Hit the Ground Running in LA
As an Angeleno, I recognize my bias, but I do think that Los Angeles is one of the most exciting cities in the continental U.S. Whether you have a few days prior to the start of the NASPA Annual Conference or just hours after the conference sessions, Los Angeles offers an exciting opportunity to complement your NASPA experience. During the coming weeks, the Local Arrangements Committee will share ideas to add to your itinerary that will highlight the diversity, entertainment, history, and food that make Los Angeles a great destination.
To start us off, below are a few travel planning tips to ease your NASPA experience:
Arriving in Los Angeles
LAX is the largest airport in Los Angeles, but not the only one that serves the greater metropolitan area. With four other options, you have an opportunity to look for flights that fit your budget and desired arrival. When looking at your options, keep in mind the distance between the airport and downtown Los Angeles. Otherwise, if you do not keep the distance in mind, you run the risk of spending the funding you saved on airfare covering local transportation costs.
To help you with planning, here are the distances from the various airports to the NASPA Annual Conference per Google Maps: LAX is 16.1 mi, Hollywood Burbank Airport is 21.3 mi, Long Beach Airport is 23.2 mi, John Wayne in Orange County is 44 mi, and Ontario International Airport is 43.7 mi.
Getting from the airport to the Convention Center/hotel
Ground transportation will vary by the airport so it is important to figure out your options before you arrive. Taxis and ridesharing services should be available at all airports; but long distance shuttles, buses, and trains will vary.
LAX offers the most comprehensive options that fit different group sizes and budgets. You can taxi or take a long distance Shuttle like Prime Time or Super Shuttle, request a ride-sharing service such as Lyft or Uber (there are designated pick up points), or you can take my personal favorite, the FlyAway bus. The FlyAway bus is a nonstop service between LAX and Union Station, which is located just south of downtown Los Angeles. The trek is about 45 minutes (depending on traffic) and a one-way ticket will run you $9.75. You can either pay online or once you arrive at Union Station. Only debit or credit cards are accepted if you choose to pay in person.
If you do take the FlyAway and have time, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of Union Station. You may recognize the building from many 1950s-era movies. The current Union Station sits on top of the original Chinatown in Los Angeles and right across the street from Olvera Street. Aside from seeing some cool Los Angeles history, another advantage of arriving at Union Station is that you can take the Metro to your hotel or the Convention Center. Please note that Union Station is within walking distance from some of the NASPA hotels. Don’t be surprised if you see engagement or other types of photo shoots taking place at Union Station. Yes, it is that pretty.
Getting around Downtown Los Angeles
Traffic is an unfortunate consequence of living in Los Angeles. There is no way to sugar coat it; if you find yourself in Los Angeles, you will find yourself in traffic. Luckily, the Convention Center and most of the NASPA hotels are within close distance of each other and to the Metro. Make sure to get your TAP card!
The Expo Line’s Pico Station is just right outside the Convention Center. The Expo Line can take you to the USC campus or as far west as Santa Monica. By transferring to other Metro Lines, you can find yourself in Long Beach, East Los Angeles, Pasadena, or even Hollywood. Depending on what you wish to see and the amount of time you have available, getting around via Metro might your best bet. You can find a map of the Metro Rail lines on the Metro website.
Do you need a car to get around Los Angeles?
The Angeleno in me automatically wants to jump out and say, OF COURSE! However, the location of the NASPA Annual Conference, the vast improvements to public transit, and possible time constraints lead me to lean towards MAYBE? I stop at maybe because it really depends on the time you wish to spend in Los Angeles and what you would like to see or experience.
There are a few car rental places within walking distance from the convention center. If you only need a car for a day or two, getting it from one of the places around the Convention Center can reduce expenses. Just keep in mind that if you decide to walk to the car rental place or any other place within downtown Los Angeles, be mindful of your surroundings and belongings. After all, Los Angeles is a major metropolitan area.
The members of the Local Arrangements Committee are excited for you all to experience Los Angeles. I hope this helps you hit the ground running.
Photo Credits: Union Station Architecture Gallery.