Los Angeles (LA) is frequently a misunderstood city. People usually associate this city with Hollywood, red carpets, celebrities, and beaches. However, when they get to LA, they're often confused. They can't find the excitement or glamour they seek. All they see is traffic, smog, and concrete. 

It can be challenging to locate the main sights because everything is so spread out. However, Los Angeles is a place of hidden beauty and culture beneath its surface. This article will reveal secrets to visiting this misunderstood city.

Staying in and exploring downtown isn't nearly as crucial here as it is in other major cities. Visitors can spend their whole trip around the beach areas, near the mountains, or in Hollywood.

Things people who have never been to LA might not know: 

#1 LA is a very spread-out city 

Mistake number one that people make when visiting LA is that they don't realise its spread. Los Angeles is not a city. It is a collection of towns. Many of LA's most famous sights aren't anywhere near each other. Its county sprawls across nearly 4,752 sq miles of land. 

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about 18 miles from Downtown LA (DTLA) and can take up to an hour to trek between the two. Hollywood and Santa Monica are entirely different cities than DTLA and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to reach downtown from there. 

#2 Downtown LA is not the centre

There is no "centre." While downtown LA has exciting attractions such as the Staples Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Little Tokyo, and more, it doesn't have all of the area's attractions. You could easily see the LA area without actually visiting DTLA. Staying in and exploring downtown isn't nearly as crucial here as it is in other major cities. Visitors can spend their whole trip around the beach areas, near the mountains, or in Hollywood. 

There are so many different neighbourhoods in LA that could be an entire trip on their own. Don't feel pressured to only stay downtown. 

#3 Hollywood is not as glamorous as it seems 

Hollywood has a considerable reputation for being a glamorous celebrity hot spot. It turns out, when you visit Hollywood, you'll probably only see other tourists.

Hollywood is three different cities – Central Hollywood, West Hollywood, and North Hollywood. Hollywood and West Hollywood are next to each other, but North Hollywood is on the other side of a mountain range!

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is in Central Hollywood, Universal Studios is in North Hollywood, and West Hollywood is a vibrant LGBTQ+ community. Most celebrities don't live in these areas. Instead, they mostly reside in Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, and Malibu.

Tips for planning your trip:

Now that you have the exclusive scoop on how the city works, here are some tips to help you plan your travels there:

Tip #1 Don't treat LA like you would any other city

Don't plan your LA visit like you would plan a trip to Paris, for example. It is a very different city than most tourist destinations.

LA is a city of experiences, not just sights.

When planning a trip to LA, you might want to:

Pick a geographic area to focus on each day. Don't try to visit all of the city's sights at once. For example, spend a whole day at Santa Monica and Venice beaches and explore downtown another day.

Ask locals for recommendations if you can. The city has ENDLESS hidden gems outside the main tourist attractions, and locals can help you uncover those.

Experience the city instead of just seeing it. LA has so many great things to do, like surfing, hiking, concerts, farmer's markets, etc.

Tip #2 Try the food 

One thing about LA that most locals can agree on is that the city has AMAZING food. People from around every corner of the globe have settled in this culturally diverse city, bringing their unique dishes and customs with them.

You can find excellent food at every price point in the city, with everything from street tacos that only cost a dollar to Michelin-starred eateries. While this list isn't at all exhaustive, here is a taste of some LA institutions to try:

Philippe The Original – Home to the unique French-dip sandwiches accidentally invented at this restaurant.

Langer's Deli – This is a LA institution that serves up James Beard Award-winning hand-cut pastrami.

Majordomo – This restaurant is David Chang's interpretation of the Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Mexican flavours representative of LA.

Hayato – Chef Brandon Go, trained by top Japanese chefs, serves delicious Haute Japanese cuisine at this Michelin-starred restaurant.

Los Angeles is a complex city that can be confusing to navigate. Many people leave disappointed because it isn't what they imagined. However, by seeing more than just the tourist sights, you'll find delightful hidden gems. Hopefully, you can visit soon!