A lot of people assume Hollywood is the heart of Los Angeles, and that it revolves around the celebrities and beautiful people that inhabit it, but there is so much more to this city to discover. Find out what is true and what isn’t about living in LA before visiting, and be pleasantly surprised.
In terms of distance, the city sprawls out widely between the Santa Monica Mountains on the Westside and the San Gabriel Mountains on the east. Downtown is 30 miles away from the beach and it could take almost an hour to get from one side to the other. Essentially, travelers can be in the city still, yes, and still be really far away from something also technically in Los Angeles.
Again, this is why it could take almost an hour or more to get across the city during rush hours. Visitors planning ambitious daily schedules should keep this in mind before trying to do Griffith Observatory to dinner in Venice in a matter of hours. It could really put a damper on things if traffic causes a lost reservation.
Renting a car is a must. Although its being improved currently with the opening of a new Expo line stretching from Downtown to Santa Monica Beach, public transportation in this city is not comprehensive and it is not that easy to get around the entirety of LA using only the subways and bus systems. If travelers expect to beat traffic this way, think again—it could take even longer than driving. Angelenos love their cars, so driving is usually the best bet.
LA is obsessed with all kinds of working out and hiking is just one of the many healthy habits that we’ve adopted. There are popular trails all over the city and beyond, especially Runyon Canyon where its trendy to be seen in workout clothes briskly walking dogs and taking the casual photo opportunity.
If visitors want to really taste what its like to live the life of an Angeleno, weekend brunch activities are an absolute must. Brunch is taken very seriously here and can either be upscale and fancy at a top star restaurant complete with boozy beverages, or it can be relaxed and comforting like waffles at a sidewalk cafe. As long as visitors understand, brunch is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.
The Hollywood portrayed in film and television that most tourists come to see is not the Hollywood where the industry lives, works, and hangs out. Essentially, don’t expect to see celebrities just strolling past their name on the Walk of Fame. It doesn’t happen, as these areas are mostly reserved for tourists. It’s still worth seeing however.
No matter what time of year it is, it would be a rarity if visitors came to LA to find it cloudy. The climate is temperate and there really is hardly ever a cloud in the sky (except for during El Nino). Pack sunglasses and shorts even in the winter—you never know when we could get a nice heat spell for the week.
…and so are the people in it. It is also somewhat of a touristy place to hangout, due to the popularity of the gorgeous shops and boutique stores on Rodeo Drive. However, it is also a local area as well with many highly acclaimed restaurants and relaxed cafes dotting the picturesque sidewalks and clean paved streets.
Venice Beach totally lives up to expectations as a hippie haven and there is great people watching to indulge in there. It can get pretty gritty right along the beach where all the skaters and artists hangout, and the shops along the boardwalk are full of interesting and unique fare with handcrafted items and artwork. Tourists are welcome here, and it’s a great place to get a real feel for the relaxed California beach vibes.
The number one aspect that visitors should expect when coming to LA is that it is nearly impossible to do and see everything in one visit. Even the best-laid plans couldn’t accomplish it, because the city is always changing and coming up with new diversions. The best advice must be to take advice from a local– go with the flow and see where the city takes you.