If you need emergency assistance from public authorities, dial 9-1-1 from any phone.
One of the most popular attractions is Universal Studios. It's only ten minutes from Hollywood Boulevard, another major attraction. If you have never visited Disneyland, that is a "must see." There are dozens, if not hundreds of other worthwhile attractions in LA.
Generally there is no area that is so dangerous that it could be considered "off limits." Just use common sense. If an area looks rundown then there is a higher possibility of crime there. Like any large city, L.A. has its share of crime. But most likely, it will not involve you. If you rent a car, keep the doors locked at all times. Do NOT keep anything of value in your car, because vehicle crimes are common.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) patrols most of the city streets, except in communities and areas that are covered by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department (including West Hollywood, Malibu, Marina del Rey, Catalina Island and Santa Clarita, near Magic Mountain). There are independent cities within the county of Los Angeles, such as Beverly Hills, Culver City and Santa Monica. Each has it's own local police department, or contracts with the Sheriff's Dept. California Highway Patrol monitors the freeways.
Unless you have a special diet, you really do not need to plan this in advance. You'll find a wide variety of places to eat, within your price range. serving any of your dietary needs. Follow this list to find a list of LA Dining Guides.
A "block" is an estimation of distance. It refers to the distance from one street corner to the next. A very good definition of a block is as follows: "an informal unit of distance popular in the U.S. A block is the average distance between street intersections in the rectangular street grids common in most American cities. The length of a block varies from about 1/20 mile (80 meters) in New York to about 1/16 mile (100 meters) in many Midwestern cities to about 1/10 mile (160 meters) in cities of the South and West."
Public transportation has vastly improved in Los Angeles during the past couple of decades. Metro buses and trains are generally clean and offer good coverage of the city. For more options, see the LA Transportation Page)
Los Angeles does a pretty good job of maintaining the roads. Obviously you'll find some roads, traffic signals or streetlights with a problem, but for the most part roads are in good repair, well lit at night, and you can see traffic signals from a long distance.
In Los Angeles, sometimes parking a car is the hardest part of driving. Street parking is available but you can't depend on it. If you find street parking with a meter, then you need to insert quarters (25 cents) or use a credit card to add time to the meter. Most meters only accomodate around two hours of parking or less. But the most important parking tip is the one below.
If you use street parking, the first thing to do is to read the parking signs. Certain hours can be restricted (no parking allowed during that time) and if you park there during a restricted time, your car can be towed away! That can ruin your vacation, so read the parking signs!
These lanes are intended for vehicles with more than one occupant. Read the restrictions carefully before entering these lanes, which are designated with a white diamond on a black background.
The inside lane, which is the lane furthest left, is sometimes referred to as the "fast lane." That's because typically the traffic moves fastest in that lane.
Occasionally in traffic reports you will hear the "fast lane" referred to as the Number One lane. That's the official name for this lane. Number Two lane is the next one to the right, and so on, until you reach the outside lane, which is closest to the exits.
These are more likely to occur at certain times during the day. The worst is 7-10:00 AM and 4-7:00 PM on weekdays. If you are simply trying to get from point A to point B, you'll find that it's up to 2-3 times faster to go at night. There are several websites that display real-time traffic charts, such as Traffic.com Google Maps (see above) is another good source for information about traffic congestion.
See the tips above under "Don't Get Lost." They are especially relevant when you rent a car.