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Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions about Los Angeles

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People who have never been to Los Angeles often have some pre-conceived notions about Los Angeles that are more based on Hollywood fiction than reality. Here are some of the most common misconceptions people have about the City of Angels.

For more things you might not know about LA, take the Los Angeles Trivia Quiz.

1. It's always sunny.

Santa Monica Beach in the Fog
Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

In Los Angeles, winter is both the rainy season and the sunny season. Between the occasional rain days or rain weeks, the sky is a clear blue, even in the morning. The layer of marine clouds that are known as June Gloom actually hang around throughout the summer, making most mornings overcast until at least noon, especially at the beach.

More on LA Weather

2. It's hot at the beach.

Chilling on Bayshore Beach in Long Beach, CA
Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com
The average temperature at LA area beaches is about 70 degrees - all year long. This can be about 20 degrees different than inland temperatures. In winter, the thermometer hits 70 for a few minutes then bounces back down. In summer the mercury lingers longer before declining. There are usually a few weeks of summer where heat waves bring beach temperatures into the upper 80s or 90s, but it could equally well be 68 in July and August.

Guide to LA Beaches
Los Angeles Beach Cities Weather by Month

3. Nobody walks in LA

People walking in Hollywood
Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

It may be true that distances in LA often preclude walking from where you are to where you want to be. However, there are lots of walkable shopping and beach areas in Hollywood, Downtown LA, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Long Beach and down the coast. Guided walking tours or walking maps are available at local Visitors Centers. There are also great hikes in and around Los Angeles, including Runyan Canyon, just a few short blocks from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

More on LA Walking Tours

4. Everyone works in the entertainment industry.

TextileManufacturing479733279.jpg
Nicole Tree/Getty Images

Traditionally,the number one industry in Los Angeles has been manufacturing, but that has been overtaken by health care and retail in recent years as manufacturing jobs have been cut. Despite the cuts, Los Angeles is still the largest manufacturing center in the United States. The entertainment industry ranks about 6th.

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5. Everyone is beautiful.

Clubgoers at the Edison nightclub in Los Angeles, CA
Photo © 2013 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com
There are lots of beautiful people in Los Angeles – highly concentrated in upscale nightclubs and shopping areas. There are also lots of ordinary people that make the effort to look their best. That leaves the majority of the population just as overweight and ordinary as the rest of the country.

6. The beaches are full of blond bombshells.

Alamitos Beach in Long Beach, CA
Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

The majority of blonds can more likely be found on southern Orange County beaches. Los Angeles beaches are more populated by ethnic families with kids and tourists. The population of Los Angeles County is about 70 percent non-white, with Hispanic being the largest group at 44 percent.

More on Los Angeles Beaches

7. It's all concrete.

Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park in Los Angeles
Photo © 2007 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

Visitors to Los Angeles are often surprised by LA's tree-lined streets and frequent parks and green patches. Griffith Park is over 4000 acres of green within the city limits. The Hollywood Hills and Santa Monica Mountains provide a green backdrop for the city all the way to the beach. Even the inner city in Los Angeles is made up of sprawling neighborhoods of single family homes and small apartment buildings with little patch lawns and trees.

Best Los Angeles Gardens

8. It's hard to drive in LA.

Los Angeles Freeways
© 2004 Kayte Deioma, courtesy of www.KayteDeioma.com

Driving in Los Angeles is usually pretty straightforward. Most streets are laid out in a grid with a few notable curves and angles. Few areas have one-way streets. Downtown areas are the exception. Freeways are reasonably well marked, but follow the freeway numbers, not the names, since names change, depending where you are. Freeway signs usually include the name of a city direction, but that doesn't help if you don't know which way Santa Ana or San Pedro is from where you are.

Tips on Driving in Los Angeles

9. People dress formally to go out.

Club attire in Hollywood
Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

LA is the center of the U.S. fashion and clothing industry, and yet LA fashion is casual and individualistic. This has been changing in the last few years as nightclub bouncers get more strict about dress codes, but nice jeans and flip flops go most places (although skimpy dresses on women and stylin'threads on guys may give you an advantage in getting into some top LA nightclubs). Some people do dress up for the opera, ballet or symphony, and of course for the major entertainment award ceremonies.

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10. Los Angeles is a dangerous place to visit; everyone is in a gang.

Most tourist areas in LA are at least as safe as other big cities. There are parts of LA that are dangerous, especially at night. Make sure you have good directions when driving in LA. Normal precautions should be taken, such as locking cars and keeping track of your personal belongings.

Safety Tips for Travelers in LA

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