Los Angeles (also called L.A. or LA) is the largest city in the state of California, and is the home to about 17m people. Famous for being the center of the American film and TV production in Hollywood, as well as the home to many celebrities. Most of the touristic activities are connected to the film industry (Universal Studios, Disneyland in the nearby Anaheim, Hollywood Walk of Fame..), although the city has some beautiful beaches on the pacific.
Regarding safety, LA is at both extremes : while most of the touristic neighborhoods such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica are safe, L.A. has some very dangerous areas downtown (Skid Row) and nearby (South Central), as well as some cities famous for gang related violence (Compton – the 4th most dangerous city in the US).
SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources make sure you have a safe trip while in Los Angeles, and be aware of all potential dangers.
Downtown LA is the central business and cultural district of the city, with highlight tourist spots such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Olvera Street (Mexican Neighborhood) or the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The area offers a lot of restaurants for all budgets, and shopping districts. During the day, Downtown LA is safe (except for Skid Row – check next paragraph). At night, some areas get empty and dark really fast and should be avoided. Neighboring areas such as Pico-Union, South Central, Westlake or Boyle Heights are best avoided.
Skid Row: the 1 square mile area around 3rd / 7th street and Alameda is called Skid Row. Since the 1970’s, it has been one of the neighborhoods with the largest homeless population in the US. Although most homeless people are harmless, some can be aggressive if you don’t hand them money. The whole area and its hotels should be avoided by tourists.
Hollywood is a residential area west of Downtown. Famous for its mountain-side “Hollywood” sign and the walk of fame, Hollywood now only hosts a few entertainment companies such as Paramount, since many other have fled to nearby cities with larger facilities and lower rents. The Griffith observatory is a great place to have a view on the city and look at the stars through telescopes. The streets around the Hollywood walk of fame are filled by tourists during the day and some pickpockets operate in the area. At night, Hollywood is safe. Check the LA Times Map for more details.
With areas such as Venice Beach, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, LA’s West Side is a rich, trendy neighborhood with some of the US’s largest homes and villas. From visiting the Getty Museum, UCLA’s campus or surfing on the Pacific, the area has plenty of alluring activities – for those who can afford it. While the West Side attracts mostly burglars and vehicle thieves, the beach area can be dangerous after the sun sets. Venice Beach is known for its meth trade, so avoid it after dark. The area between Culver City and the Marina del rey is best avoided at night.
Warnings & Dangers
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
Los Angeles is an overall safe city, with extremely safe neighorhoods and extremely dangerous ones. With a rating of 69,4% The US, is ranked 51th out of 162 on the ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
There is some pickpocket-related risk in Los Angeles. Be careful on the subway, transport to and from the airport and on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Some pickpockets can pose as beggars.
MUGGING & KIDNAPPING RISK: MEDIUM
Los Angeles is an averagely safe city regarding the chances of being mugged or kidnapped. Be aware of the dangerous zones which should be avoided by looking at our map or by asking local advice.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
As in any touristic place, there may be people trying to scam you in Los Angeles. Homeless people can be aggressive towards you if you don’t hand them money. Be aware of “gold ring” tricks, fake petitions, groups of teenagers acting strangely or trying to distract you; and people offering help with your luggage.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
Transports and are generally very safe in Los Angeles.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Earthquakes can happen in California, but are not very common (the last major one was in 1994).
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Los Angeles has not recently been targeted by terrorist attacks, but it is best to stay alert.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Los Angeles is generally very safe for women travelers.
Avoid Being A Victim! 10 Tips for Your Personal Safety
It is best to carry a small bag across your shoulder or wear a concealed pouch rather than a back pack
Carry as little cash as you can
Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket
Beware of individuals who act strangely and who try to divert your attention in order to steal your belongings.
Pay special attention while seating on restaurants and café terraces, when you are withdrawing money from ATMs or near tourist attractions
Never keep your mobile phone or wallet on the table of a café or restaurant.
Don’t wear expensive jewellery in an ostentatious way
If an attacker tries to snatch your bag, don’t try to stop them as you will risk being injured
Thieves commonly work near tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports, subways and target vehicles with non-local license plates.
Most but not all of pickpockets work in groups, often as teenagers
The currency in the United States is the US Dollar. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted countrywide, and ATMs are found nearly in every city.
The costs can vary widely between the states, but it is fair to assume a $100 budget per day on average, $150 if you rent a car and around $300 for top end accomodation.
A 10% service tipping is customary in many sectors such as airport and hotel bag porters, bartenders , hotel maids, restaurant servers and taxi drivers.
The weather in the US varies greatly between the states : from the mediterranean weather of California to the Glaciers of Alaska or the subtropical Florida, each region has its best time to visit; although major cities can be visited all year round. This graph can be useful for finding the best time to travel.