When you think of iconic American cities, Los Angeles inevitably comes to mind.
The City of Angels is one of the most popular destinations in the United States – and for good reason. Whether you’re looking to see movie stars at trendy restaurants or gaze up at stars in the sky from the Griffith Observatory, there’s something for everyone.
However, not everyone manages to do LA well. HuffPost asked locals to share the most common missteps they’ve seen from visitors to La-La Land.
From misjudging proximity to spending all your time in Hollywood, here are 11 common mistakes tourists make in Los Angeles―and some tips to avoid these mistakes when traveling to California.
“Los Angeles traffic sucks! Plan your day to work with the traffic, not against it. Avoid driving during morning and afternoon rush hours. Plan your day so that you are somewhere wherever you want to be for a while during these times. It will be the difference between being stuck in the car for hours and being in an amazing place to explore. ― Stuart BrazelTV host, producer and blogger at Stuart says.
“A common mistake tourists make when coming to LA is ignoring traffic. Checking traffic hours in advance can really calculate the time spent at each location.” ― Jesi Le Raeactor and model.
“Of course, on the map, it looks like a place is only 10 miles away. But in LA traffic, it can take an hour to get there. Staying in Los Angeles while planning to visit Disneyland in Anaheim for several days in a row will stress you out. ― Caroline Pardillaa cocktail and travel blogger.
Assuming it’s hot all day and all night
“The number one mistake I see tourists make in LA is assuming it stays hot all day and all night. As a fashion influencer, I’m very aware of people’s clothing choices, and I very regularly see tourists going out into town at night wearing shorts and t-shirts wishing they had packed pants or long sleeves If you are staying anywhere near the water it can be very windy and cold at night, so packing a sweater and jeans is probably a good idea. A 65-degree Midwest and a 65-degree West Coast evening are very different.” ― Parker York Smitha blogger at The Looksmith.
Stay in Hollywood
“One mistake I see is staying in Hollywood for the shopping, food and atmosphere. Try an area called the Norma Triangle where you can hit Melrose [Avenue] for shopping and dining, Santa Monica Boulevard for a string of bars, the West Hollywood Public Park for sitting back and rejuvenating, and Sunset Boulevard for ambiance. The Grove is also a good spot for a movie, outdoor farmers market, and live music. ― Erika De LaCruzthe editor of LA girl.
“Don’t stay in a hotel in Hollywood. It’s not as cute as you’d hope. ― Danielle Alcarazmodel and health coach.
“Only visit Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica. Why take pictures and visit the same old spots everyone else does when LA is so much bigger and more diverse than that? Visit Koreatown, Historic Philippinotown, Boyle Heights, Thai Town, Little Ethiopia.” ― Sorry.
Misunderstanding of parking rules
“When renting a car, parking can be very confusing. Many tourists have been subject to parking tickets. If you’re unsure whether or not you can park at a parking meter (because it shows three different types of restrictions), it’s best to try to find a lot instead. ― The Rae.
“Be aware that parking is better paid as the signs can be tricky and are different in most places (permitted, short term, etc).” ― Jazmyn AndersonCreera lifestyle blogger.
Only stick to Chinatown for Chinese food
“LA’s Chinatown is small but mighty, but not for Chinese food. Instead, travel a little further east to the San Gabriel Valley, where amazing regional Chinese cuisine can be found in cities like the Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, Temple City, and Arcadia. Chinatown is always worth a visit gastronomically, but not necessarily for the Chinese. . . [with] one of the few exceptions being Pearl River Deli for its fantastic Cantonese dishes. Instead, head to Chinatown for one of the creators of the French Dipped Sandwich, Philippe l’Original – more than a century old – or Howlin’ Ray’s for the best Nashville hot chicken in town, or Angry Egret Dinette for innovative Mexican American comfort food!” ― Peter Cheng, blogger at the slaughter.
Forgetting to plan activities in advance
“Don’t plan on jumping all over town in one day. Instead, plan to visit one side of town and see a few things in that area, because it’s true [that] the traffic is bad. Also, having a car is a must, so plan accordingly so you can get around more easily. The metro is not very convenient yet, because they are still building the new lines! » ― Alcaraz.
“When I think of travelers and the mistakes they make when coming to LA, my first thought is not understanding how close they are to where they are staying compared to other things they want to do. LA is very spread out, so having an idea of where they are staying near what they are actually planning to do will help reduce the time it takes to get to said places.― Anderson Creer.
“Strategically plan your day and break things down into specific areas – for example, West Hollywood/Beverly Hills, Westside/beaches, and Hollywood/Eastside. There is so much to see and do in these communities and phenomenal places to eat. ― Brazil.
Expect to see celebrities in Hollywood
“There’s the classic ‘go to Hollywood Boulevard to see the celebrities’ mistake that I see repeated. Hollywood Boulevard is usually just everyday tourists. Exceptions are [late-night host] Jimmy Kimmel’s guests heading to the theater through an alley behind the El Capitan entertainment center, the occasional movie premiere and… the awarding of a [Hollywood Walk of Fame] star on the boulevard. If you’re really looking for people watching, you might want to stay at a local hotel or go to a local restaurant, usually in the West Hollywood area. A good sign that… starred guests [will be] when arriving is that the establishment will not allow photos. A few to try: Olivetta, Craig’s or BOA Steakhouse. ― From LaCruz.
“Celebrities are not easy to spot. You won’t see celebrities walking around Hollywood and Beverly Hills or from the top of a tour bus. But most of the time, they are hard to spot because when they walk around a store or restaurant, they are usually dressed up and look like regular people. ― Sorry.
Eat in chain restaurants
“Stay authentic! Step away from the chain restaurants and try the flavors of LA. Los Angeles is a melting pot of different cultures, making it the perfect city to try new restaurants. Look to family restaurants for more decadent treats. You never know where you will find a diamond in the rough. ― Itzel Lovatoblogger and model.
“Don’t go to a chain restaurant for a burger. Los Angeles has so many options worth writing about, like the iconic Apple Pan. ― Sorry.
Missing out on unique experiences
“Don’t miss an epic cinematic experience at Hollywood Forever Cemetery or a movie with a live orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl.” ― The Rae.
“Don’t spend all your time in areas that are too central for tourists. A few ideas for places to go are the Thai Town Night Market, a Korean BBQ followed by Karaoke in Koreatown, or a “sound bath” in Malibu!” ― Lindsey Baruchphotographer and blogger Lindsey eats.
“Instead of booking a Hollywood tour or trying to spot a celebrity, do a workshop!” LA is full of amazing, creative people with so much to share. Find something you’d like to explore and discover something new about yourself in a new city. Find a wellness center or meditation studio that offers workshops, take a pottery class, or visit a local farmers’ market. Things like this will immerse you in the culture and really give you a sense of community. ― Alcaraz.
Sitting at the beach all day
“One mistake is to go to the beach to sit there. Stroll along the Venice shoreline to the Santa Monica Pier. You can even ride a bike or rollerblade from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach.” ― Sorry.
Assuming restaurant names match neighborhoods
“When a restaurant’s name says it’s in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or even West LA, it might not be where you think it’s. Check the map. A friend booked dinner at a restaurant that said he was in West LA when it was really all the way through LAX [the Los Angeles International Airport].” ― Sorry.
Quotes have been edited and condensed.