transportation in L.A.- Do we need a car?

Jun 18th, 1999, 12:10 AM
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transportation in L.A.- Do we need a car?

Our family is going to L.A. in August. My husband is attending a conference for four days, and while he does that my three teenage boys (a 17 year old and 14 year old twins) and I plan to sightsee. We'll be staying at a hotel in downtown L.A. We want to go to Universal, maybe Knotsberry Farm, go to a beach (which one do people recommend?), see Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and anything else that we should try to see in the short time we're there. Do we need to rent a car, or can we get around to these places by public transportation and/or taxi? After the conference is over, we're moving down to Anaheim for a couple of days to do Disney, and then we do plan to rent a minivan and head East to the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Lake Powell, and Durango, CO. for a couple of weeks, so we're trying to cut down on the car rental expenses as much as we can. Is there anything we shouldn't miss in the 4 days we're in L.A.? Thanks.
Jun 18th, 1999, 08:15 AM
Paul Rabe
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There is no city in the U.S. (world?) where renting a car is MORE necessary than Los Angeles. The city is so spread out and there is a distinct lack of public transport. You COULD survive without one if you used busses wisely and spent all day at one spot; but this would require a lot of planning and being stuck at one place for a day.

Some of my favorites in Los Angeles area: amusement parks (with three teenagers, you may want to check out Magic Mountain), City Hall (on a CLEAR day), Tommy's, Pink's, and the Old Pantry.

Just so you know about Beverly Hills, the "maps of the stars homes" you will see sold are pretty much worthless, filled with info that's just plain wrong or decades out of date. It may be a thrill to THINK you're seeing Matt Damon's home, but there's no guarantee you actually are.
Jun 18th, 1999, 09:48 AM
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Paul's right! I can't conceive of L.A. without a car--it's the "Land of the Car". Which, brings to mind, your teenage sons would probably be interested in the Car Museum (I'm sure that's not the correct name) on mid Wilshire. It's a fairly new museum, but your concierge can tell you where it is. I don't like Magic Mountain, but many people recommend it. Universal Studios is good for a day. Certainly take them to Santa Monica and then walk down the promenade to Venice and on the Boardwalk to Muscle Beach. Teens love that--it really speaks to them. Perhaps you could save a few dollars by taking a bus tour to Universal, but I think you bite the bullet and rent the car. P.S. Recommend any of the beaches in Malibu--Zuma was our favorite, Santa Monica also nice. If you want to go farther south, the teens used to like Huntington Beach.
Jun 18th, 1999, 12:18 PM
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You definetly need a car. But you can take public transportation.The MTA recently opened the subway extension that will take you fron Downtown LA to Hollywood & Vine in 15 minutes. The subway tunnels are decorated w/movie memorabilia etc. You can also visit the City of Long Beach, home of the Queen Mary & the Aquarium of the Pacific which opened one year ago this June (25 minutes from LA w/ no traffic).You should visit the Getty Museum in LA just north of UCLA. Santa Monica Beach is great fun. Great shopping & fun games for your kids.
Jun 18th, 1999, 12:49 PM
Monica Richards
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Another great place to go is the La Brea tar pits. They are in the heart of downtown LA (or downtown something) and they are an bunch of tar pits where mamoths and other prehistoric beasties got trapped and therefore were well preserved. I think it's fascinating! There's a good museum, and the tar pits are still there, albeit fenced off so as not to trap unsuspecting tourists.
Jun 18th, 1999, 01:55 PM
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I live in LA. August will be hot, so be ready for it.
Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita has more roller coasters than other amusement parks, but in August the temperature out there will be over 100.
Knotts Berry Farm is in Orange County, so you may want to see that when you are in Anaheim.
Santa Monica Beach is nice, so are Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach south of the airport. You may want to walk around Venice Beach. Although not as nice to go to, there are street vendors and performers that are fun to look at and watch. All the nuts in LA come to Venice Beach on the weekends.
If you are into art museums, the Getty Center is great. It looks like a castle up in the Santa Monica mountains. The views up there are astounding, but it will be best in the morning or evening when the smog has less of an impact on the view.
Take the boys to a Dodger game if you can. Stay away from the 1:00 afternoon games, the evening games are great.
If you are planning on eating out a lot and want to save money, buy an Entertainment Book. You can get two for one dinners at the restaurants listed. I buy one every year for my wife and I, and we always get to eat at great places.
Check out the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica airport. I haven't been but I've heard great things. The restaurant there (named "DC3") is very good and is listed in the Entertainment Book.
Next to the LA Memorial Colisseum (1984 Olympics, and where the Raiders used to play and where the USC Trojans still play) is a couple of museums they might find interesting, Natural History and Science and Industry. There is also an IMAX theater. You can also wander over to the USC campus and visit Heritage Hall, where you can see several Heisman Trophies. Of course, I have to give an equal recommendation to visiting UCLA, which has a Hall of Fame best known for all the Basketball championships they've won. It's also a nice place to visit, with a sculpture garden as a great place for a picnic.
There is a waterslide park called Raging Waters east of LA that they might enjoy.
There is no way you can see LA in 4 days without a car.
I hope these are enough choices!
Jun 18th, 1999, 02:14 PM
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While driving from one place to another, point out to them how many locals have cell phones attached to their ears as they drive.
Jun 18th, 1999, 05:29 PM
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The La Brea Tar Pits are mid Wilshire also, fairly close to the Automobile museum. Raging Waters is near San Dimas--quite a hike from L.A. but if you are into water parks, a good choice. We all forgot Chinatown, near downtown, or the new Chinatown which is up in Monterey Park and Alhambra. It will be hot!
Jun 18th, 1999, 07:09 PM
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At which hotel are you staying?

The auto museum is the Petersen Auto Museum ( It's pretty close to Bevery Hills from there.

I love the Central Library downtown. It's a beauty.

Also downtown, you can check out the rand Central Market, that's a great place just to wander.

Close to downtown is Olvera Street. Go there for a real authentic Mexican dinner. Chinatown is close, too. Dodger Stadium is also close to downtown. Between Olvera Street and Chinatown, just across the street from the main post office is Felips's French Dip - a sandwich shop. Yum yum - an LA institution.

As an LA native, I must dissaude you from eating at the Pantry (downtown, owned by the mayor). Food there is not worth the line or the price. There is not a more overrated place in LA (and that's saying A LOT). Someone also recommeded Tommy's. The original is in a crappy neighborhood (if you ever read andy of Joseph Wambaugh's police novels, that's where Tommy's is). Try In 'n' Out Burgers instead, not a better burger exists in the world. They are pretty exclusive to Southern California.

Hollywood is pretty seedy, day or night. I guess everyone should go once in his/her life, but do it quickly. With teenage boys, especially! I can just imagine them wandering into a sex-toy shop or gawking at prostitutes. There's an In 'n' Out Burger on Hollywood Blvd (or maybe Sunset, I can't remember).

USC is a beautiful campus - if you are avid movie-watchers, you will probably recognize the buildings. You can take a tour:
"Campus Tour-Fifty minute walking tours are offered daily. Reservations are encouraged. Tours are offered on the hour at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. The tours leave
from the Admission Center. Call (213) 740-6605 for reservations."
Warning, though, your kids will probably decide to go to college there. I give no equal recommendation to UCLA.

If you are going to spend a couple of days in Anaheim, try to catch a game at the Big A (or Edison Field or whatever its name is this season). It's still my favorite ballpark.

Taxis are prohibitively expensive. Buses take three times longer than driving. Since you *have* to have a car in LA, there are rental agencies galore, so start checking now for bargains, you will find them. Try Ugly Duckling or Rent-a-Wreck for older cars. Don't forget that some credit cards cover mandatory insurance, or if you have a comprehensive auto insurance plan at home, you shouldn't need to buy it from the agency.

You might also get a kick out of watching tapings of TV shows at the NBC Studios (free!) Nearby NBC is Warner Bros. where you can get golf-cart tours of the lot.

Have a really great time.
Jun 18th, 1999, 10:57 PM
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Greetings -

As another native, I must put my 2 cents in.

For beaches, Newport and Balboa are always fun. There is a fun zone in Balboa with food, shops, arcade, etc. Also, you can take the ferry to the other side. Newport has a downhome restaurant right next to the beach called Charlie's Chili. We eat breakfast there most weekends. Can you say Chili Fries?!?!

When in Anaheim, and if you like Mexican food, try our other favorite. Actually, we like this place better than Charlie's but you almost can't compare because they serve different food. We eat here on alternate days. It's on Harbor Blvd. just a few blocks south of Disneyland on the right side of the road - Los Sanchez Mexican Food. Excellent. The atmosphere is fun and fast. I can't believe how fast these people cook. Food flying everywhere. Often there is a line. Especially if it's Sunday after church lets out.

As for Hollywood, you might try Griffith Observatory. Some people like to take a picnic up there and watch the lights after dark. Also in Hollywood is a good Italian restaurant called Prizzi's. It's on Franklin Ave. a few blocks from Gower. I don't know the address, just how to get there. It's a little off the beaten path which is nice. You mostly just see locals there.

And, yes, you need a car...
Jun 20th, 1999, 11:18 AM
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As others have stated, you definitely DO need a car! And Venice will be good entertainment for your boys, watching all the (ahem) colorful characters.
There's a fascinating museum at the La Brea Tar Pits with some of the amazing specimens they've pulled out of the tar over the years: mammoths, giant sloths, giant rhinos, and dire wolves. Lots and lots of dire wolves - they have a whole wall covered with their skulls! Great stuff.
On the same site as the Tar Pits is the excellent L.A. County Museum of Art, and the Petersen auto museum is just across the street.
Another thing that you absolutely must do is to see a movie at one of the splendid old movie houses on Hollywood Blvd., specifically Mann's Chinese Theatre or Disney's newly restored El Capitan. Both are magnificent inside, and of course the Chinese has the famous footprints of the stars outside... If you do see a movie at the Chinese, make sure you are in the main theatre, as there's a couple other screens there.

Have fun!
Jun 20th, 1999, 11:46 AM
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Stick around L.A. while in L.A., don't visit Knott's Berry Farm from there, wait until you are down south near Disney (during the sixties, Walt & the Knott's tried to get the monorail to run the few miles between them -- but couldn't get all the land). Also, there is/was the Cars of Stars, Planes of Fame museum on Orangethorpe, not too far from Knott's. And within walking distance of Knott's, further down Beach Blvd., are/were the Alligator Farm and the Wax Museum (I am not sure if some of these things still exist). Huntington Beach is nice place to go to sit on the beach and see a surfer's town, but on a warm/hot day in August ALL the beaches from Santa Barbara to San Diego will be crowded. Best if you can go during the week, when (most) locals are working. If you are concerned about the cost of a car rental take a taxi once or twice, you'll be back at Hertz in no time.

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