Arrival in Los Angeles
No pass needed for Los Angeles. Browse the different activities you want to do on Groupon as sometimes there will be a deal. Most of the fun stuff in Los Angeles is free, though you will get charged for parking! One thing to look at getting is a Fast Trak that will allow you to take some of the express lanes throughout the city. It’s not a deal breaker by any means, but it can speed things up considerably. Fast Traks work throughout California, so if you’re doing a road trip to SF or San Diego after LA, definitely look into getting one.
How To Get Around
Car: If you’re here, you’re going to need a car. Yes there’s world famous traffic, but the reason everyone is on the roads is it’s the best way to get anywhere in Southern California. You’ll pay for parking nearly everywhere you go, so be ready for that. One trick we use is to plug our destination into Google Maps on a desktop computer (doesn’t work on a phone) before we leave and toggle the departure time, see how long it estimates it will take us, and then add 20 minutes for accidents. People commute every way at every hour. I will get on the freeway going what I think is counter commute and I encounter gridlock. I have no idea where people are going at 11 am on a Tuesday. Yoga class maybe? Even though the traffic patterns are largely unpredictable, you are going to want to avoid going toward Santa Monica or DTLA in the morning (6 am - 10 am) and away from those places in the evening (3 pm-7 pm). People generally live east and commute west, so watch out for that too. The carpool lanes are somewhat helpful on weekdays but completely useless on weekends. Do not cross the double yellow line or you’ll get a $300 ticket. Wait for the dashed white lines to exit. There are green signs on the right that tell you when to leave the carpool lane for each exit. Just expect to be in the car a lot in LA. It’s all part of the experience!
Walking: Nobody walks in LA. There’s even a song about it. Beyond walking to and from your car and walking on the various beach paths, it’s not a very walkable city. You can get away with walking in Downtown LA and walking once you reach your destination and park your car, but you will not have a fun trip if you attempt to walk everywhere!
Taxi / UBER: UBERs are great in LA. You’d be surprised how far you can get for not very much money. If you have to choose between UBER and public transit, I would choose UBER every time. Don’t bother with taxis. They are overpriced and will rip you off.
Public Transit: Public transit in LA has a long way to go. They are promising big things by the Olympics in 2028 and there’s Elon Musk’s futuristic underground tunnel bordering the 405 to consider. Most public transit in LA is slow and inconvenient to the places you’ll want to visit.
LAX Airport: I can’t decide whether I dislike this airport or Madrid airport more. It’s huge, difficult to navigate, and dirty. The plane fares out of here are cheap though, so you can’t argue with that! The airport was built 50 years ago and they had NO idea how big Los Angeles was going to get. There’s a U shaped drop off area (affectionately referred to as “the horseshoe”) that takes upwards of 30 minutes to get through on a good day. There are lots of little shortcuts through the horseshoe to get to different terminals and get out quickly, just look for the signs, but good luck merging over there in time to make your exit. The best way to leave LAX is to take an UBER or The Flyaway Bus. You can also take a really slow bus shuttle to the Green Line station (they say there’s an improvement coming soon) and take public transit from there. I know people who take the shuttle and call an UBER from the station to avoid airport fee UBER hikes.
Burbank Airport: My sister who is a 15 year LA resident, swears by this airport. She says it’s worth any increase in fares to not have to deal with LAX. I’ve never flown it because cheap flight deals are just too tempting for me. Best way to leave Burbank is via UBER.
We love Scott’s Cheap Flights for finding killer flight deals! You can also set an alert on Google Flights or use Hopper to track flight prices.
Here is a map to get you organized and see our list of fun things to do with kids in Los Angeles (both items coming soon!).
See our Itinerary post to work out your perfect itinerary for your visit.