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driving in L.A.

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Honolulu, Hawaii
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driving in L.A.

my husband and I will be visiting in November...is it easy to get around L.A.? We will be staying at Millennium Biltmore Hotel...any advice? We just want to know the dirty truth about getting around L.A. the good and the bad!

Los Angeles
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1. Re: driving in L.A.

hi travelbug808

i think it's fairly easy getting around l.a.... but then again, i'm an l.a. native. it's supposed to be easy for me. i know exacly where you're staying. i used to live blocks from there. the benefits of staying in downtown is the proximity to freeways... also, downtown is pretty much in the middle of everything. the freeway is your best bet if you're driving, but of course stay away from it during rush hour. that would be between 7 to possibly 9 or 10 in the morning and 4 to 7 in the evening. thursday and friday are the major days where traffic seems to be endless. if you travel on the weekends, you're pretty much traffic free--- most of the time, not all the time.

if you want to stay off the roads and not drive, there is of course the metro.... i'm not the expert on that. i usually drive my own car because i like the freedom of going anywhere, everywhere, and at any time.

i'm not quite sure if i answered your question. if you have any more specific questions, i might be able to help...

otherwise, take care... enjoy your trip!

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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2. Re: driving in L.A.

There is a metro station quite near the Millenium Biltmore Hotel.

Metro station (Pershing Square exit) is across the street from hotel. For more see the web site: http://www.mta.net/default.asp

(Note: Its really easy to take the metro from there to Universal Studios, Hollywood area.)

In regards to the downtown LA area, they are all walkable:

Walt Disney Concert Hall; The Ahmanson Theatre; Mark Taper Forum; Dorother Chandler - all less than 1/2 mile.

The freeway location is good.

The traffic can be really "bad" at times - as noted above. Its gotten worse and worse each year I go there (which is several times each year.) Do avoid if possible the commute hours.

The key thing is be sure to check the "commute lanes" - if there are enough people in the car use them. They will have the # marked.

LA traffic can be quite aggressive - in my opinion, the most aggressive in the state so watch people coming on and off the freeway like a hawk. It can be tricky at times.

And the key thing is: Get a Map and figure out where you are going in advance. That is best so you know where to get on and off the freeway and which roads to take once you're off the freeway. The downtown LA area and to the west - its hard to find a good spot to stop and figure out your route once you're off the freeway so easier to do in advance. Downtown LA and east its a bit easier to find a place to check your maps once you are off the freeway.

Its doable - it just takes a bit of planning - and try to avoid the peak times. Ask the hotel (nice service there) if you have any questions on best route.

Pasadena, CA
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3. Re: driving in L.A.

The best maps for LA are at AAA, if you're a member. Go to your local office and pick up the LA Freeway map and at least the Central LA street map. The Freeway map is great. It not only shows all the freeways, it lists every entrance and exit on every road and also marks and shows the locations of some of the local terms that you will hear on radio traffic report. While in your car keep your radio on to listen for traffic reports. During rush hours these will be on different stations every 10 minutes. Listen for "sigalerts", which warn you of major tie-ups.

When on the freeways, if there are 2 or more in the car you can use the "diamond lanes", which are for carpools. They are usually, but not always, faster than the regular lanes, and have controlled access, so you have to watch the signs for where you want to get out of the lane for your intended exit. The diamond lanes can be a godsend, especially coming in to downtown from LAX. You cannot cross the double-yellow lines to get into the diamond lanes; wait for the marked openings.

Signage on both the freeways and the streets is very good. Just remember, pedestrians in ANY crosswalk or intersection, marked or unmarked, ALWAYS have the right-of-way. You will be ticketed for not yielding to pedestrians.

Finally, remember that if you miss your exit it's not the end of the world. There is usually another freeway exit within 1 mile. Just get off and get back on going the other direction.

BTW, if you like older grand hotels you will love the Biltmore. If you find your first room is not to your liking ask to see others, since, like many older hotels, there is a wide variety of rooms. I stayed there last year for a few days during some home renovation, asked for an upgraded room, and they gave me one with no questions asked. The public areas are really beautiful. Enjoy your stay. Parking, however, is at least $20/day extra.

Hawaii
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4. Re: driving in L.A.

Rent a driver to chaffeur you around for the day. Pass on renting a car the freeways and traffic will cause you too much stress trying to navigate them.

Berkeley, Ca.
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5. Re: driving in L.A.

My experience with LA drivers is that they are expert, quick, and unforgiving of mistakes. There are a lot of people who drive a lot of miles and are quite impatient.

Driving is the most flexible way to see LA. If you're a reasonably good driver you should be able to do it. Of course, as other threads have discussed, it is possible to see a lot of LA without a car. And you'd save both the car rental cost plus a hefty parking charge from the Biltmore (and it is almost impossible to legally and safely park a car on the street in Downtown LA). But going by transit would generally take longer.

Cajun Country
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6. Re: driving in L.A.

Rent a driver?

How much does this cost?

And where do you find these drivers?

Burbank
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343 posts
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7. Re: driving in L.A.

Los Angeles is one of the most car friendly cities around, built to accomodate cars and almost completely neglect decent public transport, so I would recommend driving..and because the city is so spread out, you really have to. You don't want to spend most of your time in LA sitting in buses.

That said, the drivers here are pretty awful...be prepared..be on guard. Some people have completely stopped using their turn signals, drivers slaloming in and out of freeway lanes at high speeds is more and more common..people also will try to race you onto the freeways because they don't want to stop for *anything* and will risk everyone's safety for that extra second of time saved.

Your best defense is to be aware at all times...particularly on the freeways.

Traffic is hard to predict, it seems that rush hour lasts all day now! It's all a crap shoot. Get a good street map and exit and take side streets if you need to. It still beats taking a bus, even with the unexpected delays and pinheads on the road. There is plenty to do and see here and better parking here than in other cities I have been (NY and San Fran to name two). There are alot of freeways, which have both numbers and names assigned to them. if you get lost pop into a gas station. People are more friendly out of their cars than in them.

Enjoy your trip..I was born and still live here..there's plenty to see and plenty to enjoy.