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What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

Seattle, Washington
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What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

We (5 of us) are arriving on 3rd May (Saturday), noon in LAX. Will be in LA for 3 days (moving to San Diego on 6th afternoon). Staying in Hollywood. I am renting a minivan which I have not driven before (have driven only small cars-civic, elantra), so want to first do an easier drive from the airport, also check in is only at 3 PM, so dont want to go directly to hotel.

These are all the places we want to visit while in LA:

1. Santa Monica (Pier + 3rd st promenade)

2. Griffith Observatory

3. Universal Studios (planning this on Monday)

4. Downtown LA (China Town, Little Italy)

5. Beverly Hills (Grove, farmers market, rodeo drive)

6. Hollywood

Which of these would you recommend from the airport? I was thinking of parking at the Grove and visiting the farmers market, any issues with that?

Also both Griffith Observatory and Santa Monica seem like more enjoyable in the evening but I will likely not have many evenings free, so which of these is okay to do in the morning.

Edit: Wanted to mention we will be traveling with a toddler, so wont prefer public transportation

Edited: 19 April 2014, 00:40
Santa Monica, CA
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1. Re: What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

It's a straightforward drive to Santa Monica from LAX, but what about your luggage? A minivan isn't the best because everything is visible. I never recommend visitors leave luggage or valuables in their rental cars.

I recommend you drive directly to your hotel (perhaps stop at In-N-Out right by the airport for one of their tasty burgers - you can watch the car from inside easily). You can leave luggage with the front desk before check-in, then visit the typical Hollywood sights in the immediate area.

Santa Monica...
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for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
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2. Re: What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

You might be able to get into your room early - although landing at 12, getting through airport and getting car, that will put you at your hotel about 2:30. I would drive straight to the hotel, get settled, and wander around Hollywood, get that out of the way. Head to the Grove and Farmers Market that afternoon, as well. Visit Griffith Park that night.

Edited: 19 April 2014, 01:49
Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

Thanks, yes I was also concerned about the luggage, so will try In Out or go directly to the hotel based on the time we pick up the car.

On griffith observatory, looks like there is a concert in greek theater on 3rd, so parking may be tough? If so I can do that on Sunday night

West Hollywood...
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4. Re: What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

I'll take the opposing view re: leaving your luggage in a minivan and say that the most efficient use of time (and the easiest drive for you on your arrival day) is to simply drive north from the airport along Lincoln Blvd into Santa Monica. This is a simple albeit, not terribly interesting drive (gas stations, supermarkets, 'everyday stores') but it will give you a chance to get a feel for the car.

In addition, Santa Monica is furthest from your hotel and closest to LAX of all of your attractions so it makes sense to head there right away. Add to that, it will be the weekend which is a lively time at the beach. As far as your luggage being at risk, in the 8 years I've been on Trip Advisor, I've heard of no incidences of rental cars being broken into and suitcases being stolen. What would they steal: socks and underwear? jeans? The only thing worth stealing is electronics so, take those items with you and stop worrying about it. Add to that, if you park in Santa Monica in one of the municipal parking structures or at the open-air parking lot next to the Pier, these are under surveillance and are always busy with people coming and going. It's not an ideal place to be a thief.

It's just not worth worrying about. (I'd worry more that the maid cleaning your room who is being paid $7/hour would steal your stuff more than a stranger would break into your car).

BTW, we have no "Little Italy" although we have lots of ethnic neighborhoods, e.g. Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and enormous Koreatown, Little Armenia, a Persian neighborhood in Westwood (on the westside), etc.etc

For downtown, toddler or no, I'd leave the minivan at the hotel and take the red line metro rail. It's a 15 minute (traffic free) ride into downtown and the red line continues through downtown connecting a number of areas together. If you look at our TOP QUESTIONS BOX at the right side of this page, there's a 'what to do' section that includes a tour of downtown via public transit -- as well as one using a car. (You cannot access this content if you're using the mobile site for tripadvisor.com).

Parking in downtown is a pain. Street parking is limited and parking structures can be expensive and far from some attractions. Trust me: take the red line. If you get bored with it by the end of the day, take a taxi back to your hotel ($25).

Have fun!

5. Re: What to do on day 1 in LA on arrival

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