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.
Though the current incarnation of Los Angeles is relatively new, the area's history dates to at least 3,000 B.C., as archaeological records indicate the area was then inhabited by native people who hunted marine mammals and gathered seeds for food, and then nomadic peoples called Tongva.
The first Europeans to visit the area were the Spanish explorers Captain Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 and Captain Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1602, who arrived 166 years before any other Europeans would visit the area. When Spanish civilizations arrived in greater numbers in the 1700s, the Los Angeles basin was home to approximately 5,000 native peoples, dubbed Gabrielinos and Fernandeños by the Spanish.
In the mid-to-late 18th century, the missions in the region wielded considerable power, until the new governor of California Felipe de Neve toured the area, then called Alta California (or North California). He decided to create pueblos to support the military in the region, reducing their dependence on the missions. The Los Angeles Pueblo was founded by 44 settlers, of Pobladores. Los Angeles' official founding was on September 4, 1781, as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula, or "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciúncula River." The original settlement is still preserved today in the Olvera Street area of the city.
Originally a small ranch town for decades, the city grew, and by 1782, the region became the largest self-sustaining farming community in Southern California with 650 inhabitants. The city's growing economic needs soon attracted native Americans from nearby settlements seeking paid work. Trade with the natives contributed greatly to the city's growing economic success.
In 1821, Mexico gained its independence from Spain, and the population continued to grow when Los Angeles was declared the regional capital. By 1840, the city had nearly tripled to 1,680. Mexican rule of Alta California ended after the Mexican-American war, when the region was captured by American soldiers, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Cahuengaf in 1847.
The city continued to expand thanks to the development and completion of the Southern Pacific railroad line in 1876. Oil was discovered near Los Angeles in 1892, and soon California became the nation's largest oil producer. The new industry contributed to a continuing population boom, and by 1900, more than 102,000 people were living in the city. Since the area is relatively dry, this put a strain on the city's water supply, though the problem was soon solved by the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 under the supervision of William Mulholland.
The city of Hollywood was established in 1903 but later annexed by Los Angeles by 1910, by which time 10 film studios were established. The region was beginning to attract filmmakers for the East Coast, attracted by the temperate weather and the lack of restrictions on filming in the area. Movie studios quickly established themselves in the region, so by 1921, more than 80 percent of the world's film industry was based in Los Angeles. The city's population surpassed one million inhabitants in 1930.
Thanks to the thriving oil and entertainment industries, Los Angeles didn't suffer the same economic woes as most of the country did during the Great Depression, though it did attract scores of Okies seeking jobs further west. During World War II, the city became a juggernaut of wartime production and propaganda, producing unprecedented amounts of war ships and planes. When the war ended, Los Angeles grew more rapidly than ever before, as families moved westward and often settled for cheaper housing in the city's developing suburbs throughout the San Fernando Valley. The expansion of the Interstate Highway System during this postwar period continued the push toward suburban growth and the demise of the city's electric rail system, once the world's largest.
Subsequent decades saw two major riots caused by racial tension. The Watts Riots of 1965 caused 34 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. The Los Angeles riots of 1992, the city's most severe in history, was sparked by a jury's acquittal of police officers caught on videotape beating Rodney King. The riots caused 54 deaths, more than 2,000 injuries and $1.3 billion in property damage. In the late 20th and early 21st century, the economic and racial landscape of the city continues to change, as Mexican populations skyrocket and the city's urban sprawl continues to spread.
Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the nation and thus the world in terms of its citizens’ ethnicities and economic standing. As of 2015, the city proper has an estimated population of 3,884,307 inhabitants and a population density of 8,092.3 people per square mile.
More than a third of the city’s population is foreign born, numbering just below 1.5 million. The people of Los Angeles come from all over the world and are dispersed throughout the city’s many sprawling, unique neighborhoods, though many of them congregate in ethnic enclaves like Little Armenia, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown or Tehrangeles.
Today, non-Hispanic whites make up on 28.7% of the city population, though many more work in the city and simply live in the surrounding suburbs. Due in part to its proximity to the Mexican border, Hispanics and Latinos make up nearly half of the population (48.5%) and are most heavily concentrated in East Los Angeles. In fact, the city has the third largest Mexican population in the world, behind the Mexican cities of Mexico City and Guadalajara. Asian people make up another sizable chunk of the Los Angeles population at 11.5%, with many more residing outside city limits, especially in the nearby San Gabriel Valley. Blacks and African Americans make up 9.4% of the city’s population with the heaviest concentration in South Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is similarly diverse when it comes to religion. The region is home to the largest Catholic archdiocese in the nation, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles California Temple, the second largest temple operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and the nation’s second largest concentration of Jews, 621,000 in the metropolitan area. The city is also home to large populations of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, various Eastern Orthodox practitioners and many more international religions.
The city’s diverse population makes Los Angeles one of the world’s great international cities, brimming with cultural opportunities amassed from every inhabited corner of the Earth. Visiting the ethnic enclaves is generally the easiest way to experience the distinct cultural differences present throughout the city and enjoy authentic ethnic cuisines. Los Angeles has some of the world’s best restaurants, and thanks to the sizable transplant population, many of the best ones are cheap but charming hole-in-the-wall places that suit any budget. Though Los Angeles is perhaps most famous for its thriving entertainment industries, multiculturalism may be the most significant part of modern Angeleno culture.
Seasons in Los Angeles are often negligible, and can generally be divided into summer and winter/spring. Summers start early in May and run long, with some of the year's hottest temperatures occurring in September and sometimes October. Daytime highs in summer are about 81F, and humidity is generally mild. Although not frequent, a heat-wave could occur on occasion. Nighttime lows during summer are about 63F. The autumn and early winter months often see Santa Ana winds, hot strong winds that originate inland near the Santa Ana mountains and blow towards the coast. The strong winds are perhaps the most miserable part of the Southern California weather cycle and often spark wildfires in dry years. The hot, sunny summers are sometimes interrupted by "June gloom," a weather phenomenon wherein fog settles around the city overnight, but generally disperses by the early afternoon. Weather begins to cool down into winter beginning in November and lasting until April. This is when the city receives the most rainfall, though sunny warm days are still the norm. Daytime highs in winter are about 67F, nighttime winter lows are about 49F. Climate varies depending on how far inland you are located. Winter temperatures can vary wildly throughout a single day. Often even the chilliest mornings lead straight into warm or even hot days.
The record high temperature in downtown Los Angeles was 113 degrees Fahrenheit in 2010, and the record low 28 degrees in 1949. Snow within city limits is almost unheard of, though it is common in the nearby mountains, allowing city dwellers to experience winter sports within driving distance of the beaches. The largest snowstorm in the city was recorded in 1949, when one-third fell in the city center but up to a foot in certain suburbs.
The weather is most often cited for how sunny it is, and the region is indeed dominated by sunny days. Even in the coldest and hottest months of the year, visitors to the city are almost guaranteed to enjoy a few sunny days and clear skies.
Los Angeles and the surrounding region are home to many micro-climates, meaning temperatures can shift wildly between geographically close places. This is due in part to the surrounding hills that can trap heat. For instance, San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley on either side of the city are frequently much hotter that downtown temperatures. Similarly, temperatures in the Hollywood Hills and on Santa Monica pier will typically be much colder than those downtown. 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.
Each New Year in LA begins with the Tournament of Roses celebration, a Southern California tradition more than a century old, which includes the massive Rose Parade and the subsequent Rose Bowl college football game. Spectators line the streets of LA's neighboring city Pasadena to watch a lavish, televised parade of flowers, floats and many marching bands. The Tournament of Roses is a massive event that requires some days of preparation and marching band competitions beforehand. Afterwards, there are plenty off tailgate parties to close the football game, and the floats are showcased for several days after the event on Sierra Madre and Washington Boulevards in Pasadena.
For Easter, many communities throughout the city and its suburbs host community egg hunts in local parks for parents and children to spend the day outside, enjoying the sunny weather and sweet treats the Easter Bunny has left. One of the larger events is the Downtown LA Easter Fest at Grand Hope Park, featuring egg hunts as well as live music, food and arts and crafts. On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, LA's oldest neighborhood on Olvera Street hosts an event called the Blessing of the Animals, wherein processions of farm animals and pets are honored with flowers and blessings from the Archbishop of Los Angeles.
Each May, Memorial Day heralds another crop of outdoor festivals and parades designed to honor members of the US army who died in service. The annual Canoga Park Memorial Day Parade in the San Fernando Valley incorporates military marching bands, floats, antique cars and military aircraft flyovers. Elsewhere throughout Los Angeles county, you'll find the St. Nicholas Valley Greek Festival, the Rose Hills Memorial Day Observance, the Fiesta Hermosa, and more all taking place in the span of this one three-day weekend. Similarly, on the opposite end of the summer, Labor Day kicks off another series of events, including the month-long LA County Fair in Pomona. There are almost too many events to count in this one weekend, generally signalling the end of summer and start of autumn, such as the LA/Long Beach Labor Coalition Labor Day Parade in nearby Wilmington, and The Taste food and wine extravaganza sponsored by the LA Times.
By the time October comes around, Los Angeles is already gearing up for Halloween, with many of the local theme parks and community spaces hosting haunted houses, hay rides and other events throughout the whole month. Movie theaters screen horror film marathons, and many communities host costume contests and pub crawls throughout the festive months, though dates and events often change from year to year. Actual Halloween heralds more merrymaking across the city, with the insane West Hollywood Halloween Carnival standing tall as the largest, most outrageous party of them all. After Halloween, the Mexican community celebrates their own holiday, the festive Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with performances, fiestas and exhibits from Olvera Street to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
On Thanksgiving day, many restaurants in LA, prestigious and hole-in-the-wall establishments alike, stay open as usual or else offer gourmet Thanksgiving meals of their own that buck traditional turkey-and-gravy dinners in favor of something more unique. The Hollywood Christmas Parade the day after Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas season. Though you're never likely to see snow here, Los Angeles has as much Christmas spirit as the next city, if not more. Most shopping districts and malls are fully decked out with wreaths, pine trees and festive lights for the season to welcome frantic shoppers, and many neighborhoods devote countless man hours to creating the perfect light displays on their homes. Despite the warm weather, many cities host ice skating rinks. The Mexican Christmas tradition of Los Posadas is celebrated with reenactments of Mary and Joseph's journey for nine days on Olvera Street. Elsewhere, the old Griffith Park Zoo is lit up with faux-animals in Zoo Lights and the Los Angeles Philharmonic holds its 'Deck the Halls' concert series downtown.
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) (Los Angeles Airport) 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 new terminal did not become fully operational until 2015, since the old TBIT was blocking Bradley West's east-facing gates and had to be removed first.
LAX's lower level roadway is divided into inner and outer roadways. Private vehicles and taxis are supposed to do pickups and dropoffs on the outer roadway. Commercial vehicles (including buses as well as hotel and car rental 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 the other 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), TBIT/B (Their OneWorld partner airlines), Gate 65A (Alaska Airlines & US Airways) 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. All international arrivals must go through security screening upon completion of immigration and customs inspections to access the onward flight.
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) they can be at Terminal 2, 4, 5, 6 or 8 depending on the airline you are traveling with. See the chart at right. To avoid missing flights, always determine in advance which terminal(s) your international flights will be flying in or out of with your airline(s), especially if you are connecting through LAX.
There are also two executive terminals for charter aircraft, if time means money.
By public airport transportation
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.
Tickets can be also purchased with a TAP Card. Stored Value tickets cost the same as cash tickets, but you might get a discount if you have an EZ Transit Pass Fare loaded. Bear in mind that you cannot purchase a TAP card at LAX as of January 2018.
They pick up from under the GREEN "Flyaway, Buses & Long Distance Vans" signs at the outer curb in front of each terminal. If transferring to Greyhound, LA-El Paso Limousine Express or InterCalifornias buses take the Fly-Away bus from the airport to the downtown Union Station and a taxi from the downtown Union Station to the bus station. The bus stations are a bit far to walk to and are located in 'Skid Row', east of downtown, which are in sketchy areas especially at night. See the below under "By Bus". The nearby city bus stations or transit centers are at:
Click here for the trip planner program which tells you which bus(es) to take to get to your final destination. Nearby hotels and hostels do send their own shuttles to the terminals to pick up and drop off guests so no need to use public transportation to get there. Their shuttles pick up from under the RED 'Hotel & Parking Shuttle' signs at the outer curb, in front of each terminal.
By other private airport shuttles, buses and taxis
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 surrounding the airport. 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 different car rental company offices. 
There are other area airports that may be closer to your final destination in the greater Los Angeles area then Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). They are:
All five airports lack direct train service. Only the Burbank Airport is (just barely) within walking distance of a Metrolink commuter rail station (not to be confused with the Metro Rail service).
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 Van Nuys (ICAO: KVNY), one of the world's busiest private jet airports, as well as Hawthorne, or any of the other small airports in the area that do not handle commercial flights; Santa Monica (ICAO: KSMO) recently reduced their runway length to restrict aircraft size to smaller planes. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Jetset Charter , Monarch Air Group , Mercury Jets  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. Brokers including Los Angeles Private Jets  and ElleJet  can access private aircraft at any of L.A.'s private aviation airports, as well as planes in your area for flights to Los Angeles.
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. For 2017 free tours of Union Station by a guide are available on the 2nd Sunday of each month. No reservations are required and begin at 1030 AM at information booth- click link for more details http://www.unionstationla.com/tours
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 $15 on Metrolink but $28 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). Note that Amtrak also has nicer seats, an option for a business class (with an added charge), and a cafe car (not free, of course). Metrolink serves more local stops.
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
Cycling conditions in the City of Los Angeles and surrounding cities are in a transitional state. While beach cities like Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach tend to have modern bike infrastructure due to a burgeoning number of cycling residents and tourists, all parts of the LA metro are subject to impatient and motivated vehicle traffic, in large quantity. Simply put, to stay safe you must be prepared to yield to an inattentive or impatient motorist at all times, wherever you are, no matter who has the right of way. Staying safe on a bike here means riding with respect to bad drivers. Lights and high visibility apparel are a must. For mountain bikers, LA remains a good destination and trails and safe roads are nearby.
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 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, Santa Monica/Westside, 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.
Los Angeles offers a reusable TAP Card, similar to other cities' electronic tickets such as London's Oyster card. TAP Card can be loaded with stored value to use as "pay as you go" or with passes. Please note that as of January 2018 you are NOT able to purchase a TAP card at LAX. You can purchase one at a machine at MetroRail stations or at selected vendors - see website for details. When buying the card you will pay $2 deposit on it.
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, Santa Monica, 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 $1.75 (with free transfers for two hours) 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 $7; a weekly pass (running Sunday to Saturday) costs $25, and a monthly pass costs $100. 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.
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.
The information available on some bus stops may be very sparse or virtually non-existent (e.g. West Hollywood) so it's best to check online to avoid long waiting times. The bus stops are more informative in Downtown LA.
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.. Of course the orange local buses which stop frequently to pick up and drop off people. Check the schedules in advance as many routes change and have reduced frequency in the late hours. Fares are currently $1.75 one way (with two hours of free transfers if using a TAP card), $7 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), $25 for a weekly pass, and $100 for a monthly pass. Day passes can be purchased from any Metro Rail station or bus operator; weekly and monthly 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.
Neighboring cities within the greater Los Angeles area 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:
The below are additional service outlying cities and suburbs in adjacent counties that make up the greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area. Some may operate limited express buses into downtown Los Angeles during the morning rush hours and back out to their respective areas in the afternoons. Otherwise take a Metrolink train out to the adjacent counties and transfer to the below:
Unfortunately, unlike most American cities that have one or perhaps two transit agencies with compatible fares, the Greater Los Angeles area has many different transit agencies whose fare structures are not interchangeable with each other. You will have to pay additional money if you're transferring to a different agency's bus.
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.
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.
Parking in downtown Los Angeles can be very expensive. Many hotels in the LA area - especially in the downtown area - have parking garages and change high daily parking fees. Don't be surprised to see parking for $40/night or more. Some hotels may have only valet parking which tends to be more expensive, and you will also be expected to 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. However, the RideYellow app has provided people in LA an option to get around at a lower rate with taxis.
One should also consider mobile apps such as LYFT and UBER as they have recently implemented themselves into the norm for LA transportation and you will see many cars displaying the Lyft and/or Uber logos on their windshield. Promo codes are usually available to first-time users so it's worth checking online if you can knock a few dollars off your fare that way. Both companies also offer ride-sharing (called Lyft LINE and UberPOOL) which gives you a discount on the regular fare but means other riders going in roughly the same direction may be added to your car. Depending on the situation you might have the car to yourself or you might end up in a car with four people going to four different places. However, often the discount will be worth the detour. With Lyft, you are shown the exact fare before booking (unlike Uber which shows you an estimate).
By Private Car
Hiring a vehicle is a quick and easy affair. Arriving passengers will find offers and services from various car rental firms there. It is only a short distance from the desks of the car rental agents to the car rental service centre where the hire cars are picked up and returned. You could also find different private options like Los Angeles Limo Service or AlistLimo.com
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.
Los Angeles only became a major city within the span of the last century, and as such doesn't have the historical pedigree of many other major cities, particularly in Europe or even on the East Coast. That said, the city has preserved some of its heritage despite its constant development, and many of the historical sights are the greatest in the region.
Olvera Street is the historic center of LA, and the city derives its name from the Spanish-Mexican pueblo established here in the 1780s as Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles, or Our Lady the Queen of the Angels. The oldest building in the city is located here and is open to visitors, as are a number of Mexican restaurants and shops catering to tourists. As the oldest area in the city, the street is part of the larger El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument holding many more buildings preserved from the 18th and 19th centuries.
There are two other significant historic sites in Los Angeles County preserving the region's Spanish heritage. There's the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel in present-day Alhambra and Mission San Fernando Rey de España in the San Fernando Valley, both preservations of the Spanish missions that dominated the region during its early European settlement.
Within walking distance of Olvera Street is the Historic Core of downtown. This recently revitalized area is home to many examples of late 19th and early 20th century architecture, as well as two major fixtures of the city in Union Station and City Hall. Union Station was constructed in the 1930s in a Mission-revival style of architecture and still serves as the main hub for the city's railway system. Similarly, City Hall is a grand historic building still in use by the city government, constructed in the late 1920s. Other historic buildings, including Victorian-style homes, brick buildings (surprisingly uncommon in Los Angeles) and old movie palaces are on display throughout the area.
Less-touristy areas in Northeast LA also hold several exhibits on early life in modern Los Angeles during the turn of the 20th century. The Heritage Square Museum is an open-air museum and historic architecture exhibit in the Montecito Heights neighborhood, which chronicles the development and history of Southern California using preserved examples of local architectural eras. Volunteer tour guides take guests through the area, discussing the region's history, culture and, of course, architecture. The nearby Lummis Home is a 19th century American craftsman establishment built by Charles Fletcher Lummis, its river rock facades immediately recognizable from the disparate Los Angeles architecture of the surrounding areas. The 4,000 square-foot home is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument open to the public.
The Miracle Mile area along Wilshire Boulevard west of downtown is another of the city's historic areas. Most of this area's architecture is newer than the Historic Core, and is decorated with buildings made in the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne society of the mid-20th century. This area has its origins in the 1920s as one of the first shopping districts catering to the area's suburban sprawl.
As the film capital of the world, Los Angeles has many landmarks made famous by films, so movie buffs could spend days scouting out filming locations from their favorite film scenes. One location of note is the Griffith Observatory in the foothills north of downtown, a planetarium and Art Deco structure famous for its panoramic views of the city and many onscreen appearances in films like Rebel Without a Cause. Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Culver City are home to many iconic and historic theaters and movie studios, including Universal Studios and the Chinese Theater along Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. Many major movie studios, like Universal, offer tours of the grounds that go through the studio's often extensive and illicit histories.
Finally, for a bit of ancient history stretching far beyond even Native American settlements of Los Angeles, tourists can visit the famous La Brea Tar Pits just west of Miracle Mile, an area where tar has seeped above ground for thousands of years, trapping and preserving the remains of many animals. The Page Museum has many of the fossils recovered there on display.
The Wisdom Tree is about a 40-minute walk up Burbank Peak about 15-minutes West of the Hollywood sign. After a huge wildfire in 2007 destroyed hundreds of acres the Wisdom Tree was left standing. From the top is a heart stopping view of Los Angeles. You can also find a box of notebooks by the tree with hikers hopes, dreams, and thoughts with pencils to write your own. It's a very inclined hike so come prepared with plenty of water and good shoes.
The following theme parks are in cities surrounding in Los Angeles, but they're a common attraction for visitors.
Although LA is home to many A-list celebrities, due to the huge size of the city you are unlikely to randomly bump into any during your visit. Most Southland residents consider themselves lucky to encounter a true A-list celebrity once a year, if at all. To avoid being recognized and chased by paparazzi and fans, A-list celebrities often dress in relatively plain clothes, and female celebrities will either wear little makeup or makeup different from what they normally wear for the cameras. Besides oddly frumpy clothing and makeup on an obviously attractive person, another common clue is if a person is wearing sunglasses indoors (especially at a major airport or shopping mall) or on a overcast or rainy day.
If you want to see a celebrity with your own eyes during your visit, you will have to figure out how to attend a major event where celebrities are often present like a concert, play, musical, filming of a television show, film premiere, awards ceremony, convention, etc. Even then, unless you are lucky enough to find yourself in a situation where a celebrity is willingly giving autographs or posing with fans for photos, you should keep to a respectful distance or risk running afoul of California's very strict anti-stalking laws.
Concerts and Conventions
In a city as sprawling as Los Angeles, there's a plethora of concert venues. Whether you want to see an intimate chamber recital, a large orchestra or the latest rock concert, there's a place and a sound system for everyone.
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 other soccer team—the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (winner of 3 of the last 4 Finals) plays at the StubHub Center in Carson.
January - Los Angeles rings in the new year with the Tournament of Roses Parade every January 1st. The popular parade takes place in Pasadena and features a seemingly endless procession of floral-decorated floats, musical performances and the Rose Bowl football game just after the parade.
February - Chinese New Year celebrations take place in early February, with the largest festivities in LA taking place in the Chinatown region of Downtown. The neighborhood holds a two-day street fair, boasting a carnival, live performances, food stands, lantern processions and the vibrant Golden Dragon Parade.
The world-famous Academy Awards takes place during late February as well. The glitz and glamor all happens on a Sunday at the Kodak Theater in the heart of Hollywood, as celebrities march down the red carpet looking their best to receive and present awards to honor films of the past year and films throughout history.
March - The massive and lengthy Los Angeles Marathon starts at Dodger Stadium north of Downtown and eventually ends up 26 miles away in Santa Monica. Onlookers show up along the sidelines to watch, perform and otherwise cheer on runners and wheelchair racers.
April - The LA Times Festival of Books takes over the USC campus south of downtown for one weekend in late-April, as readers congregate to browse book sales, listen to live music and attend signings to meet and greet their favorite authors.
Though it doesn't take place on May 5th, Los Angeles's Fiesta Broadway on the last Sunday of April is considered the largest Cinco de Mayo festival in the world. 30 square blocks of downtown are blocked off for a massive fiesta of pinatas, Mexican food, music and more.
June - LA Gay Pride in early June is a massive celebration of the city's enormous LGBT population. As one of the largest gay pride events in the US, the three-hour parade attracts nearly 400,000 visitors each year to witness the colorful atmosphere created by local DJs and drag queens alike.
Film Independent's Los Angeles Film Festival is a ten-day festival in June showcasing more than 200 feature films, shorts and music videos.
The X Games takes place in June every year at the Staples Center in Downtown LA. The competition, which stretches into early July, amasses huge audiences cheering on their favorite athletes as they compete in extreme sports for prestige and prizes.
July - The city hosts many events for Independence Day, but perhaps the most spectacular takes place at the Hollywood Bowl, where fireworks are launched in sync with performances by the LA Philharmonic and other artists. Other noteworthy celebrations take place at the Rose Bowl, along Venice Beach and at Grand Park in Downtown.
The US Open of Surfing takes place every summer in the LA-adjacent beach town of Huntington Beach, drawing huge crowds of tourists and enthusiasts alike.
August - The eight-day Nisei Week Japanese Festival in mid-August celebrates multiple facets of Japanese culture. The event ends with the coronation of Nisei Week Queen after more than a week of tea ceremonies, martial arts demonstrations and much more.
The Watts Summer Festival, also in August at the Will Rogers Memorial Park, is the longest running black cultural festival in the US, established in the wake of the infamous Watts Riots to celebrate black pride.
One of Los Angeles' largest music festivals, FYF, takes place in late summer every year close to Downtown, at Memorial Sports Arena (previously it was held at the Los Angeles State Historic Park). The festival boasts all sorts of music and attracts alternative music enthusiasts from all walks of life.
September - The LA County Fair takes place in late summer and into early autumn each year at the fairgrounds in Pomona. The crowded event features something for everyone, from city folk to farmers, plus lots of rides and fun houses for the little ones.
The always-entertaining Venice Beach becomes even livelier during its annual Abbot Kinney Festival in late September/early October, an artsy street fair bustling with locals and out-of-town vendors boasting beautiful and quirky artworks for sale.
October - The city comes alive during Halloween and for the entire month beforehand. Events change from year to year, but some of the most popular features include local bar crawls, horror film fests, professional haunted houses and the massive West Hollywood Costume Carnival on Halloween night.
November - The lively Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) takes place on the first Saturday of the month, with the largest festivities centered around the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and historic Olvera Street.
The AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival takes place at several theaters in the heart of Hollywood each November, showcasing red carpet events as well as some of the most buzzed-about films alongside little-known independent flicks.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade takes place the Sunday after Thanksgiving, officially kicking off the city's Christmas season with a massive parade of elaborate floats, marching bands and celebrity appearances.
December - The Marina Del Rey Boat Parade is one of the most popular of many holiday-themed events in the region, as locals and tourists amass to witness the boats decked out with unique Christmas lights floating through still waters.
The LA County Holiday Celebration in Downtown takes place on Christmas Eve and features a whole day's worth of merry-making to celebrate some of LA's richest holiday traditions amassed from cultures around the world.
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. Walgreen's, CVS, and Rite-Aid are three of the major pharmacy chains operating in Los Angeles and offer a wider selection than many convenience stores, but at the same 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.
Target, the largest big box retailer, has stores in Westwood, West Hollywood, Beverly Grove, Baldwin Hills and Downtown L.A., some are open till 12 A.M., others close at 11 P.M.
The 99 Cents Only Stores chain offers a variety of products at low prices. Though the store's prices are no longer capped at 99 cents, the cheaper products can be useful for those looking for a quick fix. Stores often 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.
There are several hubs for cheap, authentic ethnic restaurants. Koreatown and Westlake, both centrally located south of Hollywood and west of Downtown, boasts a huge array of restaurants specializing in Korean and Vietnamese cuisines, though the area has become more popular with diners in recent years. South Central has many delicious and hearty soul food spots. Chinatown, of course, has authentic Chinese food within walking distance of many Downtown attractions. The Little Armenia district of East Hollywood is a hotspot for affordable Middle Eastern cuisine. Little Ethiopia occupies a single block in the Mid Wilshire neighborhood but features plenty of delicious Ethiopian restaurants and markets. Mexican taco trucks and restaurants can be found throughout the city, in every corner of town. Hollywood has some of the city's best and most affordable Thai food.
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!
Many neighborhoods in Los Angeles, as well as the surrounding cities, host their own farmers markets. Local purveyors set up shop along several blocks year-round, usually one day a week for each community, to sell their goods and provide interested passersby with free samples of fresh produce, salad dressings, sweets, beauty products and more. Live music and food trucks are often a fixture of many farmer's markets. The historic Farmer's Market on Fairfax runs every day of the week, though it's not so much a farmer's market as a collection of permanent food stands adjoining a the Grove, an outdoor mall.
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 usually occurs over a two-week period in July.
Los Angeles has no shortage of nightclubs and watering holes. The city covers so much area, it's hard to pick and choose the best of the best nightlife offered in the city. Every establishment is bound to appeal to a different class of customer. Whether you prefer a thumping loud nightclub or a hole-in-the-wall dive bar, be sure to do your research. Because of the city's sprawl, LA isn't an ideal place for bar-hopping, except in certain areas where bars are more densely located.
Bars in Los Angeles, and all of California, are legally obligated to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. Note that many bars will charge cover or even have long lines and VIP lists, particularly on busy weekend nights after 10. Unlike some other U.S. states, alcohol is available for purchase at grocery and drug stores.
Touristy Hollywood Boulevard has many nightclubs that are usually raucous and crawling with out-of-towners. There are several more casual bars in Hollywood, but mostly in the surrounding areas like Cahuenga Corridor. The famous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood is another nightlife hub, with trendy hotel bars and some of the city's most famous music venues. The neighborhoods in northeast LA, including Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park, specialize in trendy dive bars and smaller music venues, fitting to the youth-oriented population. The recently revitalized Downtown has its share of worthwhile hotspots as well, including luxurious hotel and rooftop bars and the nightlife options at LA Live.
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 is ideal for business travelers; it is also becoming increasingly attractive for hipsters due to its blossoming arts and bar scene and newer hotels like The Standard. 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 - these locations are perfect for exploring the city's famous beaches. 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 should be conducted with caution and, depending on the area, in groups.
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 other American cities such as Chicago, 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.
Situated southeast of Downtown Los Angeles, Skid Row covers approximately 54 square blocks. This neighborhood is NOT a tourist attraction, and in fact functions as a gathering point for the homeless community of the entire Southern California area. Though Skid Row always attracted migrant workers and drifters, its current state can be traced to city planning in the 1970s to consolidate services for the homeless. Though this makes sense on paper, the ultimate result was the herding of Los Angeles's entire homeless population to a single square mile. As a consequence, walking from downtown LA to Skid Row is like being transported to a Third World shantytown. Though there are SRO hotels and shelters, most Skid Row residents live in rows of tents that line the streets for blocks.
People in this area are homeless. Many homeless people won't hurt anyone and simply ask for your money. If you don't give them money they will move on to the next person. In the unlikely event a homeless person gets aggressive and acts violently avoid them at all cost. Call the police if the situation is serious. Hotels in skid row is typically dirty,cheap and unpleasant. Don't expect to find a hotel with a comfortable bed,food service and high end resorts within this areas. Though there are dirt cheap hotel rooms in Skid Row, some for under $50 a night, most of these are geared toward semi-homeless or working poor people, and are generally not up to tourist standards. If you find yourself in Skid Row, walk at a brisk pace, avoid eye contact with everyone, and ignore anyone who tries to talk to you. Unless you have a good reason to be here, such as employment or volunteering at a homeless shelter, it is strongly advised that tourists avoid visiting Skid Row completely.
While Los Angeles has some of the most spectacular hiking trails, it’s also home to rattlesnakes, which are quite prevalent in the Santa Monica Mountains. To try and avoid a rattlesnake bite, stay on trails when you’re hiking and stay away from deep brush or grass. Wear strong, sensible hiking boots. Never hike in sandals or flip flops.
Because Southern California sits on a fault line, earthquakes are always a possibility in Los Angeles. It’s not uncommon to feel small earthquakes from time to time. However, the last major earthquake in Los Angeles took place in 1994. Nonetheless, Angelenos know to be prepared at all times. In the unlikely event of an earthquake, drop and cover yourself with your arms if you have nothing else to shield yourself with from potential flying debris, objects or broken windows. if you are indoors, lie on the floor or under a desk or place a chair over your head until the shaking stops. If you are outdoors move to an area that is as clear as possible – away from trees, buildings or power lines. If you’re on the beach, head to higher ground because earthquakes can cause tsunamis. If you’re in a car, pull over to the side of the road and stop. Do not get out of the car until the shaking has stopped.
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 high tourist 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. Other places 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.
Local fast food establishments and some restaurants (e.g. McDonald's) may also provide complimentary Wi-Fi, as do stores such as Target, JC Penney, and Vons. The Los Angeles Public Library system offers Wi-Fi access at its many branches without the need of a library card.
It's also worth looking for free public Wi-fi networks (e.g. at Griffiths Observatory).