Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) For First Time Visitors to Los Angeles

If you’re a first-time visitor to Los Angeles (LA), you can better prepare yourself by going through a list of FAQs or frequently asked questions. After all, don’t you already have many questions about what to see and do, as well as how to get around? If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right …

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) For First Time Visitors to Los Angeles Read More »

The famous Chinese Theatre in Hollywood

If you’re a first-time visitor to Los Angeles (LA), you can better prepare yourself by going through a list of FAQs or frequently asked questions. After all, don’t you already have many questions about what to see and do, as well as how to get around? If that’s the case, you’ve come to the right spot. In fact, by reviewing these FAQs, you’ll not only be better prepared, you might be able to save some money.

10 Frequently Asked Questions for the First Time Visitor to Los Angeles (LA)

What Airports Can I Fly Into?

Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport in which to fly into LA. However, the question really depends upon where you plan to stay during your visit. For instance, if you plan to stay in the Burbank area, you’d be better off flying into the Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR). What’s more, you’ll have far less crowds at BUR than at LAX. In fact, the vehicular traffic at LAX can be overwhelmingly busy, particularly in the mornings and evenings. On the other hand, there are other airports to consider, like Ontario International (ONT) and Long Beach (LGB). Above all, it depends on where you’re staying in LA and whether you can save money.

Should I Rent A Car?

If you plan to see many attractions all over Los Angeles, then it might be practical to rent a car. However, you must know in advance that traffic can be very heavy during the rush hours, especially on freeways. What’s more, gas is very expensive in all of Los Angeles. Furthermore, LA is among America’s most contested cities for traffic and many of its freeways rank among the busiest. For example, Highway 405 is particularly busy and hazardous, as its Highway 5. That’s not to mention Highways 10, 101. 110 and 710. In case you do decide to rent a car, please consider adding insurance to your reservation. While it will cost more, it will save you money in the event of damage to the car or an accident. Whether you take a car or not, transportation is among LA’s most frequently asked questions.

Related: Universal Studios Hollywood: Frequently Asked Questions

An orange-colored Los Angeles Metro bus traveling past the Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall (credit: Randy Yagi)

How Is The Public Transportation?

Although there’s plenty of room for improvement. LA has a very good public transportation system. Indeed, if you prefer to take public transportation instead of renting a car, you can see many attractions. The easiest way to get around the Greater Los Angeles area with public transportation is the LA Metro subway. Although not as advanced as other major cities like Chicago and New York, LA Metro offers several stops throughout the region. This includes stations at high density places like downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica and Pasadena. If you have more questions about the public transportation system, please check the LA Metro link. Next year, LA’s public transportation will be even better when its LAX station opens in late 2024. Of there, LA also has an extensive network of public rail stations for Amtrak, MetroLink and Metro Rail.

Main entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood, a top attraction and a topic of frequently asked questions in LA
Universal Studios Hollywood (credit: Randy Yagi)

What Should I See in Los Angeles?

As America’s second most populous city, there are several major attractions that you can see. For instance, you can see the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and see the world-famous Chinese Theatre. Then there are other major sites like the Hollywood Sign, Universal Studios, Paramount Studios, Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Pier. That’s not to mention world-class museums like the Getty, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy Museum. Even more attractions to consider include Rodeo Drive, Sony Pictures Studios, Warner Bros. Studio Tour and the Huntington Library & Art Museum. In other words, you’ll have plenty of attractions to see during your Southern California visit. Of course, many first-time visitors will also want to visit Disneyland further south in Orange County. The question then is, do you drive down to Anaheim from LA or do you take public transportation.

For Barbie Fans

Since the Barbie movie is set primarily in Barbieland and Los Angeles, you might want to visit some Barbie-related attractions. At the top of your list is probably Venice Beach, where Barbie and Ken go rollerblading. Then there is the popular interactive attraction World of Barbie, in the nearby Santa Monica. While other filming locations were at the Warner Bros. Studios lot in England, you can see Barbie memorabilia at the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Hollywood.

Related: 10 Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About Toronto

Where Should I Stay in LA?

It depends upon your budget and your personal preferences. The question then is, where you would like to stay in the LA area. Hollywood is a popular place for tourists and there are many motels and hotels in the neighborhood. That’s not to mention that the LA Metro rail has three subway stations Hollywood. On the other hand, it’s very touristy and there are other great neighborhoods for overnight accommodations. This includes downtown Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Of course, if you prefer luxurious accommodations, then Beverly Hills is the top neighborhood to stay. In a bit more detail, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Wilshire, Waldorf Astoria, Hotel Bel-Air and The Peninsula are among the city’s finest. That’s to say nothing of Chateau Marmont, SLS Hotel, Victory L’Ermitage, and InterContinental Los Angeles Century City. Of course, there are vacation rentals you can stay, through sites like Airbnb VRBO and Vacasa.

Customers waiting in line to order hot dogs at Pink's n business in LA since 1939
Pink’s Hot Dog’s LA (credit: Randy Yagi

What Are Famous Foods in Los Angeles?

With over 30,000 restaurants, it’s safe to say you will not grow hungry in Los Angeles. This includes budget friendly restaurants and 25 Michelin Star restaurants. As for famous foods in which to try, there are many that are worth your time. This includes the chili dog at Pinks, burgers at the Apple Pan, French Dip at Phillipe the Original and pastrami sandwiches at Cantor’s or Langer’s. That’s not to mention sushi in Japantown, donuts at Randy’s,  Korean BBQ in Koreatown and chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s.  Don’t forget your options in Chinatown either. In addition, you may wish to visit other famous restaurants, like Musso & Frank Grill, Dan Tana’s, Cole’s Restaurant and Tam O’Shanter. Equally important are the many food options at places like the Original Farmers Market, Grand Central Market and Olvera Street. In all, you have an endless supply of food options during your Los Angeles stay. However, you should avoid large chain fast food restaurants since you can visit those most anywhere else in the United States.

Is Tipping Customary in Los Angeles?

Yes, tipping is generally expected in restaurants and bars. While you are free to tip whatever you feel appropriate, the usual tip is between 15-20 percent of your bill. Tipping is also customary for valet parking at hotels and parking attendants for restaurants/entertainment venues. In this case, the tip is usually between $2 to $5 or whatever is within your budget.

Exterior of the famous Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles, a popular choice among frequently asked questions for live music
The Troubadour (credit: Randy Yagi)

Where Should I Go For Live Music?

If you had just one live music venue in which to visit, then it might have to be the Hollywood Bowl. Besides, it’s among the oldest and certainly the most famous. Yet, there are other important spots that host major recording acts. In the event you’re looking for suggestions, try visiting sites like the Greek Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall. Arena and Peacock Theater, formerly the Nokia Theater. However, it’s important to realize that there are many smaller venues which noting, like the Troubadour, Whiskey A GoGo, The Wiltern and The Roxy. Of course, you can also see major concerts at places like the Rose Bowl and SoFi Stadium, currently hosting Taylor Swift. If you still have questions about where to see live music, visit the Discover Los Angeles website.

Related: Historic Music Venues in Los Angeles

What Should I Wear/Bring?

This is a fairly easy question to answer. The Greater Los Angeles Area and most of the Southern California region has great weather nearly year-round. While the summer months are certainly the hottest, you can expect mild temperatures during the spring and fall months and oftentimes in winter. In this case, you should first check the weather forecast for your stay then decide what to bring. Currently, the daytime weather in LA is around 85 degrees, with cooler temperatures along the coast. However, the San Fernando Valley can be much hotter during the summer, with current temperatures ranging from 85 to 99 degrees. With that in mind, shorts and hats are quite practical, as are dresses/skirts and polo shirts. However, you should also bring at least one light jacket, since most places have air conditioning.

Are There Discounts I Can Purchase For Sightseeing?

Yes, there are many sightseeing options where you can save money. For example, Go City offers passes that help you save up to 50 percent on LA attractions. Among your options with a Go City pass are the GRAMMY Museum, Warner Bros. Studios Tour and Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. In addition are other very popular sightseeing passes like the Southern California CityPASS, with discounts for Disneyland, Universal Studios and more. By the same token, there are even more options like Hop-On Hop-Off tours. Groupon discounts and Viator.

Historic Angels Flight Railway car in downtown Los Angeles and among the frequently asked questions for hidden treasures
Angels Flight Railway (credit: Randy Yagi)

Bonus Frequently Asked Question: Other Attractions?

While you may already have an itinerary in place with these helpful frequently asked question, there are some other sightseeing recommendations. Not only should you visit top museums like the Getty but others that are less busy. For example, Petersen Automobile Museum, The Broad, MOCA, Skirball Cultural Center, California Science Center and Valley Relics Museum. One other auto museum well worth your time is the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar. Then there are hidden gem attractions, like Angels Flight Railway, Venice Canals Walkway and the famous gravesites at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park. In the latter attractions, you can visit the gravesites of famous people like Judy Garland, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and Marilyn Monroe. If you have any further questions about what to see and do in LA, just contact me!

Related: Celebrate the Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood

About the Author

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS from 2012-2019. More than 900 stories still appear in syndication across over 20 CBS websites, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget,, and He earned a Media Fellowship from Stanford University in 2012.