booking website and mobile app that compare rates for different rides.
An often overlooked alternative which deals well with Los Angeles' lackluster public transportation and frustrating traffic conditions is to travel by motorcycle. Rentals range from around $70 for a basic bike up to $300 a day for high-performance sport bikes, with plenty of range and options between. This option garners a higher per-day rental price than a car, with obviously diminished cargo space. However, a motorcycle's significant increase in fuel economy combined with the city's high gas prices, and ease of parking in a notoriously difficult-to-park-in city may be appealing to the adventurous rider. A quick web search will reveal numerous rental agencies, including Eagle Rider (http://www.eaglerider.com/), Cheap Motorcycle Rental (http://cheapmotorcyclerental.com/), and others. California riders must have a class M1 license.
Of course, riding a motorcycle should be done by those who are experienced as it is not for the faint of heart. But it may afford the rider a small advantage in terms of travel time. In most states in America, it is illegal to "split lanes" -riding between two adjacent lanes through slow or stopped traffic to get ahead of other vehicles- as a motorcycle rider is still required to follow virtually all rules and guidelines as if it were a car. Although lane spliting is illegal in most states, it is legal in California if undertaken at speeds under 45 mph. Motorcycles with engines less than 250cc, or if incapable of maintaining speeds exceeding 60mph, are not permitted on freeways. Foreign travelers not familiar with the United States may notice motorcycles tend to be comparatively large, heavy, and fast and extreme caution should be exercised.
The canyon roads of Malibu, Topanga, and the San Gabriel mountains are frequented by motorsports enthusiasts year-round due to their extreme "twistiness" and contain celebrated hangouts such as Neptune's Net (on the Pacific Coast Highway), the Rock Store (on Mulholland in Malibu Canyon), and others. Bikers visiting on the weekend will find good company, cold beer, and excellent riding there. The drinking age is 21, and it is enforced.
Nearly all L.A. first-time visitors will want to visit Hollywood, Universal City (specifically Universal Studios), and Venice Beach as their top priorities within the City of Los Angeles itself. Century City, Downtown Los Angeles, UCLA, USC, Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River bridges just east of downtown are all also worth a look. They have all been used for filming a huge number of famous movies, television shows, and television commercials, and will seem slightly familiar for that reason.
However, many other landmarks generally associated with L.A. are technically not located in the City of Los Angeles, but are in adjacent cities or unincorporated areas. For example, Rodeo Drive is found in Beverly Hills; the Santa Monica Pier, the Third Street Promenade, and Santa Monica Beach are in Santa Monica; studio facilities for NBC, Disney, and Warner Bros. are all found in Burbank; the Sony Pictures Entertainment studio is in Culver City; and Marina del Rey is an unincorporated area under county jurisdiction. Malibu is about half an hour's drive west of Santa Monica. Disneyland, Newport Beach, and South Coast Plaza are all located over an hour's drive to the southeast in Orange County.
Concerts and Conventions
While the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood has more ambience, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena offers a chance of seeing concerts with 90,000 of your closest friends, the city of LA has its own concert venues that are worth exploring.
LA has great opportunities for seeing live pro sports.
In addition, baseball's LA Angels and hockey's Anaheim Ducks play in nearby Anaheim, and the city's two soccer teams—Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy (featuring USA World Cup star Landon Donovan) of Major League Soccer play at the StubHub Center in Carson.
Los Angeles is well-known for its diverse and unique shopping traditions and destinations. Shopping malls will dominate your shopping trip as they are nearly inescapable in many of your destinations. For example, the Hollywood & Highland mall is a popular meeting point for those gazing at the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theater. Other significant malls frequented by tourists are the Grove (next to the Farmers' Market), Westfield Century City, Westside Pavilion, and the Beverly Center, which is quite unlike other shopping malls as it is multilevel with a nice view of Los Angeles from its food court patio.
Because Los Angeles has traditionally lacked a significant public square, the city funnels its commercial life onto its streets. Among the most popular street is Larchmont Blvd. which caters to the wealthy elite of Hancock Park with one-of-a-kind boutiques. Melrose Avenue, especially in the West Hollywood portion, one-ups Larchmont Blvd. with celebrity presence.
Broadway in Downtown will take you out of the comforts of manicured shopping centers and drop you into its chaos. It features affordable merchandise geared towards the region's millions of working-class Latinos, meaning that forty dollars would probably get you a brand new wardrobe. You will also find pirated DVD's and CD's. You can find a lot of brand name merchandise at discounted prices. Broadway once was the city's premier boulevard; look up above the gritty flea markets and you will see the opulent theaters that defined luxury in early 20th-century Los Angeles.
For a similar experience in a less-polished, but also livelier environment, try Alvarado Street near Wilshire Boulevard and 6th Street. This district gives an insight to how most of working-class Los Angeles shops. Big deals can be found on a wide range of counterfeit goods, but don't stay too long after dark when the neighborhood gets sketchy. Make sure to check out the art deco buildings that exist in between the makeshift warehouses (malls), as well as the Alvarado Terrace Park, surrounded by early century mansions.
The major department stores in the Southland are Macy's, Bloomingdale's, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, and Kohls. Macy's is by far the most ubiquitous (due to the 2006 merger with the May Company) and can be found at virtually every mall, plus it also has a handful of stand-alone stores.
Notably, Los Angeles has never developed a giant ten-story-tall regional flagship department store like those found in other large cities around the world. This can be very frustrating. It means you may have to visit stores at several malls to survey the same amount of merchandise one would be able to see all at once in a flagship department store. The closest equivalent in the Southland to a Macy's flagship store is the three-store Macy's complex at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (in Orange County), which is over an hour's drive away from Los Angeles. But even Macy's South Coast Plaza is still relatively small compared to the huge two-store Macy's West flagship in San Francisco.
Groceries and other basics
7-Eleven convenience stores are found every few blocks and are always open 24-7, but have limited selection and high prices. The major supermarket chains are Ralphs (owned by Kroger), Pavilions and Vons (both owned by Safeway), and Albertsons (owned by Supervalu). Ralphs and Vons both have a few stores open 24-7. They are useful for picking up supplies like drinks and snacks if your flight arrives late at night.
The nation's largest discount store chain, Walmart, has several stores in Los Angeles, but none are open 24-7. There is a relatively small Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown. Besides that, the only Walmart stores in Los Angeles are found in the neighborhoods of Crenshaw, Panorama City, and Harbor Gateway, which are all out of the way for most tourists and are in areas with high crime rates. The closest Walmart stores open 24-7 are in the relatively safe suburbs of Santa Clarita and Lakewood, which are both very inconvenient for tourists. The nation's second largest discount store chain, Target, has CityTarget stores in Westwood, West Hollywood, and downtown L.A., but like all Target stores, they always close at 10 p.m.
Downtown is the destination for some focused retail therapy. Want flowers? Why there's a Flower District in Downtown! Jewelry? Fashion? Seafood? Toys? Yep, there are entire districts in Downtown dedicated to these particular products. You can buy art in Gallery Row up and down Main Street or see artists at work in the Artist District. They are located mostly just east of the towering Financial District. Beware though as they exist along with the notorious Skid Row.
No matter what music you're into, Los Angeles will feature artists to your taste. Visit the Rock Venues on Sunset Blvd. Jazz Clubs in Hollywood. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown. etc. Los Angeles has an abundance of records stores scattered around the area. Also, though vinyl has disappeared from the shelves of most regular record stores, there are still plenty of stores that sell new and used vinyl. Amoeba Music in Hollywood is without a doubt the best in the city and possibly one of the best in the entire country. An exploration of underground music would be advised to perhaps begin at The Smell in Downtown or listen to KXLU 88.9 Monday-Friday for details on numerous shows.
The Los Angeles area is one of the best places in the country for food - you can find just about anything you can imagine somewhere within its loose borders. From traditional American diner culture (try Mel's Drive-In in West Hollywood) to the new wave of organic cafes, to inexpensive taco trucks, and swanky eateries with breath-taking food, there is no shortage of options.
Los Angeles abounds with inexpensive, authentic food that represents the culinary traditions of L.A.'s many immigrant communities. You have to be willing to do a little legwork, go to neighborhoods you might not otherwise go to and often deal with charmless florescent-lit storefronts in strip malls, but your reward is hype-free, authentic cuisine from around the world served up at bargain prices. Food critic Jonathan Gold has been finding and reviewing these gems since the 1980s, mostly in the free paper LA Weekly .
The newest arrival on the L.A. food scene is the gourmet food truck. These are not your average taco trucks and construction-site catering operations (although those exist too), but purveyors of creative and surprisingly high-quality food. A few noteworthy food trucks are "Grill Em All," run by 2 metalheads doing outstanding gourmet hamburgers, "Nom Nom," doing Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, "Kogi," doing Korean-inspired tacos and burritos, and "Manila Machine," doing Filipino food. A listing of well known trucks can be found, along with a real-time map showing their locations on any given day, and many trucks also have their own websites and post their daily schedules and locations on Twitter.
Coverage of regional food from other parts of the U.S. is spotty. Migration into the city has been disproportionately from Texas and Oklahoma, the South, Midwest and greater New York City and food representing these areas is easy enough to find. Food representing New England and other parts of the East Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Intermountain-Rocky Mountain regions can be elusive, along with many ethnic cuisines with central- and east-european origins. However L.A. is birthplace of the drive-thru and numerous fast food chains clog the roadsides. The In 'n Out Burger chain is far above average for hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes.
The cultural diversity of Los Angeles is an evident influence on the local vegetarian food restaurant industry. You can find strictly vegan and vegetarian dining, be it American, Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian, and Thai among others. Other dietary restrictions are catered to as well. For example Genghis Cohen in West Hollywood serves Jewish Chinese food and kosher Mexican or Italian is not hard to find along predominantly Jewish parts of Pico Boulevard.
There are several different supermarket chains of varying quality - for something different (and cheap) try Trader Joe's, a reputable grocery store with multiple locations (the original is in Pasadena), selling many organic products with no preservatives. They normally give out great samples to the public and sell their acclaimed Charles Shaw wine, also known as "Two Buck Chuck." Whole Foods  is another market with multiple locations and a favorite among the health conscious -- but also a little pricey. Their salad bar is fully stocked, they have huge fresh burritos, sushi, hot dishes ready to go, and a comprehensive selections of pre-made, delicious salads. This is a great place to buy food for a picnic!
LA visitors and locals alike have the opportunity to indulge in a selection of specially priced three-course menus from a wide variety of LA’s best restaurants during dineLA Restaurant Week . It takes place over a two-week time period. Restaurant week for 2014 was 20-31 Jan.
The hotel bars are generally considered by Angelenos to be the nicest places to have drinks. Some of the more popular upscale ones include: Chateau Marmont (Sunset Strip), Skybar at The Mondrian (Sunset Strip), Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower (Sunset Strip), and The Rooftop Bar at The Standard (downtown). Hollywood and the Sunset Strip are generally considered the nightlife centers of LA, though neighborhoods such as Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park are home to the dive bars and cafes favored by trendy hipsters. Downtown has recently recaptured some of its former glory with a selection of popular nightlife destinations such as The Golden Gopher, The Edison and the bars/clubs at LA LIVE. Hollywood's Cahuenga Corridor (Cahuenga between Selma and Hollywood Boulevard) boasts several popular bars in a row making bar-hopping a possibility in a city where it's not the norm.
Bars close at 2 am with most last calls at 1:30 or 1:45. It is worth noting that some bars and almost all clubs charge cover and some may have VIP lists that are relatively easy to get on. Look up promoters and ask them to add you to their list. This is the easiest way to get into clubs such as Ecco, the Kress, Myhouse and similar popular Hollywood clubs.
It's hard to summarize the plethora of hotel options in L.A. From some of the most opulent (and expensive) hotels in the world to budget hostels to apartment-hotel crash pads, there's something for everyone. Deciding where to stay will have a lot to do with what areas you plan on visiting, and how you're going to get there. As usual in Southern California, a car opens up a world of options, but be sure to check the parking arrangement at your accommodations before you arrive.
The first big decision is whether to stay inside or outside of the City of Los Angeles. Hollywood is probably the most popular option for those wanting to sightsee and chase their image of that world. Downtown has long been popular with the business crowd but is rapidly receiving a makeover with hotels like The Standard  bringing a hipper crowd. Beverly Hills has some of the nicest hotels in the Southland, but expect the prices to reflect its reputation.
Sun and sand seekers can head to Santa Monica, Venice, or the Beach Cities to the south of LAX. Those just in town for a day or two might consider staying on the Westside near LAX airport. Pasadena to the northeast of LA is a peaceful and leafy city and a good alternative.
Chinese tourists often stay in the San Gabriel Valley suburbs to the east of Los Angeles, as those cities are more convenient as a base for visiting the factory outlet centers to the east (Desert Hills) and south (Orange and Carlsbad) and offer a broader range of Chinese cuisine than what is available in Chinatown in Los Angeles.
Most tourist destinations around the Southland tend to be fairly safe, such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Westwood, and West L.A. However, walking at night in some areas of the city (and some suburban cities as well) should be conducted with caution; and depending on the area, in groups. If traveling by car there is little threat of being harassed day or night, provided you avoid driving around neighborhoods with blatant signs of gang activity as mentioned below.
Certain areas in or near downtown, such as Skid Row (which is where the main Greyhound station is located), Pico-Union, Westlake, Boyle Heights, and South Central, can be dangerous regardless of the time of day and should be avoided altogether when walking if possible. If traveling in the San Fernando Valley region of the City of Los Angeles, the neighborhoods of Pacoima, Panorama City, Arleta, Van Nuys, Canoga Park, North Hills, North Hollywood (northern half), and Northridge (southern half) are also best avoided on foot.
Though cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, and Atlanta have higher reported crime rates per capita than Los Angeles, these numbers can be deceiving. L.A. statistics are skewed because the city has a humongous amount of geographic area so the safe neighborhoods such as Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Westwood and many others balance the numbers from the extremely dangerous neighborhoods. If the South Central area of Los Angeles were counted as its own city, it would have the highest crime and murder rate of any city in America. Neighboring Compton, an independent city, currently ranks as the fourth most dangerous city in America. Luckily for Los Angeles, Compton's statistics are not counted as part of L.A.'s crime data but instead counted separately, yet the two cities border each other. As a general rule, you should exercise extreme caution if walking or driving on surface streets in the area roughly bounded by Interstate 10 on the north, Interstate 710 on the east, Artesia Blvd/Highway 91 on the south, and La Cienega Boulevard on the west.
Both the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles, unfortunately, have a high rate of gang violence and crime. However, gangs generally confine themselves to certain areas and should be of little concern to the typical traveler, who is unlikely to venture into such areas. Gangs will usually identify their territory with graffiti markings. While most visitors to L.A. will not visit neighborhoods where gang violence is a concern, common-sense precautions apply should you become lost and end up in a bad neighborhood: remain on high-visibility roads or freeways, avoid confrontations with groups of young men, and should a confrontation arise flee immediately. If a person who appears to be a gang member asks "where are you from," prepare to immediately flee, seek cover, or defend yourself. That phrase is a common gang challenge and frequently implies imminent attack. (In a 2008 L.A. Times Op-Ed article, LAPD Chief of Detectives Charlie Beck explained that "it is the last question many young men in Los Angeles hear.") Use common sense on freeways to avoid incidents of road rage, which accounts for tens of deaths per year.
Most homeless individuals are harmless; they will likely only ask you for money and if you refuse, will simply go on to the next person. They are most heavily concentrated near downtown, Skid Row, and Hollywood. Avoid walking along Skid Row near Downtown at any time of day or night.
In the unlikely event of a major earthquake, duck and cover and stay where you are during the shaking, then go outside once the shaking stops. Most structures built after 1950 are unlikely to collapse. Your largest threats come from breaking windows and flying objects such as ceiling tiles and bookshelves. Try to get under a table, desk, or doorjam to reduce exposure to such threats. You are more likely to be injured if you try to run during the shaking.
Los Angeles is notorious for its severe air pollution problems, which peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s. Air quality has improved dramatically since then, and Los Angeles has fallen from its top position on lists of the worst air in the United States due to aggressive cleanup efforts by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and various state agencies. For example, the state Department of Motor Vehicles enforces a strict "Smog Check" program (whose logo is ubiquitous throughout the state) under which most vehicles more than six years old must undergo an annual emissions control inspection.
Generally, smog is at its worst during the late summer months. It is worse further inland where it is away from the ocean breezes and gets trapped by the surrounding mountains. Air pollution can also become a problem if a wildfire is burning in nearby hills.
Los Angeles air is cleanest in the winter in the first two or three days after winter rainstorms, when the storms have washed the pollution out of the air and dusted the nearby mountain peaks with snow. This is how professional photographers obtain the beautiful smog-free skyline pictures seen in advertisements and postcards. If you are visiting in the summer, the LA skyline is unlikely to look quite as nice, unless a surprise summer shower happens to occur during your visit.
Internet cafes are spread around town and most easily found in heavily touristed spots such as Hollywood Blvd and Melrose Ave. For most travelers, stopping by a local coffee shop such as Starbucks or The coffee bean should suffice. Most will either have free service for customers or require a nominal fee for usage. Many less expensive hotels and motels also offer complimentary internet access, often usable in the lobby before you check in.
There is also a growing trend for local fast food establishments and some restaurants to provide complimentary Wi-Fi.