Smart Travel Tips & Information

Downtown Skyline

Be Smart, Be Safe

As the official destination marketing organization for the City of Los Angeles, our primary goal is to ensure that our visitors have a safe and memorable Los Angeles experience. Here are some smart travel tips to keep in mind during your visit. We hope you enjoy Los Angeles!

Smart Safety Tips:

It is always good common sense to keep the following general tips in mind to travel safely:

  • Always pay attention, stay alert, and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Carry your personal items in front of you and close to your body. Try not to carry more than you can handle.
  • When sitting, keep bags and purses in front of you or on your lap, not over the back of the chair.
  • Don’t flaunt any valuables including your mobile phone, jewelry or cash.
  • Upon leaving a meeting or convention, be sure to remove and stash your convention badge.
  • Walk in well-traveled and well-lit places, especially at night. Also, park your vehicle in well-lit, busy areas.
  • Jaywalking is a fineable offense, so only cross the street at designated crosswalks.
  • Always lock your car and store all items securely out of sight, including spare change, checkbooks, maps and cell phones.
  • Angelenos are friendly, knowledgeable and eager to help. Visitors are encouraged to ask hotel staff, waiters, traffic officers or police for assistance.
  • Report suspicious behavior to the safety patrols or Los Angeles Police Department by calling 877-275-5273.
  • For emergencies, dial 911.

Downtown Safety Officers:

Downtown is home to numerous Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), which are funded by property owners within each district. Common services include street and sidewalk maintenance and public safety. Visitors of the Los Angeles Convention Center will mostly spend their time within the South Park and Downtown Center BIDs.

While in Downtown, you may come across various BIDs’ Safety Officers. These officers have training that ranges from enhanced customer service to assisting those in need and much more. They serve as additional eyes and ears for all local law enforcement and city entities. When called upon, they also provide safety services during major events throughout Downtown. If you see these officers, say hello or feel free to ask for assistance. The “Purple Patrols” in Downtown’s Center BID are easily identified by their bright purple shirts. The patrols in Downtown’s South Park BID wear green shirts and often ride Segways or bicycles.

Notify

NotifyLA

NotifyLA is the City of Los Angeles' official mass notification system used to send voice messages, text messages and email messages to residents and visitors during times of emergencies and disasters. Text the zip code of your stay to 888777 to opt-in to receive alerts and advisories from local law enforcement in the event of an emergency.

Los Angeles Climate

Los Angeles enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate — moderate temperatures with low humidity year-round. Midday readings average 80 degrees from June to October and 70 degrees between November and May. In December and January, when others around the country are shivering, locals may be heading to the beach in shorts and short sleeves. The rainy season is between November and March, when a few rainy days are typically followed by many days of brilliant sunshine and clear bright skies. Summer’s warmth is often tempered by pleasant sea breezes, especially near the ocean. Evenings are cool, even in summer.

Average Temperatures

January:  19ºC / 9ºC | 66ºF / 48ºF
February: 19ºC / 10ºC | 67ºF / 50ºF
March: 21ºC / 11ºC | 69ºF / 51ºF
April: 22ºC / 12ºC | 71ºF / 54ºF
May: 23ºC / 13ºC | 73ºF / 56ºF
June: 25ºC / 16ºC | 77ºF / 60ºF
July: 28ºC / 17ºC | 82ºF / 63ºF
August: 28ºC / 18ºC | 83ºF / 64ºF
September: 28ºC / 17ºC | 82ºF / 63ºF
October: 26ºC / 15ºC | 78ºF / 59ºF
November: 23ºC / 12ºC | 73ºF / 53ºF
December: 20ºC / 9ºC | 68ºF / 49ºF

Driving in Los Angeles

The minimum driving age in California is 16, and drivers must possess a valid U.S. or international driver’s license.

Speed limits and traffic rules are strictly enforced. If there are no posted signs, the maximum speed is 25 miles per hour on city streets and 65 miles per hour on freeways.

California state law requires the use of seat belts in all private vehicles. A right turn on a red light after stopping is permitted unless otherwise indicated. Pedestrians have the right of way. Strict drunken driving laws are enforced in California. Anyone found driving under the influence of alcohol will be arrested.

Vehicles parked in violation of posted regulations are ticketed and towed very quickly. Before you park, be sure to carefully read all signs that state the days and times when parking restrictions are in effect. A red curb means no parking, a green curb indicates parking for a limited time only, and a white or yellow curb indicates passenger loading and unloading. Parking is often available in garages or parking lots for a fee. Many restaurants offer valet parking for a fee as well.

Tipping is Customary

A gratuity charge is not automatically included in the bill at restaurants and other establishments unless it is noted on the check. Tipping is voluntary, but adding 15 to 20% for restaurant and taxi service is customary. Luggage handlers are usually tipped $1 to $2 per bag. A $1 to $2 tip is customary for parking lot attendants and valets. When tipping for maid service, $1 to $2 per day or $5 to $10 per week is a good guideline.

Customs, Immigration and Tax

International travelers come to the U.S. for a wide variety of reasons, including tourism, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work. The type of visa needed is defined by immigration law, and relates to the principal purpose of your travel. While in the U.S., temporary visitors are restricted to the activity or reason for which their nonimmigrant visa was issued, with few exceptions. For an overview of the types of nonimmigrant visas available under immigration law, please see Nonimmigrant Visa Classifications on the USCIS Web site. The Consular Officer at your embassy or consulate will decide what kind of visa you need, when you apply. Learn more.

You must complete customs and immigrations formalities at the first point of arrival in the U.S., whether or not it's your final destination.There is no compulsory or government plan in the U.S. You are advised to purchase travel and health insurance in case of an emergency. 

A Los Angeles County sales tax of 9.5% is charged on all purchased items. There is no sales tax on hotel or motel rooms, but room rates in the City of Los Angeles are subject to a 14% hotel transient occupancy tax. In other cities within Los Angeles County, the hotel occupancy tax varies from 10 to 14 percent. 

City & County Plan to Solving Homelessness

Angelenos know and understand that homelessness will not be solved overnight — but the City and County of L.A. are working more closely together than ever to bring unsheltered Angelenos inside with homes, healing and hope.

If you’re interested in giving back to those less fortunate, please consider donating to The Midnight Mission, a local organization who has been helping people experiencing homelessness transform their lives since 1914.

Services for the Disabled

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) operates a fleet of buses equipped with driver-controlled, automatic wheelchair lifts that give individuals in wheelchairs access to Metro’s network of bus lines.

For schedule information, call 213.626.4455. Hearing-impaired persons with a TDD/TTY machine may call 800.252.9040.

The Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities provides telephone referrals and information about accessibility and services for the disabled. Call 213.974.1053. TDD/TTY users may call 213.974.1707. For information on Los Angeles County human services agencies, transportation resources and disabled services, call the nonprofit Info Line at 800.339.6993.

Alcohol and Tobacco

Smoking is prohibited in most buildings in Los Angeles. In restaurants within Los Angeles County, smoking is allowed in outdoor dining sections only. The minimum age for purchasing alcohol and tobacco is 21. Proof of age and identification may be required. Liquor may not be served, purchased or consumed in public establishments from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Other Important Information

Time: Pacific Daylight Time
Highway Conditions: 800.427.7623 or 916.445.7623

When calling from one area code to another, dial 1, followed by the area code and the seven-digit telephone number. 

The electrical current in the United States is 110 volts AC. It is recommended that you buy a converter before entering the country. 

Visitor Information Centers

Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board has two Visitor Information Centers located adjacent to METRO stations at:

Hollywood & Highland Center
6801 Hollywood Blvd. 
Hollywood, CA 90028 
323.467.6412

 

Downtown
685 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Los Angeles Tourism also has Visitor Information Center kiosks inside the Los Angeles Convention Center (open only during conventions) and at the Port of Los Angeles (the No. 1 cruise passenger complex on the West Coast):

Port of Los Angeles
Berth 93, Pacific Cruise Ship Terminal
San Pedro, CA 90731

The Visitor Information Centers’ multilingual staff answer travel questions, provide directions and public transportation information, assist with itineraries and make recommendations on dining, sightseeing and cultural options. Centers also sell tickets to attractions and provide maps and travel guides. Up to a week in advance, half-price tickets are available to more than 100 plays, operas, concerts and other performances from LA Stage Alliance at the Visitor Information Centers. Tickets are available for major venues, such as the Ahmanson Theatre, as well as LA’s numerous 99-seat theaters. Every Tuesday, tickets for performances through the following Tuesday are released by the venues and posted online. Ticket buyers can order, pay by credit card and print out confirmations to take to the Will Call window on the day or night of the performance.