Is California really too expensive

The good, the bad and the ugly: is Los Angeles worth it?

Is Los Angeles worth it? The city has always had an incredible attraction for me. I've always associated L.A. with Hollywood, glamor, and baywatch. With relaxed people, a healthy lifestyle and dreamy beaches. Until I flew to L.A. myself for the first time - and at least some of my soap bubble burst. This article is definitely not intended to bring Los Angeles down. On the contrary: The Californian city definitely has its advantages and is definitely worth a visit. However, I found many corners so disappointing that you should definitely read to the end before you spend an incredible amount of money on a trip to Los Angeles.

The Good: Those are the good things about Los Angeles

Is Los Angeles worth it? A good question. What I really liked about Los Angeles were the many beaches around it. Above all the Malibu Beach. Malibu is just incredibly relaxed. Here you can lie on the beach all day, watch the surfers in the water and go shopping in the evening.

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Malibu Beach: endlessly long and divided into a zone for swimmers and one for surfers

There are many small fish restaurants on the pier - unfortunately they are all quite expensive

But also our hotel beach, Redondo Beach, and the neighboring beaches of Hermosa and Manhattan have done it to me. All beaches have great promenades where you can skate, longboard, jog or ride a bike for long periods of time. My tip: you should definitely rent a beach cruiser and cycle around the beaches all day long.

You can see a pelican up close at Redondo Beach

A trip to Venice Beach is also worthwhile. Here you can enjoy delicious food and admire Los Angeles from its craziest side: The street performers, the hippies and the many stoned Californians are definitely very entertaining. By the way, Venice Beach has very good waves and a few surf schools. My tip: Definitely go to the sundowner.

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Don't miss the sunset on Venice Beach

In the evening you can wonderfully stroll along the beach promenade

Surfing in Los Angeles: These are the best spots

Of course, I was blown away by the many surfing beaches in L.A. and the surrounding area. I have put together the best for you here:

  • The Zuma Beach at the north end of Malibu (3000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu)
  • The Malibu Beachalso called Surfrider Beach (23050 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu)
  • The Topanga Beach, also perfect for beginners (18700 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu)
  • The Venice Beach, also perfect for beginners and intermediates (3100-2700 Ocean Front Walk, Venice)
  • The Manhattan Beach, especially in winter (400-500 The Strand, Manhattan Beach)
  • The Hermosa Beach, freezing cold but good waves (Hermosa Avenue and 33rd Street, Hermosa Beach)

There are a few mobile surf schools on Venice Beach, where you can also rent equipment

The Bad: What I found rather disappointing about Los Angeles

Somehow I had imagined the Californian lifestyle to be different. Relaxed and cheerful somehow. Instead, it was often just a show. Especially on the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, many people seem to be all about seeing and being seen.

Santa Monica Beach is pretty crowded on weekends

There is also an underlying aggressiveness in the air in many places in Los Angeles. This is particularly noticeable when going out in the evening. There are of course a lot of nice restaurants. But if you want to go to a bar or a club, the atmosphere there is usually quite charged. There are a lot of fights and you get bullied over and over again for no reason. So I found it rather difficult to spend a relaxed evening in L.A.

Another small flaw, which I have already heard about before: The Pacific water is simply abnormally cold. You know that I really like to go surfing. But for chilblains like me, it's just unbearable in the water. From July to September the water temperatures are around 20 degrees - just barely there. But from November to May, 14 to 16 degrees are more popular.

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The Ugly: I just had goosebumps here - in a negative sense

Los Angeles itself is just an incredible eyesore. The inner city is shabby and strangely built - no comparison to other American cities, such as Washington. The streets are dirty and if you want to park your rental car here, you should take out fully comprehensive insurance or theft insurance beforehand.

The biggest disappointment L.A. has to offer is definitely the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. What always looks so spectacular on TV is really just a scruffy street with a few stars and pushy tour vendors. In retrospect, however, I'm pretty fascinated by how far reality deviates from the image that the Hollywood media suggests.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame - unfortunately completely unspectacular

Hollywood Toys & Costumes: I can definitely recommend this store on Hollywood Boulevard to you

I also found the famous Santa Monica Pier pretty horrible. I'm actually a big fan of kitsch and consumption. But here the whole thing is really taken to extremes: bright colors, loud music and sticky food. An absolute sensory overload - after a quarter of an hour we were happy to get out of this strange amusement park.

Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier: Bright, loud, creepy

After a quarter of an hour it was enough for us again

On the other hand, the many sports and fitness equipment that are set up on Santa Monica Beach are really cool. Here I could watch the locals for hours, some of whom are real acrobats and perform cool shows. You can also meet here in the evenings for yoga together. Everyone is welcome and can just take part.

I've never seen slackliners as good as on Santa Monica Beach

The locals like to meet here in the evening for yoga training together

Conclusion: Is Los Angeles worth it for your road trip?

So is Los Angeles worth it? I am really happy to have seen the city with my own eyes. The Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Hills - all places that I have wanted to visit for many years. Although many friends and acquaintances kept telling me how ugly L.A. is, I just couldn't really believe it.

What I really liked were the many beautiful beaches around Los Angeles. On the other hand, you can of course get them in other countries for a lot less money. Because it's not just the flight to California that is expensive. You also have to dig deep into your pockets for hotels and food - especially with the current exchange rate. L.A. is definitely a good starting point for a trip to the USA. From here you can easily get to San Diego, San Francisco and Las Vegas or by plane to Hawaii.

You can find beautiful and affordable accommodations in Los Angeles on Booking.com. *

Fancy an Airbnb? Here I am giving you 34 euros on your first booking. *

You can find the cheapest rental car for your trip in the CHECK24 price comparison. *

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