If you need emergency assistance from public authorities, dial 911 from any phone.
Where To Go:
If you have never visited Disneyland, that is a "must see." There are dozens, if not hundreds of other worthwhile attractions in LA. The website pages that are visited most often are listed on the Most Popular page. For instructions on how to get free publications mailed to you from various cities, visit the Free Publications page.
Where NOT To Go:
Generally there is no area that is so dangerous that it could be considered "off limits." Just use common sense. If an area looks rundown then there is a higher possibility of crime there. Like any large city, LA has its share of crime. But most likely, it will not involve you. If possible, rent a car to get around and keep the doors locked at all times.
The LAPD does not deserve their bad reputation. As a tourist, you will not have any problems with police in Los Angeles. LAPD patrols most of the city streets except in outlying areas that are patrolled by the Sheriff's Department. There are several cities within Los Angeles, such as Beverly Hills, Culver City and Santa Monica. Each has it's own local police department, but they all follow pretty much the same standards as any good police department in the United States. California Highway Patrol monitors the freeways.
Where To Eat:
You do not need to plan this in advance. You'll find a wide variety of places to eat, within your price range. serving any of your dietary needs. Follow this list to find a list of LA Dining Guides. The best way to find restaurants and save money at the same time is to buy an Entertainment Book and visit some of the restaurants listed within. Then use the coupon for that restaurant to get a discount on your meal.
Don't Get Lost - Finding Your Way Around:
Get the best map: The most popular map is called the Thomas Guide. It's well worth the cost since it has the best street maps and indexing system. If you get lost just once you'll wish you had this.
Next on the list is to rent a cellular phone. Public pay phones are everywhere, except when you need one the most (so it seems). If you need emergency assistance from public authorities, dial 911 from any phone.
Another good idea, though a little more expensive, is a hand held GPS. It won't help you get around so much as it will let you always know where your hotel is located, or where you left your car. These devices let you track your position via satellite and allow you to mark "waypoints" such as your hotel, or your car in the parking lot at Disneyland (it's a HUGE parking lot!). It can also estimate how many miles you have traveled, or walked. It is a passive device, and does not transmit your position to others.
What is a "Block"?
A "block" is an estimation of distance. It refers to the distance from one street corner to the next. A very good definition of a block is as follows: "an informal unit of distance popular in the U.S. A block is the average distance between street intersections in the rectangular street grids common in most American cities. The length of a block varies from about 1/20 mile (80 meters) in New York to about 1/16 mile (100 meters) in many Midwestern cities to about 1/10 mile (160 meters) in cities of the South and West."
Our public transportation has improved quite a bit in Los Angeles during the past decade. MTA buses and trains are generally clean and offer good coverage of the city. However, if at all possible, your best option is to rent a car. For more options, see the LA Transportation Page)
Driving Around LA:
Los Angeles does a pretty good job of maintaining the roads. Obviously you'll find some roads, traffic signals or streetlights with a problem, but for the most part roads are in good repair, well lit at night, and you can see traffic signals from a long distance.
Car Pool Lane - These lanes are intended for vehicles with more than one occupant. Read the restrictions carefully before entering these lanes, which are designated with a white diamond on a black background.
Fast Lane - The inside lane, which is the lane furthest left, is sometimes referred to as the "fast lane." That's because typically the traffic moves fastest in that lane.
Number One Lane - Occasionally in traffic reports you will hear the "fast lane" referred to as the Number One lane. That's the official name for this lane. Number Two lane is the next one to the right, and so on, until you reach the outside lane, which is closest to the exits.
Speeding - Los Angelenos are notorious for adding a few miles to the speed limit. Typically on a freeway you can get away with 5-10 MPH over the limit. On a street you can usually go 5 MPH over without attracting attention. **The best advice is to "go with the flow" of traffic** Also, be careful to avoid speeding on Pacific Coast Highway north of Santa Monica. That area is popular for taking a casual drive up the coast because it offers some spectacular views in the daytime. The LA Sheriff's Department patrols that road with radar guns and a vengeance for writing tickets to speeders. Still, you can get away with up to 5 MPH over the posted limit.
Traffic Signal Cameras - Our traffic signals are the usual red, yellow and green scheme. The difference is that many traffic signals are now equipped with cameras that will take a picture of you and your license plate if you run a red light, resulting in a fine that is almost $300.
Traffic Jams - These are more likely to occur at certain times during the day. The worst is 7-10:00 AM and 4-7:00 PM on weekdays. If you are simply trying to get from point A to point B, you'll find that it's up to 2-3 times faster to go at night. There are several websites that display real-time traffic charts, such as Traffic.com
Convenience Stores - If you need something but don't want to take the time to go to the larger stores, try 7-Eleven or AM-PM. Most of them are open 24 hours.
Drive Thru Fast Food - A vast majority of fast food restaurants in LA are "drive thru's". You already have a McDonald's where you live so why not try a local favorite, such as In-N-Out, El Pollo Loco or Tommy's?
Finding Your Way Around - See the tips above under "Don't Get Lost." They are especially relevant when you rent a car.
How To Avoid Crime While Driving
While you are in the car, keep the doors locked, always. It's safe to drive in LA with your windows rolled down.
Do not keep valuables in a parked car! Sometimes thieves will watch parking areas that are popular with tourists. If they see you hide something in the trunk of the car, they might try to break in. The best option is to leave behind a bare, uninviting car that is unattractive to thieves. Your valuables are safer in your hotel room than in your car.
Choose well-lit areas for your destination at night. Hollywood, Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade, and Universal City Walk are examples of places you can safely visit at night. All major theme parks such as Magic Mountain and Disneyland are well-lit and contained within gates.
Car Jacking - This is when a criminal steals your car directly from you by force, or using a weapon such as a gun. These crimes are rare, but they get a lot of publicity, so LA has a reputation for carjacking. During your stay in LA, you probably will not even hear about a carjacking, let alone become a victim of one. But in the very rare chance that happens, just let them have the car.
REMEMBER - If you need emergency assistance from public authorities, dial 911 from any phone.