Traffic heading up the PCH to Malibu!
CAR-POCALYPSE! CAR-MAGEDDON! CAR-MAJAM!!
Yes, Los Angeles is one of the most car congested cities in the world. Although L.A. is working to change that, it is like traffic, moving at a snails pace. This is one of the stereotypes about Los Angeles that is hard to hide. Although we have gotten used to it as an undeniable truth about living here, a trade off for fantastic weather, visitors look out of the passenger window in horror. You can’t make traffic unhappen for your guests, but there are some ways you can brush it under the rug and make it a little less noticeable. When I have people come to Los Angeles, I apply some carefully orchestrated workarounds that you may want to use for yourself, visitor or not.
Know the hours of rush hour: (and then avoid them)
Monday – Wednesdays: 7:35 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and starting up again at 4:30 p.m. and ending around 7:30 p.m.
Thursday & Friday: 7:35 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and starting up again at 2:00 p.m. with really no consistent end time. Thursday is the new Friday and the beginning of our weekend.
Use Google Maps or similar for the fastests routes: It also seems that people use the same short cuts as everyone else which become just as crowded as the major roadways therefore making them no longer shortcuts. (Ahem Cahuenga Pass, cough cough)
Half the city goes downtown on the weekends, the other half goes to the beach. Either way several hundreds of thousand of people going one way and a million going the other way is a whole lot of people on the 10 or the 405.
Going downtown: I have always thought that the best way to get to downtown Los Angeles is by train. Not only to you avoid traffic, but you also skip dreaded downtown parking. Besides, with trains like the Expo line you can watch the way the neighborhoods change and get a great view of the Hollywood sign, which visitors like.
Going to the beach: Going to Santa Monica or up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu should be avoided on the weekends. Go to the beach on the weekdays. The 405 South is strangely clear for some unexplained reason after 9:00 a.m. Although Santa Monica, Venice, and Malibu come first to mind because of proximity, there are some really great beaches to the south like Manhattan, Seal, and Redondo.
Keep in mind: There are other routes to get from DTLA to Santa Monica and Venice Beach other than the major highways/freeways. Wilshire, for example, can be made into a mini-field trip in itself.
Los Angeles is the land of late risers and weekday brunchers.
With a whole lot of people not doing the 9-5 thing in Los Angeles, there aren’t very many sacred days where you can have a museum, a mall, or a grocery store all to yourself. There is this magic hour where the stars align for a mostly personless L.A. experience. This involves getting up a little earlier. Go to brunch, shop, or wander starting at 9:30 a.m. If you happen to want to bottomless mimosa yourself silly, get to brunch by 11:30 a.m.
In conclusion take the train, go to the beach on the weekdays, eat your banana nutella crepe at the Grove with a strong cup of coffee by 9:30 a.m. to get a head start on all that shopping, and Los Angeles will seem from the outside like everyone is exaggerating.
If you learn anything from zen-like California, learn this. All traffic is a temporary state, if you fight against it, it will swallow you up. If you go with it, you may arrive late but a lot less crabby.
No one worries about being late in Los Angeles.