LA isn’t a walkable city, it’s big and the sights are spread all over the city, sometimes in great distance one from the other. You need a vehicle to take you from point A to B although you may walk there a lot. For example we visited Venice and walked to Santa Monica or spend hours walking in downtown.
Renting a car in LA will save you a lot of time if you want to move quick, from Hollywood you can go to Venice in 20’ while the public bus will take about 60’. You can rent a car at LAX airport where we noticed all the famous rental companies(Hertz, Alamo, Avis, Dollar). Watch out though: for the traffic(day and night), other drivers attitude (aggressive and always in a hurry), always wear your seat belt, park where its legal and don’t use your cell phone while driving.
We saw some of them around but we didn’t use any, completely different city than NY by the way where the yellow cabs are everywhere.
Metro and Bus
The car culture is beyond imagination in LA, everyone seems to drive a car here! I’ve been told that inside the local buses you can only see poor and wacky people. It’s wrong(or just not entirely true!). We used the subway and many local buses with no problem except the fact that we lost some time due to traffic. The lack of timetables on the bus stops helped us to get in touch with the locals too :)
The subway(pic 3) isn’t very helpful for a tourist (we only used the Red Line between Union Station(downtown), Hollywood and Universal Studios). It operates 4:00am to midnight (until 3.00am Friday/Saturday)
Areas like Venice/Santa Monica to the west are only accessible by bus (pic 2). The buses will take you everywhere, just check http://www.metro.net for info and maps. There are some express buses (pic 1), they don’t stop in every corner so you will ride faster, check out for the Rapid logo on them and on the bus stops.
The single subway/bus ticket costs $1.25 but there is a Day Pass for just $5. You can buy it on board on any metro bus or at the subway stations. With the day pass you save after 4 boarding per day. There are also weekly pass ($17) and monthly pass($62).
A local friend told me about some short distance buses, operated by DASH, they have 6 lines that crisscross the downtown area and the ticket costs only 25c. Check their site for info: www.ladottransit.com
Most people come to Los Angeles through LAX. And, unfortunately, our public transportation system is not that great. The best alternative to getting around is renting a car. Please be aware that here and any state in the US, the car rental daily charge is significantly more expensive if you do not return the rental to the same location you rented from. This charge is applicable for each day you rent no matter where you are going.
So, if you plan to rent a car in LA and want to hang out for 3-4 days before driving down to San Diego or up to San Francisco and dropping the car off, I suggest making two separate reservations. One for just staying in LA and return it to the same rental office. And, second reservation at a different rental office to drive to your next destination where you will be dropping off your car. If you plan to stay in the next town for 3-4 days, I suggest a third reservation and rent the car for the same location return for those days.
The expense is almost double and in some cases even more than double during holiday weekends.
Prime Time is one of the many shuttles that provides transportation to/from LAX. Fares from LAX to Hollywood are $24/per person, plus $10 per each additional person. Fares from LAX to downtown L.A. are $14/per person. If you book online, you'll get a slightly lower fare. And believe it or not, they were there within the time frame that they'd promised!
Hollywood Blvd is often closed for special events or demonstrations.
Hollywood between Highland Ave. and La Brea Blvd.: Movie premieres and events at The Kodak Theatre and El Capitan often take over the street. DO NOT take La Brea or Franklin to circumvent the problem - they become clogged, quickly. Better to travel several blocks south to Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood Blvd near Vine: This is the de facto corner for political protests. Protests usually begin in this intersection and travel west towards Hollywood and Highland.
I wish I knew of resources for advance warning...if you find one, let me know! Puhleeze!
I'm personally more partial to the east side based on accesability to other areas, I think its more accesable in regards to transporation, and yes it is possible to get around in LA without a car, just check out MTA.NET light rail system can get you around town. The flyaway from LAX can get you downtown and from there the best places to stay in my own personal opinion are Pasadena or downtown, centrally located and from there you can get to hollywood, Santa Monica, downtown and Pasadena re great places to explore the city... with Metro Link (long distance train) you can make it to disneyland or orange county beaches. Tripadvisor.com can give you recommendations on accomadations in Pasadena and downtown. Have a great trip, your a nice Mom to do this for your daugther.
Greyhound doesn't have the best of reputations, and I was led to believe that the main LA terminal at 1716 E 7th Street, could be among the worst for being a place of bums and winos. The location of the terminal, just off I-5 and not far from Japantown, is actually pretty good, although I wouldn't spent time in this particular area after dark. The terminal garages and passenger service areas are probably the biggest on the west coast of the USA, and have been impressively redesigned to include surprisingly clean facilities for food concessions, bathrooms, and ticket counters. Unlike my boarding experience in Stockton earlier in the day, boarding a bus in LA means having TSA security grope through your carry-on baggage and wave a wand over your body. For the best price break on Greyhound, go online and make your ticket purchase at least 7 days in advance.
Los Angeles Driving for the first timer in the City is A Nightmare! with a multitude of Interstate Freeways, US Highways, State Highways, roads and lots of flyovers and traffic (although traffic for me is manageable because if you come from the philippines, you will know the meaning of TRAFFIC!). They key to driving in LA is to stay calm. If you aren't comfortable driving with crazy people, try to keep off the major highways and interstates. If you think you can handle it, make sure to stay in the slow lane. The faster lanes are for experienced (crazy) people and before planning to go from point A to point B, always download the driving routed from map quest or google maps or yahoo driving maps.
On Friday, Nov. 27, 2009, I reserved a limousine to take us to LAX for our flight home. I reserved online using my credit card. I also exchanged emails and telephone calls with Alex who was very friendly and assured me that he'll "make it happen." The limousine was supposed to pick us up at 12:30 for our trip to LAX. No limo appeared. I called ARK, no answer, and no limo. After trying in vain to try to reach ARK to find out where our limo is I had to call another service to whisk us to the airport. We barely made our flight. I am still trying to reach ARK to find out what happened to our limo. No response by email or telephone.
We hired a stretch Escalade to take the family on a bit of shopping so we could squeeze all 12 into one vehicle. The hotel we stayed at (Magic Castle Hotel) made all of the arrangements so I don't have the details however it was $600 for 4 hours then $125 for every hour after that. There was champaigne and snacks on-board and our driver, Brian, kept pace with our very fast talking.
If you want a real treat take advantage of the complimentary Landrover LR3 car service the hotel provides for guests. When you stay at the hotel make sure that you use the car service. The service is offered during the day til I believe 8pm. The hotel will bring you anywhere you want to go in a 3 mile radius. PRETTY Sweet huh.
While travelling between Northern California and San Diego, it's best to go around L.A. rather than through it. You will add some miles to your trip, but save a LOT of time and aggravation.
From San Diego, heading north, take I-15 north to I-10. Then follow I-10 west (toward Santa Monica) to I-5. Then take I-5 north (toward Sacramento).
Heading south toward San Diego, it's the reverse. Follow I-5 south to I-10 east to I-15 south.
Alternative route: Heading south toward San Diego, take the coastal highway 101 south (past Ventura) to I-405, toward San Diego. This is the best way to get to Long Beach, without going through L.A.
It's simple, you need to have a car in L.A., if you're thinking of not renting a car and getting around with public transportation or cab, just forget it!, even though everybody says californian drivers are horrible, don't be scared getting around in car is not hard! Yes you'll probably get stuck on the highway...face it you can't avoid it. Just try not using them early in the morning nor after working hours. L.A. is so wide and the tourist places you'll want to go are so spread out a car is a must. You can use the subway to go several place it's pretty cheap,clean and fast, just make sure to plan you trip in subway,unfortunatly the public transportation is not going everywhere.
In LA, everything is so spread apart that you really need a car! Our public transportation system is spotty at best and is not really convenient to use, unlike the subway systems in place like New York or Chicago or anywhere else in the world for that matter! You can either rent a car from the plethora of places by the airport like Hertz or Budget or Enterprise, to name a few. Of course, you can style like we do in a limo....... ;-)
Interstate 5 is California's central transportation artery, connecting San Diego & LA with northern areas such as Sacramento through the San Joaquin Valley.
The Magic castle hotel is a great place to stay. It looks small at first view but its rooms are on...more
This is a very nicely appointed hotel but not as imposing as I thought it would be. I booked a...more
The only hotel in southern California to earn the distinction of an AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil...more