Los Angeles is the magical land of movies and their stars. It’s place where you can go from the surf and sand to the tops of mountains to catch the best views of the area. Whether you’re in town for a quick weekend or are planning an extended Los Angeles vacation, it helps to know how to prepare for your time there.

What To Know

Los Angeles is a big city. It’s spread out over an area that covers nearly 500 square miles, and the drive from Santa Monica to Pasadena easily takes an hour. Public transportation does exist, but most people rely on cars to get through town. If you really don’t want to drive, check out the subway and light rail routes to see if the lines run near where you’re staying. The city enjoys some of the most desirable weather in the country, with warm sunny days and cool nights. Make sure you pack at least a light jacket for the evenings or unexpected rain.

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Where To Stay

The beach cities from Malibu to Hermosa Beach have laid-back yet trendy vibes. You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to do, including playing beach-side volleyball, riding bikes or checking out the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from the boardwalks. Downtown has interesting hubs, like the Arts District, Chinatown and Little Tokyo, where you can browse the rows of boutiques and restaurants on foot.


Hollywood is a tourist hotspot packed with attractions like the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Bowl and historic neighborhoods. The sophisticated Westside includes Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, where you find plenty of high rises, shopping plazas and the famous Sunset Strip, but you’ll need a car to get around.

Stay Near Your Favorite Destinations

Save on the cost of traveling to attractions you want to visit by searching for vacation homes near the venues you most want to visit. When you find a home that’s close to venues you plan to visit, such as the Santa Monica Beach and Pier or Walt Disney Concert Hall, it saves both time on the road and transportation costs.


Research The Neighborhoods

Los Angeles has nine different regions, each with distinctive neighborhoods and attractions, so it helps to know the type of environment you prefer. If you want to be near the beach, look for rentals near the coast in Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach. The Westside regions, Westwood and Beverly Hills offer plenty of shopping, nightlife and entertainment options.

Downtown has a decidedly urban feel along with shopping, dining and historical landmarks to explore. Hollywood puts you in the heart of the movie industry surrounded by stars and those who aspire to be them. On the outskirts of Los Angeles, Pasadena provides convenient access to Santa Monica via Metro Rail and Downtown but gives you a place to enjoy sites layered with interesting architecture and gardens.

What To Do

Everyone in the family can find something to do in Los Angeles. Get close to show business by taking a walk through Hollywood to see the Walk of Fame or go on a studio tour. Brush up on your knowledge of art and history at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Japanese American National Museum. Enjoy a joyride along part of the Pacific Coast Highway or L.A.’s famous Mulholland Drive and see some of the most iconic views the city has to offer. Then head over to Rodeo Drive, The Grove or the Original Farmer’s Market for some specialty shopping, L.A.-style.

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Where To Eat

Dining in Los Angeles is serious business, and you’ll find recommendations for everything from food trucks to five-star restaurants. Tacos, burgers and doughnuts are just some of the local specialties. You’ll also find great Chinese, Thai and Korean food throughout the city that rivals the offerings in San Francisco and New York. Keep your food budget in check by filling up on noodle bowls or tacos, or enjoy a romantic night out at one of the city’s high-end spots.

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As you prepare for you stay in Southern California, be sure to check out the Los Angeles vacation rentals available in every part of the city. It’s your first step toward putting together a memorable getaway.