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Destination guides > North America > USA > West Coast > California > Los Angeles

Los Angeles

This sprawling metropolis started out as a small farming community called El Pueblo de Nuestro Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río Porciúncula, and over time this tongue-twister of a place name was shorted to LA.

Los Angeles is a mix of the suburban sprawl, beaches, smog and film stars.

It is noted mostly for its suburbs like Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice Beach and many people consider LA a vast suburban sprawl lacking a central core. In fact many travellers who visit Los Angeles don’t even set foot inside the city centre, which is the oldest part of the city and it includes historic areas such as El Pueblo de Los Angeles plus some brilliant architecture. Downtown LA may not have the same vibe as New York City, but it does have history, quirky shops, world-class museums and interesting neighbourhoods on the city fringe such as Chinatown and Little Tokyo.

Although the Los Angeles area consists of innumerable suburbs, there are four main parts of LA of interest to visitors: the city centre (downtown LA), Mid Wilshire (including Koreatown and the museums of Miracle Mile), the beaches (including Santa Monica and Venice Beach) and the area stretching from Beverley Hills to Hollywood, which has the glamourous reputation as world’s centre of show business. If you have the time you should spend time in each of these areas.

Downtown Los Angeles - yes, LA is more than just an endless web of suburbs (Photo: Andy Hwang/iStockphoto)

Practical information

Downtown Los Angeles Tourist Information Centre

900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Metro Expo/Vermont (Expo line)
Tel 213 763 3466
Open 9.30am–5pm daily

Union Station Visitor Information Centre

800 North Alemeda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Metro Union Station

Hollywood Los Angeles Visitor Information Centre

6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028
Metro Hollywood/Highland (Red line)
Tel 323 467 6412
Open Mon–Sat 10am–10pm, Sun 10am–7pm

Santa Monica Visitors Center

1920 Main Street, Santa Monica
Bus 33, 333 (MTA; stop: Pico/Main), 1, 4, 7, 9 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Pico/Second), 2, 3 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Pico/Fourth)
Tel 310 393 7593 or 800 544 5319
Open 9am-6pm daily

Long Beach Transit & Visitor Information Center

130 East 1st Street, Long Beach CA 90802
Metro Long Beach Transit Mall (Blue line)
Tel 562 436 7700
Open 11.30am–4.30pm daily

Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau

252 Broadway, Laguna Beach

Bus 1, 89 (OCTA; stop: Laguna Beach bus station)
Tel 949 497 9229 or 800 877 1115
Open Jan-Jun Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-3pm; Jul-Aug Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-3pm, Sun 11am-3pm; Sep-Dec Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-3pm

California Welcome Center

6601 Beach Bouelvard, Buena Park, CA 90621
Tel 800 541 3953
Open 9am–5pm daily



Most hostels in LA have internet access and the following hostels also have free Wi-Fi access: Backpackers Paradise (Adventurer Hostel), Banana Bungalow Hollywood, Banana Bungalow West Hollywood, Chateau de Soleil Guesthouse, Duo Hostel, Gramercy Place, HI – Santa Monica International Hostel, Hollywood International Hostel, Hostel California, Noho Hostel, Stay on Main, Surf City Hostel, USA Hostels – Hollywood, Venice Beach Cotel, Venice Beach Hostel & Hotel and Venice Beach Hostel.

If you prefer a quieter environment to write your email then head to a public library to use their internet free of charge.

All branches of the Los Angeles Public Library have free internet access (computer terminals and wireless access for your own computer). The most convenient branches include the Central Library (630 W Fifth Street, Los Angeles; metro Pershing Square, 7th Street/Metro Center bus 14, 37, 90, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96, 378, 487, 489, 490, 770 (MTA; stop: Grand/Fifth); DASH B (LADOT; stop: Grand/Fifth); open Mon–Thu 10am–8pm, Fri-Sat 10am–6pm), Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library (1623 N Ivar Avenue, Hollywood; metro Hollywood/Vine bus 217, 222 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Ivar); DASH Beachwood Canyon, DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/Wilshire (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Vine); open Mon 10am–8pm, Tue 12.30pm–8pm, Wed 10am–8pm, Thu 12.30pm–8pm, Fri 10am–5.30pm, Sat 10am–5.30pm) and Venice-Abbot Kinney Library (501 S Venice Boulevard, Venice; bus 33, 333 (MTA; stop Venice/Washington); open Mon 10am–8pm, Tue 12.30pm–8pm, Wed 10am–8pm, Thu 12.30pm–8pm, Fri 10am–5.30pm, Sat 10am–5.50pm).

There are free Wi-Fi hotzones in several areas of LA. These include Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach between First and Fourth Streets, a large area of downtown Culver City and most public areas in Little Tokyo. There is also free wireless internet at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood (6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood; metro Hollywood/Highland bus 212, 213, 217, 780 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Highland); DASH Hollywood, DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Highland); open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 10am-7pm).

Barnes & Noble, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Panera Bread outlets have free wireless internet.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has locations inside Ralphs downtown supermarket (645 West Ninth Street, Los Angeles; metro Seventh Street/Metro Center bus 493, 497, 498, 499, 699 (MTA; stop: Hope Street/9th Street); DASH C (LADOT; stop: Hope/Ninth); DASH F (LADOT; stop: Flower/Ninth)), Fifth & Grand downtown (601 W Fifth Street, Los Angeles; metro Pershing Square bus 14, 37, 90, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 96, 378, 487, 489, 490, 770 (MTA; stop: Grand/Fifth); DASH B (LADOT; stop: Grand/Fifth)); Hollywood (6922 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood; metro Hollywood/Highland; bus 212, 217, 222, 312 (MTA; stop: Hollywood/Orange); DASH Hollywood/West Hollywood (LADOT; stop: Hollywood/Sycamore)); Santa Monica (1312 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; bus 4 (MTA; stop: Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade), 1, 7, 8, 10 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade)) and Marina Del Rey (4020 S Lincoln Boulevard, Marina Del Rey; bus 3 (Big Blue Bus; stop: Washington/Lincoln) near Venice.

If you're staying in Santa Monica you can also use the free wireless internet at the Barnes & Noble bookshop on the Third Street Promenade (1201 Third Street, Santa Monica; bus 20 (MTA; stop: Wilshire/Third); open 9am-11pm daily) and Panera Bread (501 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica; bus 20, 720, 920 (MTA; stop: Wilshire/Fourth), 2, 3, 9 (Big Blue Bus; stop: stop: Wilshire/Fifth).


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