Help! Visiting LA in July, clueless.

Jan 23rd, 2019, 01:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Help! Visiting LA in July, clueless.

Hi everyone,

Looking for some help. I'm looking to visit LA at the beginning of July for a few days, but I'm finding it a bit daunting to figure out where to stay. I want it to feel safe for me and my spouse (although we are from a big city and are used to being around a wide variety of people), and easily accessible to points of interest.

All I've managed to rustle up in my brain so far is the following:
-we have to see the LA Galaxy game on the 5th, so we need to be able to get there fairly easily, and on time.
-we are interested in wandering around/doing typical sightseeing and shopping. ie. I want to see the most basic tourist-y things like the walk of fame, Rodeo drive, you name it.
-no interest in Universal studios or Disneyland or anything of the sort.
-we are kind of 'hipstery' if you will (sigh), so I'd like go to locations that have cool coffee shops and restaurants, interesting stores (even vintage), record stores and cool book stores.
-I am interested in museums, architecture and really Instagrammable places. Not because I'm an influencer or something, I just really enjoy looking at pretty and unique buildings, streets, parks, etc. and taking photos.
-Would like to go to the Griffith observatory.
-I would like to visit Malibu, Santa Monica or Orange County, even for the day. We like to just visit places and kind of integrate for a few hours - we wouldn't even mind sitting on a beach for a bit.
- would love to go to Joshua Tree park, but don't know how feasible this is.

I'm also opening to paying for day tours, if it means someone else lugs us around and tells us where to go!

Depending on how attainable this is, we'd be looking to head down there on a Saturday or Sunday, and leave on a Friday. Is that too long/too short? We are capable of renting a car, but if it's easier to Uber we are willing to do that - the thought of driving around a foreign city is kind of terrifying, tbh. Public transit is ok as long as it's straightforward and not sketchy.

Hopefully this isn't too long-winded, this place is completely foreign to me and even a starting point would be of great help.
(paging janisj!)
vacatia is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 01:19 PM
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I don't think using only Uber is practical when you want to go places like Orange County and Malibu. Public transportation is possible but will really limit you. Los Angeles is one of the few cities where I really think a car is what you want.

How about staying in Santa Monica?
suze is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 01:33 PM
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I'm open to staying outside of LA if we can still get back there easily. We don't have to go to OC or Malibu, but I just thought it would be fun to while we are all the way down there.
vacatia is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 01:40 PM
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It would be fun. You just need to check a map and drive times (and traffic). LA is very spread out. It's not like visiting other cities say NYC, Boston, San Francisco, etc. where things are more dense in a smaller central area. Los Angeles is all over the place.

Santa Monica is just barely "outside" LA right on the ocean about a 45 mins. drive from downtown Los Angeles.

All the places you list are possible with a car including Joshua Tree (about a 2.5-3.0 drive due east past Palm Springs).

Why do you want to go to Orange County, if not interested in Disney, etc.? Something particular you want to see there.

I think you can just take the list you made, get out a map, and plot the points of interest would be a good way to start planning.
suze is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 02:24 PM
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  • You need a car.
  • LA is not a great tourist destination; the places people think of -- Walk of Fame, Hollywood Sign, Capitol Records building, Venice Beach -- they just aren't very interesting once you've got your IG snapshot. You'll be surrounded by tourists and businesses catering to tourists. Which is also true of a lot of places in Paris and Venice Italy... but as much as I love LA, it ain't Paris or Venice
  • If you want to know where hip people are going... you're going to need a local guide who's on the cutting edge. It changes fast. You probably won't see any celebs. Then again, "hip" also depends on where you're coming from -- a lot of small-town tourists probably think Planet Hollywood and Cheescake Factory is cool. Everything is so spread out in LA, there's no cool "area" really. You could wander Melrose Ave between La Brea and La Cienega, or Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake, or walk Vermont Ave in Los Feliz between Hollywood and Franklin... and not find what you think is cool... You need a local guide who is interested in the same stuff you are.
  • Joshua Tree is a whole other thing.
  • Griffith Observatory is actually pretty great -- go. Hike a little, go inside, explore on a clear day and get the lay of the La La Land.
  • LA has fantastic museums. Probably the most underrated museum city in the world. LACMA is great! Getty Center is great! Getty Villa is great. MOCA. The Hammer. Norton Simon. The Huntington Gardens in Pasadena are an amazing way to spend an afternoon when the weather's nice. Have lunch at the tea room.
  • Orange County? Oh, honey, no.
  • Even if you do Malibu or Santa Monica, you could end up spending a lot of your time on the freeway, because you don't know when not to try to do stuff (an important LA skill). Sounds like you should confine your travels to Hollywood/WeHo/Beverly Hills. If you're IN BH and you're really clamoring for a beach view, and you're not going to run into weekday evening traffic (which starts at 3pm), whizz over to Palisades Park in Santa Monica, south of the California Incline. Park in a garage on 2nd street and walk a block to the park. Plenty of shopping on 3rd St. Promenade and the mall at the end of the promenade (though the best shopping in LA is now the Century City Plaza between Beverly Hills and Santa Monica on Santa Monica Blvd -- shhh...).
  • Rodeo Drive is exactly the same as the high-end shopping area in any big city. Same stores, same stuff.
  • I hope you have fun. LA is really great -- to live in. After 2 years or so of getting your bearings. But again... not a great tourist town.
  • PS -- LA is also the best food city in the world. And Republique is the best restaurant in the city.

Last edited by ibobi; Jan 23rd, 2019 at 02:47 PM.
ibobi is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 02:37 PM
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You need a car for Malibu, it is over 25 miles long, with no one "central" spot and the one bus that travels that route, Bus 534, is fairly infrequent. Driving Highway 1 through Malibu on a nice sunny day is a real delight. You can also visit the Getty Villa on the south end if you wish, parking reservations needed in advance due to limited parking but the admission is free. You can combine Malibu with Santa Monica and druggy Venice in one day if you get a fairly early start.
Joshua Tree is 140 miles east of LA and has poor to non public transport (although there might be some tours from nearby Palm Springs), there is no cell service, or food and drinks inside the park, so a car is really your best bet. It will also be really hot in July.
You might like Silverlake or Los Feliz areas to visit.
jamie99 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 02:40 PM
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Agree with Suze, Santa Monica is a good option and checks off quite a few things on your list. Shops, coffee houses, restaurants, access to Malibu and Beverly Hills.
curiousgeo is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 05:22 PM
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Can't give a long response here, but the Galaxy - Toronto match is on the 4th, a Thursday night, at 7:30 PM (you said the 5th.) The stadium is located in Carson, a quite dismal part of the LA area and not particularly convenient to anything, so if it was me I'd start looking around the South Bay area (Manhattan, Hermosa or Redondo Beaches) or in Long Beach, both of which could be reached in 30 or 40 minutes (optimistically) after the match. Or maybe the Galaxy will offer a fireworks show after the game?

Long Beach can be something of a "sleeper"destination; google Belmont Shore and Naples. The South Bay towns are convenient to LAX airport and offer a fabulous beach vibe. You might consider a two-base stay, one closer to downtown LA, from which you can visit Griffith Park, some "old LA" landmarks like Olvera Street, Union Station, the buildings around the Pueblo, Grand Central Market, etc. The Los Feliz area (not far from Griffith Park) is fairly hip (but has become somewhat Brooklyinzed.)

You will need a car and considerable patience.

Naples, Long Beach

Last edited by Gardyloo; Jan 23rd, 2019 at 05:26 PM.
Gardyloo is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2019, 05:59 PM
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I would agree that downtown is a good idea for some of your stay. You don't need a car for seeing the sights in Downtown Hollywood Koreatown Wilshire District etc.. The light/heavy rail system and Uber should work just fine. For the Galaxy game, just rent a car for the day or Uber for that. I wouldn't worry about Carson being "dismal", but there is no reason to stay there. You can check the stadium webpage for transit options (except IGNORE anything connected to the Blue Line )

I'd reject any suggestion to stay in Long Beach, partly because of the Blue Line beside passing through some rough areas, it's also going to be closed between DTLA and LGB during your stay, and also because there really isn't that much of interest..not especially "hip" even in Belmont Shore etc (I live in LGB). You should hear people whine about the lack of "good" restaurants! The typical tourists here are either spending a day or two before a cruise, or are here on business or convention. Yeah, there is the Queen Mary and Aquarium, but...YAWN... However it's fun to take the boat to Catalina for the day. DTLA has the Broad if you like contemporary art. And IMO always worth seeing what is on at the Japanese American National Museum.

Santa Monica which is too far west and on the wrong side of the horrible westside traffic congestion is also expensive and not a good place to stay. The beaches aren't especially nice and there's a significant homeless population. I prefer the South Bay cities, they are much nicer if you want a beach stay (fewer homeless people) but I don't think of them as "hip" either.

I think jamie who actually live in the County has some good input for hip SilverLake etc. Actually downtown also is these days. You can start with the vendors at Grand Central Market but there are tons of good restaurants downtown. Free concerts at Pershing Square, ArtWalks if you're here on the second Thursday (Thursdays are museum night also) and Historic Tours through the Conservancy or by yourself. Lots of interesting buildings, old and new such as Disney Concert Hall. Little Tokyo is interesting (have the traditional Mochi at Fugetsu-do). Interesting street art (I like Molecule Man) for your Instagrams.

For a day trip, Malibu is possible by car, or maybe San Juan Capistrano by the train (Metrolink is cheaper, or Amtrak). There's a beach shuttle from SJC train depot in summer also.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 23rd, 2019 at 06:31 PM.
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Jan 23rd, 2019, 10:29 PM
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You don't need a car, but if you find lodging with parking included, it will probably be less expensive than Ubering everywhere. It's a daunting city for driving but only before 9am and between 4 and 7pm. You can probably easily just rent a car for a day or two once you survey the scene and decide if you'd like to give it a go...but you must reserve your car via a uk website so that all the insurances you need as a non-U.S. resident are included.

Private tour guides are expensive in the U.S. but there are a few, is one of them.

July is hot, you might want to stay nearer the ocean for the first 3 nights, then move to Hollywood or downtown to be more central to a few of the things that you want to visit. There is metro rail now between Santa Monica and downtown but it takes about 40 minutes from the ocean to downtown.

Joshua Tree is 2.5 hours by car and the heat of July can be oppressive, make sure you read up on hydrating properly, carrying coolant for the car etc. Also explorable by day trip in a car are Ojai, Big Bear Lake, Arrowhead Lake and Temecula (wine country and casino).

I would look for Airbnb accommodation that is walking distance to LACMA and museum row, that's a lively area with lots to keep you busy. Airbnb rules are changing in July though so it could be tricky...all listings must include a city registration number starting July 1st. Otherwise do you have a per-night budget for lodging in mind?

L.A hosts 45 million tourists per year. There is plenty to see and do from hikes in Malibu and the Santa Monica mountains, to celebrity homes & mansions, museum row and the La Brea Tar Pits, The Grove & Farmer's Market, the California Science Center (free), the National History Museum, The Broad museum downtown, Disney Hall, The grammy Museum, The Petersen Auto Museum, The Observatory and planetarium , the L..A. Zoo, the Huntington in Pasadena, The Getty Center, The Getty Villa....and in July be sure to take some sandwiches and a bottle of wine and get tickets to a show under the stars at The Hollywood Bowl.

Last edited by clarkgriswold; Jan 23rd, 2019 at 10:45 PM.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 06:41 AM
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Thanks everyone very much for your input!

I'm thinking maybe it's wise to scrap and extraneous trip elsewhere, for this trip (ie. Malibu or Joshua Tree). Maybe I should just focus on a couple/few days to explore LA itself and leave it at that.

My brother has advised me to stay in West Hollywood, but he also stayed at the Mondrian and that's...slightly outside my budget. I really don't want to go over $200 CAD per night, but that depends how many days I stay. I was looking at Air BNBs yesterday - but what would the new registration rules mean?

I think what I should have specified in my OP is that me and my spouse like to just kind of 'integrate' into a place and just wander around staring at things. So that means walking up and down streets and peering at shops and restaurants, and just chilling. We are big on walking! Obviously you can't walk all over LA, but I am taking that into account when I plot some things on a map.

I do want to see the "main" sights like the walk of fame, but if it's boring and crowded then I could easily pass on that! I don't want to necessarily take photos of the tourist-y spots, I mostly want photos of pretty or unique areas For example when I was in London I spent time walking all over the city to take pictures of foliage and interesting houses.

(I feel like I'm rambling now)
vacatia is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 07:57 AM
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If you're interested in West Hollywood, we recently stayed at The Elan Hotel, and liked it a lot. A continental breakfast is included:
Rates look to be around $244USD for a king room in mid-July.
It's located down the block from the Beverly Center, and near the Grove. Relatively close to LACMA, Rodeo Drive, Jimmy Kimmel's studio, the Hollywood Bowl, and Hollywood Blvd.

If you want to stay near Santa Monica and the ocean, we have stayed many times in the Marina del Rey area where there are several hotels to choose from.
The Pacifica group has a few we have liked: The Inn @ Venice Beach ( The Kinney, Jamaica Bay Inn. There's also a Marriott Courtyard there.
You can walk or bike ride from Marina del Rey to Santa Monica beach, if you want.
Also in that neck of the woods, you might like the Abbott Kinney area for funky boutiques and cafes.
This location would be ok for a drive to Malibu, and for visiting the Getty Center (highly recommend).

If you're interested, see what's going on at the Hollywood Bowl, or look into getting free tickets to a Kimmel taping or another show like that. Look on-line for their ticket policies.

Last edited by MoBro; Jan 24th, 2019 at 08:00 AM.
MoBro is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 09:09 AM
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West Hollywood is its own city and has basically banned whole-house STVRs.

Los Angeles has not banned them entirely. I'd specifically look for a "granny flat" or guest house that might qualify, especially if you can verify is not owned by a third party. I'm not sure how quickly or well enforcement will happen, although by July it should start to settle out and you may begin to validate registration numbers.

"The ordinance requires short-term rental property hosts to obtain registration numbers from the city in order to advertise units for rent on Airbnb and other platforms. Units that are allowed to be rented and meet the city’s criteria would get be eligible for the registration numbers."

Marina del Rey is okay for less expensive hotels, although not really what one thinks of as a hip neighborhood, but it isn't too far from the Venice Peninsula.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 24th, 2019 at 09:13 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 11:11 AM
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$150 is a tight budget for L.A., especially in July. Car hire is generally pretty expensive in July as well. Here's an Airbnb that won't last, if it appeals to you and is available on your dates you might want to jump on it (great location), the bonus is a very lenient cancellation policy which is getting rarer with Airbnb.

Apartment-shares and private apartments are mostly going to be illegal come July, your best bet will be rooms-in-homes or a guesthouse, with the owner on the premises. I would think that any legally registered owner would be able to produce a registration number for you by June, don't hesitate to ask about that when booking.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 12:08 PM
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WOW that's a spectacular rental.
suze is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 12:21 PM
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I think West Hollywood is a good idea, and the Elan is agood hotel nearby that is usually reasonable rates versus others. That is a fairly low budget to get everything you want.

The hipster areas don't really have that many hotels, that's the problem. I'd say Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Highland Park, Echo Park or parts of N Hollywood would be hipsterish, maybe Little Tokyo. The cheapest hotel I can find in those areas is a Comfort Inn near the 101 freeway near the border of Silver Lake and Echo Park. It's about $210 for your dates. The address is 2717 Sunset Blvd. Now the advantages of a hotel like that is that is does have free Wifi and free parking.
Christina is online now  
Jan 24th, 2019, 01:28 PM
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When looking at hotels take into account that usually the rates you see do not include the relatively high taxes, or frequent resort fees.

Not sure what the tax rates are currently in LA, but between state and local count on close to 11+%
janisj is online now  
Jan 24th, 2019, 02:12 PM
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I can help with the tax rates, they are currently 15% for LA County and 17% for Orange County.
West Hollywood and Santa Monica rent control laws are very similar, only "homeshares" are allowed, meaning the owner must be living on the premises. The City of LA law which takes effect July 1 is similar, the owner must be living on the premises (although if there is a guest house in the back yard or mother in law unit it might be OK). Also in LA, owners can only rent for 120 days per year and they cannot rent out rent subsidized or rent controlled units.
jamie99 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2019, 03:57 PM
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I'd jump on that Airbnb that clarkgriswold found for you, assuming it's big enough! From the one article I read, granny flats will be permitted as short term rentals.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 24th, 2019 at 04:11 PM.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 25th, 2019, 05:31 PM
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1. Skip Joshua Tree & Orange County
2. Rent a car w Navigation, forget public transportation with your limited schedule
3. Uber to game first night, dont bother w Long Beach or environs IMO
4. Stay in W Hollywood as suggested above
5. See Getty Center in Brentwood, and in downtown LA, The Last Bookstore (very hip), Broad Museum across the street from funicular (Angels Flight) to Grand Central Mkt. From here, not far to go to Griffith Observatory, crowded at sunset but worth it
6. After you do the Hollywood/Rodeo Bev Hills stuff, continue west on Sunset Strip out to PCH north to Malibu
7. On same day or another, stop in Santa Monica and just to south Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice Beach (very hip)
aliced is offline  

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