Los Angeles
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Rent a car

Los Angeles is surprisingly one of the cheapest places in the US to rent a car. You can rent a compact, economy car for about US$40 per day (hybrids cost $80-$90) or $200-plus per week, with unlimited mileage. The latter is the best option. All major car-rental agencies can be found at the airport and also in the bigger hotels, although booking a car online before you reach LA is recommended.

Taxis in LA

Cab fares tend to be very high in LA as distances are wide and traffic is terrible. A very short trip can easily cost US$20 or more. Taxis currently charge $2.85 plus $2.70 per extra mile. A service charge of $2.50 is whacked on top of fares from LAX. If there's a delay, expect an additional charge of 30¢ for each 37 seconds.

Buses in LA

Travelling by bus is not entirely practical in LA as it involves a lot of transfers, spread-out stops and a pretty sluggish service. If you're only going a short distance, however, taking the bus is an economical and environmentally friendly way to get about. Avoid taking the bus at night. The bus fare is a fixed US$1.50 for all local lines, and transfers cost 35¢ each. A Metro Day Pass is $6 for unlimited bus and rail rides all day long. Up to two kids aged four and under can travel free with an adult.

The Downtown Area Short Hop (DASH) and Cityline shuttle

This handy shuttle bus system operates throughout Downtown and Hollywood meaning you can reach some of the main attractions quite easily and cheaply. Services run every five to 30 minutes, depending on the time of day, and cost 35¢. The schedule can be quite confusing if you're new to LA so don't forget to get yourself a map. Alternatively, on a weekday and Saturdays the Cityline shuttle is a great way to get around West Hollywood for 50¢ a ride.

Movie Star Homes Tour

There are a good few of these tours on offer all around Hollywood. Hop in an air-conditioned mini-bus and be prepared to get nosy. You'll see the homes (past and present) of celebs like Tom Cruise, Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and heaps more. Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood sign, Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and the Sunset Strip are all on the agenda.

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

The greatest and most popular Madame Tussauds in the world continues to draw the crowds in LA, so arrive early for the best photo opportunities with the (wax) stars. There are almost 100 in here, from Hollywood movie stars to presidents. Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga are all waiting in wax. Don't forget your camera.

Universal Studios Hollywood

As a top LA attraction, you can't miss a day in Universal Studios to explore where some of the top movies are made. With great additions like the world's largest 3D experience, the King Kong 360 3D created by Peter Jackson, it'll be a day of thrills you won't forget. Don't miss the Universal CityWalk, which has over 32 exciting places to eat, 19 state-of-the-art movie theatres, and six night spots to keep you dancing all night.

Aquarium of the Pacific

A great day out for the kids as well as adults, here's the place to explore the ocean without getting your feet wet. You'll find mysterious sea dragons, a man made coral lagoon, a very active and snappy shark tank as well as a close up look at over 11,000 creatures from Southern California and the Baja Pacific, the North Pacific, and the colourful reefs of the Tropical Pacific.

DAY 1: Take a Driving Tour

Rent a car and take in the top LA sights all the way from Hollywood to Venice Beach. Start with the Hollywood and Highlands (Hollywood Sign) and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Drive to Santa Monica via Sunset and take in the manly sights of Muscle Beach before a dip in the ocean. Have dinner at the popular Sidewalk Cafe.

DAY 3: See LA for free

The astronomy museum at the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park is free so head there early for your glimpse at the cosmos through the Zeiss telescope. Snap the Hollywood sign from the viewing area at the Hollywood and Highland shopping and entertainment complex, as well as getting your souvenirs. Check out the street performers at Venice Beach and then head to a fun and free TV show taping in Burbank, Studio City or Culver City.

DAY 2: La Brea Tar Pits and Laughter

More pre-historic fossils have been discovered at the La Brea Tar Pits than any place else on earth and you can see a large collection in the Page Museum. Head for lunch at the Farmers' Market on 3rd Street and spend the afternoon cruising through Beverly Hills, checking out the multi-million-dollar mansions. Laugh the night away at the Comedy Store, where many comics first found fame.

DAY 4: Santa Monica family fun

If you've got kids, take them to Santa Monica beach early for some sandcastle building time. Have lunch at Perry's Cafe and Rentals – their butler service will bring the food to you on the beach – and then rent rollerblades for a cruise down The Strand. Next up, head to Pacific Park for some fun with high tech bumper cars, then get your tickets to a show at the Santa Monica Playhouse who often stage fairy stories for the kids.

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