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LA is one of those iconic destinations that every traveler should experience at least once in their lifetime; a sprawling urban metropolis that is deeply creative, and bursting at the seams with culture, personality, and access to Mother nature.

Whatever draws you to LA, whether it be laying underneath palm trees on a golden coast, the glitz of Hollywood, upmarket bars and boutiques, or lacing up your hiking boots for treks across the rugged mountains, LA truly has something for everyone.

But with such a huge range of experiences, in a city more than ten times the size of Paris, the most difficult part of planning isn’t going to be figuring out what to include on your itinerary; it’s going to be how to maximize your time.

For that reason alone we highly recommend renting a car.

Reasons to Rent a Car in Los Angeles

It’s The Most Practical Way to Get Around

Driving LA car roadtrip RF

Los Angeles is a sprawling city, in fact, it’s actually made up of several different cities within a city, the most famous ones being Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. While there are many different ways to get around, renting a car is by far the most practical.

A car is the most direct, and quickest way to reach where you’re going. LA is truly an enormous city, so while public transport is cheap and easy, it’s definitely not time effective.

Every minute of the day counts when you’re visiting a new city, and when you only have a limited number of days, it’s not exactly ideal to spend hours on buses and trains. Public transport can often take double the time to get somewhere because of the many stops and transfers.

And of course, renting a car means complete freedom of movement; when you’re relying on public transport, your itinerary has to be planned around their timetables. But something as simple as being able to leave whenever it suits you makes a big difference in a city like LA.

Practical tip for driving in LA: Avoid driving in rush hour for the quickest transit. On weekdays this is typically from 7 am and 10 am, and in the afternoon between 3 pm and 7 pm.

If you’ve never driven in a city the size of LA, we highly recommend making sure you have a GPS with you. Whether  it’s on your smartphone, or an actual GPS unit, highways in LA can often be up to 8 lanes wide, and missing a turn off can cause huge delays, especially in traffic.

Because It’s Cheap

Pexels Money

Public transport is the cheapest way to get around LA, but for the level of convenience and freedom it gives you, renting a car is incredibly cheap.

You can rent cars for as little as $35 a day in LA, which is well below what you would pay for a taxi to take you across the city. And quite often a car rental from Los Angeles Airport saves you money on an airport transport right off the bat.

Of course, when calculating your costs, parking is something you should budget for, as this is an unexpected cost that a lot of people forget. Many hotels throughout the city charge for parking, which could be anywhere from $10 a night to $40 depending on how expensive the hotel in general is.

It’s a good idea to keep coins on your for metered parking, as streets in commercial areas and big tourist attractions often work off this system. And keep a couple of dollar bills handy in case you’re fancy, and plan on using a valet.

Many residential neighborhoods have free street parking, but if there are time limits in play, don’t overstay. Parking officers are prolific in LA, and if you stay past a one or two hour limit, it may have been cheaper to have booked a cab!

Road Trip Opportunities

The US was made for iconic roadtrips. Anyone with a car can go anywhere, and the nice thing about this mode of transportation is that the journey is the destination in itself – a road trip is an adventure!

California is a dream destination for a road trip, and with so many incredible destinations within a short drive of LA, it would be a massive shame to miss out on exploring the surrounds.

As far as road trip scenery goes, California has a fantastic mix of perfectly sun-kissed beaches, natural landscapes and attractions which will constantly see you pulling over to the side of the road.

The Pacific Coast Highway is easily one of the most scenic coastal drives in the world; “an exhilarating driving experience, this twisting, cliff-hugging, 123-mile (198-kilometer) route along the central California coast takes about five hours to complete at a leisurely pace.”

Stops along the highway include both the Big Sur Coast Highway and the San Luis Obispo North Coast Byway. Take in spectacular destinations like Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Point Lobos State Reserve, Big Sur, Garrapata State Park, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Cambria and Morro Bay.

By renting a car in Los Angeles, you can road trip to iconic cities like San Diego, San Francisco, and take in all of the incredible Californian nature along the way (however if you’re planning on a jaunt into Mexico, heads up that hardly any car rentals allow you to drive across the border).

You can drive out to Yosemite National Park, with glaciers, waterfalls, and the famous El Capitan, or drive through California’s redwood forest, home to the tallest trees on Earth.

With so many spectacular natural wonders, iconic cities, and opportunities for adventure within easy reach of LA, not renting a car would be a massive shame!

OUR FAVORITE USA TRAVEL GUIDES: CLICK PHOTO TO LOOK INSIDE ↓

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Lonely Planet USA

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50 States, 5,000 Ideas

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USA’s Best Trips

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    4 Comments

  1. LA is car culture all the way Meg. Opposite of mass transit and walking NYC, it is best enjoyed via renting your own ride and enjoying this city and its suburbs.

    • Absolutely Ryan, I would absolutely not recommend a car for NYC, but LA is built perfectly for it :) Definitely the best way to get out and explore the surrounds, it’s such a vast and sprawling city!

  2. California is calling to me lately, I’d love to go to LA for the street art! Great tips on renting a car.

    • Hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

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