The complete guide to: Los Angeles travel

September 16, 2014
Summer Davis

So you’re travelling to LA — smart choice! This guide will give you everything you need to know about LA travel, from getting to and from the airport and around the city, to the best LA books to read and the cool local spots you should check out!

Getting to and from LAX

Public Transit: Taking the Metro is the most economical way to get to and from the airport. Use the Metro Trip Planner to figure out whether to use the rail or bus lines.

The LAX Flyaway Shuttle is another option for going from LAX airport directly to Union Station, Westwood, La Brea, Van Nuys (in the San Fernando Valley), Hollywood, and Santa Monica.

You must buy a TAP card to ride the metro rail. It costs $1 and is rechargeable. Buy and reload at rail stations.

TAP adult one-way: $1.75 (with 2-hours of free transfers)
TAP day pass: $7
Bus one-ride: $1.75 (no transfers)
LAX Flyaway Shuttle: $8-10 one way

While public transit is the most economical, it is not necessarily the most convenient. The metro rail ride from LAX to Hollywood currently involved two line changes and takes about 1.5 hours so it is most recommended to travellers with time and little luggage. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, we’ve created a detailed guide to re-LAX and survive LA public transit!

Taxi: If you’re in a rush, have lots of luggage, or feeling Hollywood glam, take a metered taxi from LAX. Fares depend on distance, but if you’re going anywhere between LAX and the Hollywood area, you can expect to pay between $15 – 60. Beware of the dreaded high traffic rush hours between 7:30 – 9:30am and 5:30 – 7:30pm, when fares will be higher. Look for taxis that are clearly marketed with taxi number, company, and phone number.

Airport Shuttle: Airport shuttles are available from LAX. SuperShuttle costs $15 – 20 and will pick up/drop off at your hotel. Popular mobile services like Lyft and Uber are also available. Simply download the app to your smartphone and request a car to wherever you are. Benefits of these services is that you can pay by credit card directly through the app and fares (especially with Lyft) are cheaper than taxis.

Airport Parking: LAX parking is known to be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You will want to avoid the official LAX parking garages, which cost around $40 per day. A much more budget-friendly option is booking at an off-site facility for LAX long term parking, which will cost you only $12 per day. When you book in advance, your parking spot is reserved for you. No more wasting precious time before a flight searching for an open spot.

Getting around Los Angeles

Public Transit: Los Angeles has a Metro network of rail and bus lines, with major rail lines going  to Downtown LA, Hollywood, Pasadena, Culver City, Koreatown, and Long Beach. Hours vary by line, but Metro rail is generally open until 2am on weekends and around 10pm otherwise. You must buy a TAP card to ride the Metro – it costs $1 and you can reload it with single fares or a day pass at any rail station. Buses take cash fares but don’t offer change.

TAP adult one-way: $1.75 (with 2-hours of free transfers)
TAP day pass: $7
Bus one-ride: $1.75 (no transfers)

Taxi: Metered taxis are an option for travelling around the city with fares ranging between $10 – 40 for most distances within central areas of the city.

Walking: Walking is the best way to see and experience LA’s neighbourhoods, although not as easy to walk between neighbourhoods as the distances are great. Walking is safe in most areas, but pedestrians should exercise caution in high traffic areas as cars drive fast and do not look out for people. Make sure to only cross at cross-walks and only when pedestrian green light is given. Be sure to walk in busy, lit areas at night, especiall in Hollywood, Downtown, and Venice Beach.

Cycling: Bicycle rental is available in various areas of the city, but is highly recommended for exploring the Venice Beach boardwalk! You’ll find tons of places to choose your perfect Cruiser.

Things to do in LA

clock tower at the Farmers' Market
The iconic Farmer's Market in Los Angeles, one of the best places in the city for great food, nostalgia and a spot of star spotting. | Photo by Los Angeles Urban Adventures

If you’re a sports fan, no trip to Los Angeles is complete without taking in a Dodgers baseball game! Watch one of the city’s most consistent and loved sports teams, while chowing down on a Dodger Dog (the stadium’s beloved hot dog), sitting outside perched atop Elysium Hill with LA below. Does it get much better? The season runs from March-September and tickets start at just $20. There’s even an express shuttle straight to Dodger Stadium from Union Station for easy commuting!

If music and art are more your thing, be sure to check out the LA Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA). Not only does it have cool art, but cool, open spaces for enjoying the LA weather and social scene. Enjoy the free outdoor concerts with jazz on Fridays and Latin sounds on Saturdays – be sure to bring a picnic or snag a seat at their highly-rated outdoor restaurant. Museum admission is $15 and you can purchase online or at the museum.

With it’s amazing weather, Los Angeles is all about outdoor socializing! The Downtown Art Walk is a free, self-guided public art event taking place on the second Thursday of every month. Farmers’ Markets are on through the year and are the best way to get a feel for local LA life. With all local folk checking out what’s fresh, getting coffee and breakfast pastries, enjoying music, and partaking in the convivial outdoor atmosphere, it’s the perfect local activity. There are plenty of tastings available and you may even spot a celebrity or two shopping at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, or Yamashiro’s Farmers’ Market. And of course, no outdoor event can match a night at the Hollywood Bowl. Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, this outdoor amphitheatre has 18 surrounding picnic areas to bring your dinner (or buy it there) and dine under the stars listening to great music and celebrity performers – it’s a total LA experience!

LA on the big screen

Since you’re visiting the capital of the big screen, it’s a little hard to choose the best film for putting you in the LA mood – but L.A. Story would have to be top of our list. It’s quirky, funny, and a light-hearted way to observe the craziness of LA.

LA on record

Los Angeles also happens to be the recording capital of the country – maybe world – so LOTS of songs tells tales of success and heartbreak in LA. But for some fun, upbeat music to put you in the mood for exploring, try All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow and of course, the classic Hooray for Hollywood!

LA in books

Not sure many books about Los Angeles are very positive, since most are about drama, scandal, and hardship, like the vignettes of LA life in Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey. It’s a short, easy-to-read and reveals the darker side of LA.

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