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Climate

There's a reason people dream of Los Angeles. It's a relaxed beach town boasting lovely canyon views from the Santa Monica Mountains. It has a mild, sunny climate, with highs in the mid 20s C most of the year.

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Climate cont'd

Granted, it’s a giant beach town and the second most populated city in the U.S. So you won't be the only one playing in the sun, courtesy of the over 329 days of sunshine here each year.

Summers are dry and sunny, making the standard L.A. dress code "business casual," with a definite emphasis on casual. Take bottled water and your swimsuit to the beach in July and August because they're typically hot. But bring a light jacket or sweatshirt as well for the cool summer nights.

Winter temperatures can drop to lows of 8 C or 9 C and most rain falls during the winter months. In late fall and winter, L.A. gets breezy with the Santa Ana winds coming down from the mountains.

Overall, L.A. has a comfortable climate. And, as a city that enjoys seven hours of sunshine daily in December, L.A. is the perfect place to escape the cold Canadian winters or to visit any other time of year.

Weather charts

What makes it different?

Although it has many competitors, Los Angeles still hangs on to the title of Entertainment Capital of the World. L.A. is the home of Hollywood and boasts many radio, TV and music productions – plus some of the world's best standup comedy venues.

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What makes it different? cont'd

There are canyons to climb. (Runyon Canyon is a local favourite, spanning 160 acres and just two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard.) There are boardwalks to bike, run, Segway and Rollerblade and the Malibu Beach boardwalk is a real treat.

Follow the sand for just over 13 km from Venice Beach to Santa Monica, where you'll find Muscle Beach – an outdoor jungle gym/workout area used by celebrity trainers, gymnasts bodybuilders and many more. Nearby, the Santa Monica Pier is a must-see. Fill up on fish tacos and giant pretzels while watching people learn how to trapeze in the sunshine. Or, ride the Ferris wheel at sunset for a beautiful view of the pier and beach beyond.

Head to Long Beach to take the 35-km ferry trip to gorgeous Santa Catalina Island. Known to locals simply as Catalina, it’s a classic romantic getaway for couples to snorkel, ride a mini-sub, explore remote wilderness and dance in the iconic Avalon Ballroom near Avalon, a charming coastal town.

Travelling with kids? They'll love Universal Studios and the epic 360-degree, 3-D battle between King Kong and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Of course, no L.A. family road trip would be complete without a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. Ride the Matterhorn bobsled roller coaster, Pirates of the Caribbean (complete with recently added cameo appearances by Captain Jack himself) and the classic Space Mountain roller coaster.

Then head out to see a live concert at the Hollywood Bowl amphitheatre, offering performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and many other world-class acts. The Bowl is set against the incredible backdrop of the Hollywood Hills and the famous Hollywood sign.

So much fun awaits you in Los Angeles. Hop on a plane and get down there!

Geography

Los Angeles is a port city in the sunny southern California desert offering great surfing, 20-plus beaches, numerous canyons and mountain ranges.

L.A. is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean in the southwest and the Santa Monica Mountains to the north.....

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Geography cont'd

The Greater Los Angeles area contains dozens of independent towns and cities including Beverly Hills, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Burbank, Pasadena and Huntington Beach. The region's population tops 17 million residents! This makes Greater Los Angeles the second most populated urban area in the country, next to metropolitan New York City. But unlike Manhattan, which was built upwards (think skyscrapers and multiple story apartment buildings), L.A. was built low to the ground and sprawling.

The metro area is built on the Los Angeles basin, a sediment-filled plain between the Transverse and Peninsular ranges. Ever wonder why L.A. is so dry? It's in part because the sediment is porous and up to 10 km deep – absorbing tons of moisture.

Culture

Los Angeles is the heart of American movie and TV production. Most of the head offices for major movie studios, TV networks and cable channels are located here. The creative and business decisions made in Hollywood affect millions of people around the world. This makes L.A. culture one of America’s greatest international exports. In fact, California consistently tops the lists of where Americans would most like to live.

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Culture cont'd

L.A. is a truly special place to live—and in centuries past, whole nations have fought for the right to claim this city as their own. California was colonized by Spain in the 1800s and the Pueblo of Los Angeles was officially founded on September 4, 1781. When Mexico declared independence from Spain in the 1800s, Los Angeles became part of Mexican territory.

America later annexed Texas from Mexico in 1845, sparking the Mexican-American War. The U.S. Army invaded California the same year and by 1848, the Mexicans surrendered numerous states to the U.S. Government, including California and the city of Los Angeles.

In the early 1900s, L.A. became the centre for American film production as companies relocated their studios from the East Coast to Hollywood. This was in order to take advantage of L.A.'s sunny, dry weather, since early film sets were constructed outdoors. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, studios like Universal, Warner Bros, Fox, Disney, Paramount, Columbia, MGM and Dreamworks have produced thousands of films. These powerhouse production companies have turned unknown actors into celebrities and formed a massively influential, multi-billion dollar industry.

Out on the streets of L.A., you’ll quickly be able to tell this city is a performing arts hub. The city's coffee shops and restaurants are packed with successful (and up-and-coming) actors, screenwriters, composers, producers and studio executives. Many are Canadians like Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron. Add the sweet imagery of tanned L.A. surfers served up by 1960s pop groups like the Beach Boys, and it's easy to see how the city has gained a reputation as an exciting paradise for all.

It may come as a surprise, but L.A.'s number one industry is actually manufacturing. More than 500,000 workers make clothing, computers and electronics, food, furniture, automobiles and fabricated metal. Only Detroit manufactures more vehicles than the L.A. area.

Want to skip traffic and get around quickly? Take the Metro! L.A. is home to an inexpensive public transit system offering two heavy rail subway lines. The Red Line connects downtown L.A. with North Hollywood, and the Purple Line runs from Downtown L.A.’s Financial District to Koreatown/mid-Wilshire.

The Metro also has three light rail lines connecting downtown with Long Beach (Blue Line), Los Angeles and Pasadena (Gold Line) and Redondo Beach and Norwalk (Green Line). The latter gives you access to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Just take the LAX shuttle bus from the Green Line's Aviation/LAX station.

Still, old habits die hard. Transit ridership is low compared to other large North American cities like Toronto, Montreal and New York – and the Metro can’t get you everywhere. L.A. is primarily a driving culture with a web of freeways. Lucky for residents and visitors, the commute times here are relatively tame compared to other metropolitan regions.

But if you want to know the fastest way to get into Hollywood, take the advice of Bette Davis, who said, "Take Fountain!" Unlike car-congested Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards, Fountain Avenue rarely gets jammed with traffic.

Transportation

Los Angeles offers visitors plenty of ways to get around, no matter where you're looking to go, including many forms of public transit, taxis and car rentals.

With L.A.'s busy streets, taking public transit may just get you there faster than by car. Fare on the metro is under US$2 per adult and tickets can easily be purchased from ticket machines and stations (day and weekly passes are available as well).

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Transportation cont'd

The Metro Rail (subway) and light rail system run frequently and provide a quick way to navigate most of this city's diverse communities. Rail lines run to downtown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Rancho Los Feliz, Hollywood, Chinatown, Long Beach and more.

Metro also operates a 24-hour-a-day bus system. Try to coordinate your plans to travel by Rapid bus, as these buses can get you around the city a little faster than regular Metro buses.

Looking to take a day trip outside the city? Hop on a Metrolink train (LA’s commuter rail system). Metrolink will quickly and easily get you to nearby Ventura, Lancaster, Oceanside and other neighbouring areas.

Visitors can also rent cars to make their own way around this big city or take taxis. Just be careful not to head out during rush hour – the streets here are some of the busiest! If you are looking to rent, book a car at one of the rental companies' airport locations for your convenience.

Currency

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

Travel requirements

Arrival

The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a large airport serving millions of visitors each year. To make things easier for passengers arriving or connecting through LAX, the airport offers free transit between terminals as well as easy access to public transit and rental cars.

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Travel requirements cont'd

Canadian visitors to the United States must pass through security and customs in Canada, before departure. Then, when you land, all you need to do is pick up your bags from baggage claim and you'll be on your way. For your convenience, taxis, shuttles, rental cars, buses and trains are all available just outside the doors of the airport.

Departure

Head over to the WestJet departure counters where you'll be greeted by friendly WestJetters happy to help you check in for your trip home. Or, check in and select your seat(s) in advance using WestJet's simple Web check-in service.

Have some free time before your flight departs? This airport offers a variety of shops and restaurants to keep you busy. Check out any of the 10 duty free shops for great deals, or visit one of the gift shops for last minute souvenirs.

Travel requirements

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a large airport that welcomes millions of travellers each year.

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Currency

It is recommended to carry US dollars for general expenses.

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Transportation

Whether they use public transportation, a taxi or a rental car, visitors to Los Angeles have many ways to get from point A to point B.

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