Warning: travel is addicting. More specifically, traveling somewhere new is addicting and planning your first trip to Los Angeles is no exception. From working out your travel details to brainstorming an itinerary, the entire process is exhilarating.
However, you only get one “first trip.” You don’t want to waste this precious opportunity to get it right! To make the most of your vacation, here’s everything you need to know before you jet off on your first trip to Los Angeles.
Planning Your Trip
Before you step onto the plane, you have a bit of planning to do. Although I’m all for spontaneous travel, I’m also a firm believer that your first trip to anywhere should have a solid foundation and itinerary.
To begin organizing your first trip to Los Angeles, take these steps.
Determine What Time of Year to Travel
Since Los Angeles is such a popular destination, the time of year and seasons will have a significant impact on your travel experience. For cheaper hotel, transportation, and attraction rates, I suggest traveling in the off-season. However, the tradeoff is that you may encounter some undesirable weather.
In Los Angeles, the peak season is June through August. With kids out of school and vacation time lingering, families pack up and head to Los Angeles during the summer. To skip the crowds and enjoy the perfect weather, visit Los Angeles either in March through May or September through November.
Find the Perfect Hotel
Considering how spacious Los Angeles is, your hotel selection process will be a bit exhausting. To aid in your search, first make a list of room and amenity requirements. For instance, do you need one or two beds? Does the hotel need to offer free WiFi and a continental breakfast?
Knowing what you need from a hotel will help narrow down your search for Los Angeles hotels. Of course, make sure to factor in your travel budget!
If possible, knowing what you want to do in Los Angeles can also help you locate the perfect hotel.
Have a Plan for Getting Around
As with any major city, Los Angeles offers many modes of transportation. From public transportation to ride-sharing services, you’ll have plenty of ways to get around the city during your first trip to Los Angeles.
Common sense may say that you need to rent a car to travel around LA, however that is not necessarily the case. Traveling around Los Angeles without a car is actually pretty simple! If you can skip the rental car (and the traffic on the 405), I recommend doing so.
Once you’ve decided when your first trip to Los Angeles will be, where you’re staying, and how you’re getting around, it’s almost time to travel.
What to Do During Your First Trip to Los Angeles
Although it may be tempting, it is nearly impossible to fit all that Los Angeles has to offer into one trip. From the sunny beaches to shopping on Rodeo Drive, exciting attractions to outdoor adventures, trust me when I say Los Angeles has it all.
For the best experience, divide your activities and attractions list into two sections: priority and wish list. If you find you have time after visiting everything on your “priority” list, head to those on the “wish list”!
For inspiration, consider adding these activities to your Los Angeles “to-do” list:
From the Hollywood Sign to the Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles is filled with exceptional sightseeing. If seeing Los Angeles’ sights is high on your to-do list, I’d recommend booking one of the many area tours to maximize your time. You can experience everything from Los Angeles’ food scene to the Warner Bros. Studio!
Although Los Angeles is a metropolis, you’re never too far from exceptional hiking, beaches, and other outdoor activities. Channel your adventurous side by hiking Runyon Canyon, exploring San Vicente Mountain Park, or spending the day at one of these pristine beaches:
- Leo Carrillo State Beach
- Venice Beach
- Santa Monica Beach
- El Matador Beach
- Manhattan Beach
- Hermosa Beach
- Malibu Surfrider Beach
Of course, Los Angeles is also home to other outdoor adventures such as skydiving, jet skiing, and mountain biking. Find the activity that suits you and add it to your itinerary!
No one said your first trip to Los Angeles had to be an expensive one! There are hundreds of free things to do in Los Angeles. Seriously, hundreds. A few of my favorite free LA activities include:
- Visiting the Los Angeles Public Library
- Finding the hidden staircases around the city
- Walking along the Santa Monica Pier
- Strolling through Griffith Park
- Taking advantage of free museum days throughout the year
- Seeing the GRAMMYs Walk of Fame
Skip the high admission prices and explore Los Angeles for the first time completely free.
Thrills and Theme Parks
If you’re a theme park junkie, Los Angeles is the place to be. This area of California is jam-packed with rides that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. Get your tickets for these Los Angeles theme parks:
While not all of these theme parks are directly in Los Angeles, they are a staple of any California vacation.
Your First Trip to Los Angeles: Know Before You Go
Now that you’ve got your travel plan in place and are working on your itinerary, there are a few things you should know before you visit LA.
There’s More to Los Angeles Than Hollywood
While Hollywood draws in a great deal of tourists, this is only one area of Los Angeles. There is plenty more to see and experience. Check out our Los Angeles Neighborhood guide and discover an area you’d like to explore.
Know Where You’re Going
Considering that LA is so massive, it’s always helpful to know where you’re going before you do. The last thing you want is to get lost in a city you’re unfamiliar with. Luckily, it’s as simple as opening up Google Maps on your phone!
LAX Isn’t the Only Airport
While LAX does have convenient and affordable flights, it’s not your only airport option. Shop around and see if a flight to Burbank (BUR), John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Orange County, or Long Beach (LGB) is easier and cheaper.
Your Los Angeles Trip Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive
On top of all the free things to do and visiting in the off-season, there are other ways to save on your first trip to Los Angeles. Purchase the Go Los Angeles card and receive admission to tons of area attractions including Universal Studios Hollywood®.
Plan Your First Trip to Los Angeles
By now, I bet you’re already halfway done with your Los Angeles vacation plan. Don’t forget to check Reserve Los Angeles for the best hotel and attraction discounts! You can thank me later.