The Los Angeles Tourism Board announced that a record 41.4 million people flew, drove, took the train or otherwise traveled to Los Angeles for work and play in 2012. Los Angeles is celebrated as the place to be, with lots of new visitors -- in particular, the Chinese -- streaming into the city.
We're not sure those numbers from official city boosters are entirely accurate. But if they are, we're not sure why the throngs are heading here. So if you're thinking about visiting, here are the Top Five reasons you might want to dial back your excitement. Maybe go to Hawaii instead.
1. Bed Bugs: Come on down to Los Angeles, where the bed bugs are ready to suck your blood, cling to your clothes and ride home with you to foreign lands or neighboring states. Los Angeles has 403 bed bug reports involving hotels citywide. These little blood-suckers are worse than your in-laws and a lot less likely to leave. To combat them, when you pack your suitcase, stuff dryer sheets in every pocket and don't put your clothes in any drawer at any hotel -- ever. Then, chances of encountering these hellish creatures may be slightly lessened but not eliminated.
2.Hit-and Run Capital of the World: Imagine you just get off the plane and are headed into the streets in your rental car when ... BAM! You get hit by a driver with no insurance, or who's unlicensed or drunk, and when you wake up surrounded by people snapping pictures of you through the windshield with their iPhones, they inform you that the driver sped away. But they were too busy posting pictures of you on Facebook to get the license plate number. Sounds far-fetched, but really it's not. As L.A. Weekly reported in its investigative report Hit-and-Run Epidemic, Los Angeles has a mind-numbing 20,000 hit-and-run crashes every year, 50% of all accidents. Nationwide, the hit-and-run crash rate is only 11% of all accidents. And the Insurance Research Council estimates that in Los Angeles, 1 out of 6 drivers are uninsured. Good luck with your rental company policy. It might be safer to go rafting down the Mississippi River.
3. Home of Thieves: Did Goofy just steal my wallet?? In Hollywood, near the Chinese Theatre, a bounty of sun-bleached costumed superheroes and cartoon characters are ready to relieve a few bills from your wallet in exchange for a quick picture with your kids, and the pressure can be intense. But sprinkled among these mostly harmless and seemingly lovable characters are pickpockets and con artists. Thieves and robbers know a tourist when they see one, and will try to trick you into handing over your money. Citywide, almost 300 crimes of all kinds have been reported in Los Angeles in the last seven days, according to CrimeMapping.com. You know where there aren't as many criminals eyeing your wallet? Why not try a small town, like Great Barrington, Mass. Only 6,800 people. Who knows, maybe you'll like it so much, you'll stay.
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4. Outlandish Temperatures: Imagine you have your bag packed for a nice summer vacation in L.A. You get off the plane and out of the airport to find a melanoma-inducing 105 degrees during the day and 45 degree weather at night. Los Angeles was once known for its 72-degree even temperatures, sunny skies and light cooling breezes ... but who are we kidding?? It's not the '80s anymore. In the last few years we have had scorching hot summers and freezing cold winters. The weather has become so unpredictable, you had better pack the best of both summer and winter outfits. What caused it? Some say global warming, but according to C-Change.La, we can expect a rise of 4 to 5 degrees a year in summer, tripling the number of extremely hot days in the downtown area and quadrupling the number in the valleys and at high elevations. Sounds like hell, right? Read on.
5. Overpriced Everything: If you plan on a great night out with your family, you'd better choose the location for dinner as wisely as you chose a bed bug-free hotel. Los Angeles is going to hit you where it hurts -- your wallet. (If you still have it.) According to Numbeo.com, a decent, not amazing, hotel averages $206 a night; a reasonably priced dinner for two is $50 (frankly we can think of very little that's priced that low on the entire Westside); L.A. amusement parks average $100 per ticket; a night out drinking is about $75 a person; a cab home after a night out averages $15-$20 (assuming you are staying a quick crawl away from the bars. And make sure you map your route on your phone, as cabbies will find a way to meander through the Baldwin Hills if they catch the scent of a tourist).
These are just a few things you Chinese, British, Oregonian and other tourists should think about as you book your flights to L.A.. As much as "Hollywood" glamour may lure you, it's important to respect the city's dark underbelly.