LA is known for being an urban metropolis that's ripe with celebrity sightings and plenty of bling. But there's more to this iconic city—well, collection of cities—than just celebs.
Though Los Angeles is a city, its oddly drawn boundary lines mean that the greater LA area includes places like Torrance, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and even Anaheim (hello Disney!).
Whether you're visiting LA proper or one of the neighboring areas, here are 11 things to know about for your trip planning.
Things To Do In The Greater Los Angeles Area
Disneyland is a highlight when visiting LA, though technically it's in Anaheim. You can't go wrong with a trip to see Mickey (and the neighboring California Adventure)—or a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood.
Yep—Hollywood is part of LA—and so is that iconic sign. Definitely consider stopping by for a snap, or even hiking up to the sign itself.
Something I hope to do one day is to visit the La Brea Tar Pits, which contain fossils among the natural asphalt that's been oozing for tens of thousands of years. Did ya know giant sloths once roamed LA?! True story—visit the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum for all the details.
Another cool destination is the California Science Center, a must for families and every self-proclaimed nerd, too. Interactive exhibits and informational programs are always going on, and rotating exhibits mean it's different each time you stop by.
When To Visit Los Angeles
California gets hot. But contrary to popular belief, it's not always surf-ready weather. LA does get hotter than other areas near the coast (could it be all the asphalt, both from the tar pits and the city streets? Who knows).
LA weather is ideal in spring, from March to May, and September and November can be enjoyable, too.
Ideal Home Bases From Which To Explore LA
Central Los Angeles is bustling and busy, but that means convenience for getting on the freeway and exploring all over. Plus, you'll be near Dodger Stadium and the Natural History Museum.
Hollywood is great for the glamor and potential celeb sightings, and it's not too far from other attractions, either. For beach vibes, you'll want to bunk down in Long Beach or another coastal area.
If you're heading to LA primarily for Disneyland, you'll want to stay in Anaheim, which is southeast of the city proper.
Best Hotels In & Around Los Angeles
Wanting to stay in central LA? Choose a hotel like Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles to feel like a true LA socialite. Rates are around $180 per night. Need to save cash for your lattes and shopping? Stay at Freehand Los Angeles for under a hundred bucks per night.
Many travelers swear by staying at Disney hotels when heading to the theme park since you often get special perks like early park access and even fun additions to your room. Disneyland Hotel and Disney's Grand Californian Hotel offer true magic—at a cost of around $400 per night—right on site.
Want a place with more Hollywood vibes? Stay in West Hollywood at the Four Seasons (around $650 per night) or SLS Hotel (starting at around $300/night).
If maritime is your theme, or you just want to be near the water, consider staying on The Queen Mary. The hotel has earned over 20k glowing reviews from travelers via Google, and for around $100 per night, you can overnight on this retired ship. Oh yeah, and it might be haunted.
LA Foodies Rejoice—The City Has It All
You can find any type of cuisine in Los Angeles, and that's the beauty of the city. From The Palm Los Angeles for high-end steaks and seafood to Philippe The Original for French dips and communal vibes, you can't go wrong here.
Celebs favor Nobu, a top spot for Peruvian-Japanese, which has locations throughout the area.
Veggie lovers will even find vegetarian and vegan fare for any palate with spots like Cafe Gratitude and Crossroads Kitchen. Yum!
Transportation In Los Angeles
LA has excellent public transportation, but of course, tourists can always rent a car. Be warned, though—traffic can get pretty congested.
Choosing the light-rail or bus is probably your best bet—but Uber and Lyft are super popular and easy to get, too.
Top LA Spots To Visit
Los Angeles is famous for a few things: Disneyland/California Adventure, the Hollywood sign, some great beaches, and arts and culture.
For family-friendly fun, check out Venice Beach Boardwalk—there's sand, shopping, food, and even small aquariums and performers.
For all ages, visit museums like the California Science Center (mentioned above), the LA County Museum of Art, Natural History Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art. Don't forget Griffith Observatory for hands-on stargazing and science.
Hollywood Boulevard is another attraction perfect for those interested in entertainment. There's Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers studios (all three offer tours), and the Walk of Fame.
Oh, and don't forget the Angel Wings Wall for a delightful IG snap (it's at 7767 Melrose Avenue).
How Much Cash Do You Need To Do Up LA?
The city has a reputation for being a bit pricey. For perspective, consider that a one-bedroom apartment tends to go for between $2k and $3,500 per month. Yikes.
Budget Your Trip says to expect to shell out nearly $200 per day while visiting LA. Clearly, how much you spend depends on what you do and where you go—but you can spend less if you budget wisely, and check out all the free things to do in LA... And skip the $10 lattes every morning, noon, and night.
Best Time For Flight Deals To LA
The best flight deals for a ticket to LA occur in January, February, and September, says Skyscanner. That's good news for anyone considering an early fall visit—September weather should be perfect. Just bring a cozy sweater for the breezy mornings and evenings.
And while prices can fluctuate a lot, traveling on both weekdays (business travelers) and weekends (families) can be busy. So scan for deals and choose your departure date based on current trends, not historical figures.
Notable LA History
We already established that a long time ago, LA was home to giant sloths and other critters. But in its more recent past, Los Angeles was home to Chumash and Tongva tribes, then claimed for Spain by a guy named Cabrillo.
LA—along with California and much of the neighboring states—was part of Mexico until after the Mexican-American War. By 1850, LA and its state were part of the USA.
Later, the '90s were a rough time, what with illicit substances flowing into the area and plenty of crime going on. These days, though, the city is known for its vibrancy and diversity.
Bask In The Sun On LA's Beaches
Venice Beach (complete with boardwalk) is a top attraction for those wanting a lively beachgoing experience. But if you want a calmer and more picturesque ocean visit, consider a state beach like El Matador (in Malibu) or Point Dume (also Malibu).
Zuma Beach in Malibu also has a reputation for great surfing and plenty of sand to toss your towel down on. And Abalone Cove Shoreline Park in Rancho Palos Verdes has pristine nature vistas plus two beaches and trails to explore.
So, what are you waiting for?