Cities Within Cities: A Driving Tour of Los Angeles

Headed to Los Angeles for the first time during your upcoming California car rental vacation? Then get ready for some confusing commutes! Driving through Los Angeles can be quite the experience, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. From random street name changes to odd cities within the city, finding your bearings in LA can be down right difficult at times.

Save yourself some frustration and take some time to figure out your way around the city prior to hopping behind the wheel of your California car rental. The following outlines a quick driving tour of the city, including references to the cities within the city.

Give ‘Em a Hand

When it comes to tackling your first California car rental outing in Los Angeles, start by taking a good, long look at your map. Then, take a good look at your hand. While Los Angeles isn’t actually shaped like your hand, it helps to think of the city in that manner when commuting in your California car rental. In this analogy, the “fingers” of the city are splayed from East Los Angeles out towards the beaches. In between each of the fingers you will find a number of different cities. As such, you can travel along one “finger” for more than 60 miles without leaving LA proper, but turn left or right at any point and you could find yourself in Santa Monica, Hollywood, or a handful of other cities after traveling just 10 miles. Case in point, the cities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are completely surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, literally making them cities within the city.

How LA’s Cities Within the City Impact Driving

As you’ve probably guessed, navigation your way through a city known for it’s odd layout can often lead to frustration and confusion. Luckily, there are a few things that can help you navigate the complexities with a touch more ease.

First, make note of the street name changes. Street names often change from one city to the next, only to then change back to the original name once you re-enter LA proper. Worse yet, sometimes roads keep the same name, but head in an entirely different direction. Either way, prepare for confusion. California car rental drivers will also want to note that practically every town in and around LA has its own Main Street and Civic Center Drive. In fact, you’ll find a long list of names repeated throughout the area. Remember this when asking for directions or looking up an address. Main Street, Santa Monica and Main Street Hollywood are two very different places. Finally, it’s not uncommon for streets to be “interrupted”, whether it’s by a park, a body of water, or some other large geographical or manmade thing. More often than not, these roads just pick up on the other side, a phenomenon that can make navigating the city a tad annoying.

Freeway Frustration

It’s worth noting that the city within a city California car rental driving frustrations extend to the freeway in the form of same name freeway exits. As such, don’t be tempted to exit off of a slow moving freeway just because you see a familiar name on the exit ramp. Never assume this street is going to take you were you think it should. Also relying on a map or a GPS to point you in the right direction. Remember those two Main Street examples from above? Following the exit for Main Street in Santa Monica, and then staying on the road will not take you to Main Street, Hollywood no matter how long you follow it.

The Long Arm of the Law

Did you know that it’s possible to be ticketed by not one, not two, but five different police agencies when traveling the 12 miles stretch between Santa Monica and Hollywood? It’s crazy, but it’s true. This includes the law enforcement agencies of Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, the City of Los Angeles, the LA County Sheriffs West Hollywood Division, and the California Highway Patrol (only if you’re driving your California car rental on a freeway though, thankfully).

As with any police department, they each have their own quirks and ticketing approaches. From speed traps to varying citation fees, things can get confusing pretty quickly once you’ve been pulled over. Avoid this hassle by abiding by the rules of the road and keeping your speed reasonable. Oh, and an extra tip: don’t try and turn from the wrong lane at the intersection of Wilshire and Rodeo Drive. The Beverly Hills Police Department is almost always sitting here waiting to nab a confused tourist.

Worried that you’re about to find yourself in the middle of a commuting connundrum during your upcoming California car rental vacation? Don’t be! Remember: you can always contact our rental office for more information on local roadways and attractions.