10Best Things to Know Before Going to L.A.

Get the inside scoop on how to look like a local

Los Angeles Travel Expert


Traveling to Los Angeles – known for celebrities, brilliant weather and plastic perfection – can be intimidating, even for the most experienced of travelers. L.A. is simply a different world.  Follow these tips on your next trip and you're sure to stand out as a local, or at least someone who's in the know.

1. Celebs don't hang out in Hollywood

Celebs don't usually hang out in Hollywood — Photo courtesy of jcamilobernal

Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Studio City, Malibu. . .you’ll most likely find celebrities in their natural habitat – dashing to a meeting, going to the gym, shopping at a farmer’s market or having a latte.

See and be seen: Brentwood and Malibu Country Marts, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

2. L.A. is really, really spread out

L.A. is very spread out — Photo courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto

Los Angeles is so huge, it’s hard to cover it all in a short visit. Consider staying in centrally located West Hollywood. Stylish hotels like the Sofitel and The London are located halfway between the beach and downtown. The concierge will hook you up with hard-to-get reservations around town.

Hot spots: Craig’s, Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel

3. L.A. has its own style

Effortless style — Photo courtesy of Maegan Tintari

It may look thrown together, but L.A. people spend dearly to look that way.

Think tee shirts, jeans and form-fitting yoga gear. Dressing up means switching from flip-flops to high heels.

Fashion fix: Try Fred Segal in West Hollywood or Santa Monica for clothes with a cool, casual L.A. vibe.

4. Getting around

 L.A. traffic can be crazy, so give yourself extra time. — Photo courtesy of lazyday

Everyone will tell you it takes “about a half an hour” (no one uses miles) to drive somewhere, but don’t count on it. Allow extra time, always. Download the Waze app, which helps Angelenos navigate through L.A.’s crazy traffic using shortcuts, or use Uber or Lyft apps if you don’t want to drive.

Dashboard necessity: GPS

5. L.A.’s weather is always nice

Beautiful L.A. weather as seen from Griffith Observatory — Photo courtesy of DieselDemon

It’s warm and sunny most every day, but nights can get chilly quickly when the sun goes down. Layering is key in L.A.; tote along a shawl, sweater or lightweight jacket for shaded outdoor cafes, air-conditioned restaurants and movie theaters.

Weather warning:  “June gloom” is the depressing greyness of overcast, sunless days at the beach during the month of June.

6. If you spot a celebrity

Paparazzi: the ultimate celebrity spotters — Photo courtesy of Brian Gratwicke

If you see a celebrity that you recognize, there’s an unspoken code in L.A. You see them, and they know you see them. Be polite. Don’t point, or whip out a cell to take photos. They are always shorter and thinner than you ever imagined.

Star gazing: Sunset Plaza, Robertson Boulevard, The Chateau Marmont

7. Think no one walks in L.A?

 Hiking Runyon Canyon is a popular L.A. activity — Photo courtesy of Jeff Gunn

Hiking in Runyon Canyon, (which offers valet parking so you don’t have to hike to your hike) and “doing the stairs” in Santa Monica are two fave L.A. outdoor activities. But, it’s true; people will drive three blocks to a restaurant.

Alternate activity: Stand up paddle boarding

8. L.A. has amazing food 

Healthy, green ingredients — Photo courtesy of Stacy Spensley

A night out in the rest of the country means indulging in mac and cheese, gooey hamburgers or smothered eggplant parm. But in L.A., the menu spins food that is light and healthy – gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, organic and raw. Don’t miss the juice bars and food trucks for inexpensive eats.

Exotic entrée: The “prime 18 oz. Côte de Cauliflower” on the menu at Acabar.

9. Have it your way In L.A. 

Custom orders are no big deal — Photo courtesy of きうこ

You won’t faze a waiter no matter what you want to eat. They are all used to detailed menu changes – on the side, no oil, only Paleo, no carbs.

Watch before you go: Check out the movie trailer of L.A. Story on YouTube for the coffee-ordering scene.

10. L.A. is a company town

Valet parking at the W Hollywood — Photo courtesy of Graham

“The industry” is where everyone works. Translation: entertainment. Everyone you meet will somehow be connected to “the business.” Your salesperson/waitress/valet parker will be an aspiring screenwriter, musician, model or actor.

Heavenly help: They’re all gorgeous.  

About Ruta Fox

Ruta grew up in Los Angeles, lived in Dallas, Chicago and New York City, now living in Greenville, SC.  A former magazine editor, current fashionista, and writer about beauty, personalities, luxury and travel, she finds living in a small town relaxing and keeping up with trends fascinating.
She bikes, does yoga and attends all types of art related events in her new hometown. She loves good food, and a Bailey's Irish Creme after dinner. She travels to New York and Los Angeles every year, has been to Europe, Greece, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean and Bali.

Read more about Ruta Fox here.

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