Is going to Los Angeles a good idea?

I have never been on the west coast and I’m sick of pushing my California trip further away because of finances or time. So I was looking around online for a flight to LA, with hotel. I think I found quite a good deal, Swiss flight from Frankfurt, Figueroa Hotel downtown for 7 days, for about $600.
First, let me tell you where I have already been and what I am looking for. I lived 10 months in Meadville, PA as an exchange student. So I have seen NYC, Pittsburg, Philly, Erie and some other smaller east-coast cities. I have been to lots of places in Florida, such as Miami, Orlando, Sarasota and Fort Myers. I went to Canada twice, I’ve been in Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver. That’s about it America-wise. Of course I’ve been to European cities like London, Paris, Barcelona, etc.
Now my first choice was San Francisco, but the flight was more expensive and so I’ll do that some other time.
I have read lots of positive things about LA, praising it as the ultimate American city. The bad thing I read was that it is a faceless, dirty, gigantic city. I guess it’s some of both.
I won’t have a car, but I guess I can get pretty much anywhere with the DASH or other public transportation. I know there really isn’t a downtown, but the Figueroa Hotel seems to be in a good spot. I don’t have much money to spend, so I’m looking for cheap restaurants, too. I know about all the usual tourist attractions. What I am interested in are the lesser-known, but yet cool things in town.
So, will I be in for a treat and be able to do lots of cool stuff within a week, or will I be simply overwhelmed?

I would never plan a vacation for downtown LA. Might as well stay in Hollywood or somewhere near the beaches. IMO you pretty much need a car in LA, it’s spread out like you won’t be able to believe until you get there.

But then I’d spend the extra money and go to SF…

I’m presently in L.A. on vacation for the first time and I’m having a great time.

Perhaps locals will confirm this but your hotel seems to be close to downtown and more suited to a business trip. It may sound strange but I’d suggest on finding accomodations closer to the action, even if the hotel is less fancy, especially if you won’t be driving. Los Angeles is spread out and different parts of the L.A. area seem vastly different from each other so choose your location well, it’ll colour your opinion of “Los Angeles”.

Your vacation package sounds like the deal of the century, my flight alone from Montreal goes for about that.

Everyone knows I hate it here, but Los Hideous does have some good things going for it.

Don’t stay downtown if you can help it. There’s nothing there after dark exept homeless people and drug dealers. Downtown is surrounded by… er, “questionable” neighbourhoods.

Rent a car if you can. Riding a bus is not a pleasant experience.

Hollywood is funky. Prostitutes hang out along Sunset Blvd. and male prostitutes congregate along Santa Monica Blvd. Kinda scummy, actually, but you need a good sleaze factor to make a city interesting. A good pub is The Cat & Fiddle, on Sunset. There are many clubs along Sunset including The Comedy Store and The House of Blues.

Santa Monica is a nice place. My favourite pub is there: Ye Olde King’s Head on Santa Monica Blvd. (no male prostitues there – it’s just a long street) and 2nd Street. The Third Street Promenade is an open-air mall with a lot of interesting sights and sounds. (I wonder what ever happened to the guy with “Psychic Cat”?)

I don’t go down to the South Bay area. Shayna would be the one to tell you about that.

We have a bit of a pollution problem in the ocean around here. Beaches are frequently closed due to sewage spills, especially after a rain. But it’s probably not going to kill you if you want to take a dip.

You could drive up to Tehachapi (sp.) to look at the wind turbine generators. There are thousands of them. Along the way you can stop off in Lancaster and go to Crazy Otto’s (20th St. West at Avenue K) for a breakfast big enough to feed two or three people. Good biscuits and gravy. I know windmills aren’t that interesting, but it’s an excuse to visit a desert.

There’s always Disneyland.

Gee, I sure hope someone plans a Dopefest while you’re out… :wink:

There are quite a few hotels I can choose from, I want to keep it affordable though. As long as my room has a nice bed in it and I’m not too far from the action, it will be fine.
These are my choices, maybe there is a hotel that sticks out:

The further to the end it gets, the more expensive they are. But if there is one that as a great location, I’d be willing to spend a little extra, since that would save me time.

A word of warning: Los Angeles is big. There are something like 10 million people in the county.

I see hotels on your list by the airport (LAX) and in Anaheim. As it happens I work very close to Anaheim and I live in West L.A. It takes an hour to ninety minutes to drive home (about 65 km).

Johhny’s Santa Monica suggestion is pretty good. You’re also close to the ocean, the pier, and the Venice boardwalk. Of all the hotels on your list, the ones in the airport area are probably the closest. Mission Hills and Anaheim are miles and miles away. (Though if you do want to see Disneyland, Anaheim is your spot.)

PS - My lord, the college days I spent drunk in the Kings Head… I miss that place.

To Johnny in LA you listen to!

Seriously, he’s right. Downtown LA is horrible. Although the area around the central library is kinda nice. They’ve been building that up for a while now. But it’s not really worth it.

Hollyweird is just not pretty. There are some cool clubs, and taking a walk up and down Sunset can be… uh, well, interesting, but it’s just not what it’s all cracked up to be. Talk about scummy! Though, the later it gets, the more interesting it can get, (you actually can run into a star or semi-star on some nights), but it’s mostly filled with LA finest young and hip wannabe’s.

Stay away from Hollywood Blvd. Nasty, nasty, nasty! They must do a lot of air brushing on all those post cards and they must use a ton of CGI when they show the place in movies. It’ll be a huge disappointment if you go there.

Melrose Blvd. can be pretty cool. It’s better than Hollywood Blvd.

The west side is nice. Any beach community for that matter is very nice, but as mentioned before, Santa Monica’s 3rd St. is pretty cool. Although, it used to be better. It still has plenty of street performers, but it used to be all these small, indi/alternative stores - now it’s all corporate, high fashion, chain stores. All the charm has been taken out.

Hey Johnny, I’ve always wanted to walk up and kick the “Psychic Cat.” I figured that if it was really psychic, it’d “see” me coming and get out of the way!

Other kinda cool places are Old-Town Pasadena, Venice Beach (they really re-did the whole thing… but it’s still very trippy) and, of course, City Walk up in Universal City.

The best thing to do is to rent a car and take PCH up to Santa Barbara.

Wait, what am I saying? This place is SOOOO crowded already - stay away!!! Go to San Francisco!!:smiley: :smiley:

If you don’t have a car you want someplace you can walk around in and still get from sight to sight. LA is NOT that place. There is lots to do and see in the LA, if by LA you include everything from just north of San Diego to just south of Santa Barbara. The problem is that one thing is 2 hours from the next thing, and there is no single thing that you would want to do day after day. Did that make sense? You want variety of entertainment within a small area - and you’re not going to find it in LA.

Either, find the extra cash and go to San Francisco. You can walk and/or cable car everywhere and spend weeks without ever getting bored.

Or, plan to get a car and go to specific places each day: Olivera Street, Venice Beach, Disneyland, Paramont Studios, etc.

I’m going to be the fly in the ointment here and say that being in Downtown LA can in fact be enjoyable if you know what you are doing.

Some positive things to do in Downtown LA:

Olvera Street (I love this place)
The LA Public Library
The Alley(an adventurous shopping experience, not for the faint of heart)
The California Natural History Museum
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (alot of concerts happen there)
The Fashion District
The Bonaventure Hotel (a very futuristic-looking hotel)
Chinatown
Union Station
Pershing Square
The LA Cathedral (still under construction, although almost done)
The Theatre District (if you’re into architecture)
Being in dowtown, you would probably be within walking distance of the metro-rail(subway system), which in turn will give you access to Hollywood Blvd, Downtown Long Beach (the Long Beach Aquarium is close by to this), Universal CityWalk, and the North Hollywood Arts District. You also have access (via Metro buses) to the Miracle Mile District(The County Art Museum and the La Brea Tar pits are here) and Rodeo Drive.

I have a whole list of things that you may want to do in LA, as this is something I’ve been looking into for a while. Let me know if you’re interested.

oh, and one more thing, I would be happy to provide my services as amateur tour guide while you’re here.

Downtown L.A. is not that bad – now that the visitors’ bureau have started cleaning it up, and Staples Center gives it an air of respectability – but it’s still not a vacation spot.

Santa Monica beach is fun. Hollywood is fun, especially if you go near the Highland/Hollywood area (where the Kodak Theater and Mann’s Chinese theater are). Universal Studios/Universal Citywalk is fun in a touristy way. Museum Row (la Brea Tar Pits, County art museum) is elegant. Shopping at the various malls is fun. And Long Beach is okay, though IMO the only thing really worth seeing there is the Aquarium.

Best suggestion is to rent a car, get a good map, and explore. Lots of fun just driving around, you bet.

If I could just get a cheap ticket to San Francisco…
Thanks for all your tips. I’m a little confused now, though.
Wouldn’t the Figueroa Hotel be a good place to start trips around LA? I called them and asked about that, they didn’t give me much info.
How about getting to San Francisco for a day? Is there a bus that I could take in the morning?
I don’t know about renting a car, I’m 19 and I think that would make it more expensive. Would I get one for around $40 per day?

Hey now, what about the Queen Mary, Shoreline Village, and Belmont Shore, not to mention Pine Street?

I forgot to post the link to the hotel: http://www.figueroahotel.com/
And I think driving to San Francisco takes about 5 hours, so that would be too far away. San Diego is within a 2-hour driving distance, right? So that would be something I could do.

JustPlainBryan: For real? Like how, show us around the city? That would be amazing!
I would be interested to see that list. Please email it to me or post it here.

I looked at The Figueroa’s website and it looks like it’s within walking distance of the subway, so you will have access to a few attractions.

As for San Francisco, that’s an 8-hour drive, so unless you plan on taking a jet, you really can’t do a San Francisco trip in under a day.

My experience with the major rental car chains is that they won’t even look at you unless you’re 25 and over. There is one place that I know of that will rent to all ages (I know because that’s where I rented my prom car) but it is on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood.

I’m curious as to what you are referring to when you say that you want to know the “not so well known places”. Do you mean nightlife? Historical? Architecture? The Arts? Touristy?

With “not so well known places” I mean restaurants, shops and art.

I just got back (ok, about 10 days ago) from my first trip to LA. I only had four days to stay, but I had a great time. Hollywood is scummy, I spent all of 10 min. there. One of the reasons I went there (besides meeting up with a friend) was to check out UCLA as I am trying to decide where I would like to go to college (yes, at 30 it is possible to go back to college). Anyway, I went to three places out there I found exciting:

The Getty Musuem (Very rich family, lots of great art work in this big complex built up on the hill) If you go here, plan on a good part of the day.

The Self Realization Center I believe this is on Santa Monica Blvd, but I was not drivingso I’m not sure. Great place to meditate, very calming and peaceful.

Will Rogers State Park This was Will’s ranch or something like that, anyway great place for a hike up the hills, and great scenery from up there.

Next time I go to LA LA land I hope to revisit these places as well as find more like them.

Mattk, I’ll email you after work with all the info.

The Huntingdon Library and Art Gallery in San Marino is a real gem, replete with an interesting collection of botanical gardens. Worth a side trip if you can get a rental car, though make sure you have directions before you go there as it’s easy to miss.

I’ll also second seawitch’s recommendation of the King’s Head, although at no time when I’ve been there did I actually feel like I was back in Merrie Old England.

As for where I live, in Torrance, there is…uh…there is, uh…OK, sorry, there’s nothing to see in Torrance. Unless you want to go to the Del Amo Fashion Center and re-enact that scene from Jackie Brown.