Photo: IM_photo/Shutterstock

19 Lies the Guidebooks Are Telling You About Los Angeles

Los Angeles Insider Guides
by Pamela Chan Dec 28, 2015

1. Welcome to the City of Angels!

Welcome to the City of Angles? Welcome to a town that is ridden with high crime.

2. The Los Angeles River reflects the heart of L.A. itself.

Hate to break it to you but no, this no-water-filled crack in the ground is nothing but a messy culvert of algae, dirt and fungus-filled channels winding its way from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The 51-mile natural ‘beauty’ is pretty much unbeknownst to most Angelenos and has been hidden from clear view for years — except when serving as an occasional backdrop for those gritty Hollywood movies scenes.

3. It’s always sunny in Southern California.

Now that’s just a total and completely inaccurate cliché. No, it’s not sunshine and blue skies 24/7/365, and yes, it really does rain sometimes. Fact: Downtown L.A. gets about 15 inches a year, according to the National Climactic Data Center. Plus, nine of those inches fall in winter months.

What’s more is that this seasonally misunderstood town actually does experience a fair share of summer June Gloom — in the form of heavy marine cloud layers that cause mornings to be ridiculously overcast until at least high noon, especially at the beaches. What’s worse it that they even roll back around just before sunset.

4. The city has always been called Los Angeles.

No, it has not. According to some researchers, it was deemed Pueblo del Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reyna de los Angeles de Porciuncula. (Really, the whole entire thing). For others, it was El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles. The original name is still a bit of a mystery but either way, it was definitely longer than two mere letters.

5. L.A. is the “Froyo capital of the world.”

There are just about 20 or so Pinkberry chains in Los Angeles, with some once-popular locations (i.e. Pasadena) that have all of a sudden shut down. Yet the Big Apple isn’t all that far behind with some 15-plus stores, and according to an IBISWorld analysis of the top frozen yogurt purveyors in the country, there are as many Menchie’s in California as there are in Florida. There are more Red Mango locations in Colorado than California. And there are no Sweet Frogs in Los Angeles. So just cool it with the Froyo, okay??

6. There’s not that much to do in downtown.

There’s more to do in DT than you can accomplish in one single day — it is, after all, the primary place to take refuge from annoying L.A. stereotypes. The next time you get tired of those forward-thinking, self-pampering, beauty-obsessed mega-capitalist types, check out hubs like Chinatown, Little Tokyo, or the city’s iconic place of birth at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site.

7. It’s so glitz, it’s so glam… It’s an all around star-studded town.

Yeah, right. Plus, with all that smog, it’s hard to even see those real twinkling beauties every night — you know the ones supposedly shining brightly upon us in the Western sky?

8. Everything in L.A. is uber expensive so prepare to empty out that wallet.

From pricey theme parks to exclusive five-star hotels and an array of fine wine and dining, there are more than a number of ways to spend a handful in L.A.–on any given night. Let’s not even get started on the price of cocktails in Hollywood.

If you’re willing to dig just a little deeper though, we do actually have a plentiful array of budget-friendly chain hotels, motels and hostels, wallet-friendly diners and ethnic restaurants, as well as free attractions and things to do that won’t cost a single dime.

9. The city is basically a slab of concrete.

There may be a plethora of skyscrapers and other nature obstructing constructions all around town, but there are also a surprising array of tree-lined streets, scenic parks, and pure green patches. Griffith Park is more than 4,000 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 L.A’s inner city is made up of an eclectic collection of neighborhood homes and apartment buildings each featuring cute little patches of lawns, plants, and giant (palm) trees.

Plus, the city may be well-known for the astounding amounts of stellar gym locations and exercise centers it has to offer, but the best way to get fit in L.A. is no doubt done with just some tiny help from Mother Nature (i.e. Runyon Canyon, Baldwin Hills). Oh, and those awesome stairways

10. There’s no need to drive “over the hill” to get the excitement you’d get in Hollywood or Beverly Hills. The ‘Valley’ has it all.

First of all, it needs to be said that the San Fernando Valley is not really a valley per se, but more of a hot, humid, dry, and extensively traffic-ridden mess of a town that’s not as particularly close to LAX as we’d like it to be. Sure, it’s home to some of the world’s major movie studios and yes, some celebrities do live, work, and play there. But more often than not, there really is no sizzling 24/7 action to experience or thrilling attractions to gawk over. Nope, it’s pretty much just a humdrum area of suburbs and mini-malls. Sorry.

11. Pink’s hotdogs are “the best” the city has to offer.

Though creatively topped and celebrity-named, they are, quite honestly, just your ordinary, everyday, extra-long wieners in a bun, sprinkled with some not-so-commonly used confections that may not always be as good as that all-American classic mustard, ketchup, and relish mix we love so much. Plus, the super-slow lines make us lose our appetites anyways.

12. Hollywood is the home of the stars and those Movie Star Maps are your go-to-source to sneak a peek at your favorite celeb acting “just like US.”

Sure, lots of movie stars may live in and around the Hollywood Hills, and the Movie Star Maps might be able to show you where a few may dwell. But in reality, the area has only recently regained a bit of glamor status after decades of being seen as just plain seedy. There may be tons of wannabe actors living near the landmark H-Wood sign, but anyone who’s really reached some sort of celebrity status has moved on up to a way more elite abode.

As for the maps, they may indicate where certain celebrities live in West LA, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and other upscale areas, but you really cannot see anything beyond those highly secured walls and hedges. Truth be told, they really are not that reliable anyways.

13. There are tons of topless and nude beaches in L.A.

More like none whatsoever. Despite all those racy movies, television shows and songs, SoCal is actually pretty conservative when it comes to showing skin on the beach, or anywhere else for that matter. Within the entire L.A. and O.C. counties, it is illegal for women to be topless or for anyone to be publicly nude (The nearest nude beach is at San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County). Some individuals even go as far as reporting parents who allow small children to run freely around in their birthday suits on the beach. Excessive, but oh so true.

14. Los Angeles in general is a cultural wasteland. People don’t even read.

Here’s a fun fact: There were more than 14 million visits to the public library during a 12-month period from 2012–2013 and about 15 million items were checked out. Also, the city boasts a treasure trove of often-too-little-known local bookshops that are always brimming to the tee with various inspiring written (and visual) content. What’s more is that the entire county alone has over 230 museums and is spectacularly rich in comedy, improv, live music, and other performance arts. Art can also be found everywhere and anywhere. We’re “not cultural”? Try again.

15. The tunnels under Venice were built for rum-runners during prohibition.

Though tons of tunnels in L.A. were in fact built specifically for that purpose, it seems that the ones in Venice — while used by rum runners during prohibition — were actually built by hotels in the area to comply with a city ordinance that prohibited bathing suits on the boardwalk.

16. The Santa Monica Pier is the ultimate recreational hotspot — it always was.

Sure, there may be ferris wheels, roller coaster rides, summer concerts, and volleyball games galore, but this coastal tourist favorite was actually built in order to hide a sewage pipe that literally pumped treated crap into the poor ocean that sits by its side.

17. Hollywood’s the biggest business there is and ever was.

According to California’s Employment Development Department, the fastest-growing occupations in L.A. are biomedical engineers, home health aides, and “helpers, brickmasons, and tile setters.” Not one of the top ten is anywhere near a “Hollywood” job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the biggest employment sector falls under trade, transportation, and utilities (i.e. wholesale, retail, warehousing, the transportation of passengers and cargo, and water/power/sewage services). Furthermore, take a guess at what the highest-waged occupation in L.A. is. Nope, not actors, but M to the Ds. Producers and directors come in number 21, right below dentists.

18. Blonde, blue-eyed babes and bombshells rule the city from top to bottom.

From the beaches to the Valley and then to Downtown, it’s safe to say that L.A. is not as full of yellow-haired bombshells as it’s often made out to be. The majority of blonds are actually more likely to be found roaming around southern O.C. beaches, which is a whole other county away. Los Angeles’ overall population runs deep with ethnic families and international tourists — it’s about 70 percent non-white, with Hispanics being the largest group at 44 percent. Take that.

19. L.A. is divided into separate sections that are sprawled out across vast distances.

Often times, it’s not uncommon to say that you live in “L.A.” when you actually live in nearby cities like Burbank or Glendale or nearby neighborhoods like NoHo or Sherman Oaks. Just hearing about all these areas creates the impression that everything in Los Angeles stretches out across a vastly wide space. So. Not. True — it is, in fact, a seriously and extremely dense area. You can basically drive through several neighborhoods in a matter of minutes without even realizing it. Mhm.

Discover Matador