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Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have quipped, "Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles," a quote that has since been repeated both by those who love and hate L.A. The "City of Angels" is a city of sharp contrasts, home to people who hail from all parts of the globe and an important center of culture, business, media, and international trade. However, it's most famous for being a major center of the world's television, motion picture, and music industry, which forms the base of the city's status and lures visitors for its show business history and celebrity culture. Visitors are also drawn to Los Angeles for its Mediterranean climate and numerous beaches, which gave birth to California's famed surf culture.
California's most populous city and the second most populous city in the United States (after New York City), Los Angeles is spread across a broad basin in Southern California surrounded by vast forested mountain ranges, valleys, the Pacific Ocean, and nearby desert. Los Angeles sits at the heart of a metropolitan area of over 18 million people that spreads across Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, and the Inland Empire region of San Bernardino County and Riverside County.
Los Angeles has a well-deserved reputation as a very car-dependent city, with an extensive network of freeways and a historically underdeveloped public transit system. Nevertheless, while far from perfect, the public transit network in L.A. is slowly being expanded and has come a long way in recent years. With a rapidly expanding rail system as well as an extensive and growing network of frequent "Rapid" bus lines, transit might be a good option depending on where you are traveling and what you'd like to see.
Given L.A.'s sheer size and general dependence on the automobile, travel by transit can be a challenge. A good rule of thumb is that if you're in the L.A. basin transit service is generally pretty extensive and frequent, but if you're going to areas to the north (such as the San Fernando Valley) or east (such as East L.A. or the San Gabriel Valley), service gets a lot more sparse and infrequent. There isn't a bus line to reach every nook and cranny, and as such it's not uncommon to find yourself walking up to a mile or more to your destination after you've gotten off at the nearest bus stop — and you may find yourself walking even further to catch a better Rapid bus since their stops are much further apart! Consider checking a trip planner like Google Maps first to see if transit is right for your needs.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some bus routes end service in the early evening, so you should plan your trip accordingly to make sure you're not stranded while on an outing, thus subjecting yourself to an expensive taxi ride back to your hotel — which, depending on how far away you are, may end up costing roughly the same amount as if you had rented a car for the day in the first place. On the flip side, Metro recently extended their service hours to as late as 3AM on Fridays and Saturdays on some routes, but check Google Maps or Metro's website to see what's available for your trip.In addition to the Rapid bus lines, Los Angeles also has a moderately extensive rail system to help speed up journeys around the city. If you plan to stay near a Metro Rail station, this may suffice as the rail network can take you to some of the major tourist areas such as Hollywood,
If you choose to rent a car, you'll get a look at L.A.'s infamously large freeway system and a taste of the notorious traffic jams. However, this will likely still be more convenient than bus travel for long or multi-destination trips.
The Metro Rail system currently consists of two subway lines, four light rail lines, and two bus transitways, with operating hours and frequencies varying from one line to another.
There is currently no direct rail connection between Downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but a free shuttle to the airport terminals is available from the Aviation/LAX Station on the Green Line. However, a much more convenient option is the direct LAX FlyAway shuttle service; see the LAX page for details.
Distinct from Metro is the Metrolink commuter rail system, which radiates out from Union Station to many surrounding suburbs and counties. Metrolink does not accept Metro passes, but Metrolink tickets are honored as a day pass on Metro Rail and buses for the date stamped on the ticket, and are compatible with the TAP system (see below). More detailed info on Metrolink can be found in the By train section above.
The main bus system in Los Angeles is operated by Metro (+1 800 COMMUTE, or +1 800 266-6883). Many Angelenos without a car use the bus as their primary mode of transportation. There is a preponderance of frequent bus service along major north-south and east-west corridors radiating to the south and west from Downtown Los Angeles.
Service frequencies are fairly high along major streets in the L.A. basin; in general you won't wait more than 15-20 minutes for a bus. "Rapid" buses run more frequently than local ones and should be used when possible, given that L.A. is so huge that you'll much prefer riding buses which only stop at major intersections to ones that stop nearly every block. Check the schedules in advance as many routes change and have reduced frequency in the late hours. Rapid buses are painted red while local buses are painted orange.
An oddity of L.A. public transit is that there are numerous bus transit agencies, which almost always require paying an additional fare if you transfer between agencies. Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus system provides service in that city as well as linking Santa Monica with Westside L.A. districts (such as Brentwood, Westwood, and Venice Beach), Downtown L.A., and LAX. The Culver CityBus operates buses in and around Culver City. Areas of the San Gabriel Valley east of El Monte are served by Foothill Transit. Montebello Bus Lines operates service in Montebello, Pico Rivera, Whittier, East LA, and surrounding communities. And Long Beach Transit provides service in and around Long Beach.
For service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the LAX FlyAway bus is the most convenient bus service from the airport to Downtown L.A. and a few other major destinations; see the LAX page for details.
Anyone looking to use public transit in L.A. would benefit from getting a TAP card, an electronic reusable fare card which can be loaded with transit passes or cash value. A TAP card is required for entry into the Metro Rail system. TAP cards can be purchased from vending machines in Metro Rail stations, certain vendors, online from the TAP website, or at Metro Customer Centers (the main one being at Union Station). TAP cards can also be purchased from a Metro bus driver (exact change required), but only with a day pass loaded on the card. New TAP cards incur an extra fee of $1 if bought from a vending machine or a Metro bus driver, and $2 from any other source.
Metro fare payment works on a proof-of-payment system. When entering a bus, tap your card on the blue TAP sensor at the front door. At Metro Rail stations, there will be card sensors as you approach the platform. If transferring to another Metro Rail train, you will also have to tap at the station where you change trains, at the sensors marked "Must Tap to Transfer." Remember to tap once for every vehicle you enter, as Metro police randomly check cards for valid fare on vehicles or station platforms, and they are noted for being rather aggressive in their fare enforcement; the penalty for not being able to show valid fare is $250 and up to 48 hours of community service.
A single-trip fare on Metro costs $1.75 and includes a two-hour transfer to other Metro rail and bus lines. On Metro buses, you can also pay with cash (exact change only), but you won't get the two hour transfer that you would using a TAP card. Alternatively, TAP cards can be loaded with a day pass (valid until 3AM the next day) for $7, a 7-day pass for $25, or a 30-day pass for $100. Passes allow unlimited access on Metro bus and rail lines, with the exception of a few express bus routes.
TAP cards are also good on all of the other bus transit agencies in the county; stored cash value on your card is good for fares on any participating agency. If transferring from Metro to another bus agency, be sure to get a "Metro-to-Muni transfer" which costs an extra $0.50, lasts for two hours, and is good on many non-Metro bus systems. These transfers can be bought at TAP vending machines or with exact change from a bus driver.
Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic conditions, and its freeway system can get extremely clogged. Still, automobile travel is the easiest way to see most parts of the region, and the only way to reach many of the natural areas surrounding the metropolitan area.
If you are going to drive, make sure you have access to extensive street and freeway maps (if possible, use a passenger as your navigator) or a GPS navigation system. A valuable tool for L.A. drivers is a Thomas Guide, which is a spiraled book of detailed street maps. If you don't want to purchase a full Thomas Guide (about $20-$30 at bookstores), you can purchase Rand McNally maps which cover a given geographical area and cost about $4-$6 at most gas stations, supermarkets, and convenience stores (Costco and Walmart usually have the cheapest prices). Use of an online mapping tool is also recommended, but as a general rule, time estimates given by online mapping tools should be at least doubled during rush hours.
Each freeway is identified by a number, and usually one or two names. When giving directions, most locals refer to a freeway by its number and the definite article, e.g. "the 405 freeway" or just "the 405." It's recommended that you familiarize yourself with your chosen route before setting out on your trip and pay close attention to traffic and road signs. One particularly annoying aspect of L.A. freeways is finding an onramp; onramps are marked with small green signs marked "Freeway Entrance" but these can be frustratingly difficult to find.
Although L.A.'s traffic jams are legendary, the freeway grid provides for an effective movement of traffic and a variety of alternatives. Be sure to have an alternative route planned out in advance; many freeways run parallel to one another and serve as viable alternatives, especially in long-distance trips. You can check sites like Go511, SigAlert, or TrafficReport for current traffic information before your trip.
On average, residents of Los Angeles County spend an estimated four days a year stuck in traffic. However, since there is often no effective alternative for getting around, dealing with traffic is an inescapable part of the Los Angeles lifestyle and something many visitors will not be able to avoid.
Listening to a radio station is helpful for any long trip through L.A. since most stations regularly disseminate traffic information during the daylight hours. KFWB 980 AM has traffic reports on the ones (:01, :11, :21, :31, :41, and :51) when they aren't playing sports games. KNX 1070 AM, Los Angeles' 24-hour news station, has traffic reports "on the fives" when they aren't running the simulcast of 60 Minutes (7PM on Sunday) or "Weekly Roundup". KFI 640 AM and KABC 790 AM run traffic reports four times an hour, usually during commercial breaks of their talk shows. The radio station web sites often have links to graphics showing traffic speeds and the accident logs of the highway patrol. Traffic reports will often use the verbal name for a freeway (e.g., "westbound Santa Monica Freeway") instead of the number of the freeway.
Despite the infamy of Los Angeles' traffic, the only real issues are the sheer length of the rush hour and the volume of traffic. The assertions of driving difficulty and danger will most likely seem unfounded to residents of other large cities, especially comparatively frantic East Coast cities, who often see Los Angeles traffic as relatively easy-going. When traveling on a Los Angeles freeway, remember that slower traffic keeps to the right. Many Angelenos do well over 20 mph of the posted speed limit and cutting them off or remaining in the fast lane at a slow pace will frustrate native drivers.
It's actually very easy to drive around Los Angeles in the late night/early morning hours (from around 11PM to 5AM), when driving times can easily be less than a third of what they are during peak hours. However, late hours are when partiers are most likely to be returning from clubs, so be vigilant for drunk drivers. In addition, a lot of construction is scheduled during these off-peak times, so be ready to plan alternative routes. Anyone planning on visiting by car may wish to seriously consider scheduling the trip so as to arrive or depart in the early morning, as this can prevent a great deal of frustration. This is also an excellent time of day to find your way around, memorize your routes, and explore.
In his parody traffic reports, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson used to refer to the "Slauson Cutoff". While driving around L.A. you often have the option of taking freeways or surface streets, and some locals rely on surface streets to avoid rush hour traffic on the freeways. However, the effectiveness of this strategy is debatable and it may be difficult for inexperienced drivers to accurately guess which way will be faster. Outside of rush hour, the freeways will almost always be faster for longer trips around L.A.
Most cities in Greater Los Angeles have well-maintained streets, but streets within the city of Los Angeles itself tend to have a lot of cracks and potholes. Wilshire Boulevard is particularly notorious for extremely bumpy conditions. The city government has installed sensor loops on most major streets and publishes real-time traffic speed maps online.
It's worth noting that, unlike most other American cities, most major Los Angeles intersections do not have dedicated left-turn traffic lights, allowing for so-called "protected" left turns. Instead, they operate under the rule where you must yield to opposing traffic and turn only when it is safe to do so. But some Los Angeles streets are so congested that it is impossible to turn until the traffic light reaches the yellow (caution) phase. Therefore, it is customary in Los Angeles for as many as two or three vehicles to creep into the middle of such intersections in order to turn against opposing traffic on a yellow light. If you are a first-time visitor, you may find yourself being honked at by other drivers until you become accustomed to this.
Driving around Downtown L.A. can be frustrating. Even when few vehicles are present, drivers still tend to go slower in this area because of the numerous turns and exits. Additionally, parking in Downtown is very expensive. Many hotels in Downtown and other high-density areas (such as LAX, Hollywood, and Century City) have parking garages but will charge you exorbitant daily parking fees. Even worse, they may have only valet parking, meaning you will also be expected to tip the valet. If you plan to drive around Los Angeles, consider looking for hotels that have free parking or at least reasonable fees for self-parking garages.
Many Los Angeles intersections have red light enforcement cameras, linked to sensor loops which are energized about a third of a second after the traffic light turns red. You will know the camera activated when it flashes its strobe light at you to obtain a clear view of your face (which is required along with a picture of the license plate to issue a ticket under California law). These intersections are sometimes marked in advance by signs and should be approached carefully to avoid a fine.
In a general way, freeway names usually identify where the freeway goes from Central Los Angeles. This can be confusing to out-of-towners, as names may change when there is a better-known and closer target; for example, the portion of the 110 north of Downtown is the Pasadena Freeway, while the portion south of Downtown is the Harbor Freeway. Another thing to be aware of is that a number can shift freeway names; for example, the 101 jumps from the Hollywood Freeway to the Ventura Freeway as it passes through Studio City.
Many freeways have carpool lanes, which may be entered if you have two or more occupants in a vehicle. Only enter carpool lanes at designated areas; don't cross double yellow lines into the carpool lane. Portions of the 10 and 110 freeways have toll lanes called Metro ExpressLanes which require a FastTrak transponder in your car to enter; see the website for details.
Here are some of the more notable freeways in Los Angeles:
Taxis can be expensive. Save for a very small number of locations, you cannot flag one down on the street, but have to call one of the taxi companies to send a cab to pick you up. Depending on where you are, you may have to wait awhile for a taxi to get to you, given that this city experiences a lot of traffic and is very spread out. As such, cabs are expensive and the overwhelming majority of citizens rely on their own vehicles. Uber and Lyft operate throughout the city, including at LAX, and offer a cheaper alternative to a taxi.
An often overlooked alternative which deals well with Los Angeles' lackluster public transportation and frustrating traffic conditions is to travel by motorcycle. Rentals range from around $70 for a basic bike up to $300 a day for high-performance sport bikes, with plenty of range and options between. This option garners a higher per-day rental price than a car, with obviously diminished cargo space. However, a motorcycle's significant increase in fuel economy combined with the city's high gas prices, and ease of parking in a notoriously difficult-to-park-in city may be appealing to the adventurous rider. A quick web search will reveal numerous rental agencies. California riders must have a class M1 license. A DOT helmet is required in California.
Of course, riding a motorcycle should be done by those who are experienced as it is not for the faint of heart. But it may afford the rider a small advantage in terms of travel time. In most states in America, it is illegal to "split lanes" — riding between two adjacent lanes through slow or stopped traffic to get ahead of other vehicles — as a motorcycle rider is still required to follow all rules and guidelines as if it were a car. Although lane splitting is illegal in most states, it is allowed in California if done responsibly, only when traffic flow is below 30 mph (48 km/h) and your motorcycle is going less than 10 mph (16 km/h) faster than other traffic. Inexperienced riders and those new to California should not attempt to lane split. Mopeds, motor driven cycles (under 149 cc) and motorized bicycles are not allowed on freeways. Foreign travelers not familiar with the United States may notice motorcycles tend to be comparatively large, heavy, and fast and extreme caution should be exercised.
The canyon roads of Malibu, Topanga, and the San Gabriel mountains are frequented by motorsports enthusiasts year-round due to their extreme "twistiness" and contain celebrated hangouts such as Neptune's Net (on the Pacific Coast Highway), the Rock Store (on Mulholland in Malibu Canyon), and others. Bikers visiting on the weekend will find good company, cold beer, and excellent riding there.
Entertainment is what has earned L.A. its fame, so it's no surprise that many come for the sights of Hollywood, where you will find such film landmarks as Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or gaze up at the Hollywood Sign overlooking the area.
However, while the entertainment industry is still headquartered in Hollywood, most of the major studios have moved elsewhere, particularly San Fernando Valley; Universal City is home to Universal Studios and its associated theme park, CBS has set up shop in Studio City, while nearby Burbank is home to the Warner Brothers Studios and the Walt Disney Studios, among others. On the Westside, Sony Pictures occupies the historic MGM Studios in Culver City, the headquarters of 20th Century Fox sit in Century City, and many television shows are still taped in CBS Television City in Fairfax. Paramount Pictures is the last movie studio left in Hollywood, located at Melrose Ave. and Gower St. The famed Paramount Studios Gate with its double arch is a few blocks to the east. Many studios offer tours, and at some you might even be lucky enough to attend a television show taping; check the individual pages for details.
Of course, many also come in the hopes of seeing celebrities. While your chances of running into one in Hollywood are rather low, you may get lucky in the glamorous neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Malibu, which are home to many celebrity mansions and whose fancy restaurants are sometimes frequented by movie stars. Awards season brings a lot of celebrity-spotting as well, with most of the famous awards shows hosted in Los Angeles: the Academy Awards take place in Hollywood, typically in late February; the Grammy Awards have settled into the Staples Center in Downtown each February; the Golden Globes take place in Beverly Hills each January; and the late summer Primetime Emmys have spent the last several years at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown.
Los Angeles, as a general rule, hasn't been too careful about retaining its historical artifacts, and that's ignoring the fact that much of the city was only built in the last half-century or so. However, there are some historical attractions for those interested in learning about L.A.'s past:
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in Downtown is the site of the original Spanish settlement where Los Angeles was founded in the 1780s. Today it's preserved as a historic district with some of the city's oldest buildings as well as a number of Mexican restaurants and shops along touristy Olvera Street. Two other important sites from Los Angeles' Spanish era are located along the El Camino Real in Los Angeles County: the Mission San Gabriel, which predates the Pueblo de Los Angeles, and the Mission San Fernando in the northern portion of the San Fernando Valley.
Downtown's Historic Core still has many splendid examples of late 19th and early 20th century architecture, including many old movie palaces and the noteworthy Victorian-style Bradbury Building along Broadway. Just north of the Historic Core is the grand 1920s City Hall building, while just a little further on, across from the El Pueblo area, is the 1930s Mission Revival-style Union Station, the main railway hub for the city. East L.A. has a couple of attractions showcasing life in L.A. around the turn of the 20th century, including the Heritage Square living history museum and the historic Lummis House.
Heading west from Downtown, the Miracle Mile district along Wilshire has a lot of mid-20th century commercial architecture, including some superb examples of Art Deco and Streamline architecture. Another great Art Deco structure is the Griffith Observatory atop Griffith Park, famed for its many appearances in film and its sweeping view of the city. And of course, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Culver City have numerous theaters, studios, and other examples of architecture dating from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Of Los Angeles' museums, the Getty Center (aka the J. Paul Getty Museum) in West LA is perhaps the most renowned, regularly hailed as one of the finest art museums in the country. Located at the top of the Santa Monica mountains, it has a spectacular view of the L.A. basin and the Pacific Ocean, with an extensive arts collection inside. The old museum, the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, is also worth a visit for its collection of artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome. Admission to both is free (although the Villa requires tickets to be reserved in advance) and you can visit both in the same day (Wednesday through Sunday only) and pay the parking fee only once, but don't expect to have any time left over for other activities.
Another splendid institution is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which has two branches in Downtown. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Wilshire features particularly strong collections of Asian, Latin American, European, and American art, as well as a new contemporary museum on its campus.
Exposition Park holds two of LA's best science museums, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Science Center, both of which has an extensive range of exhibits. The Science Center is reputed for its aircraft collection, which includes the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Another excellent museum is the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Wilshire, which preserves the famous tar pits and showcases numerous fossils that have been excavated from the tar. Long Beach has the spectacular Aquarium of the Pacific, one of the largest aquariums in the country, right across the harbor from the historic Queen Mary ocean liner.
There are also a number of excellent historical and cultural museums. The Autry Museum in Griffith Park has numerous exhibits on the history of the west. Exposition Park is home to the California African-American Museum while Little Tokyo holds the Japanese American National Museum. In West LA you'll find the Museum of Tolerance, which has a strong focus on the history of the Holocaust.
Griffith Park in Northwest LA is an absolutely massive park (indeed, it is five times larger than New York's Central Park) that sprawls across the hills near the Hollywood Sign and is a great place for hikes or picnics, with excellent views of the city. Amidst the rugged terrain of the park are numerous hiking trails and tucked-away sights, as well as major draws like the Los Angeles Zoo, the Autry Museum of the American West, the iconic and historic Griffith Observatory, and plenty of recreational activities. Also in Northwest LA are Echo Park and MacArthur Park, both of which are popular neighborhood parks with picturesque lakes and excellent views of the downtown skyline, and Barnsdall Art Park, which sits atop a hill overlooking East Hollywood and holds a community art complex centered around a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house. Exposition Park in South Central LA is a pleasant green space, with a beautiful rose garden and several cultural institutions including the Natural History Museum, the California Science Center, and several venues from the 1984 Olympics including the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Pan Pacific Park in Wilshire is another popular neighborhood park.
Above Hollywood and West LA is winding Mulholland Drive, a famous road that hugs the ridgeline of the Hollywood Hills and has been the setting for countless movies and first kisses, with spectacular views over the city and the Hollywood Sign, not to mention all the celebrity mansions that line the road. Another excellent hilltop view can be found at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook above Culver City in the middle of the Westside, which offers marvelous views over the basin and the Pacific Ocean.
If coastal scenery is what you seek, Malibu is a must-see for its fantastic ocean views and mansions perched atop the ocean cliffs, hugging the coastline beneath the Santa Monica Mountains, which itself makes for a pleasant retreat from the city with its miles of scenic roadways and hiking trails. Further south, Palos Verdes is an oasis of ocean cliffs, Eucalyptus trees, and walking trails at the very southwestern corner of the basin, with a historic lighthouse with views of distant Catalina Island, a popular destination for tourists and locals seeking to escape the city.
Further afield, the San Gabriel Valley holds a few lovely botanical gardens open to visitors, most notably the large and extensive Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia, the private Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, and the botanical gardens of the stately Huntington Library in San Marino. Above the valley, the Angeles National Forest covers the steep and rugged San Gabriel Mountains, with its many scenic roads and recreational opportunities.
The Westside is home to the most famous beaches of LA: Venice Beach, with its colorful Boardwalk and Muscle Beach, and the adjacent town of Santa Monica, with its popular pier and amusement park. Both communities share an expansive stretch of sandy beach which gets very crowded in the summer and which have plenty of amusements and facilities available, as well as a very festive scene in Venice that's fantastic for people watching. Just south of Venice is the less-crowded Dockweiler State Beach in the aptly-named town of Playa del Rey (Spanish for beach of the king). Further north, where the coastline meets the Santa Monica Mountains, are scenic beaches in Pacific Palisades and Malibu; Pacific Palisades' Will Rogers State Beach is expansive and quite popular, while Malibu's narrower Surfrider Beach is famed for its surf breaks.
South Bay is home to a number of beaches that are also very popular, in particular the Beach Cities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, with piers and expansive stretches of sand lined with expensive houses. Hermosa is famed for its festive atmosphere, regularly holding volleyball tournaments and surfing competitions, and all three are popular with families and beach-goers. Also good but less crowded is Torrance Beach further south, which is noted for great surfing, and the very scenic stretch of coastline in Palos Verdes, which holds many rocky coves and tidepools that make for fun exploration.
Off the coast and enormously popular for people taking a day trip out of L.A. are the picturesque beaches of Catalina Island. Additionally, the Beach Cities of nearby Orange County are very popular with locals. For those who are more into boats than sand, Marina del Rey is located just south of Venice and is the world's largest man-made small-craft harbor, offering plenty of mooring as well as motorized and non-motorized rentals.
Los Angeles has great opportunities for seeing live pro sports. The Major League Baseball Los Angeles Dodgers are one of the most famous teams in baseball and a game at Dodger Stadium in Elysian Park, in the hills north of downtown, is an absolute treat for baseball fans. However, LA's most successful sports franchise has been and remains the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball teams in history. They play in the Staples Center in Downtown along with the less-famous Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, who in recent years have risen from perennial losers to a competitive force. Also playing in the Staples Center are the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. The city's Major League Soccer team, the LA Galaxy, plays at the StubHub Center in Carson. A second MLS team, Chivas USA, was folded by the league at the end of the 2014 season; the franchise rights were sold to a local group of investors, and the new team, Los Angeles FC, is expected to begin play in 2018.
The National Football League will return to the city in 2016 in the form of the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams had called L.A. home from 1946 to 1994, after which the team moved to St. Louis. For the second-largest city in the country, Los Angeles long showed an inexplicable inability to hold down a NFL franchise; during the Rams' absence, the San Diego Chargers were Southern California's only NFL team. City leaders' long struggle to address this finally bore fruit in January 2016, when the Rams were approved by the league to return to Los Angeles. The Rams will play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park until their new stadium in Inglewood opens in 2019. During the Rams' stint in St. Louis, Los Angeles football fans made do with the local college teams: the USC Trojans football team plays in the Coliseum, while the UCLA Bruins play in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which also hosts the annual famous college bowl game the stadium is named after.
In addition, Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels and the National Hockey League's Anaheim Ducks play in nearby Anaheim in Orange County.
Major college sports in L.A. aren't limited to USC and UCLA, although those schools have by far the highest profiles since they're the only two NCAA Division I schools in the area that play football. The immediate L.A. area boasts seven other Division I programs. Los Angeles County boasts the Cal State Northridge Matadors in the San Fernando Valley district of Northridge, the Loyola Marymount Lions in Westchester, the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu, and the Long Beach State 49ers. Orange County is home to the Cal State Fullerton Titans and UC Irvine Anteaters, while the Inland Empire is home to the UC Riverside Highlanders.
No matter what music you're into, Los Angeles will feature artists to your taste, be it rock venues on Sunset Blvd, jazz clubs in Hollywood, or classic music in Downtown, just to scratch the surface. From the ambiance of the famous Hollywood Bowl to the spectacle of seeing a concert with 90,000 of your closest friends in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, L.A. has many venues that are worth exploring.
Downtown Los Angeles holds several major entertainment venues. The 7,100 seat Microsoft Theater has become L.A.'s premiere venue for rock concerts and awards shows, while the nearby Staples Center, though primarily a sports venue, also hosts a large number of big-name concerts with its 19,000 seat capacity. Near the Civic Center, the Los Angeles Music Center consists of four music halls, most notably the Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home to the Los Angeles Opera.
Griffith Park holds the Greek Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater modeled after a Greek temple that hosts many concerts and stage shows. Nearby Hollywood has two major concert venues in the Hollywood Palladium and the Fonda Theatre, the latter of which is reputed for its indie band scene and both of which regularly host big-name acts. A little further south, Wilshire has a couple of classic rock concert venues at the El Rey Theatre and The Wiltern. In West Hollywood is the Largo at the Coronet, a venue famed for both its music acts and legendary stand-up comedy. Next to the USC campus and near Exposition Park in South Central L.A. is the Shrine Auditorium, a large enclosed amphitheater that holds over 6,000 people and regularly hosts concerts and stage shows. In Inglewood, the Los Angeles Forum regularly hosts concerts as well as the occasional sports event.
Los Angeles also has an abundance of records stores scattered around the city, and though vinyl has disappeared from the shelves of most regular record stores, there are still plenty of stores that sell new and used vinyl. Amoeba Music in Hollywood is without a doubt the best in the city. An exploration of underground music would be advised to perhaps begin at The Smell in Downtown or listen to KXLU 88.9 FM Monday-Friday for details on numerous shows.
Befitting its size, Los Angeles plays host to many major conventions throughout the year. Within walking distance of the Staples Center, the massive Los Angeles Convention Center is the city's main venue for conventions and expositions, hosting such major annual events as Anime Expo, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), and the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Out in Pomona in the San Gabriel Valley is the Pomona Fairplex, which plays host to the annual Los Angeles County Fair every September with concerts, carnival rides and agricultural exhibits, as well as a year-round schedule of conventions, trade shows, and sporting events.
Los Angeles has a well-known diversity of unique shopping destinations. Shopping malls will dominate your shopping experience in L.A. and even non-shopping visitors are likely to encounter them; for example, the Hollywood and Highland mall is a popular meeting point in Hollywood for those gazing at the Walk of Fame and Mann's Chinese Theater, The Grove is a major destination in Fairfax next to the historic Farmer's Market, and West Hollywood's Beverly Center is a massive eight-story shopping complex with a nice view of the city from its food court patio.
Lacking any significant public square, Los Angeles funnels its civic life onto its streets. Among the most popular shopping streets is Larchmont Blvd, which caters to the wealthy elite of Hancock Park with one-of-a-kind boutiques. Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood one-ups Larchmont Blvd with celebrity presence. And then there's the fabled Rodeo Drive of Beverly Hills (uses the Spanish pronunciation: Roh-DAY-oh), famed for its high-end fashion stores.
In Downtown, the chaos of Broadway is a far cry from the comforts of manicured shopping centers, with merchandise geared towards the region's Latino population. Here, beneath the street's opulent early-20th century movie palaces, you can find a lot of brand name merchandise at discounted prices; forty dollars will probably get you a brand new wardrobe. Nearby is the gritty flea market of Santee Alley, chock full of knock-off designer labels and pirated DVD's and CD's. For a similar experience, try Alvarado Blvd between Wilshire and 6th in Westlake, where you can gain an insight into how most of working-class Los Angeles shops. Big deals can be found on a wide range of counterfeit goods, but don't stay too long after dark when the neighborhood gets sketchy. Make sure to check out the Art Deco buildings that exist in between the makeshift warehouses as well as the Alvarado Terrace Park, surrounded by early-20th century mansions.
Downtown is also a destination for some specialized retail destinations. Want flowers? Why there's a Flower District in Downtown! Jewelry? Fashion? Seafood? Toys? Yep, there are entire districts in Downtown dedicated to these particular products. You can buy art in Gallery Row up and down Main Street or see artists at work in the Arts District. All of these are located south and east of the towering Financial District, existing alongside the notorious Skid Row.
The Los Angeles area is one of the best places in the country for food - you can find just about anything you can imagine somewhere within its loose borders. From traditional American diner culture (try Mel's Drive-In in West Hollywood) to the new wave of organic cafes, to inexpensive taco trucks, and swanky eateries with breath-taking food, there are no shortage of options.
Los Angeles abounds with inexpensive, authentic food that represents the culinary traditions of L.A.'s many immigrant communities. You have to be willing to do a little legwork, go to neighborhoods you might not otherwise go to and often deal with charmless fluorescent-lit storefronts in strip malls, but your reward is hype-free, authentic cuisine from around the world served up at bargain prices. Food critic Jonathan Gold has been finding and reviewing these gems since the 1980s, mostly for the free LA Weekly before he moved to the food section of the LA Times.
The newest arrival on the L.A. food scene is the gourmet food truck. These are not your average taco trucks and construction-site catering operations (although those exist too), but purveyors of creative and surprisingly high-quality food. Food trucks, particularly taco trucks, can be found in most parts of the city. A few noteworthy food trucks are "Grill Em All," run by 2 metalheads doing outstanding gourmet hamburgers, "Nom Nom," doing Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, "Kogi," doing Korean-inspired tacos and burritos, and "Manila Machine," doing Filipino food. Many trucks also have their own websites and post their daily schedules and locations on Twitter.
On the opposite spectrum from food trucks, those seeking high-end dining have some of the country's finest restaurants to choose from. While the Michelin guide stopped reviewing Los Angeles in 2010, Beverly Hills had several eateries that were rated by Michelin, including Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant, Spago. While there are numerous destinations for an upscale meal throughout the LA area, Santa Monica is notable as the only city besides Beverly Hills that can lay claim to multiple Michelin starred restaurants.
Coverage of regional food from other parts of the U.S. is spotty. Migration into the city has been disproportionately from Texas and Oklahoma, the South, Midwest and greater New York City and food representing these areas is easy enough to find. Food representing New England and other parts of the East Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Intermountain-Rocky Mountain regions can be elusive, along with many ethnic cuisines with central- and east-European origins. However L.A. is birthplace of the drive-thru and numerous fast food chains clog the roadsides. The In-N-Out Burger chain is far above average for hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes. Another famous Los Angeles establishment is Original Tommy's, which specializes in chili burgers.
The cultural diversity of Los Angeles is an evident influence on the local vegetarian food restaurant industry. You can find strictly vegan and vegetarian dining, be it American, Mexican, Chinese, Ethiopian, and Thai among others. Other dietary restrictions are catered to as well. For example Genghis Cohen in West Hollywood serves Jewish Chinese food and kosher Mexican or Italian is not hard to find along predominantly Jewish parts of Pico Boulevard.
There are several different supermarket chains of varying quality - for something different (and cheap) try Trader Joe's, a reputable grocery store with multiple locations (the original is in Pasadena), selling many organic products with no preservatives. They normally give out great samples to the public and sell their acclaimed Charles Shaw wine, also known as "Two Buck Chuck." Whole Foods is another market with multiple locations and a favorite among the health conscious - but also a little pricey. Their salad bar is fully stocked, they have huge fresh burritos, sushi, hot dishes ready to go, and a comprehensive selections of pre-made, delicious salads.
LA visitors and locals alike have the opportunity to indulge in a selection of specially priced three-course menus from a wide variety of LA’s best restaurants during dineLA Restaurant Week.
Hotel bars are generally considered by Angelenos to be the nicest places to have drinks. Some of the more popular upscale ones include Chateau Marmont, Skybar at The Mondrian, and Tower Bar at the Sunset Tower on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, and The Rooftop Bar at The Standard in Downtown LA. Hollywood and the Sunset Strip are generally considered the nightlife centers of LA, though neighborhoods such as Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park in Northwest LA are home to the dive bars and cafes favored by trendy hipsters. Downtown has recently recaptured some of its former glory with a selection of popular nightlife destinations such as The Golden Gopher, The Edison and the bars/clubs at LA Live. Hollywood's Cahuenga Corridor (Cahuenga between Selma and Hollywood Boulevard) boasts several popular bars in a row, making bar-hopping a possibility in a city where it's not the norm.
Bars close at 2AM with most last calls at 1:30 or 1:45. It is worth noting that some bars and almost all clubs charge cover and some may have VIP lists that are relatively easy to get on. Look up promoters and ask them to add you to their list. This is the easiest way to get into many of the popular Hollywood clubs.
To be honest, we didn't manage to have a good walk in Los Angeles. We didn't have enough time, we already spent two weeks on a ship. Therefore we saw the city quite superficially. Nevertheless, we visited Universal and Disneyland. Our acquaintance with the city began in a port. This is the...
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