Considering a trip to Los Angeles? You’re in for a treat, as long as you plan well for it! Los Angeles is a humongous city with so much to explore. It’s the land of sunshine and celebs, beaches, and traffic jams. LA is a vibe and these travel tips for what NOT to do in Los Angeles are just as important for planning your trip as the ones about what to do. Let’s get into it!
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11 Things NOT to Do in Los Angeles
To make the most of your LA adventures, avoid making these mistakes while in town:
1. Assume You Need a Travel Buddy
You can absolutely visit LA alone and you don’t need a travel buddy. I did it, and I can assure you there are plenty of solo things to do in LA alone to keep yourself busy and having a blast. It’s also perfectly safe to visit Los Angeles as a solo traveler, as long as you operate with the same level of caution you would in any big city.
Whether you’re taking in the sunset at Santa Monica Pier or going out for a solo dinner, Los Angeles is quite a comfortable place to explore on your own. So, no need to wait around for a travel buddy, just go.
2. Only Eat In-N-Out
This burger chain is popular for a reason, and by all means, give it a chance and experience it for yourself. But you’d be doing a disservice to yourself if you didn’t explore the broader food scene Los Angeles has to offer.
LA has lots of great food options to try. On my trip, I tried everything from Oaxacan food to Korean desserts. Consider adding Myung in Dumplings to your itinerary, a hole-in-the-wall spot popularized by legend Anthony Bourdain. And of course, if you happen across a food truck while you’re out and about jump on the opportunity to grab a bite.
3. Staying Land Locked
If you’re going to LA, beaches may already be on your mind. But as it’s such a big city you easily could have a completely landlocked experience without proactively planning in some beach time.
Santa Monica Pier has a nice beach and a charming feel to it. It’s a great place to wander over to during the day or even just for sunset. There are a variety of smaller beaches driving along the coast you could also explore if that’s how you’d like to spend a good majority of your time.
4. Thinking You Can Easily Get Across Town
The best advice I received as I planned my own trip to Los Angeles, was to book my accommodations in the part of Los Angeles where I wanted to spend the most amount of time. Locals warned me repeatedly about the traffic and the bigness of the city.
I chose to stay in Santa Monica, as the area was also fairly walkable in and of itself. When planning excursions to other parts of LA, do so strategically. Consult a map and plan to see all attractions in similar areas around the same time rather than traveling back and forth from vastly different areas.
5. Missing Out on the Museums
LA is not all beaches, food, and palm trees (although we love all of those!). Los Angeles also has a solid museum scene. The Griffith Observatory is a must, as it also offers incredible views over the city and of the Hollywood sign. Plus, you might recognize it from the popular film, La La Land.
If you can, plan your visit to overlap with sunset. The sunset views over the city from up here are beautiful.
A couple of other popular museums to check out are LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and The Getty. You’ve likely seen the LACMA on Instagram, as the lamp posts outside of it are a popular photo shoot spot. Get your own iconic LA snapshot when you visit in front of this public art display titled ‘Urban Light.’
6. Expecting to Touch the Hollywood Sign
Some images you might have seen of the Hollywood sign could be misleading. You might be surprised to discover that you won’t be able (or allowed) to go all the way right up to the sign. It’s monitored around the clock by LA officials.
However, many of the hiking trails and walking tours will get you close enough for a worthwhile picture. I actually snapped my own photos from much further away, at the Griffith Observatory, and they’re still a great souvenir from my visit.
7. Not Packing a Sweater
Don’t make the mistake of expecting only hot weather during your trip to Los Angeles. While your days will likely feel balmy, evenings are consistently chilly so plan accordingly. Bring a lightweight cardigan, denim, or leather jacket, or a scarf that can also be worn as a wrap for easy layering.
8. Dressing Like a Tourist
LA is pretty casual and you can get away with wearing pretty laid-back apparel. But there’s a line to avoid crossing if you don’t want to look like a tourist — your flip-flops are only for the beach and sneakers are for working out. Have some sandals or heels on hand, and stick to jeans and a tee shirt and you’ll be more likely to blend in a bit with the locals.
9. Visiting in Summer
While summertime is a perfectly fine time to visit most of California, this doesn’t apply as readily to Los Angeles. LA in the summer is extremely humid and muggy. For a more comfortable experience, avoid visiting in summer months (especially in July or August). Instead, visit in early fall or late spring for the best weather in LA.
10. Insisting on Witnessing a Celebrity Sighting
It’s true, LA is home to many of our beloved TV, movie, and music stars. But reconsider whether it’s really worth your time to try to see them out and about in LA. Of course, the tourism scene in LA caters to this desire by offering tours along routes of celebrity homes. But the reviews for tours like these aren’t the greatest.
While you can certainly research where celebrities tend to dine/hang out in LA and then show up there, do so more with the intent of enjoying yourself wherever you end up than focusing on securing a sighting. They’re also just people, after all…
11. Not Getting Off the Beaten Track
With so many popular, well-known attractions in Los Angeles calling your name, it would be easy to neglect the city’s hidden gems. And it has quite a few! Here are some off-the-beaten-track things you could do in LA:
- Watch a movie or concert at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for celebs
- See a public art installation made of broken glass, called Watts Tower
- Spend a few hours at the Museum of Death
- Have a picnic alongside locals at an old, abandoned zoo in Griffith Park
- Walk the Mural Mile
- Step back in time at the quirky Time Travel Mart
There you have it, the top 11 travel mistakes to avoid making in Los Angeles. Follow these tips to set yourself up for a great visit to the city of Angels!
Contributed by Nausheen Farishta of globe-gazers.com