L.A. at night
LosAngelesforTourists.com for Los Angeles' Top Tourist Tips
Los Angeles sprawls and distances between major sights are substantial. Whatever you may read, renting a car is essential if you are to cover ground in your sightseeing, and also see some of the scenic beauty of L.A.'s environs. Renting a car from one of the airports serving L.A., especially LAX, is amongst the most reasonable in all the U.S. for a major metropolitan area, as the competition is so fierce. The L.A. freeway system is extensive, and you will want a very good map that you can get ahead of time from your Automobile Association office.
Just a couple of things to bear in mind: if you are in the downtown area or getting from areas served by train, then it is worth leaving the car behind. If using the car, note that L.A. is very prone to traffic backups, accident closures etc., and that it is absolutely worth your while checking the traffic reports on your car radio before you set out. Second, the carpool lane is usually much faster, and you need to have 2 people in the car to enter it. However, make sure you find out the lay of the land and the exact exit. Exits off the carpool lanes are different from normal exits, or you have to exit ahead of time. The entry and exit points are designated i.e. you cannot weave in and out of the carpool lanes, or you will be fined. If you are a single passenger and use the carpool lane out of impatience, you will also be assessed a steep fine.
There is public transportation in L.A., but it is by no means comprehensive, with just 73 miles of rail, and a system of bus transportation that is as prone to traffic issues as a car, but with schedule complications. However, should you not wish to hassle with driving, note that you can get a 3-day pass which will give you access to all buses and trains. One possibility is to stay within access to public transportation, and then go on a couple of tours offered by many sightseeing companies (your hotel should be able to give you possibilities) e.g. Beverly Hills tours, or L.A. at night, and so on. You can be picked up and dropped off at your hotel.
Here are some useful links to get you started:
For public transportation: http://www.mta.net/riding_metro/riders_guide/planning_trip-02.htm http://www.experiencela.com/GA.html
For distances within the city:http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/maps/l/bl_distance.htm
For distances between areas in California: http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/latripplanning/l/bl_distance_la.htm
Where to stay
The possibilities are endless. It depends on the type of experience you want to have. If you have access to wheels, you may enjoy staying in one of the ocean communities, instead of in downtown. Some families may prefer to stay closer to the major themed parks e.g. in Anaheim, if you are going to make that the focus of your visit.
There are many discount and budget chains, as well as the best hotels that exist anywhere in the world. Check online booking sources like hotels.com and orbitz or expedia for possibilities. Just do remember that distances are vast, and a discount hotel in the middle of nowhere is no deal at all. Quite simply, the old adage of "location, location, location" applies.
L.A. is full of the most amazing restaurants for every budget and every taste. The seafood here is wonderful, of course, and so is ethnic food -- there is regional Chinese cuisine (Shanghai food, Cantonese food, Szechuan food) because of the substantial Asian population, other types of Asian food, and Mexican food second to none. Do not underestimate the tastiness of "hole-in-the'wall" Mexican restaurants, given the Hispanic population here. And if you have a taste for the trendy, you can certainly enjoy a night out with a superb mojito and California cuisine.
Check this for ideas: http://www.losangelesrestaurants.com/
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