Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media

Planning

Entry Requirements: International travelers from 27 countries may enter the U.S. without a visa through the Visa Waiver Program; however, you must have a machine-readable passport. Visitors from other countries must obtain a visa from an American embassy or consulate abroad. For more information, visit www.travel.state.gov.

Time: Los Angeles is on U.S. Pacific Standard Time, three hours behind U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

Money: The U.S. dollar. For conversion rates go to www.oanda.com

Phone Calls: For phone calls to Los Angeles from within the U.S., dial 1 area code seven-digit phone number. For phone calls to the U.S. from other countries, dial the international access code of the country from which you are calling 1 area code seven-digit phone number.

When to Go: Any time is a good time to visit Los Angeles, since the weather is perennially dry and sunny. Winter ranges from 45° to 60°F (7° to 15°C) , spring and fall from 55° to 80°F (13° to 27°C), and summer from 60° to 95°F (15° to 35°C). Be prepared in any season for dramatically cooler evenings.

Getting There: The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the largest airport, but L.A. has a handful of excellent smaller regional airports with flights by major carriers: Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Long Beach Airport, L.A.-Ontario International Airport, and John Wayne Airport, in nearby Orange County.

Getting Around: Los Angeles is spread out and public transportation is limited (there are only four subway lines; the city's 200 bus lines offer greater coverage but are slow), so unless you plan on staying in a given neighborhood you should rent a car. Luckily, cars—even convertibles—can be had inexpensively. The top freeway speed is 65 mph (104 kph).

Security: As in any big city, it's wise to be aware of your surroundings; keep your wallet and shopping bags close; and don't leave valuables in your car.

Checklist

Sunscreen: The L.A. sun can be intense year-round. Even if smog makes the sky seem hazy, use a sunblock with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide of SPF 15 or higher, and reapply often.

Head Protection: Your head quickly absorbs sunrays, so wearing sunglasses, a baseball cap, hat, or visor—or carrying a parasol (increasingly popular)—will provide protection.

Footwear: Tennis shoes, flats, loafers, or comfortable sandals are sensible footwear for around town. On nature hikes in the surrounding mountains, ankle boots will help support and protect your feet.

Beachwear: Don't forget your swimsuit and towel, for those escapes to numerous oceanfront playgrounds.

City Map: L.A. is a big place and knowing your way around (both on foot and by car) is essential. A street map can help you find alternate routes when traffic becomes an issue.

Web Links

Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
Comprehensive guide to area attractions, lodging, restaurants, and nightlife within the whole of Los Angeles County. www.lacvb.com

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau
Good site for visitors intending to stay near the beach. www.santamonica.com

Los Angeles Conservancy
Excellent website of Los Angeles' prime organization dedicated to architectural and cultural preservation. www.laconservancy.org

Los Angeles Metromix
Celebrity- and entertainment-focused guide, with relevant news bites. www.losangeles.metromix.com

Seeing-stars.com
Website dedicated to where stars play, shop, and eat. www.seeing-stars.com

Entertainment Tonight
Top entertainment news, including video clips and celebrity-savvy blogs on movies, fashion, television, music, and other L.A. preoccupations. www.etonline.com

Streets of Los Angeles
Diverse selection of street-scene images—past and present. Includes wallpaper/screensavers, greeting cards, and maps. www.skylightweb.com/losangeles/

Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors Park
Bike trails, beach amenities, photo galleries, and event listings. beaches.co.la.ca.us

The City of Los Angeles
Interactive maps, a city events calendar, and information about area attractions. www.lacity.org

Local Media

Los Angeles Times
County's top newspaper, with national, regional, and local news, and food, entertainment, and culture coverage. www.latimes.com

Los Angeles
Glossy monthly magazine spotlighting fine local living, with a comprehensive restaurant section. www.lamag.com

LA Weekly
Thorough weekly listings newspaper. www.laweekly.com

Los Angeles Alternative
Independent weekly newspaper with an alternative slant on listings. www.laalternative.com

KCRW
89.9 on the local FM dial. L.A.'s most popular National Public Radio affiliate, broadcast from Santa Monica. National programs such as "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" are mixed with excellent local programming, including news, music, and commentary. Recommended: "Which Way, L.A.?" for local poignancy. www.kcrw.com

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