At a Glance
When to Go
If a road trip is possible, drive into Los Angeles. That way, you'll have transportation while visiting and can easily go on excursions. If that’s not an option, then you’ll probably fly into LAX, the main international airport. Rent a car at the airport, as a cab will cost at least $45, and fares will add up fast unless you have a friend to play chauffeur.
With a city as large as Los Angeles, a car is essential, which means that shortcuts, side streets, and parking secrets are common topics of conversation. Traffic is notoriously heavy and unpredictable, so download the mobile app Waze to find the fastest route. GPS may direct you onto Santa Monica Boulevard, but cut through on side streets instead to circumvent a perennial traffic jam. To avoid credit card machine malfunctions or cabbies with attitude—both of which seem to crop up rather often—download and use the Uber or Lyft ridesharing apps. L.A. is a car city at its core, but walking and biking are possible and almost always more relaxing. Public transportation is improving—the new Expo Line connecting Santa Monica to Downtown L.A. is especially enabling—but make sure to look up the route ahead of time, as even locals might not know which bus goes to your destination.
Food and Drink
Major museums include the Getty, which is just as much about art as about architecture; LACMA, which takes you through the history of art; MOCA, which curates an eclectic selection of modern art; and the Broad, which specializes in contemporary art. The Hammer Museum, Skirball Center, and Annenberg Space for Photography also offer striking installations and great events. For a look at local art, check out gallery openings and art walks in Downtown and Culver City, or simply pay attention to your surroundings to discover some of the best street art in the world.
Every day is a festival on the Venice Boardwalk and Sunset Strip, but summertime is especially lively. Free concerts are a tradition on Thursday nights at the Santa Monica Pier, and nostalgic movie screenings commandeer the Hollywood Cemetery on Saturdays. The Coachella Music Festival in nearby Palm Springs is an L.A. rite of passage, and the L.A.-based FYF Fest has recently gained enough popularity to earn the title of the former's urban counterpart. Farmers markets and food truck meetups rotate among neighborhoods each day of the week, and in August the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival gives attendees the chance to sample delicacies from all over the city. Flea markets, art walks, and group bike rides are also regular rituals among the communities in the city.
What the Locals Know
Susan Mason is a producer, writer and digital strategist who is passionate about telling stories that inspire people to connect with one another and their surroundings. She has worked with brands including National Geographic, and produced Webby Award-winning #EverestNoFilter, a breakthrough project in expedition journalism. Susan is always ready for a hike, road trip, or good meal, and you can follow her adventures at @soozyn.