Why travel to Los Angeles
Anyone who watches TV will immediately feel they know at least a little about Los Angeles! This sprawling American city hugs the ocean in Southern California – the appropriately named Sunshine State. Like most cities it has a diverse economy but the big attraction for visitors is the entertainment sector; the movie industry is at the top of the list.
Los Angeles is home to Hollywood, the Oscars, Venice Beach, Wiltshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, the original Disneyland Resort and the much filmed Walk of Fame to immortalize famous actors. Los Angeles embraces everything that is bold, beautiful, successful, healthy, expensive and brash. Here dreams come true and some do not.
Here are a few things to do in Los Angeles but be warned – this is not a one day stopover if you want to it any justice.
- Drive or walk along some of the iconic roads in the city: Rodeo Drive to gawk at the expensive emporiums and glitzy sports cars; Sunset Boulevard famed for its neon signs, pubs, restaurants and live music; Mulholland Drive with awesome views of the city and 25kms long Wiltshire Boulevard which covers everything from high rise apartments to verdant golf courses.
- A must-see is a tour of Universal Studios where you will recognize the actual sets where your favourite movies like the Harry Potter series were made, and you better brace yourself for a flash flood and an earthquake!
- By contrast, a tour of Warner Bros. Studios is more about the craft of making movies. You’ll also get a chance to visit the set of The Big Bang Theory and in the car vault you will see the Batmobiles, made famous by Bruce Wayne.
- Griffith Park covers a large chunk of the Santa Monica Mountains and incorporates the Hollywood sign, walking trails, pony and train rides, an observatory, restaurants and picnic sites as well as panoramic sights of the city below.
- The boardwalk at Venice is still prowled by weird and outlandish characters and then there is the muscle beach and skate plaza, not forgetting tattoo parlours, street vendors and great cuisine. Venice Beach has also featured in many movies, so you may recognise a stretch or two! Nearby are the revived canals – the Venice of America.
- Make an obligatory trip to the two theme parks at Disneyland Resort. This is the original theme park dating back to 1955 and is constantly updated to ensure maximum fun and entertainment.
- Pacific Park is an amusement park on a pier with 12 exhilarating rides. Entry is free and you pay for the rides like the West Coaster and Pacific Wheel.
- The Petersen Automotive Museum is housed in an eye-popping futuristic style building and has no less than 25 galleries of vehicles from the past, the present and the future.
- The Getty Centre and the Getty Villa are at Brentwood with views of the city and the ocean. These museums are repositories for one of the greatest art collections in the world and home to the iconic Irises by van Gogh.
- For more culture (and there is plenty of it in Los Angeles) visit the Huntington Library which is in fact a mansion and large gardens with a library filled with literary treasures.
This is just a tiny taste of what to do, places to see and activities to experience in Los Angeles. There are many more fabulous museums including the California Science Centre, The Broad - which showcases contemporary art, photography and sculpture - and the curving steel walls of the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is a huge work of art.
Let Thompsons plan the perfect Los Angeles package that takes in all the sights of this vibrant Californian city.
- Los Angeles has an excellent transport systems as a whole, taxi and buses.
- Towns in outlying areas may have less sophisticated transport infrastructure – it depends where you are going.
- Most popular mode of transport is taxi
Know before you go...
When is the best time to visit?
- Los Angeles is known for its all year round pleasant weather.
- The best time to visit is in Autumn or Spring – to avoid the American summer holidays.
- There are regular flights to the USA and you will need to catch a connecting flight to reach your final destination.
- The flight duration from South Africa is 16 hours to the East Coast and a further 5 hours to the West Coast
Do I need a visa?
- South African passport holders do require a visa to enter the USA.
- Passports should be valid for 6 months after travel.
What time is it?
- Los Angeles is 9 hours behind South Africa.
- The official currency is the US Dollar
- Major credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) are accepted in hotels, shops and large restaurants
- ATMs are found in tourist areas
- Tipping is an accepted custom. If acceptable, tip restaurant staff, luggage porters, drivers and guides around 10% – at your discretion.
- Food is relatively cheap.
Language & phrases
- The official language is English and Spanish is widely spoken.
Culture & religion
- Christianity is the predominant religion and the country is tolerant of all official religions.
- It is safe to drink tap water in the USA. Bottled water is readily available.
- Vaccinations are not currently required but check with your travel clinic before you go.
- Smoking is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, bars and indoor work places as well as on public transport. Airports offer designated smoking rooms.
What must I pack?
- Depending on when and where you visit, lightweight clothing for summer, warm clothing for winter, rain gear and beachwear if relevant. Choose items that can be layered.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses for summer holidays.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitizer and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Avoid single-use plastic; rather take fabric shopping bags with you and use refillable water bottles (when local drinking water is available).
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Do not support animal encounters and wildlife activities that are harmful or unethical.
- Always have a map (or app) on hand, especially when travelling at night.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen report the theft to the police immediately. Ensure you have copies of these with a responsible person back home.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!