Los Angeles is a popular tourist destination that attracts over 50 million visitors per year. With its sunny weather, beaches, attractions, and proximity to other Southern California destinations, LA is an ideal vacation spot for many. However, as with any major city, there are certain times of year when visiting LA may not be ideal. Here is an overview of the worst times to visit Los Angeles and tips to avoid the crowds and hassles if you do choose to come during these periods.
Summertime is one of the worst times for visiting Los Angeles. The main issues are:
- Crowds – Summer is peak tourism season, which means attractions, beaches, and hotels are very crowded and lines are long. Popular places like Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Santa Monica Pier will be packed.
- Traffic – With kids out of school and families traveling, LA freeways and streets are clogged with traffic. Getting anywhere can take double or triple the normal time.
- Prices – Hotels, airfare, and attractions raise their prices in summer to capitalize on the high demand. You’ll pay more for accommodations, flights, and activities.
- Heat – Los Angeles temperatures can soar over 100°F on summer days. With the sun beating down and throngs of people everywhere, heat exhaustion is a real concern.
- Smog – Pollution gets trapped in the LA basin during the summer, making air quality quite poor on certain days. The famous LA smog is at its worst during summer.
If you can only vacation in summer, aim for early June before schools let out or September when kids go back to class. Avoid the 4th of July holiday week, which is the most crowded and expensive time. Book well in advance and be prepared for crowds everywhere.
Holiday times tend to be busy in Los Angeles:
- Thanksgiving Week – Many Americans have this week off work, so travelers flock to LA. Reservations fill up quickly. Crowds thin out by the weekend.
- Christmas to New Year’s – Hollywood Christmas parades, holiday light displays, and New Year’s Eve parties bring big crowds. Hotel rates skyrocket.
- Spring Break – In March/April when schools let out for a week, families inundate the beaches and attractions.
- National Holidays – Any 3-day weekend like MLK Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, etc. can draw crowds. Avoid these long weekends if you can.
If visiting over the holidays, make reservations many months in advance. Expect holiday rates, traffic congestion, and crowds at popular attractions and events. Visit off-the-beaten path places or consider a trip right before or after the actual holiday dates to miss some of the masses.
LA hosts many major events throughout the year that draw huge crowds:
- Award Shows – The Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, and other big award shows take place from late winter through early spring. Hotel rooms fill up and roads close for red carpets.
- LA Marathon – Taking place in March, this event shuts down many streets in the city. Traffic is a nightmare.
- Coachella/Stagecoach – These massive music festivals happen in the desert in April. Expect traffic delays if driving to/from LA.
- Anime Expo – Over 100,000 anime fans flood the city in early July for this convention. Hotels near the convention center sell out fast.
- Pride Week – June celebrations for LA Pride mean crowds at parades, parties, and events.
- Dodgers Playoffs – When the Dodgers are in the playoffs/World Series in October, the city buzzes. Book hotels far in advance.
Check for big conventions, concerts, festivals, and other events going on during your travel dates. You may want to avoid Los Angeles during the most high-profile happenings.
How to Make the Most of a Visit During the Worst Times
If your only option is to visit LA during its busiest and most crowded periods, these tips can still help you enjoy the city:
- Book lodging early – Reserve hotel rooms up to 6 months in advance and look at alternate areas away from main tourist zones.
- Visit on weekdays – Crowds are thinner Monday through Thursday, especially at major attractions. Avoid weekends if possible.
- Take public transit – Use the LA Metro system to bypass traffic and parking headaches. Or consider walking, biking, Uber/Lyft to get around.
- Go early – Arrive at sights as soon as they open to beat crowds.
- Have backup plans – If one place is too crowded, be flexible and go check out another attraction.
- Avoid rush hour – Don’t get stuck in traffic by planning activities in the middle of the day and later at night.
- Head to lesser known spots – Skip crowded stars on the Walk of Fame for the music history murals around the city instead.
- Stay cool – Hydrate, wear sunscreen, find air conditioning, and take breaks from the heat.
- Book activities ahead – Make dining reservations and sign up for tours/experiences earlier to ensure availability.
No matter how crowded Los Angeles is, you can still find fun things to do if you plan carefully, are flexible, and don’t try to cram too much in. Focus on quality over quantity when visiting during the busiest times.
FAQ About Visiting Los Angeles During Busy Times
The worst months are usually July and August when temperatures, crowds, and prices are at their peak. School holiday weeks in summer and December should also be avoided.
Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days at major attractions like theme parks and beaches. Aim to visit on weekdays if possible.
For peak summer dates, book 4-6 months ahead. For holidays, make reservations 6+ months in advance.
Disneyland and Universal Studios will have the longest lines and biggest crowds. Hit other spots like Getty Center or hiking trails instead.
Public transit like the LA Metro can help you bypass traffic jams. Uber/Lyft will also face delays during peak crowds though.
Yes, sites like Undercover Tourist and IsItPacked track crowd levels at Southern California attractions by date.
Stay hydrated, take breaks in air conditioning, stick to beach and indoor activities, and avoid long waits outdoors. Go early or at night when it’s cooler.
Visiting Los Angeles during its busiest and hottest times is not ideal, but still possible if you plan carefully. Avoid summer holidays, school breaks, special events, and national holidays when you can. Or follow tips like booking ahead, going on weekdays, getting around intelligently, finding hidden gems, and taking it easy. With some preparation and flexibility, you can enjoy Los Angeles even at its worst times for tourists.