August 12, 2017
5 Tips for Getting around Los Angeles
By: Karina Anastasia Roche
While staying at the Topanga Canyon Inn Bed and Breakfast, the peace and serenity of the canyon makes it easy to forget that the hustle and bustle of the city is just minutes away. When planning their stay, our guests frequently ask us about driving times, routes, transportation, and just getting around Los Angeles in general. To help, we have compiled this brief guide so that you can focus more on enjoying your travels and less on worrying about how you'll get here.
Los Angeles is built for cars, and if you are coming to explore it, you need a car. The sprawling city has a metro system we hear exists somewhere, and while you will see buses running closer to the heart of the city, they won't get you everywhere if you really want to explore. The exception is tour buses like Starline, which take you around Hollywood or Los Angeles and stop by all the most popular sights; we recommend these if you are in L.A. for only a day. If you absolutely cannot drive, however, services like Canyon Limo Service and Green Shuttle, or ride-sharing Uber and Lyft are very effective here, and come often through the canyon and to the Topanga Canyon Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Out-of-town guests are often confused by the names of our freeways, and, when they finally ask for directions, are mystified by what they hear from locals. Here are some main points to remember:
- Angelinos shorten freeway names from the 405 Freeway to simply "the 405" or "the 101"
- Freeways and highways here seemingly have two names. Some guests told us they were driving forever looking for "the Ventura Freeway," not realizing it was the same one as the 101 Freeway they saw miles back. For reference:
- Ventura Freeway = 101 Freeway
- San Diego Freeway = 405 Freeway
- Highway 1 = Pacific Coast Highway = PCH
- Highway 27 = Topanga Canyon Boulevard
- There a no tolls on freeways in Los Angeles (however, be prepared to pay a toll fee when driving down to San Diego).
Our main advice is to always check your GPS or smart-phone navigation map before you leave the house. As you probably have heard, Los Angeles has some of the worst traffic in the world. This is why we refer to distance in minutes rather than miles; the geographical distance counts for little when traffic has come to a halt. Most locals know when the traffic picks up, and plan accordingly; still, traffic here can be fickle. In general, however, you can assume that the 405 Freeway will always have traffic somewhere. The worst periods, however, are between 6am-10am, and 4pm-8pm. (This is one of the main reasons why we schedule our breakfasts at 9am; not only does this allow vacationers to get some much needed rest, but our guests finish eating around the same time that traffic begins to subside). The 101 Freeway also experiences stop-and-go during the busiest hours, but in general is much kinder; it is a relief to merge from the 405 onto the 101! Expect congestion as you near the connection to the 405. Pacific Coast Highway is our most preferred route and will get you close enough to most attractions; although some congestion usually appears between 5pm-7pm, and there is some beach traffic during the summer, the breathtaking ocean views make you wish you could just keep driving.
Free parking is a sight for sore eyes in Los Angeles! For theme parks, museums, and other tourist attractions, expect to pay for a spot in the lot. This amount usually ranges between $6-$20. There are also many meters throughout the city, usually costing $1.25 per hour. Occasionally, however, you might find free street parking; just make sure to read the signs carefully. Fortunately, there is a lot of parking alongside Pacific Coast Highway that is free, so you can enjoy the beach on a budget.
5. LAX (Los Angeles International Airport)
Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX as it is always called, is only 45 minutes from the Inn. During rush hour, allow for traffic and give yourself at least an hour or hour and a half to be safe. LAX is south of Topanga Canyon, and there are two main routes you can take to and from the Inn:
- North, via the 101 Ventura Freeway; you will then merge south onto the 405 San Diego Freeway
- South, via Pacific Coast Highway, the 10 Freeway, and then the 405 San Diego Freeway
Driving around Los Angeles can be intimidating, especially for international guests or those used to smaller cities. The frustration of transportation is one of the last things you want to think about when trying to enjoy your travels. We hope this guide helps you navigate this city comfortably and discover all its treasures, big and small. We hope to be hosting you at our bed and breakfast soon. Click here and Book Direct for best rate, call us with questions 310-570-3791 8 am - 9 pm Pacific Time, or visit our Transportation Page.