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This solo trip to Los Angeles guide was written by Kate Slater, a 20-something travel blogger from New Zealand. Kate started traveling solo at a very young age and in her blog, she gives inspiration to people her age to do the same.
Despite the wholesome name, the city of angels, LA has a reputation as a sprawling dirty dangerous city. Some people say it’s not worth visiting at all.
But after my 10-day solo trip to Los Angeles, I would totally disagree. I found it alternatively glamorous and restful, with miles of white sand beaches and soaring canyons.
Los Angeles was the first stop on the cross-country American road trip I did on a top deck. I chose to arrive 10 days before the tour kicked off my solo trip to LA.
Having read all about the LA food scene and canyon hikes, I was eager to spend some real-time in the city.
🚫 Is it safe to do a solo trip to LA?
Los Angeles is often maligned when it comes to solo travel and safety. Before my trip, I heard many stories about how unsafe the Downtown area is, how you should avoid all public transport, etc.
However, my solo trip to LA experience was nothing like that. Although I was a (barely) 21-year-old girl on my own, I had no issues. LA is a glamorous and exciting place to visit and being on your own shouldn’t hold anyone back.
Keeping safety in mind, I chose to stay in Santa Monica even though the tour I was eventually joining left from Downtown. Santa Monica is a quieter area and more gentrified than most of the city which makes it safer for solo travelers.
I also made sure to stay close to my Santa Monica accommodation at night-time and instead did most of my exploring during the daylight hours. When I did go out to bars, I went with others from the hostel.
Santa Monica is a fun beachy area with lots to do (and eat) so I didn’t feel limited by this approach.
Other USA solo travel guides that you may like:
🗺️ Solo trip to Los Angeles, CA guide: safety tips, things to do, where to stay, and more!
My experience as a solo traveler in LA
Right from my arrival in LA, and throughout my trip, I was pleasantly surprised. I breezed through LAX airport straight into an Uber out to Santa Monica.
Santa Monica was a great entry point to LA as I could spend a few days recovering from jetlag and exploring locally before venturing further into the city.
I stayed at HI Los Angeles which offered lots of scheduled activities, perfect for meeting other travelers. I quickly bonded with some others from ‘down under’, two Australian guys, who provided the safety blanket I needed to brave the LA bar scene.
We spent a wild night hopping between beachside clubs in Santa Monica, somehow gaining entrance on assorted Queensland, Victoria, and New Zealand IDs.
On my own in Santa Monica, I wandered around the Santa Monica Wharf, tried the Ferris Wheel, and ate at a lot of great health food cafes (they love green juice in LA and vegans are spoilt for options).
I had planned to visit a different area each day I was in LA and while I was there, I got to Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Downtown, Koreatown, Marina Del Rey, Studio City, and Hollywood.
I didn’t get to Malibu because there was no easy public transport route. As a non-driver, hiring a car wasn’t an option for me but I did use the bus and trains throughout my stay and despite all the horror stories, I found the public transport perfectly workable.
I also found walking a really good way to get around LA, I would rack up 20,000 steps a day and get to see parts of the city that you would miss zooming past in a car.
Nobody walks in LA, so you don’t have to worry about crowded footpaths, and aside from the occasional car horn, I was never hassled.
Best things to do in LA solo
There are so many things to do in LA that you need to be pretty selective with what you want to get out of your trip. Solo traveling in LA gave me complete flexibility to go where I wanted, when I wanted.
I could spend hours wandering every avenue in Beverly Hills or get up early to go hiking. I did a mix of pre-planned activities (a food tour in Koreatown and a day at Universal Studios) and unstructured exploring.
Visit Universal Studios Hollywood
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👉🏽 Book your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets
Visiting the tourist attractions in LA, particularly the theme parks, is very easy as a solo traveler because you can often be squeezed into the last spot on a ride or in a session time where bigger groups would miss out.
I had a blast getting my Harry Potter geek and it is my favorite attraction when visiting Universal Studios all over the world!
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👉🏽 Book your LA hike
I also walked two of the famous LA hikes, Runyon Canyon and the Hollywood Sign. While I was somewhat concerned about snakes or other creepy crawlies, these hikes were an incredible way to get above the city, have some space
and take in the views.
From high in the Hollywood Hills, the LA skyline blurs into the haze above. Even in the low season, I visited in November, there were enough other hikers around to feel safe.
Los Angeles solo travel accommodations
As a solo traveler, I found staying in Los Angeles hostels a better option since there is always room to meet people traveling solo, especially my age.
LA is also known to be a very expensive city in California so if you are traveling on a budget or backpacking, this is a better and more affordable option.
I understand that some of you would like to stay in Airbnbs or vacation homes but if you are doing your solo trip to Los Angeles, I promise you, it’s better to stay in hostels.
LA is also a big city so I divided the hostels below by areas. Most of them are under US$50 per night which was shocking for me as I always imagined that I needed to spend more for my solo trip to LA.
Freehand: Downtown Los Angeles
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👉🏽 Book your stay at Freehand Los Angeles
The format of Freehand is more of a boutique hostel so it’s good for solo travelers who are looking for a semi-luxurious vacation in LA. It has a rooftop pool, a nice bar, and working spaces for digital nomads.
What I love the most about his hostel are the large glass bedrooms which allow you to see the best views of the city! There is also so much light entering the property so it does give a very sunny LA vibe.
The Venice Beach Hostel
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👉🏽 Book your stay at The Venice Beach Hostel
For solo travelers who fancy Venice Beach, this hostel is well-located and close to all the must-do Venice beach activities. What I like about this hostel is the familiar vibe – people seem to be always doing things together. It’s like being part of a family!
It is located in a nice neighborhood so I felt very safe. The bus to LAX was also close by as well as Whole Foods and LA Fitness. It was also easy to get to downtown Santa Monica from here. I really loved it!
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👉🏽 Book your stay at Samesun Hollywood
This is probably the best hostel to stay in if you want to discover the typical LA. It is located on the Walk of Fame (literally) so you’ll easily get to spots like the Oscars, theatres, and many more!
I was actually adamant about booking it since it was so cheap for a prime location. I expected to pay more here but I only paid US$40 a night for a dorm room! It was a really great experience and I had met many solo travelers like me.
Samesun is also in Venice Beach should you want more solo travel accommodations in that area.
Tips for a great solo trip to Los Angeles
The attraction tickets do add up so you can easily spend a lot traveling LA bit there are cheaper activities available like swimming and beach walks around Santa Monica and Venice Beach and diner meals or food stalls, I found the best pancakes and tacos I’ve ever eaten in LA.
I never got any comments on being on my own (even at the theme park or when eating at nice restaurants), instead, LA people seemed focused on themselves/their group.
Those I did interact with either in shops/restaurants or at the hostel were very friendly (the Kiwi accent seemed to get people onside).
I had been told LA is just a big dirty city but, while it’s certainly sprawling, I found the sights and smells fascinating and whenever I needed a break, there was always a quiet spot on the beach.
LA is a must-visit for any solo travelers heading to the USA and it’s a place that I will always go back to!
✈️ Ready for your solo trip to Los Angeles? If you have any doubts or questions about LA solo travel, leave a comment below and I will try my best to answer them for you!