Los Angeles: Where NOT to go

Los Angeles Insider
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
"If you want to do a tour of LA, I recommend using Starline's "Hop-on, Hop-off" double-decker service."
Los Angeles Insider

Pink's Hot Dog Stand

The hour-plus you spend in line overlooking the auto shops on La Brea Avenue could be better spent seeing the sights or even driving up the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to have fresh catch seafood at the Malibu Seafood Company. If you're dead set on trying the famous dogs, , the best place to get your fix is at the Tom Brady International Terminal at LAX (before the security check point). Newly opened, the prices are slightly higher than the La Brea shop, but for six bucks you can get a dog and a coke. Not too bad for airport fare.

Outlet shops

I know many international visitors make a big hoopla about outlet shopping in the US, but if you're looking for this season's, or likely even the past two, three, or four seasons' looks, you're better off skipping the ride out to any of LA's outlet shops.

Here are some better bets: looking for cheap, trendy pieces? Hit up Melrose in West Hollywood, or brave the famous Santee Alley in Downtown L.A. After kid's clothes? Old Navy, like many brands, is much cheaper in the US than Oz and will be much more current than any outlet mall threads. The Grove in West Hollywood and 3rd Street Promenade have many American brands that carry women's, men's, and children's clothes. Have deep pockets? is still the place to go.

Star maps/celebrity home tours

Where do I start here? ... Oh, the tack factor. I would not be caught dead on one of these low-budget tours of alleged star homes. In a city with so much cultural diversity, I can never understand why one would want to spend time looking at gates and shrubbery of private houses. Your trashy mag is way more likely to give you a close-up of a famous person than one of these outdated tours.

If you want to do a star tour of L.A , I would recommend using Starline’s “Malibu Stars’ Homes Tour”. It is a great way to get out to Malibu, to enjoy some sunshine in the open-air van and to see beautiful coastal views and television and film locations. You will still get your celeb homes fix, but also see the most beautiful part of Los Angeles, the Pacific Coast Highway.

Airport hotels

I will call this where not to stay. You'll find that airport properties are often cheaper than other Los Angeles locations — and that's for a reason. Let me tell you what I'd tell any friend, family member, or visitor to Los Angeles: it is absolutely worth it to book a hotel located in a neighbourhood where you can walk to shopping, dining and other attractions, and pay a bit more for the convenience.

Best bets? Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or Hollywood. Anywhere else and you'll need to depend on lobby coffee and room service, rather than a bevy of options on your doorstep.

If you literally just need a bed and don't plan on leaving the hotel, go for it, as many airport hotels offer a free shuttle from the terminal. But if you want to have a real LA experience, leave LAX behind.

Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form, below.

Next: Near the beaten track

User comments
The USA is a great place to visit, and generally the people are really friendly and very nice. There's so much to see and do, and LA itself isn't bad (though the air quality is pretty lousy). Just a word of warning though - If at all possible, avoid LAX. The place is a madhouse. Easily worst designed and laid-out airport I've ever been through. They also "upgraded" the airport in 2010. Any time an upgrade happens, you naturally expect it to be an improvement. It takes real talent to take a total disaster of an airport and have the "upgrade" make it WORSE. My advice - go through San Francisco. SFO is a much better experience for both arrival and departure. I even had a customs officer smile and wish me a pleasant stay. Also, I've been through New York's JFK twice and both times were brilliant.
....LAX is a good airport to arrive at,but terrible to leave from...You are better off leaving from San Fran......We have just returned from our sixth trip to the US...It is our favourite destination...You can breathe the air,eat the food and speak in the language..Food and petrol is very cheap.and accommodation is always clean even down to the $40 per night places....The Yanks love Aussies,and will have you talking for hours....There is a bottom less pit of things to do...We drove around 3000 miles in four states ,on there wonderful road system...We spent most of our time on Route 66 and got to know the people and small towns ...It really is a different experience when compared to the seven days in LA routine...If you are tired of Churches , Museums and Asia,give The US a go...You will be surprised how Aussie they are...
we took our 4 girls to LA last year, did all the spots but seriously think as a movie buff, you can forget Universal, thats just an overrated themepark with a few backlots thrown in for good measure. I f you really want to experience an interesting and informative tour, go to Warner Bros Studios! You will se first hand close up and personal, sets, props, and backlots that leaves Universal for dead...if you want a theme park go to Disneyland, if you want a film & TV buffs heaven go to Warner Bros Studio. As for Santa Monica Pier, it is what it is...an institution. Just do it, so next time you see it on a TV show or in the movies you can see..."Ive been there"..thats what we do and love it!!
Hi all, I have just come back from the US two months ago and its not as bad as you think, sure Hollywood and Grauman's is dodgy, however what would you expect if your a tourist? Most of California is nice, special Kudo's to San Diego and Orange County, Now Disneyland or California adventureland? Disneyland for sure, Adventureland is a bad version of Australia's wonderland and definately not worth the money sadly. Santa Monica Pier? well same rule applies as Hollywood, Universal Studios is so much better. As for the Pub with the mechanical bull, not a bad pub, just keep out of other ppl's business and your ok. can't be that bad of a place, the wife and I saw Mr Jack Nicholson having a beverage there, All in all go to Cali, everywhere in the state is different and it's worth the experience and most californians love aussies.
I'm about to return to LA for about the 7th time and can be daunting if you are travelling from a small place. There is so much there (although always great to have home to come back to!). For those who are OK driving in the States, take a drive down towards San Diego and if you have kids, definitely schedule a stop at Carlsbad - the home of Legoland - the kids have a ball. Not just rides, there are movies and experimental areas as well. We stayed at the Grand Pacific Palisades - got the accommodation last minute and 5 star resort with amazing facilities, at a 1 star price!! In Carlsbad is a fabulous restaurant called Pizza Port - heaps of locals there and really great food at great prices. Nearby there is also a great Outlet shopping place and of course, only a half hour drive down to San Diego, where there is even more to see and do. As someone else said, it is what you make of it, do your research and have a great time!
Why would you bother with Santa Monica pier, if it's full of such shady characters, when you can go to either Manhattan beach pier near the airport, or Huntington Beach pier (possibly the best and most "high-society" beach in the LA area with the exception of Malibu Beach) where you see plenty of tourists and well-to-do locals including many Asian Americans, especially at Huntington Beach. I tried going to Santa Monica Pier on my first night in LA, however, seeing it was nearly midnight the authorities blocked off all the carparks and access to the beach, so I never went. Anyway, I found that strange, which left me thinking, where are we? North Korea? Next day and every other day when I was in LA I just went to Huntington Beach and also Manhattan Beach. Highly recommended.
My last visit to the LA airport was my LAST. There was a gang fight in one terminal. The place was hell. Everyone was just standing anywhere. I ended up in a queue for a few hours and found out I was going to Guatamala. I bonded with my fellow travellers and now have an extended Guatamalian family but I missed two flights to Sydney and had to stay an extra day.
Six Flags Magic Mountain is an awesome low key theme park to go to- it isn't really in LA- but not that far away! Also Santa Monica is awesome- good hotels, restaurants and shopping! The pier is just an attraction!
seriously Don't let people freak you out on going to these places! I am an American living in Australia & have seen much scarier things & people over here, just take a walk down brunswick st melbourne! or st kilda beach! santa monica is stunning the pier is a lil run down now but santa monica itself is a beautiful place, i lingered outide the theater but didn't go in, venice beach is beautiful too, many aussies think it is a scary place but it really isnt! Saddle bar on univeral studios walk was sooooo much fun!! what more could you want then bull-riding & vodka? the staff are amazing & so friendly & cute! Dineyland was awesome after dark when the kid's went home & the lines were cut in half! def get a front of line pass for univeral worth every cent! enjoy LA it's the best city in the world!!
Santa Monica pier is great fun, food was fine, Venice is certainly worth the trip and Manns Chinese. No mention of the Tar pits, that and farmers market is well worth a visit. The spanish quarter is facinating as well but rarely mentioned, and Down town in the day time is a lively place, but stay away at night.