Tips for First-Time Visitors to Los Angeles
Demography for San Francisco
Aside from San Francisco, the biggest city to visit in the state of California in Los Angeles. This sprawling metropolis is home to the many stars and studios of Hollywood, as well as a thriving Latino community, gorgeous beaches, and some amazing restaurants. It might not match New York City for scale, but it does have almost as many people living in it.
For anyone who's coming to LA for the first time, the city might seem beautiful, but it can also be very confusing. The city isn't as well-planned as New York or Chicago area. To get around LA and enjoy all it has to offer, here are some survival tips for your first trip.
Be prepared for traffic.
Compared to other cities on the West Coast, Los Angeles doesn't have a very efficient or interconnected public transportation system. This means that driving a car is the best way to get around. Unfortunately, most of LA's 3 million other residents also have their own cars, so this means plenty of traffic. This is why the Interstate 405 is known as the busiest highway in America. If you decide to drive or take a bus or shuttle anywhere, be prepared for the possibility of sitting in traffic, especially at peak hours in the morning or evening. You can rely on websites like SigAlert to give you a real-time map of the highway system and their current traffic conditions.
Get familiar with Metro Rail.
To get around parts of LA—like Pasadena, Long Beach, and Hollywood—you can bypass most of the traffic and take the Metro Rail. This subway and elevated rail have been steadily expanding over the last 20 years, although there are many parts of the city where it doesn't reach. Some lines will transition from a rail system to a bus service depending on which area you're traveling to, so it's best to map out your route early.
There's plenty to see and enjoy if you only visit Wilshire Boulevard. This upscale neighborhood (often dubbed "The Miracle Mile") is home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the famous La Brea Tar Pits, the Oaxacan-cuisine restaurant Guelaguetza, and Koreatown. It's also just a few miles down from all the main attractions in Hollywood.
Try the food and shopping at Olvera Street.
Olvera Street is historically the center of LA. Located downtown and right beside Union Station, you'll find the oldest buildings in the city here, along with several fine Mexican restaurants and vendors selling local crafts.
Find great music at Amoeba Records.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Sunset Boulevard, but if you're a music lover, then you won't want to miss a trip to Amoeba Records. This massive store contains thousands of vintage and newly-released albums from every genre and artist you can imagine, along with a sizeable DVD collection upstairs. You can even contribute to the store's collection and bring in used CDs and DVDs, provided their quality meets Amoeba's standards.
Shop in Downtown LA.
Downtown is incredibly busy and with good reason. Whether your taste is in fashionable clothes, jewelry, electronics, or the latest movies, you'll plenty of great department stores around major avenues like Broadway. If you go to West Hollywood, you'll find more celebrity boutiques and fashion chains on Melrose Avenue.
Know your neighborhoods for safety.
Because LA is so big, there are plenty of districts and independent cities within its boundaries. Some of these areas, however, are not as safe or tourist-friendly as the rest. Avoid walking through more crime-heavy areas like South Central, Compton, Westlake, and Boyle Heights. For alternative places to walk freely, try Santa Monica, Westwood, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills.