1. Decide on your primary mode of transport
Before you do anything, decide what primary mode of transport you will use to get around the city. Consider carefully and weigh the benefits of public transit vs renting a car. While you might think it’s a no-brainer to rent a car – don’t think so fast. You can get around Los Angeles quite well without a car if you want to. The key, however, is choosing your hotel location wisely.
2. Choose your hotel location wisely
Choosing a hotel will be your most daunting task. If you don’t choose wisely you might find yourself spending a lot of time on the freeways, or simply not managing to follow through all that pre-planning. You can choose your hotel based on lifestyle or location. A lifestyle location means choosing a hotel closer to things that make you happy – like being close to the beach, or shopping, or an ethnic or cultural destination such as Koreatown or Little Tokyo.
Remember, however, that you will most likely spend very little time in your hotel room. Choosing your hotel based on geography may be more sensible for some. If you chose a hotel close to a Metro Rail station you will be able to keep your travel costs and time down and you will feel more connected to the city. For destinations not accessible by Metro Rail, you can use Uber.
3. Organize your days by neighborhood
If there is one rule you abide by it should be this one: build your itinerary by neighborhood! Los Angeles covers a geographic area spanning 450 square miles. What you don’t want to do is plan to see all of it in one day, or try to see locations that are too far apart. For example, you won’t want to spend part of a day in Hollywood and the rest of the day across town in Santa Monica.
Decide which neighborhoods you would like to visit, then plan to spend most of a particular day in that neighborhood. If you are planning to see more than one neighborhood in one day, then plan on visiting neighborhoods that are closer together.
4. Investigate special events
Some neighborhoods have weekly, monthly or annual events. You may not want to miss some of these. For example, Hollywood has a fabulous farmers market on Sunday mornings which is not to be missed for Sunday breakfast or lunch. If you are only in Los Angeles for five days you might want to make your Hollywood visit on a Sunday to make sure you have the opportunity to visit this great weekly event.
The second Thursday of every month is the Downtown Los Angeles Artwalk – one of the largest art events in the nation. If you are going to be in Los Angeles on that second Thursday you may want to plan to spend the evening in Downtown Los Angeles to experience Artwalk.
5. Finally, plan your activities
Once you have laid out which neighborhoods you plan to visit and know what special events might be happening, the next step is to decide what activities you would like to do in that neighborhood. Some neighborhoods have many attractions and things to do. Pay very close attention to an attraction’s opening, closing times, and if required, departure times.
Stack your activities based on each attraction’s closing time to make sure you are able to fit anything in. If you don’t plan ahead you may find out that you have run out of time and won’t be able to visit the places you wanted to.