Did you know that Los Angeles hosted more than 50 million visitors in 2018? LA is one of the premier destinations in the world to explore and enjoy due to the culture and entertainment scene. You’re sure to find countless Los Angeles activities that everyone in your family will enjoy during your time in Southern California.
As with any vacation destination, there are some big tourist mistakes in Los Angeles that you should try to avoid to have the best Los Angeles vacation possible. Little things like exploring your airport options in the LA area and finding the right hotel will take your Southern California vacation from memorable to unforgettable.
The good news is that you’re in the right place to learn all about the 11 biggest mistakes that tourists make when visiting LA for the first time. Keep reading this article to learn more about how to make the most out of visiting Los Angeles today!
1. Not Exploring Your Airport Options
It’s not a secret that LAX is a famous airport known around the world. It’s the largest and busiest airport in the Los Angeles area and the one that many travelers choose to fly in and out of. The downside of this is that LAX is also much more crowded and hectic.
Finding LAX parking isn’t bad, but if you’re someone that doesn’t do well in large crowds of people then it’s a good idea to explore your other airport options for your flight into LA. Burbank is a great option if you want an airport located in the heart of LA that isn’t as crowded, while Long Beach is great if you’re working with a tight budget.
Odds are that you’ll get a better deal by flying into one of the smaller airports rather than going to LAX. The ease with which you can move through and navigate the airport also makes it worth exploring your options for airports. You’ll save a ton of time when it comes to going through security and getting your rental car ready to go.
2. Relying on Public Transportation
Los Angeles is a massive city, and yes, it’s known for having packed highways all around it. Still, you shouldn’t rely on the public transportation system in Los Angeles during your vacation there. It’s a massive city, but it’s not famous for its public transportation system like other massive cities like New York and Chicago.
Getting a rental car is a must if you plan on getting the most out of your time in the City of Angels. If you’ve never been to LA then it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that Los Angeles makes up the whole of Southern California. The city limits of Los Angeles are quite small, meaning you won’t have an easy time exploring the area without a rental car.
If your trip to LA is on the shorter side then you might be able to use Lyft or Uber drivers to get from place to place. Still, you’re likely to spend some serious money on transportation if that is the route that you choose to take. Make sure you take a deep look at your Los Angeles transportation options.
3. Underestimating the Los Angeles Traffic
You’ve likely seen pictures of how massive and how packed the freeways are in the Los Angeles area. Don’t play it off that the traffic isn’t that bad. If you get a rental car and you decide to explore the LA area then you’re going to encounter massive amounts of traffic at some point or another.
You might think that you booked a hotel that is close to the airport, but a drive of a few miles could end up taking a few hours. LA traffic is no joke. You need to be prepared for what you’re about to go through or encounter after you get behind the wheel of your rental vehicle.
It’s also a big mistake to rely on the ETA provided by your GPS service of choice. There are always delays due to accidents, mechanical issues, and road work in the LA area. Your best bet is to try to avoid driving during peak times on the highways and roads of Los Angeles during your vacation for the best results.
4. Forgetting About the Carpool Lane
If you’ve made a reservation at one of your favorite restaurants in Los Angeles then you’re going to want to be there on time. Carpool Lane is one great thing about Los Angeles traffic as a tourist. It’s your best bet to get to your restaurant reservation within a reasonable amount of time.
The big issue that comes with trying to use the carpool lane is that it’s on the far left part of the highway. You’ll need to patiently work your way across four lanes of traffic in order to reach this express lane, and then work your way across four lanes of traffic again to exit the freeway.
The best approach to take if you’re going to use the carpool lane is to imagine it like a video game, with your objective to get to that carpool lane. Be patient and work your way through traffic in a safe manner until you reach the carpool lane. The carpool lane will help you get to your destination much faster than the other four lanes you can use.
5. Using Your Cell Phone While Driving
Never, under any circumstances, use your cell phone while you’re behind the wheel of a motor vehicle in the state of California. It’s illegal to use your phone while you’re driving, and any officer that sees you doing this is sure to pull you over and give you a citation. The same law is in place for having a phone call or texting while driving in California.
The one exception is if you use a hands-free device to use your cell phone when behind the wheel. For the safety of you, your passengers, and other drivers around you it’s always best to avoid using your cell phone while driving to your favorite Los Angeles activities.
6. Forgetting to Check for Motorcycles
You might see a trend developing when it comes to the biggest tourist mistakes in Los Angeles that many people tend to make. It’s a fact of life in Los Angeles that there are tons of motorcycles on the road. There are also laws in place in California that allow motorcycles to split lanes when traffic is backed up.
If you choose to drive when visiting Los Angeles then you need to always remember to check your blind spots before merging or changing lanes. Failure to do this could result in a serious accident for you, your passengers, and the motorcyclist. Your heart is going to skip a beat the first time that you experience this during your Los Angeles vacation.
7. Only Going to Famous Beaches
You’ll have tons of amazing beaches to choose from during your time in the Los Angeles area, and you need to check out the lesser-known beaches if you want to have an amazing trip. Santa Monica beach and Venice beach are both world-famous, but they’re also quite crowded. You should definitely go and check out the Los Angeles activities that you can do at these places but there’s more to see.
Finding the other beaches is a great option because they’re often much more beautiful and way less crowded. You’ll get to enjoy relaxing or swimming in the ocean with a much higher degree of peace compared to the packed beaches in Los Angeles.
8. Forgetting to Stop at In-N-Out Burger
In-N-Out Burger is one of the most iconic parts of any true visit to Los Angeles. You can’t go to LA without eating at In-N-Out at least one time during your stay. There are only six states out of the 50 that make up the United States that have an In-N-Out location.
If you live in the Midwest, the South, or the Northeast you should look at the chance to go to In-N-Out Burger as a special treat. Most people don’t associate fast food with the best restaurants in Los Angeles, but you’ll regret it if you don’t stop and check out this iconic fast food restaurant during your time in Los Angeles.
A big part of why they’re among the best restaurants in Los Angeles is that all of their ingredients are fresh. Expanding further east would require them to freeze their burger patties, which would result in a lesser dining experience for their customers.
Don’t allow long lines to deter or intimidate you. It’s similar to Chick-fil-A in the sense that the lines move at a rapid rate, so you’ll have your tasty burger in your hands before you know it.
9. Not Checking Out Diddy Riese
Another big Los Angeles restaurant that you should check out when visiting Los Angeles is Diddy Riese. It’s a must-visit location if anyone in your family loves ice cream. It’s located in Westwood, which is right next to the campus of UCLA, one of the most famous universities in the nation.
You’ll find a charming and adorable downtown area in Westwood that you can explore while enjoying your amazing ice cream. The ice cream sandwiches that you’ll get from Diddy Riese might literally change your life. You can even select two different types of cookies for your ice cream sandwich, which will prove much harder than you’d think.
The good news is that you won’t experience any wrong choices no matter what you go with. Diddy Riese is that tasty, so don’t stress over it too much. You’re sure to enjoy your time spent in Westwood during your Los Angeles vacation.
10. Going to Hollywood
Hollywood is arguably the most iconic part of any trip to Los Angeles. It’s home to the western world’s entertainment industry, and there is a long list of the “who’s who” living in this area. The stars on the sidewalk are one of the things that Los Angeles is most famous for, but it’s not worth the amount of time that it takes to get there and the stress that comes with Los Angeles transportation options.
It’s also not located in the best part of town, so you’re better off checking out other Los Angeles activities like exploring Rodea Drive or going to the Beverly Hills sign. Visiting Hollywood is definitely one of the more overrated activities to do when visiting Los Angeles.
11. Expecting to Park at Griffith Observatory
Another iconic part of LA is the Griffith Observatory, which has been a focal point in movies, music, and more for decades. The Griffith Observatory is one of the best places that you can go during your time in LA to get a great picture of the Hollywood sign. It’s a place that is worth the effort that it takes to get to since you’ll get incredible views of the entire city.
One thing to keep in mind if you choose to take part in this Los Angeles activity is that the parking lot is startlingly small. Don’t make the drive up to the observatory with the expectation that you’re going to find parking upon arrival. If you find an empty spot on the road on the way up to the top you need to nab it before someone else does.
If you want to get a top-notch picture of the Hollywood sign while at Griffith Park there are a few different places that you can go. The best requires you to take a walk through the Bat Cave, but you’ll love the views on the other side!
Avoid These Frustrating Tourist Mistakes in Los Angeles on Your Next Trip
One of the big things to consider when you decide to go on a Los Angeles vacation is the number of tourist mistakes in Los Angeles that you need to avoid. Consider flying into the smaller airports in the LA area if you want an easier airport experience. It’s also a good idea to rent a car, and you need to stop and grab a burger at In-N-Out Burger to complete all of your Los Angeles activities.
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