A Short LA Guide for First-Time Visitors

By  //  June 28, 2021

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Los Angeles, California, is filled with sights, experiences, and national monuments that aren’t available anywhere else in the United States. LA has an endless amount of things to do, even in the Winter, that you may miss without proper planning.

Beyond the Hollywood sign and incredible cuisine, this short guide will ensure you’re prepared for your first-time visitor’s trip!

A Compact Guide to Los Angeles for First-Timers

We won’t be able to include some of the more niche activities within this blog post. If you’re interested in seeing more of what LA has to offer, this list of activities by Viator can help.

Traveling, Transportation, and Parking

To make getting around LA less stressful, try using the following tips or travel essentials.

■ Pay for Share Airport Transfer in advance from LAX to your hotel.

■ Rent a car. Taxis and ride-share programs are expensive, and public transit is awful.

■ Booka LA Half Day City Tour if you can’t drive or can’t rent a car.

■ To drive in LA, you need a valid driving license from your country.

■ Find a street, restaurant, or shopping mall parking to reduce parking costs.

■ Spend 3-7 days in LA to see everything, but 5-7 days is the sweet spot.

■ Visit LA during the Spring or Fall for optimal weather.

To get the most out of your trip, it’s better to spend more to reduce the time spent in traffic.

Hotels, Hostels, and Where to Stay

Depending on how long you’re staying, you may want to move to 2 or 3 different locations or remain in the downtown LA area. There are hundreds of places to stay in Los Angeles, but we recommend staying in Santa Monica, Downtown, Silver Lake, or West Hollywood.

1. Santa Monica: Stay near the beach to see Santa Monica Pier, Palisades Park, Venice Beach, the Farmers Market, and Third Street Promenade. Choose to stay at The Georgian, Palihouse Hotel, Casa Del Mar, Shutters on the Beach, or Proper Hotel.

2. Downtown: Best for tourists who don’t have a lot of time and want to see Hollywood, the Arts District, Silver Lake, and Chinatown. The best places to stay include The Freehand Hotel, Ace Hotel, Nomad Hotel, Hotel Indigo, The Wayfair, and The Hoxton.

3. Silver Lake: Best for tourists that want to see more local sports and spend their time eating, drinking (coffee and alcohol), browsing bookstores, and hiking in Elysian Park. If you’re uncomfortable with gentrification, look elsewhere, or stay at the Silver Lake Inn.

4. West Hollywood: Experience the best nightlife in LA by staying in West Hollywood. Spend time celebrity watching at Book Soup, strolling the famous Sunset Strip, and visiting a comedy club. Stay at the Andaz, Kimpton La Peer, or Sunset Tower.

Staying closer to downtown LA will be more expensive, but you’ll spend less time commuting. On the other hand, Santa Monica will appeal to first-timers who want a beach vacation.

Restaurants, Food Trucks, and Local Eats

You can’t experience LA without trying the incredible food, so explore the following locations.

■ Pasjoli: A fancy restaurant that serves bistro dishes in Santa Monica.

■ Asanebo: Incredible sushi that’s reasonably priced in Studio City.

■ Alta: Soul food restaurant that serves fried chicken in Downtown LA.

■ Sunday Gravy: Italian food like Mama used to make in Inglewood.

■ Yuk Dae Jang: Korean restaurant with yummy spicy soups in Gardena.

There are thousands of incredible restaurants in LA, but our choices are among the best.

Essential Activities, Parks, and Sights to See

The following are some must-see places around LA that shouldn’t be missed for first-timers.

■ The Getty: Free museum and considered the best of its kind in LA.

■ Abbot Kinney: The Venice Beach strip with the best shopping and restaurants.

■ The Beach: El Matador and Paradise Cove are local favorites besides Venice Beach.

■ Art District: Has galleries, coffee shops, bars, local restaurants, and more.

■ Echo Park Lake: Great place for local ice cream, picnics, and pedal boating.

■ Huntington Library & Gardens: A 120-acre landscape abundant with flowers.

■ Grand Central Market: A large open shopping district with much to do.

■ Santa Monica Pier: Ride the Ferris wheel and eat funnel cakes by the pier.

■ Griffith Park Observatory: Hike up to the top to see all of LA from up-high.

■ Universal Studios: Part theme park, part film studio, 100% fun.

■ Rose Bowl Flea: Opens every Sunday to locals who want to find vintage goods.

■ Melrose Place: Includes high-end designer boutiques and cult favorites.

Your experience may vary depending on the amount of money you wish to spend.