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First Time Traveling to Los Angeles? Follow These 15 Tips for a Perfect LA Vacation

Los angeles city lights at night

Los Angeles is a well-known city that no matter where you’re from you have an idea of L.A. Geraldine gladly agreed to write about her experience of visiting this city and tips for first-timers traveling to LA.

Given the fact that L.A. is the hub of the film and television industry in the United States, this is not surprising. This is also the reason a lot of people want to travel to Los Angeles and see the sights of glamour themselves.

If it’s your first time traveling to Los Angeles, then you might want to read this article first. It’s best that you prepare yourself so that you know what you need.

Even though L.A. is hardly a sprawling wilderness where you need to be extra vigilant, it’s always best to be prepared. With that said, here are 15 tips that you should check out that will help you have the best L.A. vacation you can ever have.

1. Visit the South Bay Beaches

Beach hermosa, LA

No vacation is complete without a trip to the beach, and going to L.A. is no different.

If you’re craving the fantasy of being a beach bum for a day, then you should definitely go visit the South Bay beaches in L.A. There are plenty of beaches, so you should consider staying for more than a couple of nights if the beach life is something that appeals to you.

Redondo Beach is a casual and very relaxed beach. You can play volleyball on the beaches as well.

If you want a more upscale-ish beach community, then Manhattan beach is a great option for you. Manhattan Beach has a lot of shops that you can visit if you’re craving for a bit of retail therapy while you’re near the beach.

2. Do not just start-off in Downtown L.A

Although downtown L.A. is probably appealing to you given its notoriety and the famous sites there, it’s advised that you don’t start your trip there. There are going to be a lot of people and it won’t be enjoyable if you want that to be your introduction to L.A.

If you’re bringing kids with you to your trip to L.A., going downtown L.A. will definitely not be the best choice for them either.

You can always come back there on other days. But before you go there, consider going to other areas of L.A. that deserve more of your attention.

Little Tokyo is a prominent area in L.A. that has a lot of restaurants that you should try out.

Look up local guides on what else you can go to that isn’t located within downtown L.A.

3. Get SIM cards for convenience

Sim card to take with you when you travel

No matter where you go, even if it’s not to L.A., one of the first things you need to do after you hop off the plane at LAX (to quote a famous Miley Cyrus song) is to get yourself a US SIM card. That’s because you’re definitely going to be needing that.

Depending on the SIM card that you purchased, they can either last you a month or up to 10 days only. If you need to make international calls or send texts, then you definitely need these SIM cards first of all.

Also, you’re likely going to be using Uber a lot to get around the city. Therefore, you’re going to need mobile data often. Plus, you’re going to be taking a lot of photos, and if you want to upload them at the same time, then you want to have mobile data on hand.

4. Check the forecast for the right spot

Although a lot of movies and television shows set in L.A. will give you the impression that it never rains there, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Nowadays, the weather is more unpredictable so you should always check the weather forecast so that you don’t rain on your parade.

Depending on what month you go to L.A., the likelihood of you getting rained on may decrease or increase so check your forecasts. Also, the weather for each part of L.A. can be different and temperatures might also differ so keep yourself updated on the weather for where you’re going.

Although a sunny weather in L.A. is usually a safe bet, don’t rely on that alone. However, dress lightly if you can to be safe.

5. Throw some shades on you

Lady wearing sunglasses near the beach

Speaking of the weather conditions in L.A., there’s a reason the stereotype in the city. is that they are always surprised when it rains.

L.A. is usually very sunny so you’re safe dressing lightly. However, that means you’ll always receive the glaring rays of the sun.

With that said, you should bring a pair of sunglasses with you so that your face isn’t wincing to be able to see through the glare of the sun. Also, bring some sunscreen with you since you’re probably going to be under the sun often.

A wide-brimmed hat is also a great choice to protect you from the sun. Remember to apply and reapply your sunscreen too and don’t wear short-sleeves too long under the sun. Otherwise, your skin might suffer from skin damage.

6. Bring your own shopping bag

If you plan on doing some shopping in L.A., which you most likely are planning to do, do bring your own shopping bag if you can.

L.A. now has additional charges for plastic bags so if you want to avoid that, make sure to pack your own shopping bag in your international carry-on luggage.

If you don’t have your own shopping bag, some grocery stores will offer a bag of their own for you to purchase. You might as well buy one if you don’t it yet as it can be useful for the rest of your trip anyway.

Not only will you be saving a bit of money, but you’ll also be more eco-friendly whenever you purchase anything in the stores.

7. Bike from Venice Beach to Malibu

Traveling cheap on a bike

Public transportation isn’t as big as it should be in L.A. People in L.A. suffer from traffic a lot because they are a car-centric city.

So, you might want to look at alternative transportation options that you can enjoy. That way, you can have a fun ride to your destination.

Venice beach has a cycling lane or route right along Santa Monica Pier heading towards Malibu as the last destination. You can cycle there, skateboard, or even rollerblade if you’re interested. It’s a serene way to move around and it’s quite fun to do as well.

You don’t have to go all out if the distance is too far for you. Just enjoy yourself as you take in the scenery and let the wind go through your hair as you cycle through the bike path in Venice Beach.

8. Skip the hard-shell taco

L.A. is also known for having quite a diverse set of restaurants and cuisines that you can try for yourself if you still haven’t. Although it may sound cliche, L.A. is quite a melting pot of a city itself which is why it has such a diversity of cuisine for you to try out.

With that said, it would be a shame for you to stick to what you know and this applies to everything you know about tacos. Popular taco chains might have left you to believe in hard-shell tacos as the only true taco, but the softer tacos of L.A. are delicious and delectable.

If you haven’t, try it out for yourself. There are plenty of places in L.A. you can try out genuine Mexican cuisine.

Palm trees near the beach, tips for visiting Los angeles

9. Visit the Malibu Creek State Park

If you’re craving greeneries and nature and want to see what L.A. has to offer, then consider going to Malibu Creek State Park.

You can even go camping in the park if you want, just make sure that you make a reservation first before going so you have a camping spot.

Malibu Creek State Park has been the filming location for a lot of movies that you might know about. Check out their history in movies at the park’s website itself so you can know more. Consider taking a photo at these filming locations if you find them.

10. Avoid the 405

When you’re in L.A., it’s going to be unavoidable to go by car to get to places so you will be acquainted with a lot of traffic. Brace yourself for that.

If you’re going to be driving yourself by renting a car, then make sure that you avoid the 405.

For some reason, this freeway tends to have a lot of traffic passing through it, so if you want to avoid getting stuck on the road, then avoid the 405. The rental car’s GPS can be modified to help you avoid this freeway.

As much as possible though, consider riding the Metro Rail in L.A. instead of going by car if you can.

11. Shop clothes in thrift stores

L.A. is filled with celebrities, fashionistas, and influencers so their fashion scene is lively and energetic. With that said, you’re not an L.A. local so you don’t have to purchase the expensive brand name clothing that the locals have.

Instead, use this trip to shop for clothes in the thrift stores. There are going to be plenty of options for you to choose from. Plus, they’re going to be a lot cheaper than the ones you buy in retail stores. Additionally, they’re more unique and you can mix and match your clothes a lot.

12. Snorkel in Catalina Island

Guy snorkeling underwater in Los Angeles

Catalina Island is an island that is around 20 miles south of L.A.

If you want to enjoy swimming around in bright blue seas and take advantage of the beautiful L.A. weather, then consider taking a trip out to Catalina Island.

It’ll take you about an hour to get there but there are lots of activities that you can do when you get there. You can snorkel, you can go on zip lines, and you can even enjoy the wildlife.

It’s a great way to spend your vacation in L.A.

13. Visit free museums

If you’re a history buff or you just love art, then you might want to go museum hopping while you’re in L.A.

L.A. has a lot of museums in the city from the Getty Center to the Getty Villa, and much, much more.

You can even avoid paying the ticket by checking out the times when these museums provide free entrances. If you’re lucky, you can get into most of them without paying an entrance fee at all.

Although it’s a more subdued way to enjoy your vacation, a lot of people may be interested in museums so don’t knock it off your list yet.

14. Hike in Griffith Park

Hiking is a great activity that you can do in L.A. as they have a lot of local hiking trails that you can get to.

If you want to get your exercise on without going to the gym or you’re an actual avid hiker, then you should consider hiking in Griffith Park.

It’s a way to connect with nature for sure given the fact that it is one of the United State’s biggest urban wilderness municipal parks. Aside from hiking, Griffith Park has plenty of other attractions inside that you can try and check out for yourself.

15. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If you’re an avid Harry Potter fan or you have kids who are fans of Harry Potter, then The Wizarding World of Harry Potter should definitely be a part of the itinerary.

The whole theme park is about Harry Potter, so people who are fans of the books and movies will love it.

Even the restaurants are Harry Potter-themed so try out these magical treats when you’re there.

Los Angeles is a great vacation destination if you want to feel close to the glam of celebrity life. It has a great weather that’s almost always sunny and there’s plenty to do and a diverse restaurant choices for you as well.

By reading this article, you can enjoy your L.A. vacation better because you know what you’re getting into when you visit L.A. Enjoy your stay and don’t forget to take pictures!

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