First timers going to Los Angeles: helpful tips I wish I knew!

Los Angeles is huge offering so many things to do! Being from across the country, Buffalo NY, I only heard of the attractions Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood Sign, Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Malibu and all the other well-knows tourist areas. But I had no idea what to expect as soon as I got to the L.A. area. These are some helpful tricks I learned after being in the area and exploring these attractions myself. 

Hollywood Blvd: 

If you have ever been to New York City, it is almost like that, or even the strip in Las Vegas. Obviously not tall buildings like New York and not miles of casinos like Vegas, but it’s basically a long straight road filled with malls, tours, shops, museums, and other attractions to keep you busy, at least for a few hours.


Mall right along the Hollywood Blvd strip

I enjoyed it there, I enjoyed seeing all the stars, people watching, shopping, eating, listening to the music people were playing on the streets, but there were also downfalls, in my opinion.Hollywood Stars

People were not only money-hungry but beggars! People, and a lot of them, would come up to you, literally put something, like a CD, in your arms, tell you it’s free and then get mad at you if you don’t give them money. I did not ask for your CD. You literally put it in my arms and at that point, I would try and give it back to them. Then they would not take it and then give you hell for not paying for it. I didn’t take a CD the entire time I was there, I did not take anything from anybody trying to make money and had this one guy following me, harassing me to try and buy something. It was really frustrating and took away from the experience in my opinion. The people literally get mad at you for not buying anything from them, and they go around continually saying “it’s free, it’s free, it’s free.” It’s stupid in my opinion. Makes no sense.

Tours in Hollywood: 

There are a few businesses on the Hollywood strip trying to sell you tours. At first I said no because it’s a tourist trap. But then the guy said he would give it to me for 20 bucks when its regularly 50 and said you get to go to the Hollywood sign and see a bunch of celebrity houses and so on and so forth.


Saw a lot of celebrities homes: can’t remember if this was Tom Cruise or who knows. I seen so many houses!

At that point, I did say yes. I’m here in Hollywood by myself, I have no idea what to look for around the L.A. area. I have no idea where Ellen Degenerous lives and I have no idea how to get around.

“Sure, I’ll take it.” I saved time, miles and energy taking this tour. Sometimes I guess it’s OK to splurge and do things you think is necessary on seeing what you want to see.


I know this one! Ellen Degenerous!


Leonardo Dicaprio’s house!

In this case, it was helpful for me. I would have never been able to see all that on my own. So, I do recommend the tour if you are as lost as I was in the L.A. area. Just try and talk them down. It worked for me 🙂

How to find free parking in Hollywood! 

Everything is so overly prices in tourist areas! It’s insane how much everything costs and it adds up quickly! But there are ways in getting around it, or at least some of it. Parking is something that I despise paying for. Camping and parking are the two things that make me sick to my stomach paying for. I hate paying for a patch of dirt to set up my tent and I hate paying to park my car even miles away from an event.

1 Rule: If there is no meter, then you can’t get ticketed. It’s the cities fault they don’t have a meter up.

2 Rule: If the curb is painted red, don’t park there! Then you will get a ticket.

3 Rule: Drive up and down the nearest neighborhoods to look for a place to park. You might have to walk a little bit but you wont have to pay 12 dollars to park!

4 Rule: Park at a big parking lot where no one would know, museum, mall, whatever.

I think the time looking for a free parking spot is worth it but that’s just me. Obviously if you have the extra cash you have it, but if you don’t, there are ways to get free parking. I found free parking in about 7 minutes, and it was literally right off the strip. Just a minute away, not even. There were people right next to me literally that paid 8 dollars for parking. Just read the signs and that’s your free ticket! 

Hollywood Sign: 

Hollywood SignThere is parking to get to the Hollywood sign at Griffith Park just Northwest of Los Angeles at the Griffith Observatory.


Trail Sign

You can see the sign from the Observatory but you are pretty far away. You can walk there but the trails, no matter which way you come from, is about 8 miles round trip. So if you want to get close to the sign. Put on your walking shoes and bring plenty of water. You are hiking through the desert with minimum shade!


Venice Beach: 


It’s a very big beach!


Lots and lots of walking. Now I know why everyone is so skinny!

I decided to go to the beach, not on purpose, but on a Saturday around 5:00 pm. Bad bad bad idea!!!!! No parking anywhere!!!! I parked about a mile or more away from the Venice pier and still had to pay 7 dollars for parking all day. I mean it was my fault for going to the beach at this time. Anyway, same rules apply here for free parking. There are neighborhoods all behind Venice for miles and miles. Luckily the Venice boardwalk goes for miles so you should be good.


My feet in the Pacific Ocean!

Things I did not know that would have made my life easier.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica are about 3 miles apart. Not bad, if you have rollarblades or a bike. So you can spend the day at both places and there are bike paths for skateboarders and roller-bladders, and there is also a walking path for walkers. If you walked, at the end of the day some people shuttle you back to your car, but be willing to spend money.


Venice Beach pretty much has the pier, beach, shops, bars and

restaurants. Then you have what is in-between Venice and Santa Monica. Like I said you have a good 2-3 miles of boardwalk. But these 2-3 miles are filled with things to do and see. There are skate parks, gyms, the beach the entire way, shops, restaurants, bars, art shows, people playing music all over, rollarblade dance parties, I mean you won’t be bored.

And I wasn’t the only one enjoying the Pacific Ocean. This is amazing!


Jan from Oklahoma living her dream!

I saw a woman with her feet in the Pacific Ocean in a wheelchair, and I just thought “oh my gosh, that is amazing and I want to go and talk to her.” So I did. I told her how wonderful it was so see her out here and not letting her disability get in the way of her living her life. We talked for about a half hour/45 minutes and learned a lot about her and her family. Her name is Jan and her and her husband Shane are from Oklahoma, so they came a long way! I asked her if I could take her picture and she said yes. They were a super nice family and I just hope the best for them. We shared some awesome views together!


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I also saw Wee man from Jackass at one of the shops along the boardwalk. It was called the Venice Beach Freakshow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a place that showed all this really weird stuff. Like the two-headed turtle! What?


Santa Monica


My recommendation, go when the sun is setting. If you want to do both, do Venice during the day and Santa Monica at sunset. There are the mountains closer to Santa Monica so you get fabulous pictures at sunset of the pier, the ocean and mountains.


They have a roller-coaster and other thrill rides. It’s very busy during sunset though. So be prepared to wait in lines for the rides or even to get some food.





Santa Monica Pier




The town of Malibu I very much enjoyed. You can go by the water and watch the surfers, or go and surf yourself! There are two parks. There is Malibu Creek State Park and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area behind Malibu. You get high up into the mountains and get good views of the mountains and ocean!


Hope this article helped! It was fun exploring the L.A. area for sure! But now I’m off to travel up the coast of California on the mighty 1.




By | 2016-09-17T12:04:30+00:00 June 19th, 2016|All Blog Entries, California, Money Savers|0 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Shelly! A traveler, hiker and an outdoor enthusiast. My dream my whole life was to travel, so I stopped dreaming and started doing. I quit my job and I am currently doing whatever it takes to keep going. I'll pick up jobs along the way and do what it takes to keep being a full-time traveler! I can prove that you don't need to come from money or anywhere special to live your dream. You just have to have the power of your own life to finally say YES!

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