How Safe Is Los Angeles for Travel?

Los Angeles, United States
Safety Index:
56

L.A. LaLa Land. The city of Angels.

No matter what you call it, Los Angeles, California, is synonymous with movie stars, beaches, big city life, and the best of the best for food, fashion, and finance.

The L.A. metro area is massive – stretching from the beaches of Orange County to Malibu and as far east as San Bernardino.

The city of Los Angeles lines the western side of the region and has a population – in the city alone – of 3.9 million people.

It’s important to know when visiting this area that safety risks change between the different cities and even among different neighborhoods.

When you tour the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll face different risks than at the Griffith Observatory.

Los Angeles is a city with many contradictions.

You can see a movie star worth millions on one block and a group of violent gang members on the next.

You could be an extra in a movie, or you could be in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.

We have a lot to explore through this amazing city, so let’s dive right in so you can have the safest trip possible to Los Angeles, California.

Warnings & Dangers in Los Angeles

Overall Risk

OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM

No matter how you look at it, there's a medium risk at best and high risk at worst. The biggest challenge with this city is visitors unfamiliar with the area think Los Angeles is all movie stars and glamour. This is a gritty city with the best and worst of America on full display.

Transport & Taxis Risk

TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW

Metro is the extensive public bus and rail system throughout Los Angeles. The risk here is bordering on high, mostly due to the unpredictability of the people riding with you. There are criminals, mentally ill people, homeless people, and a wide mix of aggressive personalities. If you are going to ride the Metro, you must be fully aware of your surroundings and use the utmost personal safety protection. Crimes on the Metro spiked in early 2022. Taxis and rideshares are readily available, with a lower risk. Renting a car is an option, but you'll need to brace for the intense L.A. traffic and aggressive drivers.

Pickpockets Risk

PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here, and you should never carry more than is absolutely necessary. Keep wallets and purses out of plain sight as much as possible. When you're sitting down anywhere, keep your stuff on your lap. Don't set it between your feet or next to you. It can be easily snatched.

Natural Disasters Risk

NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM

Los Angeles has faced devastating wildfires over the past few years, and each year it seems the fires get worse. Earthquake potential is huge, but there's no way to predict one of those. It rarely rains here, but when it does, people freak out, and drivers seem to lose all common sense.

Mugging Risk

MUGGING RISK : HIGH

This is a high risk, partially because of a new trend called "Follow-Home" robberies. This is when people leave upscale stores or restaurants, and gang members follow them home and brutally attack them when they arrive. This is such a serious problem the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has started a Follow Home Task Force.

Terrorism Risk

TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM

As the second largest metro area in America, with a huge shipping port, large military presence, and specific targets like Disneyland, you must assume a medium risk in any neighborhood. With the higher risk comes intense scrutiny from law enforcement, Border Patrol, and Homeland Security. Some protective steps might be visible, but others you'll never know about.

Scams Risk

SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM

There's a medium risk here, and the safest advice is just to avoid anyone who approaches you on the street. One scam involves a "musician" who gives you a "free" CD. If you take it, even just to be nice, they'll chase you down the street demanding payment for the CD and refuse to take it back. Anyone offering a "great deal" of the back of a car should be avoided. Don't believe anyone who approaches you and claims you have the "it factor," and they want to recruit you for the next HBO hit show. These scammers especially like to target children. I know it sounds odd, but just don't to anyone. If you are there for a convention, never wear your badge outside of the convention hall.

Women Travelers Risk

WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM

Women face a medium risk for the same reason as anyone else but also face the risk of being seen as an easier target or more fragile than their male counterparts. The key is confidence and a firm voice when approached. Do not walk around alone at night, especially downtown.

Tap Water Risk

TAP WATER RISK : LOW

The 2021 Water Quality Report shows full compliance, no violations, and a proud statement from the Director of Water Quality, "I am pleased to share that L.A.’s water quality is the highest it has ever been in the city’s history."

Safest Places to Visit in Los Angeles

Discoverlosangeles.com is the official tourism website, and I’d recommend sticking to that website only for attractions and information.

Other sites could be spoofed or add viruses to your computer.

While there are plenty of reputable websites, it’s just better to be safe with your web browsing on an “official” site.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a safe and massive space to honor and celebrate the art of movie-making.

There are more than 13 million artifacts and mementos to explore, so plan for a few hours for this stop.

There are some parts of the museum that cost extra, like a virtual-reality Oscar experience where you can accept your own Oscar and leave with a video of your big Hollywood moment.

Universal Studios Hollywood is a theme park, and a live movie set all wrapped up into one.

You can explore Harry Potter’s world or go to Jurassic Park.

Backlot tours of the working studios are available, and Universal Citywalk is a shopping and dining destination.

Just be prepared for high prices because this tourist attraction really jacks up the price for eager tourists.

To balance out the money you just spent at Universal, head to the Griffith Observatory for a free look at the stars, astrology, and the world beyond.

This is one of the most visited observatories on this planet.

There are daily events, permanent exhibits, special shows, and star-gazing parties to consider.

The Griffith Observatory offers one of the best views of the iconic Hollywood sign, but you can also hike the paths to get close to the backside of the sign.

There are three trails to get there but just one – Cahuenga Peak Trail – is easy.

The Cahuenga Peak Trail is considered a difficult hike.

A wide variety of tours are available, from soaring in a helicopter high above the city or taking a ghost tour of Old Hollywood.

The most popular is the double-decker bus tours that take you through iconic places and movie locations with a guide entertaining you along the way.

The TMZ Celebrity Tour is another popular place.

LOCAL NOTE: If you are looking at “Tours of Stars Homes,” please know you won’t actually see much of anyone’s home. Most are protected by gates and high shrubs. Plus, the information is openly available online, so you don’t even need to pay for that tour if you have your own car.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has some of the most notable artworks, and you might even recognize a few movie locations here.

There are more than 14,000 pieces of artwork here, and light installations mixed with sculptures.

Check out the LACMA website for a list of all the things to see and do, but don’t miss the chance to stand under a pre-historic rock hanging precariously over your head.

Who said art museums don’t offer adrenaline adventures?

Places to Avoid in Los Angeles

You should treat any part of Los Angeles as a potentially dangerous place.

In general, avoid going south of I-10 and avoid the Watts neighborhood and south central Los Angeles unless you have friends or family there.

Skid Row is another place to avoid, and if you want to go shopping, it sounds like a great idea to go to the downtown Fashion District, right?

It’s better to go to one of a million other shopping centers in the northern part of L.A. and Hollywood.

While most new tourists to L.A. won’t be able to resist visiting the Walk of Fame or Chinatown, it’s really just a huge tourist trap with some potentially scary people looking to take advantage of tourists.

New tourists also want to see iconic places like Pink’s Hot Dogs, the Pink Wall on Melrose, or hike Runyon Canyon.

Be prepared that if you go to these “must-see” places, you’ll likely be paying a high price, waiting in a long line, and wasting time when there’s so much else to see in this massive city.

Avoid downtown after dark.

End of story.

Louder for the people in the back – AVOID DOWNTOWN L.A. AFTER DARK.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Los Angeles

  1. LAPD has an interactive crime map on its website. You can search specific areas for various types of crime to see more recent trends than the latest data available. The department also offers a summary of crimes year-to-date on the same page where you’ll find the crime mapping.
  2. You can report a crime tip for NON-EMERGENCY SITUATIONS to Crime Stoppers. There’s a link on the LAPD website, or you can call (800)222-TIPS. Your tip is anonymous, and you could be eligible for a reward.
  3. Feel free to contact LAPD to ask any additional safety questions you have. The email is contact.lapdonline@gmail.com, and you can also call (877)ASK-LAPD/(877)275-5273.
  4. When visiting downtown, look for “Purple Patrols.” These are officers dressed in purple shirts who are there to help you with safety questions or general guidance. It’s much safer to save your questions for one of these officers than to talk to people on the street.
  5. Sign up for NotifyLA emergency alerts. This will get you critical information about the weather, safety issues, civil disturbances, or any other threat happening in the area.
  6. Jaywalking is a crime here, and the police aren’t too busy to enforce it. You can get a $200 fine for jaywalking on the first offense. Always cross at a crosswalk and make sure drivers see you before you cross, even when you have the right of way.
  7. If you are driving in Los Angeles, the rumors about the traffic are completely true. It’s gridlock from 8:00 am to 10:00 am and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. While there is never an ideal time to drive in Los Angeles, these times will surely have you stuck in traffic for hours.
  8. The street parking signs in Los Angeles can be confusing, with instructions stacked on top of other limitations. Try to find a parking garage for the best spots without facing the risk of a ticket or being towed.
  9. On the off chance, there is an earthquake while you are visiting, it might feel natural to run inside. This is the wrong thing to do. Stay outside, protect your head with your hands, and get away from falling debris. If you are inside, get under a sturdy desk or other piece of furniture and hold on.
  10. Check the air quality in Los Angeles daily. Smog, air pollution, wildfire smoke, and the basin geography of the city combine for elevated air quality issues. If you have respiratory issues, allergies, or asthma, it’s especially important to know the air quality daily.

So... How Safe Is Los Angeles Really?

Los Angeles didn’t provide complete data to the FBI for 2021.

While the data isn’t required, it’s frowned upon for such a big city not to report this important information.

We do have insight into the crime numbers using statements from LAPD.

The biggest crime concerns for tourists range from petty thefts during a crime of opportunity, car break-ins – with more than 80 a day happening citywide and violent unprovoked crimes like the “follow-home” outbreaks.

“In my 34 years with the LAPD, I have never seen this type of criminal behavior,” said Captain Jonathan Tippet, head of the LAPD’s Follow-Home Robbery Task Force, “with people in large groups … up to five carloads of individuals, and most of them appear to be armed, coordinating amongst themselves to target people.”

You also have to watch out for fast-talking scammers and aggressive homeless people potentially suffering from drug-induced manias or mental health issues.

Just because someone is odd doesn’t mean they are dangerous, but there are random crimes like a homeless man who was set on fire while riding a public bus.

You have to maintain good situational awareness, use common sense, and not be gullible while visiting Los Angeles.

Gangs are everywhere here, not just reduced to the South Central neighborhoods.

There is a gun problem here with “ghost guns” being produced, and while the police are holding people accountable, they can’t keep up with the sheer number of guns on the street.

It’s important to submit crime tips if you get any information and follow the guidance of police officers or your hotel concierge.

Never trust a person on the street for any information, and certainly don’t share personal information with strangers.

How Does Los Angeles Compare?

CitySafety Index
Los Angeles56
Las Vegas62
San Francisco61
Philadelphia60
Houston59
Brussels (Belgium)60
Shanghai (China)66
Belize City (Belize)37

Useful Information

  • Visas - You'll need a U.S. Travel or Work Visa to get through Customs and Border Patrol at the airport. Some countries might qualify for Visa Waivers, so check the U.S. State Department website for all the details. Don't delay. It can take a few months to go through the rigorous process.
  • Currency - All businesses will only accept the U.S. Dollar here. You should avoid using any public ATM to get cash or exchange currency. Go inside a bank if you need cash, but it's strongly advised to avoid cash and use a credit card for fraud protection.
  • Weather - Los Angeles' weather is pretty consistent throughout the year, so you'll bring mostly mild-weather clothing. You might want a jacket or sweatshirt for cooler mornings or nights. There's a lot of walking to do, so bring good shoes that you can comfortably wear for miles. There are also great hiking spots close to L.A., so bring hiking boots too.
  • Airports - Los Angeles International Airport is in the city, so it's the largest and best option. Hollywood-Burbank has an airport, as does Orange County. But it can take up to an hour to get to those locations.
  • Travel Insurance - Travel insurance protects every aspect of your trip, from your trip investment to your personal health. It's wise to cover as much as you can so you can prepare for the unpredictable.
Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Los Angeles Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 15° C
Feb 16° C
Mar 16° C
Apr 18° C
May 20° C
Jun 22° C
Jul 24° C
Aug 24° C
Sep 24° C
Oct 21° C
Nov 18° C
Dec 15° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
High
°C
202121232426292929262320
Low
°C
10101113151718191816129
High
°F
687070737579848484797368
Low
°F
505052555963646664615448

Where to Next?

5 Reviews on Los Angeles

  1. A
    Anonymous says:

    Nice city avoid skid row

  2. A
    Anonymous says:

    TOO much going on here

    My experience in one month (LA):

    2 scams
    1 shooting across the street
    1 assault
    2 earthquakes (4.0)
    Multiple sounds of police sirens throughout the day and night.
    Homeless people are everywhere, California has a huge issue here with drugs + homeless.
    I’d have stayed longer, It’s impossible to get peace in this city. Yes, for vacations in a hotel is nice… But not recommended as a place to live.
    Rude manners, most of the people working in customer service are just complementary of the vibe of this city.

    I will come back for a few days to vacation but I’m moving out again.

  3. A
    Anonymous Zero says:

    I’d never expect yoda trying to pull a scam on me in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater! Once you past the tourist spot, the glam, you were able to see the “true colors”… However, what I like about the city is people were laid back. Met dozens of decent locals in my trip. Would like to return one day! Love from Hong Kong!

  4. A Lot to do.

    Another Big City. One correction though, you can visit Disneyland, which is not far from Los Angeles. But, Disney World Is in Florida, which is on the other side of the country.

    Most tourist and nightlife areas are relatively safe. But, instead of Hollywood, check out Silver Lake, just 2 miles East on Sunset Blvd. then, jump on the bus and go 2 more miles East, also on Sunset, and visit Chinatown.

    Stay in a good hotel. Before you book, look at the reviews on Yelp. You might find a great hotel, with a great price, by looking outside the tourist areas. Check hotel prices by hospitals or the like.

    People are friendlier the further East you go. If you are visiting areas like Santa Monica, don’t expect to have a casual chat, or even a nod, from people. Once you get East of the 405, people will begin to be nicer. Once you are East of Vermont Blvd, the vibe is more relaxed.

    Check out Koreatown, for BBQ too! Just avoid areas like skid row.

    Los Angeles has good weather and with that, as huge number of people experiencing homelessness. They won’t freeze in Los Angeles, unlike other US cities. Most homeless are nice people, but remember that they are in a stressful situation and be mindful. And, some are drug addicts. For the most part, they are ok. And, avoid skid row!

    Driving in Los Angeles can be overwhelming. Just relax. The goal is to get there, not get there first. Drive at the same speed of others. But definitely, look at renting a car, if you plan to see a lot. Los Angeles is big and a car Is important. Since you’re going to be driving, don’t forget that Los Angeles hosts some great mountain ranges and ski areas are nearby too. Check out the beaches in Malibu, or find your own stretch of sand.

    The Los Angeles zoo is ok, the parks are nice, Griffith Observatory a lot of effort, Little Tokyo of yummy, Hollywood Forever Cemetery is really cool and hosts events, Hsi Lia Temple is worth the drive (largest temple in Western Hemisphere and very tourist friendly), Santa Monica Pier is a blast on a warm day, and a visit to one of the many outdoor shopping malls is fun. Check to see about the food courts, some are amazing.

    Do not carry all your cash, you know. Same precautions as revealing anyplace else on the planet.

  5. Avoid popular destinations and you will have fun

    People seem to either hate or love LA, there’s no in-between. I’m not one for tourist traps aka the Hall of Fame, the Hollywood sign or the Santa Monica Pier so these weren’t even on my list. I just did some digging, basically reading travel forums and reddit until I came up with an itinerary for our five-day stay.

    In fact, LA is not a typical tourist destination like Vegas where you see tourists everywhere. And this is what I like most about it.

    Rent a car since it will give you the freedom you need. It’s way cheaper than ubering from one destination to another. To avoid not finding the right car for you I would book one the day before you land. I hate not having more options and having to settle, especially if I’m spending more than just a few days in that place.

    Activity wise, you won’t get bored in LA. If you’re more nerdy like me then museums – The Getty is an absolute must – and galleries along with libraries are great ways to spend a good chunk of your day. My wife is all about outdoor life so she was the one in charge of finding cool hiking and biking trails. Who knew you could find waterfall hikes in LA?!

    Indeed, homeless people are a big thing right now, especially post covid, but unfortunately I’m used to this as a New York City resident. If you mind your own business and ignore their questions or occasional rants you will be ok. The only emotion they get out of me is anger, anger towards the system that has let them down, I don’t feel weirded out by them simply being there.

    I’m always very serious about car insurance, not leaving things in the car, not flashing wads of cash around, having my contactless card out of sight at all times etc.

Rated 3.8 / 5 based on 5 user reviews.

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