The Beginner's Guide to Los Angeles

Los Angeles 101

Downtown L.A. | Photo courtesy of Brian Hawkins, Flickr
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Whether you're a first time visitor or a lifelong Angeleno, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board has created a useful guide that will help you get the most out of your L.A. experience. From navigating the city to hotels, restaurants, concerts and much more, read on for the Beginner's Guide to Los Angeles.

  • Founded: Sept. 4, 1781
  • Nickname: City of Angels
  • Los Angeles is in the Pacific Time zone (UTC−8). In the Summer (Daylight Saving Time) it's PDT (UTC−7).


Los Angeles is the largest city in California by population, and the second largest city in the country by population. There are 88 incorporated cities in L.A. County. The City of Los Angeles is the largest by population and the smallest is Vernon (population 112).

  • City of Los Angeles: 503 square miles (469 square miles of land and 34 square miles of water)
  • L.A. County: 4,751 square miles (4,058 square miles of land and 693 square miles of water)
  • City of Los Angeles: 4 million*
  • L.A. County: 10.2 million*

*Population estimate by the California Department of Finance (January 2016)


The official website of the City of Los Angeles is

The current Mayor of Los Angeles is Eric Garcetti. The mayor's official website is

Los Angeles City Hall is the center of the government of L.A. Completed in 1928, the landmark building houses the mayor's office and the meeting chambers and offices of the Los Angeles City Council. City Hall is located in the Civic Center district of Downtown Los Angeles.


Palm tree in Santa Monica
Photo courtesy of Stuck in Customs, Flickr

Los Angeles is world-famous for its beautiful mild weather, with 292 days of sunlight/partial sunlight a year and an average high temperature of 75 °F and an average low of 56 °F.

The Los Angeles area has many microclimates - daytime temperatures can vary as much as 36 °F between inland areas such as the San Fernando Valley or San Gabriel Valley and the coastal basin.

  • Summer - warm to hot and almost completely dry
  • Winter - mildly cool to warm, with occasional rain
  • Spring & Autumn - because of the long Winters and Summers, Spring and Autumn hardly exist compared to other climates. The rainy season usually ends by mid-May, while summer weather patterns typically last until mid-November.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

LAX time-lapse photo
LAX | Photo courtesy of Mike Kelley

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the main airport serving the Greater Los Angeles area. LAX is located in the beach community of Westchester, about 16 miles from Downtown L.A. The airport's West Coast location makes it a gateway to international destinations, particularly Asia and the Pacific. LAX is the world's sixth busiest airport and third busiest in the United States, offering 680 daily flights to 96 domestic cities, and 910 weekly nonstop flights to 59 cities in 30 countries.

For the most current information on passenger and baggage screening, visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website at


The Galleria at Millennium Biltmore Hotel
The Galleria | Photo courtesy of Millennium Biltmore Hotel


Expo Park/USC Station on the Metro Expo Line
Expo Park/USC Station on the Metro Expo Line | Photo by Daniel Djang

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is the public transportation agency for L.A. County. Metro operates light rail, heavy rail, bus and bus rapid transit services.

Metro's base fare is $1.75. You can pay cash each time you board a Metro bus (bus operators don't carry change, so you'll need exact fare) or buy and add value to a reusable TAP card from TAP vending machines at Metro Rail or Metro Orange Line stations.

Metro Rail services L.A. County with two subway lines (Red and Purple) and four light rail lines (Blue, Green, Gold, Expo). It connects with the Metro Liner bus rapid transit system (the Orange Line and Silver Line) and also with the Metrolink commuter rail system. A Metro Rail & Busway map is available for download at the Metro website.

All Metro Rail lines run regularly between 5am and midnight, seven days a week. Limited service on particular segments is provided after midnight and before 5am. On Friday and Saturday nights, service operates until about 2am. There is no rail service from 2-3:30am, except on special occasions such as New Year's Eve. Exact arrival times vary from route to route. For GPS-based arrival times, use the Metro Nextrip Service.

Metro is the primary bus operator in the Los Angeles Basin, the San Fernando Valley, and the western San Gabriel Valley. Metro operates two types of bus services, which are distinguished by the color of the buses. The orange-colored Metro Local buses offer service to/from Downtown L.A. and other areas. The red-colored Metro Rapid is an express service with fewer stops than Metro Local. Timetables for Metro Bus lines are available for download at the Metro website.


Hollywood Sign viewed from a helicopter
Photo courtesy of Renee Silverman, Flickr


Driving down PCH in a convertible
Pacific Coast Highway | Photo courtesy of Eric Demarcq, Flickr


Mole at Otium
Mole at Otium | Photo by Joshua Lurie

NOTE: Although tipping is not mandatory, it is customary at most sit-down restaurants that offer table service. In general, the average tip is 15-20% of the total meal cost, including drinks.

Taking place each year in January and July, dineL.A. is a 15-day dining event that features special prix fixe menus at more than 300 restaurants, showcasing Los Angeles as a premier dining destination while highlighting the diversity of the city's culinary experiences.


The Edison in Downtown Los Angeles
Photo courtesy of The Edison, Facebook


Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium
Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers
  • MLS: LAFC plays at Banc of CA Stadium and the Galaxy play at StubHub Center in Carson (regular season March - October)
  • MLB: the Dodgers play at Dodger Stadium (regular season April - November)
  • WNBA: the Sparks play at STAPLES Center (regular season May - September)
  • NFL: the Rams and Chargers play at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (regular season September - December)
  • NBA: the Lakers and Clippers play at STAPLES Center at L.A. LIVE (regular season October - April)
  • NHL: the Kings play at STAPLES Center at L.A. LIVE (regular season October - June)


Beyoncé at the Rose Bowl during the Formation World Tour
Beyoncé at the Rose Bowl during the Formation World Tour | Photo courtesy of


Starline Tours at LACMA
Photo courtesy of Starline Tours

Free Wi-Fi

Some of L.A.'s most popular attractions and destinations offer free wireless Internet. Don't forget to charge your phone before you start taking selfies at the beach!

  • LAX (unlimited 45-minute sessions)
  • Griffith Observatory
  • Hollywood Bowl
  • STAPLES Center
  • Grand Central Market
  • Dodger Stadium
  • Museums: MOCA, LACMA, Getty Center
  • Central Library
  • Echo Park Lake
  • Venice Beach
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Pershing Square (Downtown L.A.)
  • Cabrillo Beach (San Pedro)


Access Paratransit
Photo courtesy of Access Services

For those with disabilities, there is convenient access to transportation and attractions throughout the city.

Popular attractions and venues throughout L.A. provide disabled access. For example, the California Science Center offers wheelchair rental for visitors with mobility impairments, and visual description tours for the blind or visually impaired.  At Universal Studios Hollywood, many rides, shows, attractions, escalators and parking structures are designed to accommodate guests in wheelchairs and other disabilities. Disabled services at STAPLES Center includes wheelchair escorts, wheelchair storage, and accessible/disabled seating on all levels of the arena. Check with individual attractions and venues for more information.

City Services


The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board operates Visitor Information Centers staffed with multilingual agents who offer visitor assistance, including destination information, directions, public transportation questions, restaurant recommendations, sightseeing options and discounted tickets to area attractions and events. L.A. Tourism also provides information at the Los Angeles Convention Center during major conventions.

The Official Visitor Information Center at Hollywood & Highland is located on Level 2 between Starline Tours and the Dolby Theatre.
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

In partnership with Macy's, the Official Visitor Information Center at the newly renovated Macy’s at The Bloc in Downtown L.A. offers travel resources and ticket sales as well as personal shopping services.
750 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90017
Daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.