See Los Angeles like a local
Time in LAX
Spring is a very attractive time to visit Los Angeles with average temperatures hovering around 75°F (23°C). The annual Spring Blossom festival in Huntington Beach takes place every year to celebrate LA’s sister status with the Japanese city of Anjo. LA’s beaches and beachside hotels start to fill up around this time with ‘spring break’ visitors, but it’s still a great time to visit attractions that will be less busy in the weekdays than during the summer.
Dry and hot, in summer, life is best lived outdoors in Los Angeles. Temperatures regularly hit highs of 83°F (29°C) – and often higher. Enjoy the balmy evenings by taking in a film outdoors (check out Rooftop Cinema or Cinespia), whilst the beaches come into their own as the water finally creeps up to temperature – it’s still quite chilly, though, so only swim if you’re feeling brave.
As the schools welcome back their incumbents, LA becomes a little quieter making it a great time to take in some cultural hotspots. The Broad has seasonal exhibitions and a great permanent collection including pieces by Jeff Koons and Alexander Calder, or visit the Getty Villa, that houses the billionaire JP Getty’s collection. Take a trip to one of LA’s many pumpkin patch farms, popular at Halloween. Thanksgiving, the third Thursday of November, may affect certain opening times, so check beforehand.
LA winters can see highs of 68°F (20°C) and lows of 48°F (9°C), with minimal rainfall. This is a great time to visit Disneyland and Universal Studios, when these parks have their lowest visitor numbers. Rainier days mean clearer views of the city, so a trek up Runyon Canyon is a must on winter mornings. You can see real snow on Mount Baldy or on Bear Mountain, both just a few hours’ drive from LA. Get your Christmas shopping sorted under the fairy lights at Rodeo Drive.
We’ve got the lowdown from those in the know, covering all aspects of the city, from its architecture and shopping, to must-see cultural hotspots and where to head when you want a little luxury. Discover your own Los Angeles with a little help from our friends and their LA secrets.
British Airways pilot, Jonny Knowlson, explores curious things to do in Los Angeles. From boarding down Venice Beach, to cruising up Hollywood Boulevard.
Celebrity and fashion photographer, Diana Gomez, explores LA’s exclusive Arts District and gives the lowdown on the city’s boutique shopping experiences.
Portrait photographer, Lilly Dong, explores LA’s art and culture hot spots. Including art galleries, The Last Bookstore, and Seven Grand whisky bar.
Podcaster and DJ, Hendo Bayer, gives the lowdown on the best things to do and eat on a budget in Los Angeles.
If you’re a citizen of a country covered by the Visa Waiver Programme (such as the UK), you will need to have a valid e-Passport along with an approved ESTA to enter the USA. You can identify an e-Passport by the ‘chip’ symbol on the front cover.
You can apply for an ESTA online, and should receive approval straight away, although we recommend applying at least 72 hours before departure, in case any travel authorisation is denied. An ESTA is valid for multiple journeys and lasts for two years, or until your passport expires.
UK citizens can also fast-track US passport control by joining Global Entry, the US Customs and Border Protection programme. Membership lasts for five years and the application process includes background checks and a face-to-face interview at an official enrolment centre.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the right documents to be allowed entry into the USA when flying into LA.
The best way to navigate LA is by car. The city’s ‘grid system’ is easy to work with, and there’s ample parking about – though some hotels will charge over the odds for their on-site parking. Traffic is a big problem in the city, so you’re best to travel outside of rush hour, and traffic apps like Waze can be very useful for finding the quickest route. Be sure to look up the local bylaws – especially about four-way intersections – and be careful when turning left.
You can hail cabs on the streets of Los Angeles, but they’re not as frequent as in many other cities, and are usually only on the main roads and boulevards. There are plenty of apps you can download to get a cab, among them Uber and Lyft. There are also cabs you can book such as LA City Cab and LA Yellow Cab Company. You can always ask the hotel concierge to book a cab for you, too.
The bus and train services in Los Angeles are run by Metro. Fares on both can be paid with a TAP card, which can be purchased at all Metro rail stations in LA. Once purchased it can be topped up online. Most rail lines run from 05.00 until 00.00, and until 02.00 at weekends. Fares cost from $1.75 and a day pass starts at $7.
You don’t see many people pounding the pavements in Los Angeles – unless it’s along shopping streets or for exercise somewhere such as Runyon Canyon or on the beach at Venice or Santa Monica. This city was built around the car. The same goes for cycling in LA – bicycles can be hired at various locations, especially on the coast, but cycling has yet to become part of the daily routine as it has done in so many other cities.
Tipping in Los Angeles isn’t just for good service – it’s a part of the culture here, as many service industries such as hotels, restaurants and transportation factor tips into their staff’s wages – but that doesn’t mean you have to go crazy with it. Our guide will help simplify who, when and how much to tip when you’re out and about in the city.
For most restaurants in LA, a tip between 15 and 20 per cent on the pre-tax total is standard. If you feel your service was exceptional, a tip of 22 per cent would be recommended. An easy way to calculate the tip is just to double the tax – which works out to be roughly 18 per cent. If you’re eating at a hotel restaurant or with a big group (usually six or more), the tip is sometimes already included in the bill as a service charge or gratuity – however, this might not go to your server, so check it carefully before leaving any additional money.
If you order a beer or wine, a $1-$2 tip per drink is typical in Los Angeles. Even if you order a soft drink, a tip of about 50 cents per drink is expected. For cocktails, $2-$3 should suffice, although if you’re drinking in an upscale bar, where bartenders take time to create your drink, it’s better to leave $3-$4 per drink.
On short rides around LA, it’s common to round up the fare, while the average tip for a longer journey should be around 15 per cent. If you’re travelling to and from the airport and your driver helps you load and unload your bags, it’s recommended to tip around 20 to 22 per cent.
Tipping is also expected at hotels in LA. It’s best to tip the person directly at the time of service. If the porters help you carry your bags, expect to tip $1 or $2 per bag. If the doorman hails a cab for you, you should tip $1. And hotel maids might also expect $1 or $2 for a few days of cleaning.
LA is a diverse city, one of many different neighbourhoods. As in any busy city, it’s prudent to take care when travelling, Here are some helpful tips to stay street smart:
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