This article is about the city of Los Angeles. For the Los Angeles metropolitan area
The city of Los AngelesSee Online (also known simply as L.A., and nicknamed the "City of Angels") is the most populous city in California. Located on a broad basin in Southern California, the city is surrounded by vast mountain ranges, valleys, forests, beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean, and nearby desert.
The metropolitan area is the second-most populous in the United States and home to over 17 million people who hail from all parts of the globe. The metropolitan area is spread across Los Angeles County, Orange County, and parts of San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Ventura County.
Los Angeles is an important center of culture, business, media, and international trade, but it is most famous for being the center of the world's television, motion picture, and recording industry, which forms the base of its status.
These districts are a part of the city of Los Angeles.
Even before the rolling blackouts, or O.J.'s ride in the infamously-slow Bronco chase, or Arnold "the Terminator" Schwarzenegger became governator of the state, Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles."
The Los Angeles metro area has been a "boomtown" since the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1876, first attracting some "folks" from the Midwest and East Coast with warm winters, becoming a gateway to a remarkable diversity of immigration from throughout the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
The city of Los Angeles is huge. From the Sylmar district in the north to the Port of Los Angeles in the south, the drive can be close to an hour and a half long; possibly longer once traffic is factored in. The sprawling L.A. metropolitan area includes smaller cities, such as Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena, Long Beach, Anaheim, and Riverside some of which were founded around the end of the nineteenth century and retain distinct identities. Geographically, some district names in the city of Los Angeles are so common, that they are believed by some to be separate cities when in fact, they are actually neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Hollywood, Van Nuys, Encino, and Bel-Air are just some well-known examples of neighborhoods that are actually within Los Angeles and not separate entities, while West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, for instance, are actually independent cities.
Los Angeles' primary newspaper is the Los Angeles TimesSee Online , and another daily newspaper is the Los Angeles Daily NewsSee Online . The free LA WeeklySee Online comes out on Thursdays and is a good source for concerts, movies, and other local information. A few local areas may have their own free neighborhood papers as well. "BrokeLA.com" See Online has a listing of under $10 events in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is a very diverse city with nearly half of its population being born outside the United States. It has the third largest Mexican population in the world, behind the Mexican cities of Mexico City and Guadalajara, and is home to about a dozen of other large immigrant populations, many with their own little enclaves of restaurants, shops, and places of worship. The gay-friendly areas include the city of West Hollywood, as well as the Silver Lake and the Westside areas.
The city has a sub-arid type climate. The sunniest and driest part of the year is from May - October. It rarely rains during these months and humidity is generally mild, but there often can be smog. Daytime highs in summer are about 81F. Although not frequent, a heat-wave could occur on occasion. Nighttime lows during summer are about 63F. December - April is when most rain will fall. Daytime highs in winter are about 67F, nighttime winter lows are about 49F. Climate varies depending on how far inland you are located. The Inland city and suburban locations typically have more smog. Inland suburban locations tend to have hotter temperatures as well, with summer days in the 90s, and on several occasions over 100F. Inland winter nights are generally around 39F. The water temperature of beaches in L.A., Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach and other locales is around 62F in spring, 66F in summer, 68F in fall, and 58F in winter.
Being that it is an American city, English is the dominant language in Los Angeles. However, like much of the rest of California and any American state that borders Mexico, Spanish is also widely spoken. Even Los Angeles' name is a Spanish phrase meaning "The Angels." The city has one of the largest Spanish speaking populations in the world, with many business store signs and billboards in some parts of the city printed in both English and Spanish. According to the U.S. Census, roughly 70% of the city's population speaks English either as their first or second language, and roughly 44% speak Spanish as a first or second language. With a large immigrant population, many other languages are widely spoken such as Korean, Armenian, Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Russian, and Vietnamese.
The Los Angeles area is served by five major commercial airports and more than a dozen private airports. The five major airports are located in Los Angeles, Burbank, Santa Ana, Long Beach, and Ontario.
Los Angeles InternationalSee Online(IATA:LAX) is the major gateway. The airport is huge, with nine terminals built in different eras in a variety of architectural styles, of which the common element is that they all seem rather cramped on the inside (that is, relative to the size and importance of the airport). Some terminals have been renovated recently and look relatively modern, while others are definitely showing their age. Most of the terminals were built before the Transportation Security Administration implemented modern security checkpoints, which means the checkpoints were shoehorned into the existing buildings with very awkward results.
If you find yourself in one of the older terminals (which can be recognized by the overcrowding, outdated décor, and unpleasant odor), keep in mind that the last comprehensive renovation and expansion of LAX was just prior to the 1984 Summer Olympics. Since then, implementation of LAX's various master plans have been stalled for years by lawsuits filed by the airport's enraged neighbors. This is why LAX has never won any of the Skytrax World Airport Awards, and consistently tops lists of the worst airports in the United States.
LAX's lower level roadway is divided into inner and outer roadways. Private vehicles are supposed to do pickups and dropoffs on the outer roadway; commercial vehicles, including shuttles, circle the inner roadway and stop at islands that divide the two roadways. The different pickup zones are clearly marked by brightly colored signs facing you as you exit the lower level of any of the terminals; you have to cross the outer road when it is safe to do so and find the zone corresponding to the type of vehicle you are looking for.
A free "A" shuttle bus loops around all the terminals on the lower level roadway; it stops at the zone marked "LAX Shuttle and Shuttle Connections." If you do not mind walking, it is no more than a 10-minute walk between any two adjacent terminals (with the obvious exception of 1 and 8). If you are transferring between directly adjacent terminals, walking is nearly always quicker than the shuttle. A streetside sidewalk connects all the terminals.
Note that security-side transfers between terminals are extremely limited at LAX. Only Terminals 6, 7, and 8 are linked on the secure side into a single complex so that passengers in any one of the three can go to the other without having to pass through security again.
There is free WiFi in the terminals. See Online Paid WiFi is also available from T-Mobile for $6.00 per hour or $9.99 for the whole day. Boingo WiFi is also available for those who need high-speed Internet access which costs $4.95 per hour, or $7.95 for the entire day.
Many international flights do not leave from or arrive at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). To avoid missing flights, always determine in advance which terminal(s) your international flights will be flying in or out of, especially if you are connecting through LAX.
There are also two executive terminals for charter aircraft, if time means money.
Public transportation connections for the airport are only via shuttle to a metro or bus station, and via the more direct FlyAway bus. Follow the signs for ground transportation, and you will eventually reach outside the terminal where there will be a green sign/overhang for the FlyAway and long distance buses, and a blue sign for shuttles (Lot C and Lot G shuttles stop under the blue sign). LAX FlyAway See Online runs shuttles to/from Union Station (half-hourly, $7.00 one way), Westwood (at UCLA) and Van Nuys Airport. Taxis to Downtown cost $45.00 and take 30 min in good traffic but can be far slower (and more expensive) in rush hour. Otherwise take the "Lot C" bus from the airline terminals out to the "LAX City Bus Center" at Parking Lot C (W 96th St & Skyway (on ramp back to terminals)) to transfer to local city buses See Online or take the "Lot G" bus out to the "Aviation/LAX" station of the Green Line Metro (subway) See Online further down on Aviation Blvd & I-105 freeway (nearest metro station).
On your return be sure to arrive at the airport at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours before your flight (2-3 hours if traveling internationally) as check in procedures and lines for security can be long and time-consuming.
Being that you are in Southern California, renting a car may be your best option for getting about. The Greater Los Angeles area is huge and public transportation, while adequate, is not all the time sufficient enough to get you around. If you rent a car, there are around 10 different companies with very frequent shuttle buses picking up on the lower level around all terminals and going to large offsite lots. If you want to compare prices, you will need to do so using the telephones in the arrivals area or on the Internet in advance of arriving. There are no details from the shuttle drivers or negotiable prices. Signing up to one the car rental club schemes can get the shuttle bus to drop you at your car, thus saving substantial time.
The other airports in the Los Angeles area are Long Beach AirportSee Online(IATA:LGB), Bob Hope (Burbank) AirportSee Online(IATA:BUR), Orange County/John Wayne AirportSee Online(IATA:SNA), and LA/Ontario Airport(IATA:ONT) east of L.A. All five airports lack direct train service, only the Burbank Airport is somewhat in walking distance of a Metrolink commuter rail station (not to be confused with the Metro rail service).
LAX is the airport many travelers use when visiting the Los Angeles area. The airport generally does feature lower fares, and more nonstop and frequent service when compared to the other airports. Flying into LAX is the best option if this is the closest airport to your final destination, and (even if LAX is further away) the fare is simply too good to pass up. However, if your destination is closer (or almost as close) to one of the other four airports, and the fare really isn't a huge difference, then consider those airports. For instance, if you plan to spend most of your time in the San Fernando Valley, there is the Burbank Airport. If your visit will be centered around Orange County, there's the Santa Ana Airport or even the Long Beach Airport. If you will be staying in the Inland Empire, there's the Ontario Airport. These airports can save a lot of hassle due to the fact that they are less busier than LAX. Also, the L.A. area is so wildly spread out and populated, that going anywhere will generally require a lot of driving, as well as possibly enduring traffic jams. On any random day at any particular time (day or night), a traffic jam can develop and it is not unheard of to take an hour just to go a few miles on the freeway. So utilizing the nearest airport will only be of convenience to you.
Private pilots will prefer smaller general aviation airports such as Santa Monica (ICAO:KSMO), Van Nuys (ICAO:KVNY), Hawthorne, or any of the other small airports in the area that do not handle commercial flights. Air taxi and air charter companies such as Jetset CharterSee Online fly a variety of private charter aircraft and jets, from charter luxury Gulfstream's down to economical piston twins for small groups and individuals into and out of SMO, VNY, and BUR. LAX does not cater to small general aviation; Burbank (ICAO:KBUR) does, but is considered high-traffic for this type of flight; Long Beach (ICAO:KLGB) does, but has a very complicated runway system and, again, is considered high traffic. General aviation will fare much better at L.A. area airports that do not handle commercial flights at all. Much of Los Angeles is Class Bravo or other controlled airspace, but due to the number of airports and the generally good weather, Los Angeles makes a fantastic flying destination.