Los Angeles: Essentials
TO/ FROM THE AIRPORT
Prime Time Shuttle
Reliable transportation serving all L.A.-area airports. Sedans, private vans, and luxury cars are all available, but the best choice for the money is a shared van. Prices depend on where you're headed. A shared van that makes drop-offs at any location, provided others are traveling to the same neighborhood, is around $15 per person; a shared sedan for up to three people going to midcity runs around $57.
SPLURGE Beverly Hills Rent-A-Car
At LAX and all over L.A., 800/479-5996, bhrentacar.com
Cruise Rodeo Drive in style or arrive at the hotel like a celebrity in a Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, or '59 Cadillac convertible. There's even a selection of the latest hybrid models to help save the environment and gas money. From $55/day for a premium model Toyota to $3,995/day for the Rolls.
Metro Transportation Authority Buses
Even though public buses can be crowded and slow, they're a good option if you don't have your own set of wheels, and they run on schedule. Exact change only; tickets also available at Ralphs and Pavilions supermarkets. Purchase day passes from the bus driver. All buses are equipped for bicycles. Check website for routes and schedules. $1.25/ride, $3 for a day pass.
City of Los Angeles Taxi Services
Because L.A. is so spread out, taxis aren't always easy to find, except in prime travel areas like LAX, Downtown, and some of the more popular bar/restaurant neighborhoods, such as the Sunset Strip. Don't get in a cab unless the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Transportation seal is visible on the exterior. These are the only cabs regulated by the city, and anything else is risky. Yellow Cab (310/808-1000) is a safe choice. Major credit cards accepted for rides over $10. Initial fare $2.20, each additional mile $2.20; flat fare for travel between LAX and Downtown $38.
Corner of Venice Blvd. and Ocean Front Walk, 310/450-0669
Rents bikes in Venice Beach for use on, or around, the famed boardwalk. Helmets and locks are not included in the price of rentals, so bring your own. $5/hour, $10 for the day.
WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND TOWN
LA Weekly (laweekly.com) for arts and entertainment around town, extensive listings. At most newsstands and in some coffee shops, stores, and restaurants. Free
Los Angeles Times (latimes.com) for city and national news, 50¢ Mon.--Sat., $1.50 Sun.
Los Angeles magazine (lamag.com) for events, local issues, restaurant reviews, $3.95
Sony Pictures Studios Tour
10202 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, 323/520-8687, sonypicturesstudios.com/tourssection/tours.html
Two-hour walking tours of classic soundstages, including The Wizard of Oz and Wheel of Fortune. The rich coverage touches on scene production, props, and the studio's golden days. Reservations recommended. Four tours daily, 9:30 a.m.-- 2:30 p.m., Mon.--Fri. No children under 12. $25, includes parking.
Beverly Hills Trolley Tours
N. Rodeo Dr. at Dayton Way, 310/285-2438, beverlyhills.org
A whirlwind fantasy drive that blends art and architecture with celebrity gossip and glimpses of Rodeo's expensive clothiers. The 40-minute tours also pass art galleries, the Museum of Television and Radio, and the William Morris Agency (whose clients include many of Hollywood's A-list actors). Buy tickets from the trolley guide; space is on a first-come, first-served basis. 11 a.m.--4 p.m., Tues.--Sat., early May through late Dec. Tours depart on the hour, weather permitting. $5, kids $1.
Red Line Tours
6773 Hollywood Blvd., 323/402-1074, redlinetours.com
Huge variety of senior- and family-friendly walking tours of behind-the-scenes Hollywood and Downtown. Also offers bus drive-bys of stars' homes. Each tour has a different running time and schedule. Check the website or call ahead for specifics. Reservations recommended, especially during school vacations. Walking tours: from $20, kids from $15. Bus tours: from $62, kids from $48.
Los Angeles Conservancy Tours
523 W. 6th St. Suite 826, 213/623-2489, laconservancy.org
Enthusiastic docents share hidden histories and facts about L.A. architecture. Each two-and-a-half-hour walking tour (departing Saturdays at 10 a.m.) is sprinkled with interesting tidbits, such as rumored hauntings, neighborhood gossip, and protests over renovations. Offerings include Downtown's Art Deco tour and a visit to the industrial port of San Pedro. Reservations required. $10.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
Emergency Police, fire, ambulance 911
Metro Transportation 800/266-6883
Consortium of taxi services 310/808-1000
Sports & concert tickets Ticketmaster, 213/480-3232, ticketmaster.com