The Beginner's Guide to Los Angeles

Los Angeles 101

Photo:  Yuri Hasegawa

Whether you're a first time visitor or a lifelong Angeleno, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has created a useful guide that will help you get the most out of your L.A. experience. From navigating the city to hotels, restaurants, concerts and much more, read on for the Beginner's Guide to Los Angeles.

  • Founded: Sept. 4, 1781
  • Nickname: City of Angels
  • Los Angeles is in the Pacific Time zone (UTC−8). In the Summer (Daylight Saving Time) it's PDT (UTC−7).

By the Numbers

Los Angeles is the largest city in California by population, and the second largest city in the country by population. There are 88 incorporated cities in L.A. County. The City of Los Angeles is the largest by population and the smallest is Vernon (population 112).

  • City of Los Angeles: 503 square miles (469 square miles of land and 34 square miles of water)
  • L.A. County: 4,751 square miles (4,058 square miles of land and 693 square miles of water)
  • City of Los Angeles: 4 million
  • L.A. County: 10.2 million

Government

The official website of the City of Los Angeles is www.lacity.org. The current Mayor of Los Angeles is Eric Garcetti. The mayor's official website is www.lamayor.orgLos Angeles City Hall is the center of the government of L.A. Completed in 1928, the landmark building houses the mayor's office and the meeting chambers and offices of the Los Angeles City Council. City Hall is located in the Civic Center district of Downtown Los Angeles.

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Photo courtesy of Stuck in Customs, Flickr

Weather

Los Angeles is world-famous for its beautiful mild weather, with 292 days of sunlight/partial sunlight a year and an average high temperature of 75 °F and an average low of 56 °F. The Los Angeles area has many microclimates - daytime temperatures can vary as much as 36 °F between inland areas such as the San Fernando Valley or San Gabriel Valley and the coastal basin.

  • Summer - warm to hot and almost completely dry
  • Winter - mildly cool to warm, with occasional rain
  • Spring & Autumn - because of the long Winters and Summers, Spring and Autumn hardly exist compared to other climates. The rainy season usually ends by mid-May, while summer weather patterns typically last until mid-November.
"LAX From Daylight Into Darkness"

"LAX From Daylight Into Darkness" | Photo: Mike Kelley

In-N-Out Burger LAX
In-N-Out Burger near LAX | Photo: Karen Nicoletti, Flickr

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the main airport serving the Greater Los Angeles area. LAX is located in the beach community of Westchester, about 16 miles from Downtown L.A. The airport's West Coast location makes it a gateway to international destinations, particularly Asia and the Pacific. LAX is the world's sixth busiest airport and third busiest in the United States, offering 680 daily flights to 96 domestic cities, and 910 weekly nonstop flights to 59 cities in 30 countries.

The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has created a basic guide to LAX for international visitors flying into Los Angeles. Detailed terminal maps are available at the LAX website for reference.

For the most current information on passenger and baggage screening, visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website at www.tsa.gov.

LAX FlyAway®

The FlyAway® bus service provides frequent non-stop transportation between LAX and locations throughout the city. FlyAway® buses operate seven days a week and drop passengers off on the Upper/Departures Level of each terminal at LAX. At LAX, passengers board buses on the Lower/Arrivals Level in front of each terminal under the green "FlyAway®, Buses and Long Distance Vans" signs. Each bus is marked with its service location. Read on for details about each FlyAway® stop.

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The Galleria | Photo courtesy of Millennium Biltmore Hotel

Hotels

From budget and landmark hotels to boutique and luxury properties, the perfect hotel is waiting to host you anywhere in L.A. Find out more with our guide to the Tourism Marketing District and book your reservation today!

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Expo Park/USC Station on the Metro Expo Line | Photo by Daniel Djang

Go Metro

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is the public transportation agency for L.A. County. Metro operates light rail, heavy rail, bus and bus rapid transit services. Metro's base fare is $1.75. You can pay cash each time you board a Metro bus (bus operators don't carry change, so you'll need exact fare) or buy and add value to a reusable TAP card from TAP vending machines at Metro Rail or Metro Orange Line stations.

Metro Rail

Metro Rail services L.A. County with two subway lines (Red and Purple) and four light rail lines (Blue, Green, Gold, Expo). It connects with the Metro Liner bus rapid transit system (the Orange Line and Silver Line) and also with the Metrolink commuter rail system. A Metro Rail & Busway map is available for download at the Metro website. All Metro Rail lines run regularly between 5am and midnight, seven days a week. Limited service on particular segments is provided after midnight and before 5am. On Friday and Saturday nights, service operates until about 2am. There is no rail service from 2-3:30am, except on special occasions such as New Year's Eve. Exact arrival times vary from route to route. For GPS-based arrival times, use the Metro Nextrip Service.

Metro Bus

Metro is the primary bus operator in the Los Angeles Basin, the San Fernando Valley, and the western San Gabriel Valley. Metro operates two types of bus services, which are distinguished by the color of the buses. The orange-colored Metro Local buses offer service to/from Downtown L.A. and other areas. The red-colored Metro Rapid is an express service with fewer stops than Metro Local. Timetables for Metro Bus lines are available for download at the Metro website.

Photo courtesy of Renee Silverman, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Renee Silverman, Flickr

Neighborhoods

Spanning more than 80 districts and neighborhoods, Los Angeles offers endless opportunities for exploration. 

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Pacific Coast Highway | Photo courtesy of Eric Demarcq, Flickr

Driving in L.A.

Los Angeles is world-famous for its car culture. Angelenos spend a good portion of their time driving around L.A., whether it’s for work or pleasure. Many visitors enjoy exploring the city in a car. Whether it’s your first time in the City of Angels or you’re a frequent visitor, here are some basic driving rules and tips to help you discover Los Angeles.

Otium
Donabe smoked hiramasa pastrami at Otium | Photo: Otium, Facebook
Bestia

Bestia

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Restaurants

Los Angeles has one of the best dining scenes in the country, offering everything from street food to Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning restaurants. L.A.’s culinary influence can be felt across the country: California cuisine, global restaurants, organic ingredients, food trucks and more. Gourmands can experience the restaurants of legends like Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller and Nobu Matsuhisa, as well as a new generation of culinary stars like Roy Choi and Curtis Stone.

NOTE: Although tipping is not mandatory, it is customary at most sit-down restaurants that offer table service. In general, the average tip is 15-20% of the total meal cost, including drinks.

dineL.A.

Taking place each year in January and July, dineL.A. is a 15-day dining event that features special prix fixe menus at more than 300 restaurants, showcasing Los Angeles as a premier dining destination while highlighting the diversity of the city's culinary experiences.

The Edison

The Edison | Photo: The Edison, Facebook

 |  Photo: The Edison

Bars

Los Angeles is renowned for its cocktail culture. Some of the best bartenders in the country are shaking and stirring amazing craft cocktails right here in the City of Angels. You'll start sipping like a local when we guide you to L.A.'s best hidden bars. (NOTE: last call in Los Angeles is 2 a.m.) More of a dive bar aficionado? Not to worry, we've got you covered.

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Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers

Sports

Los Angeles is the City of Champions, with world-class sports venues that have hosted Super Bowls, the World Series, two Summer Olympics, the Stanley Cup, the World Cup and much more.

  • MLS: LAFC plays at Banc of CA Stadium and the Galaxy play at StubHub Center in Carson (regular season March - October)
  • MLB: the Dodgers play at Dodger Stadium (regular season April - November)
  • WNBA: the Sparks play at STAPLES Center (regular season May - September)
  • NFL: the Rams and Chargers play at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (regular season September - December)
  • NBA: the Lakers and Clippers play at STAPLES Center at L.A. LIVE (regular season October - April)
  • NHL: the Kings play at STAPLES Center at L.A. LIVE (regular season October - June)
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Beyoncé at the Rose Bowl during the Formation World Tour | Photo courtesy of beyonce.com

Events

Day or night, there's always something happening in Los Angeles. There's endless entertainment for everyone, from family friendly events to unforgettable concerts by superstar performers. Start exploring the Discover Los Angeles Event Calendar and you're sure to find plenty to do in the City of Angels. 

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Photo courtesy of Starline Tours

Tours

Whether you’re a first time visitor to Los Angeles or a lifelong Angeleno, there is something new to discover in the City of Angels. To help you explore L.A., there are tours that appeal to a wide range of interests and budgets. From museum and food tours to eco-friendly bikes and spectacular helicopter and boat rides, read on to find out more about Los Angeles tours.

Free Wi-Fi

Some of L.A.'s most popular attractions and destinations offer free wireless Internet. Don't forget to charge your phone before you start taking selfies at the beach!

  • LAX (unlimited 45-minute sessions)
  • Griffith Observatory
  • Hollywood Bowl
  • STAPLES Center
  • Grand Central Market
  • Dodger Stadium
  • Museums: MOCA, LACMA, Getty Center
  • Central Library
  • Echo Park Lake
  • Venice Beach
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Pershing Square (Downtown L.A.)
  • Cabrillo Beach (San Pedro)
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Photo courtesy of Access Services

Disability Services

For those with disabilities, there is convenient access to transportation and attractions throughout the city.

LAX provides various services for disabled travelers, including ground transportation and wheelchair services. Read More

Access Services is the Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CTSA) for Los Angeles County. Access Paratransit is a shared ride service that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week in most areas of L.A. County. The service is curb-to-curb and utilizes a fleet of small buses, mini-vans and taxis. Fares are distance-based and range from $2.75 to $3.50 for each one-way trip. Personal Care Attendants may ride with the qualified rider for free.

Metro strives to ensure that its services (including more than 200 bus and rail routes) are fully accessible to all of its riders, including those with disabilities. Popular attractions and venues throughout L.A. provide disabled access. For example, the California Science Center offers wheelchair rental for visitors with mobility impairments, and visual description tours for the blind or visually impaired.  At Universal Studios Hollywood, many rides, shows, attractions, escalators and parking structures are designed to accommodate guests in wheelchairs and other disabilities. Disabled services at STAPLES Center includes wheelchair escorts, wheelchair storage, and accessible/disabled seating on all levels of the arena. Check with individual attractions and venues for more information.

City Services

The City of Los Angeles has created a contact list for important services, such as Public Safety and Emergency Services (police and fire departments), Transportation & Parking, Animal Services and more.

Visitor Information Centers

Visit one of the L.A. Tourism Board's Visitor Information Centers, where multilingual and multicultural staff are ready to help you make the most of your experience in Los Angeles. Team members are experts in all things Los Angeles and can provide a wealth of information on what to see, where to stay, where to eat, and how to get there. You can even purchase tickets to a wide variety of Los Angeles area attractions. VICs are located in Downtown, Hollywood, Union Station and San Pedro.


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