South Central, Los Angeles
I am born and raised in LA. I was born in Watts but grew up in Long Beach, Compton, Carson, Inglewood, and Los Angeles. This place is my home. I can honestly say that in general, compared to other places I have been (San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Virginia), it is not nearly as bad as people think. I am not saying go to Compton, definitely do not. Even as an LA native, I avoid this city. Compton is adjacent to Watts, which is probably the WORST area you can be in, but as a tourist, I don't really see any reason you'd need to be over there unless you have family or some other sort of business over there. Bunch of public housing, poverty, and of course with poverty comes crime.
-Hawthorne. This area is closer to South Bay, and the further west you go, or the further south you go, the better it becomes. The area of Hawthorne near Torrance is definitely ok. Redondo Beach is also nice as well as Manhattan. El Segundo is definitely safe, I am always over here. It is very quiet and very close to a lot of nice restaurants, gyms, shopping, etc.
-Gardena is also ok. There is a casino over here as well as a giant swap meet known as the Rodium. I haven't gone to the Rodium in quite a while, but sometimes you can get good bargains on things.
-Downtown Los Angeles. This one is kind of hard to call. Let's see. I am almost always in Downtown LA for some reason or another. Whether it's simply passing through to get to somewhere else, or stopping to do something here. There are some parts of DTLA that should be avoided at night, mainly Skid Row. Skid row spans from about, Main St, to Alameda St going east and west, and between 3rd and 7th going north and south (3rd street in this area kind of blurs into Little Tokyo, which is where is starts to get better). If you stay north of 3rd, you are fine. Go south of it and now you're in skid row. A lot of the homeless population is concentrated to Skid Row because of all of the homeless services are there. Los Angeles is constantly building new affordable apartments for them each year, and they are slowly working to fix this problem and get the chronically homeless off the street and It's a wonderful thing. But, I digress. Anyway, You really have no need to be at Skid Row, unless you are homeless, or you work over here, or maybe are visiting a family member over here (I also have a relative who has an apartment on San Pedro st, so I visit sometimes). In my experience, the most a person will do here is ask you for spare change. Just say you don't have it, and move along. Though, a lot of the time, they mind their own business and won't even ask you for anything. Other than that, not much else to avoid. Obviously if you're alone, try not to walk on dark streets or alleyways, but that's pretty much anywhere. Downtown LA has a pretty good nightlife, so I wouldn't avoid it altogether at night. It's not all that bad. I have been there on late nights coming home from work, and have never encountered a problem. I used to visit a friend who had a nice apartment on Main st before she moved to Seattle a few yrs ago and it wasn't bad. Plus, the Staples Center, LA Live, Nokia Theater, LA Philharmonic, and Little Tokyo are all in Downtown LA. Little Tokyo is fine at night. It's a very small district, so it's not very easy to get lost. It's mainly concentrated to 1st St, bordered by Figueroa to the West, Center St to the East, between Center and Alameda it goes South to 3rd St, West to Los Angeles St, then back up to 1st street again. There is a LOT to do in Little Tokyo. there is a mall, there are many great restaurants, places to shop, and also amazing hotels and hostels a like to stay at during your trip. There are museums, an arcade, and other things. Another part of DTLA that should be avoided, anything South of Olympic st if you are not on Figueroa or Broadway, or Olive or Hill. Stay north of Olympic if you are not on one of these aforementioned streets, as there is nothing to see otherwise. On Broadway, after about 8pm, you shouldn't really be over there anyway, most stuff on that street is closed by that time. 7th Street isn't bad per say, but depends where on 7th. Generally, I stay away from anything east of Hill st on 7th after dark. Mainly because there is nothing of interest at that time of night, and if you wander far enough east on 7th, you will find yourself at Skid Row.
- Venice Beach. Another area where homelessness is a problem. But a lot of them are really nice friendly people who aren't going to bother you anyway. Most of them migrated here from as far down as San Diego. There are also a lot of legitimate street performers who earn their living doing so. They can dance, they can sing, and do many other things. A lot of tattoo/piercing shops can be found on the Venice Beach strip, as well as amazing restaurants. On Sundays, the crust punks can be seen by the beach, doing a drum circle. Go and have a dance. They won't bother you, they are just having a good time. I have danced in the drum circle many times. Fun experience. I'd recommend it, but it's not for kids. You'd understand why if you went.
-Santa Monica. Generally nothing bad to say about this place. It is mostly safe during the day as well as at night, but I have known of a crime or two to occur here. Things do get stolen if left unattended. A lot of rich tourists tend to come here, so there is also a lot of opportunity for bottom feeders to come up. You don't need to hide your belongings or worry about getting mugged or anything, just keep your things close to you and be aware. Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade is where you can see some of THE best street performers. These are truly talented individuals, and they are a delight. Some of my good friends have gotten big breaks being performers here. These people are not homeless, or poor, they have permits from the City of Santa Monica to perform here, and they make their living off the tips they receive for their performances. A lot of them really do earn their money and deserve it. Have a few loose bills on you if you decide to check them out. There are also a lot of great restaurants to visit, even a sushi spot that goes for as much as $500-$600 per dish. There are 3 or 4 movie theaters on the Promenade, all showing different movies at different rates. Down the street from the Promenade is the Santa Monica Pier. This is pretty much self-explanatory. More talent awaits you here, as well as amazing views of the ocean. Rent a bike and take a ride along the bike path, or bath in the sun. Take in the lovely almost year-around weather SoCal has to offer. So on and so forth.
-Hollywood. Pretty much a tourist trap, also where all the superficial typical night clubs can be found. I'm not much of a club person, so I can't give you a recommendation, but most of the ones I have gone to here (a very small handful) are crap. I did like King King. Great underground House music.
-The Jungles. Someone mentioned this place. I would first like to start by saying that honest and true, this area is not that bad. It was maybe 10yrs ago, but the police have seriously cleaned this area out. This neighborhood is adjacent to Baldwin Hills, which has also cleaned up rather nicely lately. I've even managed to see some white people in the area, so it can't be that bad. I also lived in the jungles recently and I actually feel it's a lot safer than where I currently live. I will go on to say, that there is nothing to see at the Jungles (named for all the palm trees over there) if you don't have friends or family living there. It's just a neighborhood with a bunch of apartments and houses. Working class.
-Koreatown. Awesome place to be. Generally safe at night as well. A lot of amazing Korean BBQ spots are here, a lot of great, affordable apartments can be found here ($1000/month or less). A lot of students live in this area. A lot of working class citizens as well. Constantly innovating, and building new places of business. Crimes do occur, but rarely. and it is mostly safe to be out at night. Usually when something does occur, it will be on the news and solved right away. Koreatown mainly ends at Olympic when going south, at Crenshaw when going west, as far North as Melrose if you're on Western, north up to Hollywood Blvd if on Magnolia, and as far east as Virgil Ave. A great night life here, many clubs as well as karaoke spots, plus bars, food, malls, spas, chiropractors, acupuncture, and other goodies.
-Public Transportation. I highly recommend it if you're going to be local. if you plan to go to Santa Monica a few times or even to the San Fernando or San Gabriel or Santa Clarita valleys, you might need to rent a car. Los Angeles is a big city where a lot more can get done if you have a car. Taking the bus to the valley is not recommended because the buses that go up there do not run as often as they do in the city..(some as little as every 10min in the city, compared to 1hr+ in the valleys).
Speaking of the Valleys, people try to say the valleys are much safer than LA. Please. A good amount of LA County's registered sex offenders are concentrated to the valleys, especially SF Valley. A lot of child kid-nappings happen here, and a lot of rapes happen here as a result. There are a lot of "fake homeless" people here as well. People who dress up bummy, stand on the corners and freeway exits asking for change, then, at the end of the day, go change their clothes and drive off in their Mercedes Benz. I am not joking. There was even a news segment about this. The sad part is, this isn't illegal. Plenty of crimes occur here, at all times of the day. A lot of gang activity as well. There are some great things about the Valley, but it's seriously not much better than any part of LA. It is very misleading of people to not disclose this information or to tell you otherwise. As with any other place be aware of your surroundings, and if it doesn't feel right, leave.
If you really have to walk through these danger areas just mentioned very accurately make sure your strapped, even if you just have to shoot up. It will give you a fighting chance for survival because thats whats it amounts to if anyone attempts to walk at night in any of those high risk neighborhoods and don't think the locals wont know your not from there...trust me they will know. Listen even the police are on edge patrolling those areas.
Also don't believe anyone who says South L.A. and particularly Compton is not dangerous and its all good at night. It dangerous in a car in Compton can you imagine on foot. Let me give you the common thought to all of the construction workers, delivery drivers and people working in Compton but do not live there. Their thinking on a schedule that tells them in the back of their mind, "I need to be out of this city before dark." So that tells you everything.
Just use this rule and consider Central LA as your point,
The more you go towards the coast (More West) such as most of the beaches, Hollywood, West Hollywood, La Brea, that is the most safest neighborhoods and has a lot of attractions since it is expensive to live there. Definitely a place to tour around.
The more South you go (Dowtown, Skid Row, South Central) a little more dangerous and a little choppy. But you'll find that these are residential neighborhoods, not a place you'd go tour at. You'll find places like Watts and Compton in South Central and you'll know you went too far South.
The more north you go (Burbank, San Fernando Valley) well, I am not sure because I don't go there often, but I believe they are fairly safe and the crime is medium. I know there are little gems of tourist spots in Burbank.
The more East you go (Verdugos, San Gabriel Valley, and Beyond) They too are fairly safe, but note that it The Valley is not a walking place. You need to go use a car to go through the 10 E. Freeway to actually travel. In the Verdugos, places like Pasadena are such wonderful tourist attractions, and Glendale also has some little gems of tourist attraction.
You should use this website to explore LA's Neighborhood: http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/
Areas you should avoid are: Compton, some parts of Gardena, some parts of Carson, Pico-Union, some parts of Culver City, Inglewood, South Gate, Lynwood, some parts of Pasadena, Willowbrook, some parts of Pomona, Van Nuys(at night), Oakwood(neighbourhood in Venice Beach), East Long Beach
South LA (Watts, Crenshaw, Manchester Square, Athens, Baldwin Village, Florence, Chesterfield Square, Gramercy Park, King Estates, Jefferson Park, Rosewood, Vermont Square, Green Meadows etc)
East LA (Cypress Park, Highland Park, Glassell Park, Boyle Heights, some parts of Eagle Rock)
Avoid Downtown LA at night! Also i've seen a lot of crackheads,prostitutes in North Hollywood so don't walk there at night!
Safe areas are:West Los Angeles (The Westside) , Beverly Hills, Wilshire, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Sunset Hills, Mulholland Drive, Rodeo Drive, Westlake Village, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Echo Park,Harbor Area most of San Fernando Valley, Venice Beach,
In the whole LA area I personally feel, and have experience from living here, that it is as safe as anywhere while in a car. People talk about all these neighborhoods being dangerous, and I am not saying they are not, but as long as you are in a vehicle on MAJOR roadways I would not worry at all.
I have personally been through all these areas during the day, and never felt in danger at all. People will get into to trouble when you decide, hey lets turn off MLK and start going through some neighborhoods in South Central LA, not a good idea in LA, or any city to cruise through 1 or 2 lane streets in gang infested neighborhoods.
I would feel a little unsafe walking around these neighborhoods, that people are mentioning, during the day on major roadways (Downtown is fine during the day). I mean you can get mugged anywhere, but its not nearly as likely on a 6 lane road with many people out. Walking around side streets and into not so reputable neighborhoods is never a good idea, I do not care what city you are in. Walking around bad neighborhoods at night, major roadways or not, I would definitely not recommend.
In reality none of these dangerous places are places a tourist would have any desire to go to so it does not really matter anyways. If in a car I would not worry at all on any major roadway in LA, if walking around I would listen to others peoples suggestions and use common sense, i.e. not walking alone down alleys in Hollywood at night.
I would feel safe in just about all of Orange County along the coast, day or night. There is not much reason to be anywhere else in Orange County except to go to an Angel's or Duck's game or Disneyland and those areas are safe, and heavily patrolled with police during events.
For people who have never been to California it is not really a pleasant state to not have a car in because of how spread out everything is (maybe SF you can get by without one, no where else really). I definitely recommend renting a car if you do not bring your own. Personally I would not want to visit CA without one as our public transportation is not nearly what it is in other states/countries. You will definitely run into more danger (and shady people, not to mention bums) trying to use it than driving around on your own, and driving is also a lot more convenient here.
On the off chance you are thinking about staying in a hostel, as it is a viable option in some countries, DO NOT in CA or America. I did not even know we had them here until about a year ago when I randomly saw one in South LA. I would not stay at one under any circumstance.
Probably one of the most infamous areas of south LA is the area and within 216th Street, which is essentially located in Torrance, just west of the Harbor/110 Freeway. In the 70s it wasn't so bad but this place is known for murders. A ton of racial tension so don't think it'll be cool to just cruise this area at night. Don't even consider it.
As long as you aren't a dumbass or dressed like a complete slutty whore (as sexy as you may think it is), just have your wits about you, no matter what city you are in. But if you're young and drive a badass car, you will always be frowned up by certain people (of all races!).
Just north of Torrance is Gardena, where the Hustler casino is located. I didn't feel too unsafe i the parking lot but the surrounding areas seem pretttty shady. Not somewhere I would want to be walking around at night.
First off - Los Angeles has NEVER been the murder capital of the USA! Compton may have been, but very few tourists are going to go to Compton.
Whittier included in a list of unsafe areas of LA? Please! Certain areas of Whittier should be avoided - but as above - those areas will have not interest for a tourist. Anyone venturing out there is likely interested in President Nixon, the Pio Pico Manison, the college, or wants to hike in the Puente Hills. These areas are perfectly safe to be in.
The areas to avoid in LA simply are not of general interest to the average tourist. Use a guidebook or ask at your hotel and they will direct you to the tourist spots. You won't find yourself unattentionally in a sketchy area unless u simply are not paying attention. Downtown is great to walk around in daytime. Use commonsense, don't flash money, and avoid the area directly west of the 110 freeway,or east of Main Street. Stay out of the 3rd Street tunnel if you are on foot, unless you wish to be mugged! At night be sure you are driving if you must be out(going to the Music Center, restaurant, or attending a Dodger game for example.)
I wouldn't put a blanket stay out label on South central, Inglewood, or East LA. On the other hand know where you are specifically going in those areas and don't drive around aimlessly. Hollywood Park is located in Inglewood - thousands of horse race fans enjoy a day at the races here each year. A specific reason to go to Watts is to see the Watts Towers - if you wish to do so - know that they have limited hours so be sure to call before making the drive. The problem with all the scaremongering is that it causes visitors to ACT scared if they find themselves in an area known for lack of affluency, crime, gangs, whatever. If you go to these places, relax, act confidently, and be on your guard - you should be fine!
Los Angeles is a beautiful city with much to see and do - does it have some "unsafe" area where more caution is required then others? Yes. Is it unsafe? With the exception of the LAPD(they are often thought of as another gang!) - No.
STAY OUT OF SOUTH CENTRAL Ive been there To visit family there and the police was around almost everyday. I also been hearing that someone got shot. A block away there was a shooting. And kids also rob other kids, theres also a lot of tagging everywhere you go. People are also robbing gold chains people are wearing lately.
When driving down Florence and Normandie, be wary of a man in a green suit and purple bow tie, sitting on what looks like an old leather trumpet case. He usually sits at the SE corner. When you pull up with your windows down he will come up to your car, pull his pants down, put his butt in your car through your side window, and take a dump in your car.
I take the same street to work every day for the last seven years. I've seen this guy, who i call "El Dumpo Fiasco", do it about four times a year. I once saw him take a dump in this lady's escalade. He had to step on the side steps of the SUV. It was a monster dump. I could see it from behind the escalade, it came out looking like a burned sausage. The lady got so pissed she jumped out of her escalade and attacked the guy. The guy ran off yelling something like "Stay up Cain!!!". It was crazy.
Weird thing is, he always targets white cars. Just make sure to put your windows up if you see the guy in a green suit and purple bow tie.
If you stay away from south southeast or east LA you will be fine. To the south you have Inglewood, Compton, Long Beach etc. To the east you have.....well.... east LA. All of those areas are mainly working class areas where of course there are gangs. But if you stay clear of those areas and stay in the north or north west such as, hollywood, brentwood, santa monica, venice etc. you will be perfectly fine. There isn't much to see in the more dangerous areas unless your going to Disneyland and thats not in LA so figure that out somewhere else, haha. Just stay around north northwest LA and you will see all the great things LA is known for.
I recently visted the states, the last leg of my tour being in L.A. I stayed for 2 nights downtown and 2 nights in Whittier; I saw no problem with either. During the days, I did the usual tourist stuff; Newport Beach, Universial Studios, Santa Monica, B. Hills, Hollywood....ect. And I had no problems; it was like paradise. In the night we took the subway to universial studios from downtow and had a top night and even ventured into Compton on our last night in a stratch limo; again no problems at all. I think where ever you look for problems, you will find them. The posts about locking your car or not leaving valubles in clear sight; wouldnt you do this ANYWHERE? Who would park up and leave their car unlocked?? Its common sense and nothing more.
Lets put it this way, I felt more uneasy in Richmond VA, Baltimore and ATL than in L.A.
Century Blvd. is Close to LAX and seems convenient for tourists. The danger is that the area just East of LAX is heavily Gang Infested. Denver Lane Bloods, Crenshaw Mafia and Inglewood Family Bloods all share the area and it could cause you problems. The area just South, well, we'll leave it at that.
Redondo Beach Blvd. sounds pleasant - It's not. Avoid this area of Los Angeles if at all possible.
Harbor Gateway / Torrance / San Pedro - Racial Tension between Blacks and Hispanics, if you are either, avoid this area (there are unseen borders that current resident's know not to cross).
105 Freeway - Most Exits off of the 105 and 110 South of Downtown are straight roads into Gang Territory.
Fly into Ontario Airport instead and take the 30 minute drive into Los Angeles after mapping it out from the safety of your Hotel Room.
I don't want to scare you, but you really have to be a resident to understand. You just have to avoid certain areas. Downtown, South East, Harbor Gateway, East Los Angeles. I would suggest if you absolutely must fly into LAX. Try going North on the 405 a few exits until you get to the 10. Perfect location for tourists and Visitors.
You guys think LA is unsafe? Definitely not the safest place in SoCal. Again, depends where in LA... and again, why not to compare with some places like Cshitcago or St Louis: Dude, driving through those midwestern clusterficks is like a a nightmare of post nuclear vurtual reality experience- it's total disaster!!! Ugly, criminal- infested entire cities, all imaginable human and post-human trash, ugly terrain, and crapy weather to complete the picture. No money that would make me live anywhere east of The Rockies! So, LA is like a private school for girls against those cities... Just keep out of South Central, and as a common sense: don't wander around alone after dark (kinda applies to ANY place). Midday, in downtown LA, you are fine: all professional crowd that has to take a stroll from parking (lucky if you find!) to the destination.
Definitely, docks/ ports/ industrial areas are not for tourists, residential areas are not for browsing through either. Nobody likes rubbernecking visitors passing through hoods. Homeowners won't neccessarily shoot you, but they may be calling security patrol.
Cheers from South Orange County (of course, California)
Some people seem really intimidated by Los Angeles' reputation of crime and danger. Overall, one should be alert but certainly not overly worried about crime.
Compared to Europe, Japan, Canada or Australia, there is more crime just about everywhere in the US, so one should avoid flaunting cash, or being careless with valuables or just plain non-attentive or guilable. However, don't be scared or overly worried while in LA.
Crime in LA has been trending downward for many years and is now at levels seen in the late 1960's. Many US cities have much worse crime rates than Los Angeles, but sometimes LA just seems more intimidating. This is likely because of a high minority and homeless population.
Homeless people may be annoying in asking for change as you walk by them as well as giving off a noxious odor, but they really aren't likely to commit serious crime much more than the general population. Also, what serious crime LA does have is committed disproportionaly from gangs as has been highly chronicled.
The city does have quite a differential in crime across neighborhoods. South Los Angeles is still by far the most dangerous of any areas of the city as it has the most gangs. However, even here that doesn't mean that you will be shot if you get off the freeway accidentally here or every black or Latino guy you see is a gang member. Most people here are good law abiding citizens and good people overall. I have spent a little bit of time in South LA (and on the fringes) and nothing has ever happened to me.
Overall, just use decent judgement (try not to look lost or unaware), but don't think people are out to get you. I have spent time all over the city, especially downtown and the Westside and I often walk places and I have never been robbed or anything. Given my record over 10 plus years, I think you will be fine over a few days.
ok there's alot of bias and misinformation in these reviews that i feel the neccesity to correct.
First and foremost: DRIVERS! the drivers in LA are NOT bad..this is a big misconception. think to yourself, "how can LA drivers be bad when they drive everyday in constantly risky conditions?" The drivers in LA are some of the best and they know that, they're not bad only risky.
VIOLENT CRIMES: there's alot that is not exposed in the media, numerous times while finding my way back onto a freeway i have found myself in sketchy situations. i've accidentally driven into a block in South Central while a search helicopter was overhead-shining the searchlight into the adjacent apartment building, i pulled off to the side to check my map (once again in south central) then looked to my left and saw a group of black gangmembers surrounding someone on the floor-stabbed or shot, driven past a murder scene/investigation. these incidents all happened in South Central and were witnessed on every visit to the area. and to add...aside from further misconception, Compton is also bad during the day. My little cousin went to visit a friend in Compton and in broad daylight was held up for 3 dollars at knife point.
This goes for most of: South Central, Watts, Compton, Willowbrook, Huntington Park, East LA, Lynwood, and parts of: South Gate, South Bay, Venice and Santa Monica.
Robbery: most of LA is shady this way at night, especially Downtown, and Hollywood.
DRUGS: if you're street smart and you're able to analyze the street, then you KNOW that drugs are everywhere here.
OVERALL: As far as tourism is concerned- LA is a young city, younger than New York, which has peaked; younger than Boston-which is ultimatley insignificant in this country's progression, younger than Chicago; and younger than San Francisco which has also peaked in city status and is also more a collection of culture rather than a creator.
If you were to explore the dark side of LA using soley your feet and public trans, you'd be screwed. on the real, though. Stay out.