Did a full day walking tour of LA. Our tour guide Damien was very knowledgeable & passionate about giving us all the information in a clear & concise way. The tour was very well planned & organised & was not tiring.
We did The Real Hollywood tour & loved it! The tour was at a great pace & the guide (Vicky) was very knowledgeable & made the tour fun. Thank you!
Stuart was so knowledgeable & was worth the day with him. I had been to LA multiple times before but this is the first time I had taken a tour – so thrilled to have this experience with my mom & sister. I would recommend this tour again & again.
We had an amazing DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Damien & Dante… thank you very much from the Italian girls… very interesting & funny… absolutely recommended!
This tour was awesome! Stuart is very knowledgeable, likeable & fun. The stops on the tour were very interesting & I learned a lot. I’ve been on quite a few tours of this nature & this was one of my favorites – highly recommend!
Did a walking tour of LA (LA in a Day). Vicky started us off with the Hollywood tour & Damien (who is also the owner) was our guide for the rest of the day. The entire day was awesome, I suggest this tour. There isn’t that much walking, to be honest. It’s very fun!
12 Things Not to Do in LA
For visitors to Los Angeles, trying to make decisions about what they’re going to spend their precious time doing here, almost as important as adding things to the list is eliminating from it those things that they AREN’T going to do. Because in a city as big and varied as LA it just isn’t possible to do everything. If you try you’re just going to drive yourself crazy (probably quite literally), you won’t do any of those things properly and, after all, you’re on vacation – you should be relaxing. So, just for fun – and to help you – we’ve put together this list of things not do do in LA, to help you get the best possible experience from your trip here. It’s designed for those looking for a more authentic experience of Los Angeles than the traditional “movie stars and beaches” one, and is open to having their preconceptions challenged.
1. DON’T VISIT RODEO DRIVE!
Go to the Fashion District in downtown instead. It’s vibrant, alive, affordable and it’s the real Los Angeles – basically everything that the famous shopping street to the stars isn’t. You almost certainly won’t see any stars doing their shopping on Rodeo Drive, it’s insanely expensive and you can find most of the designer shops on any high-end shopping street anywhere in the world. If the Fashion District is out of your way how about Venice’s trendy Abbot Kinney or the more fashionable shopping areas of Robertson or Melrose?
2. DON’T DO A STARS’ HOUSES TOUR!
Why not? Well, unfortunately many of the tour buses aren’t safe and most of the “information” the operators tell their guests is wrong. Angelenos never do these tours, they’re really a joke here. The bottom line is it’s not an authentic experience of Los Angeles, the buses just clog up the area’s residential streets and the only thing that you will learn is that rich people have nice houses. That’s one thing that isn’t unique to LA.
3. DON’T GET YOUR PRONUNCIATION OF LA PLACE NAMES WRONG!
Los Angeles has many local peculiarities when it comes to pronouncing place names here. Wilshire Boulevard is not “Will-SHIRE”, it’s “WILL-sher”. The neighborhood below Griffith Park is not “Los FeLIZ”, it’s “Los FEElus”. We never use the names of the freeways here either, always the number – so it’s not the “Harbor Freeway”, it’s “the 110”. Also you never use the “i” before the freeway, as in the “i405”, it’s always “the 405”. Small details, but when you’re trying to get directions…
4. DON’T ASK LOCALS WHERE YOU CAN FIND MOVIE-STARS!
It’s not uncommon for Angelenos to see famous people around town (often in very unlikely places), but here’s the thing about “celebrities” – they’re just like us (except they’re rich and famous of course). So, if you do happen to run into a “celebrity” (often highly visible because they’re the only person wearing baseball cap and sunglasses while inside a building), just be respectful and leave them alone. Just imagine how many other people may have approached them that day and remember that they're busy doing whatever it is that they're doing.
Anyway, you don’t need to ask anyone about this – just read our guide and follow the instructions, that way you're guaranteed to see a celebrity in an appropriate setting.
5. DON’T ASK TOUR GUIDES TO SELL YOU MARIJUANA!
For one things it’s legal to buy marijuana in California now, so you don’t have to ask your tour guide to get it for you. Just visit MedMen while you’re here! While we’re on the subject don’t ask them what their “real job” is either – there’s nothing wrong with being a full-time tour guide (several of our guides are in fact). If you’re joining us on a tour this is definitely high on the list of things not do do in LA!
6. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO FIND AN OUTLET STORE!
7. DON’T BE SURPRISED THAT THE TRAFFIC IS BAD IN LOS ANGELES!
It’s famous for being horrendous (just watch any TV show or movie that’s set in LA). In fact a recent study found we have the worst traffic on the entire planet.
8. DON’T RENT A CAR!
As referenced above traffic in Los Angeles is awful. All the time. Many travelers assume that there isn’t any public transport here and that if they want to get around they have to rent a car. That just isn’t true and the cost of renting a car and parking it can be very high. Besides, why bother? Probably you drive when you’re staying at home, so look at your trip to LA as being a vacation from driving. We have a reasonably wide-ranging Metro system, which is fast-growing, clean, efficient and very cheap (the $1.75 flat fare is a bargain). Why not use that? For more information on how to do this read our guide to using public transit in Los Angeles.
9. DON’T FORGET TO VISIT DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES!
For most visitors to LA the main locale’s to check out are Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica/Venice. DTLA isn’t even on their radar. Big mistake! Huge! It’s the most interesting part of the city, both historically and architecturally, to such an extent that it’s usually the highlight for guests on our LA in a Day tour (and the other neighborhoods we visit on that tour are Hollywood and Santa Monica). One of the cool things about LA is how varied it is and if you miss downtown you’re missing a big piece of the picture (including gems such as Union Station, see below).
10. DON’T BUY A PLASTIC OSCAR AT A HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD TOURIST TRAP!
You’re only encouraging them if you do. Get a book about movie or LA history, or buy a poster, from one of the few bookstores still hanging on in there, like Larry Edmunds.
11. DON’T THINK HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD AND VENICE BOARDWALK ARE THE REAL LA!
They both exist and they’re both in Los Angeles, but they’re completely atypical of the city, in the way that Times Square is not an authentic representation of New York. Hollywood Boulevard and Venice Boardwalk are the only two places that you’ll get hassled (and possibly hustled) here but, because most tourists feel compelled to go there, many leave with the impression that this is what LA is like unfortunately. It isn’t at all. Angelenos are nearly always polite, friendly and helpful, it’s just that these areas attract a lot of hustlers because so many visitors go there.
If you do go to these neighborhoods (and we do) just ignore the tour touts, CD sellers and pan-handlers and make a point of visiting other parts of this hugely varied city, like Griffith Park, Santa Monica and downtown. It’s often said here about Hollywood Boulevard that “It’s the place that tourists always go and Angelenos never go”, and while that may not be strictly true it tells you a lot.
12. DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A GRATUITY!
We’ve covered this extensively in our guide to tipping in the U.S., but when you’re in Los Angeles please tip whenever necessary. It’s probably not common to do this where you come from – or at least not as much as we do in the U.S. – but here it’s expected. It’s just how we do things. If you go to a restaurant, for example, and you leave without tipping the waiter you’re going to be making some Angelenos very unhappy. They probably won’t follow you out of the restaurant – which happens in New York – but if you were happy with your meal you’ve just been very disrespectful to the restaurant staff. For no reason. When you look at the prices on the menu just add 25% – 10% for the sales tax and 15% for the tip.
If you have any feedback on our list of things not to do in LA, or if you have some recommendations of your own, please email us and let us know. We’ll be sure to take it into account.