L.A. is one of the most commercial airport–dense metropolitan areas in the country. Wherever you’re coming from and whichever part of L.A. you’re headed for, you can get there by air.
Los Angeles International Airport (1 World Way, Los Angeles, www.airport-la.com), known as LAX, has the most flights to and from the most destinations of any area airport. LAX is also the most crowded of the L.A. airports, with the worst security and check-in lines. If you can find a way around flying into LAX, do so.
One option is to fly into Other airports in the area include the Bob Hope Airport (2627 N. Hollywod Way, Burbank, 818/840-8840, www.burbankairport.com). It may provide a slightly longer drive to your final destination but can be well worth the hassle. If you must use LAX, be sure to arrive a minimum of two hours in advance of your domestic flight time for your flight out, and consider three hours on busy holidays.
Amtrak (800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com) has an active rail hub in Los Angeles. Most trains come in to Union Station (800 N. Alameda St., 213/683-6875, www.metro.net). From Union Station, you can get to the Bay Area, Redding, and eventually Seattle on the Coast Starlight train, or you can take the Surfliner down the coast to San Diego.
The San Joaquin runs out to Sacramento via the Bay Area. To get to and from L.A. from the east, the Southwest Chief comes in from Chicago, Kansas City, and Albuquerque. The famed Sunset Limited runs from Jacksonville, Florida, out to New Orleans, on to El Paso, and then into California.
From Union Station, which also acts as a Metro hub, you can take the Metro Rail to various spots in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is crisscrossed with freeways, providing numerous yet congested access points into the city. From the north and south, I-5 provides the most direct access to downtown L.A. From I-5, Highway 101 south leads directly into Hollywood; from here, Santa Monica Boulevard can take you west to Beverly Hills. Connecting from I-5 to I-210 will take you east to Pasadena.
The best way to reach Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu is via Highway 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. I-10 can get you there from the east, but it will be a long, tedious, and trafficked drive.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition