Planning a Los Angeles vacation? Then read on quickly, because in this article you will discover the most beautiful sights and read all the practical tips for a great stay in Los Angeles.
Why would you go on a Los Angeles vacation?
Los Angeles is a city that you prefer to skip during your Westcoast USA road trip or a city that you can’t get enough of. I couldn’t get enough of this city, I love Los Angeles! The city has a very relaxed vibe. It is great fun to discover the different neighborhoods, you can visit world-famous movie sets and relax on one of the nice beaches. In this article, I’ll share all my tips for a great Los Angeles vacation.
How to get to Los Angeles?
There are daily flights from Europe to Los Angeles and you can usually find great deals for a return ticket. During the low season, you can probably find return tickets to Los Angeles for € 300- € 400 and in high season the prices are between € 500- € 700.
Prices fluctuate enormously per day / week / month, so keep comparing and book as soon as you are happy with the price. You can use Skyscanner and Momondo to set up alerts, then you will receive an email when prices increase or decrease.
Do not just stare at an airport that’s closest to you, but also check out other areas that are within driving distance. For example, it can make a huge difference to fly from Düsseldorf in Germany instead of Schiphol Airport Amsterdam. And in Los Angeles itself, you don’t necessarily have to fly to LAX (although that is the most convenient), but you can also fly to John Wayne Airport (Santa Ana), for example.
How to get around?
Do you really need a rental car in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is huge so the distances are great and the road network is extensive. A rental car is definitely recommended, this is simply the easiest, fastest, and safest way to get around in LA. If you’re traveling to Los Angeles from Europe, it is wise to book your rental car in advance at a European website. In that case, you can be sure that all necessary insurance is included. Good websites for renting a car are:
Los Angeles is known for traffic jams and it is often very busy on the roads. But if you manage to time it, you can avoid the traffic jams. For example, you shouldn’t want to go to the other side of the city in the middle of rush hour.
If you are in the car with several people, you can also use the carpool lane (shown in the photo), you usually pass the traffic jams on this track.
You can park almost anywhere in Los Angeles, but this can be really expensive. Prices vary enormously, so check this website in advance for the best parking rates.
Public transportation in Los Angeles
Really don’t want to rent a car during your Los Angeles vacation? Then you can also use public transport. There are subways, buses, and trains you can take and they run regularly. Check Google Maps for the nearest stop and departure times. You can buy a ticket from one of the machines at the station.
Public transportation in Los Angeles can feel a little unsafe at times (it’s used a lot by people who can’t afford a car), so watch your belongings and use common sense. Doesn’t it feel right? Then you can always choose to take a taxi or Uber.
Tip: The FlyAwaybus runs from the LAX airport to Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and is very convenient. From here you have good (train) connections to the rest of the city and the rest of California.
As you’ll know, in the United States of America you have to pay with US dollars. You can go almost anywhere with a credit card, which is really convenient. American Express, VISA, and Mastercard are mostly accepted.
In addition, it is always useful to have some cash in your pocket (so that you can, for example, give tips). There are plenty of banks where you can pin (normal or via a drive-thru), just search for “ATM” on Google when you are in Los Angeles.
Please note: If you’re traveling from Europe: with most bank cards you can only pay by card in Europe. You have to change the settings to be able to use your debit card in the United States of America. This can usually be done via internet banking or your banking app.
World travel plug power adapter
In the US, they have a different power grid than in most European countries, so don’t forget to bring a world travel plug power adapter.
Where to stay?
Since Los Angeles is a huge city, it’s best to think about what you’re going to do before looking for a place to stay. Would you like to discover the Walk of Fame and do a studio tour? Find a place to stay in Hollywood. Do you like staying near the beach? Then pick a place to stay in either Santa Monica or Venice.
Prepare to spend a lot of money for a basic hotel room in the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles. € 200 per room per night is quite normal. And you also have to pay attention to the costs of a parking space if you have a rental car. You can easily book hotel rooms via Booking.com.
Don’t forget to check what’s available at Airbnb, especially if you plan to stay a little longer. I myself slept in a nice Airbnb in Venice Beach (unfortunately this is no longer offered), near the beach and we could park the car for free.
Tip: Have you never booked through Airbnb? Then use this link to sign up so you will receive a great discount on your first booking!
Where to eat?
In Los Angeles, you can find almost all of the well-known restaurants. These are some of my favorite restaurants in the US:
- Cheesecake Factory
- Bubba Gump
- TGI Fridays
Since I was staying in Venice Beach myself, I mainly ate in restaurants that could be found in that neighborhood. My favorites were the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey (fantastic harbor location on a beach) and Kifune Restaurant & Sushi Bar (with delicious appletinis).
Los Angeles is a great city for shopping, because you can do it (almost) everywhere. Of course, you can spend all your money on Rodeo Drive, but there are also plenty of ‘normal’ shopping malls. I personally like the mall on Hollywood Boulevard (Hollywood & Highland), small-scale, but with enough stores to purchase a new wardrobe. And despite the central location, it’s not extremely crowded. Nice detail, from here you have a very good view of the Hollywood letters.
If you’re a fan of outlet malls like me, there is a nice one west of Los Angeles in Camarillo: the Camarillo Premium Outlets. This is such a big complex that it is never really crowded and you might be able to find some great deals. For example, I was very successful here at Calvin Klein, got a 70% discount at first and then an extra 10% at the cash register. Say what?
Awesome things to do in Los Angeles
There is more than enough to do in Los Angeles to keep you entertained for a few weeks. If you’re short on time, these are the three Los Angeles attractions you really shouldn’t miss on your first visit.
Los Angeles is the center of the American movie industry, so a studio tour is a must. There are several to choose from, for example, a studio tour at Paramount or Sony (you can find an overview with a comparison on this website).
I myself did the Warner Bros Studio Tour and I really loved it. You will get a tour of various sets (I was allowed to see the Big Bang Theory on the set of the Ellen DeGeneres show) and they have an interactive part where you can fly on a broomstick just like Harry Potter and sit on the sofa from Central Perk from Friends. It is wise to book the tour in advance, you can do that via this website.
Hollywood with the Walk of Fame is a bit old and rundown, but it is still a place that you have to visit during your first trip to LA. It is great to explore the area around Sunset Boulevard, where you will find Amoeba Music (the largest record store in the world), tall palm trees, street art, and typical American diners.
Hollywood Boulevard is very popular and crowded, but this is the place to look for the star of your idol. In addition, you will find enough cafes and restaurants here to drink a delicious cocktail during happy hour.
Cycling in Santa Monica and Venice
Cycling in Santa Monica and Venice Beach may be the best thing I’ve done in Los Angeles. In Venice Beach you will find numerous bicycle rental companies, so you can have a bicycle for a day in no time. There is a nice cycle path on the beach, so you can enjoy some serious cruising. A great place to explore is the Santa Monica Pier, where you can also find an amusement park.
Are you planning a Los Angeles vacation in the near future? Then I hope you can appreciate this article! Do you have any questions? Leave a message below this article.
Would you like to read more about Los Angeles and California?
Then these are great travel guides:
Fodor’s Los Angeles: with Disneyland and Orange County (Full-color Travel Guide)
And you can also check out one of these articles: