Insider’s Guide for Layovers at LAX Airport

lax layover renting a car value rental carLos Angeles is one of the most interesting cities on Earth. It has a great climate, great beaches, and stunning scenery. It’s also home to fascinating industries like movies, television, and music recording. If you’re in Los Angeles for a day or a lifetime, it’s easy to find something interesting to do. But what if you’re stuck in the airport? Never fear. There is lots to do inside the LAX airport, and it’s centrally located in Los Angeles. That puts it within a short distance of all kinds of attractions and amenities. Depending on the length of your layover at LAX, turning a delay into a vacation is as easy as renting a car and poking around the area.

If you find yourself with some time to kill at LAX, or you’re planning ahead for a substantial layover, here’s a handy guide to what to go and what to do:

What’s LAX Like?

Los Angeles is a big, sprawling city. It’s only natural that it would have a big, spread-out airport. LAX is certainly that. Not only is LAX big, it’s also not really a single airport. It has eight different numbered terminals, plus the main terminal, and they’re not all connected together. The level of amenities varies a great deal between terminals. This disconnection is an artifact of the way LAX has evolved over the years. In the past, it was no big deal to walk out of one terminal and catch another flight at another terminal, or visit restaurants or shops.

TSA security makes that difficult now. In order to exit some terminals and enter others, you’ll have to submit to security procedures all over again. That can make it tough to plan excursions between terminals while keeping track of time. The amount of time spent in security lines can vary a great deal.

The good news is that LAX understands that passengers need to be able to circulate freely after they’ve cleared security, and are working feverishly to connect the terminals on the “airside.” The largest terminal, the Tom Bradley International Terminal, is where most international passengers end up during layovers. There’s a lot of amenities inside the TBIT, so it’s possible to amuse yourself for a few hours or a long day. Terminals 4 through 8 are now connected airside, so you can move freely between them to find things to do. If you’re in any of the other terminals, you’ll probably need to go through security additional times if you want something substantial to eat, something interesting to occupy your time, or want to go shopping.

Between Terminals

Whichever terminal you end up in, you’ll probably have to plan ahead to amuse yourself, and you’ll have to be ready to walk long distances to visit other terminals. LAX has a free Airline Connections shuttle that stops in front of every terminal. If you’d rather walk, be aware that the distance between any two terminals can range up to a mile. It’s smart to check the maps of the airport to see how far you have to walk before setting out.

What To Do With Your Luggage

On-site luggage storage can be a problem at LAX. There are companies that offer curbside pickup, storage, and retrieval, but a regular traveler’s luggage might cost $100 for a single day. Yikes.

If your layover in Los Angeles is at least a day, there are several ways to ditch your luggage without emptying your wallet.

Hotels

If you’re staying at a nearby hotel, their day rates might might be competitive with luggage service, and you can take a shower and rest as well as store your luggage. Many local hotels have shuttle services that save steps and money. The Hyatt Regency, the Courtyard Los Angeles, and the Sheraton Gateway are all located within a 2-minute shuttle ride of the main terminal. For a lengthy layover, renting a car and traveling a few more miles will save you a lot of money. There are hundreds of hotels and motels in the immediate area at every price level. You can search for hotels near LAX on TripAdvisor to compare prices and service levels.

Early Check-In

If your layover is simply to wait for a connecting flight, you may be able to check your bags in early. There’s a limit to how far in advance you can check in, but it might be enough time to allow you to enjoy a meal or some shopping without dragging your bags around with you. You can find out more about early check in offers here.

Renting a Car

If you’re staying for a few days, renting a car and locking your luggage in the trunk is a great way to keep dibs on it without lugging it around. There are many car rental agencies inside the terminals. Renting a car from a nearby agency that picks up and drops off at the terminal will save you money, though.

Shopping Inside LAX

The Great Hall of the Tom Bradley terminal has a fantastic shopping mall in it. It’s more like an inside shopping street than a run-of-the-mill airline mall. There’s lots of duty free offerings, and the retail boutiques include some really high-end names. like Bvlgari, Hugo Boss, Hermes, Gucci, Burberry, and others. Most of the other terminals have at least one or two interesting shops, but for the most part, you’ll have to settle for the usual newsstand shopping experience. The company that operates LAX has a list of shopping outlets here.

Dining Inside LAX

Los Angeles has a fantastic foodie culture. LAX features a growing number of first-rate eateries, plus more economical choices for travelers on a budget. The Tom Bradley terminal has upscale dining to go with its fancy shopping selection. Terminals 4 through 8 are now connected on the airside, and between them they have a great selection of food choices for leisurely dining or a quick bite. Terminals 4 and 5 have more affordable, but still adventurous choices. Eater Los Angeles has a current list of eateries at LAX here.

Airport Lounges

If traveling by air is getting the better of you, an airport lounge can turn a layover into a mini-vacation. There are many airport lounges at LAX. Your preferred airline or credit card provider might entitle you to free admission to an airport lounge. Many of the lounges will also let you purchase admission for a single day if you don’t qualify as a frequent flier. Almost every terminal has at least one lounge, and many have several. There’s a great rundown of LAX airport lounges on LoungeBuddy.

The amenities at the lounges at LAX vary a bit. One thin you won’t find is sleeping facilities. It’s fairly hard to catch a nap at LAX. The regular concourses are loud, and the airport has constant construction noise to deal with.

If an airport lounge isn’t enough to chill you out, LAX also has a few spas onsite. There’s a big one in the Tom Bradley terminal, and smaller locations scattered around where you can get a quick massage.

Day Trips

If you have a full day to kill, there’s no reason to spend all your time inside the airport. Public transportation in Los Angeles isn’t great, but renting a car at LAX is easy and economical.

Beaches

There are many beaches located only a short drive from LAX, and most beaches in the LA area have nearby boardwalks and shopping strands to make a side trip enjoyable.

Golf

The Westchester Golf Course is located just north of LAX. It’s a public, 18-hole course that’s fairly affordable for an urban setting. They’re used to serving LAX customers, and have a good supply of clubs for rent, including premium clubs.

Local Tours

If you’ve got at least 4 hours to kill, the Starline Hop On Hop Off Tour of LA is a fun way to see the sights. The service has several different routes depending on your interests. If you have a full day, the trip through Hollywood is lots of fun.

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If you’re in Los Angeles for business or pleasure, renting a car from Value Rental Car is the smart way to get around. Enjoy free pickup and dropoff at LAX. Drivers under 21, debit card and cash customers welcome!

Top 10 Fun, Free Activities in Los Angeles

The Smarter Travel website recently named Los Angeles the #1 Best Value Destination in the world. That’s true, but it doesn’t tell you the whole story about visiting Los Angeles. One of the reasons Los Angeles area offers so much value for your vacation dollars is that the region is so large, and it has so many different attractions. Value Rental Car is happy to be a little part of why it’s so affordable to visit L.A. But cheap SUV rentals will only get you so far. To make your travel budget last, especially for a family, you need more than just “value” for your money. You need inexpensive, or just plain free things to do.

Luckily, there may be more fun, free things to do in Los Angeles than you’ll find anywhere else. Check out our list of the Top 10 Free activities in Los Angeles to find out more!

The Beaches

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It’s hard to pick just one thing that defines what Los Angeles is about, but its beaches are certainly in the running. The movie, music, and TV industries have been based in Los Angeles for many decades, and their depictions of sun and surf has made L.A. synonymous with beachgoing. The Los Angeles area has more than 70 miles of beaches of all kinds. That makes it easy to find the perfect spot for your preferred leisure activities. It’s easy to find the perfect beach for surfing, sunbathing, people watching, or just enjoying the seaside scenery.

Perhaps the best part of Los Angeles beaches is that regular admission is always free. Some beaches even offer free parking. Many Los Angeles beaches have seaside strands full of shops, eateries, and nightspots, so it’s still possible to drop some coin during a day at the beach. However, with the money you save on admission, you can relax and enjoy yourself instead of worrying about money.

Walk of Fame

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The Hollywood Walk of Fame isn’t really a place. It’s a trail of plaques embedded in a terrazzo  sidewalk that’s dedicated to stars from radio, television, theater, recording, and movies. The Walk runs all along Hollywood Boulevard, and then turns and continues along Vine Street all the way to Sunset Boulevard. There are  now over 2500 stars featured on the Walk, so you’re bound to find familiar favorites as you roam around. Looking for favorites can also become a kind of scavenger hunt that keeps things interesting.

There are other free attractions along the way. You can visit the forecourt of the famous Chinese Theatre, and have fun comparing your handprints and footprints to the various movies stars who have been honored with sidewalk markers. You can also amuse yourself by looking at the other tourists and locals. Downtown Hollywood is a vibrant, offbeat place with lots to see and do.

TV Shows

Visitors to Los Angeles are usually surprised when they find out that attending the taping of a television show is usually free. If you’re the type of fan that likes to see stars up close and personal, sitting in the audience for a live show is the best way to enjoy an intimate entertainment experience. Unlike like live music concerts and standup comedy tours, TV show tapings have fairly small audiences with great sightlines.

Some shows are more popular than others, so you have to be flexible if you want to sit in an audience. In some cases, the shows send out buses and production assistants to round up audience members to fill up an underbooked studio. If you want to see a particular show, it’s smart to get reserved tickets well in advance. You’ll have to be prepared for a long afternoon, too. Even taping a one-hour show can take up to six hours to complete.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

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Many Los Angeles beaches have a boardwalk, pier, or strand. Santa Monica has a famous pier with amusement park rides on it. Many other beaches have seaside bike and walking paths. Venice Beach has perhaps the most enjoyable and offbeat boardwalk of all. The paved Ocean Front Walk is bordered on one side with long stretches of beach. The land side has tons of shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

Ultimately, it’s the people that make Venice Beach so interesting. The area is home to lots of artistic venues, and the public art on the buildings and other surfaces is wild and interesting. Numerous street performers, bodybuilders, skaters, and just plain freaks contribute to the funky vibe. You can pocket the money you saved on cheap SUV rentals if you park a little ways from the beach for free instead of paid lots right at the water’s edge.

Los Angeles City Hall

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City Hall isn’t the average person’s idea of fun. In most cities, city hall is a nondescript building where you pay your water bill. Los Angeles, however, has a beautiful City Hall building that’s worth a visit. The interior of the building is beautifully designed and decorated, and the iconic exterior will be familiar from hundreds of TV shows and movies.

The City Hall is 32 stories high, and for a long time was the tallest building in L.A. There’s a free observation deck on the 27th floor, which offers great views of the city. There’s also an art gallery that contains the city’s art collection.

Outdoor Concerts

The weather is usually nice in Los Angeles. That allows for more outdoor music performances than other vacation destinations. Of course you can always pay top dollar to enjoy performances from big artists at venues like the Hollywood Bowl. Smart vacationers can take advantage of cheap or free entertainment if they poke around a little.

Many parks, museums, and other venues have free performances, usually in the summer. Discover Los Angeles keeps a running list of available performances.

Hiking

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Los Angeles has a lot of pavement, and is famous for its car culture. However, it also has lots of rural scenery that’s perfect for hiking and sightseeing. There are well-marked, dog-friendly hiking trails at Griffith Park, with over 4,000 acres of hilly terrain to clamber over. The trails also supply great views of the Hollywood Sign. Runyon Canyon is another great spot for a scenic walk, with a 3-mile trail that takes an hour or two.

While you’re in Griffith Park, you can also enjoy a free peep through the big telescope at the Griffith Observatory, although the lines can be long.

Kayak on the LA River

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Not many people know that Los Angeles has a river. Even fewer know that you can kayak on it. You can rent a kayak inexpensively at various places along the river, but access to the river is free. It’s an amazing way to see this little-known side of the Los Angeles landscape. It’s also a refreshing way to spend a hot summer afternoon, away from the bustle and noise of the freeways.

California Science Center


If you’re on a budget, and you have kids along, it can be hard to keep them amused without vacuuming out your wallet. The California Science Center in Exposition Park is a great place to spend the afternoon, and general admission is free. The center has many interactive exhibits that children and adults will love. It also has some amazing science artifacts, including the Endeavor Space Shuttle. There’s also an IMAX theater and special attractions you can see for a fee.

The Broad Museum

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The Broad Museum is located in the heart of the Los Angeles Arts District. The building itself is an attraction, with an unusual pierced facade and ultra-modern appearance. It’s a museum for contemporary art, so the exhibits are just as funky as the building. That makes it more fun for young adults who might find traditional art galleries too stuffy for their tastes. Many of the exhibits in the Broad are more art installations than objects, so the museum has an interactive feel. There are many whimsical pieces like Jeff Koons big, blue, Balloon Dog that are fun to take a selfie with, too. Admission is free, although you might have trouble finding parking without resorting to a paid lot.

Photos courtesy of the The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

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Top 10 Things To Do and See in Santa Monica

Los Angeles is a big city, both by population and by the area it covers. Despite its growing population, it’s still relatively spread out and low-density. If you’re visiting the Los Angeles area for the first time, it’s useful to think of greater Los Angeles as a series of neighborhoods, not one big city. In L.A., however, the neighborhoods are really independent cities of their own. One of the most beautiful cities in the greater Los Angeles area is Santa Monica. You can arrange Santa Monica car rental right at LAX when you fly in. You might find better lodging deals in less popular neighborhoods, but you’ll find everything from shopping to beaches to nightlife, all within easy walking distance of the city’s main attractions.

When most people think of Santa Monica, they think of the famous Santa Monica Pier. But the area has a lot more to offer, whether you want to spend a fun day or a whole week. Besides being a beautiful seacoast spot, Santa Monica has a relaxed, laid-back, friendly vibe. It’s easy to feel like a local after just a few hours of poking around. Here’s a list of the Top 10 Things To Do and See while you’re in Santa Monica from your friends at Value Rental Car:

Santa Monica Pier

No mention of visiting Santa Monica landmarks would be complete without a mention of the Santa Monica Pier. The pier is great fun whether you’re a young, single person or a family with small children. It’s not a huge destination like Disney World or one of the other amusement parks in the greater Los Angeles area. You can see the whole thing in half an hour if you’re in a hurry, but there are so many things to do you can spend several days if you like.

The Santa Monica pier juts out into the Pacific Ocean, so it’s a great place to catch a cool breeze on a hot day. Of course there is lots more to the pier than watching the waves. There’s an arcade, carnival rides, souvenir stands, restaurants, food stalls, and even concerts and movies. If you’ve got a big family in the back of your Santa Monica rental car, you’ll appreciate the free admission to the pier’s attractions. You will have to pay for each ride on the famous Ferris wheel, and any of the other dozen or so rides. Still, it’s a bargain.

Santa Monica Beach

The Los Angeles area has a lot of beaches. The Santa Monica Beach is probably the most popular beach there is. It’s not quite as picturesque as some other nearby beaches. The beach is basically a very wide, flat expanse of sand between the Pacific Coast Highway and the waves. It’s really big, and even when it’s crowded, there’s plenty of room to relax and sunbathe. The swimming is first-rate, and you can take surfing lessons to increase your fun.

There are many parking lots within an easy walk to the seashore. There are several pedestrian bridges straddling the highway that make crossing to the sand a breeze. The beach has a lot of amenities that many beaches lack. There are a dozen public restrooms, many with showers. There are a handful of volleyball courts on the shore, great for playing or just watching. If you have a family in tow, you’ll appreciate the playgrounds and gymnastic equipment in several places along the shore. There are lots of picnic tables, but no fire pits. You’ll find lifeguards on duty during the day, so swimming and surfing is safer than at some out-of-the -way beaches in the area.

Marvin Braude Beach Trail

If you want to roll along the beach instead of sunning yourself, you’ll love the Marvin Braude Beach Trail. Good luck asking the locals for it by name, though. Everyone in Santa Monica just calls it “The Strand.” It’s a 20-mile ribbon of pavement that runs from nearby Will Rogers State Park to Torrance. You can park your rental car at any number of lots along the strand, and rent bicycles or skates to make the scenery pass by faster. There are a handful of skate and cycle rental stalls right at the Santa Monica Pier as well. Here’s a nifty video of a ride down The Strand:

Museum of Flying

The Museum of Flying is housed at the Santa Monica Airport. It has a nice blend of educational exhibits and fun activities to amuse visitors of all ages. The museum was founded by Donald Douglas Junior in 1976. It contains many examples of planes made by the Douglas Aircraft Co. The exhibits are interesting to look at, and some are interactive. You can climb into the cockpit of a cargo plane, and for a nominal fee, you can also enjoy the Maxflight Simulator. Unlike flying simulators designed for home computers or gaming consoles, the simulator also physically pitches and rolls as you steer it. It will even turn all the way around if you do a barrel roll. Catch a guided tour for the most fun.

Annenberg Community Beach House

The Annenberg Beach House looks like a private country club, but it’s open to the public and has no membership fees. It’s more of a community recreation location than tourist destination, but all are welcome. There’s a wide range of activities available, including swimming in their historic pool, tennis, volleyball, splash pad, and various cultural events. There’s also a game room that’s perfect for children who’ve had enough fun and sun outside. You can also rent a stand up paddle board for use in the ocean just outside the beach house fence.

Third Street Promenade

The Third Street Promenade is one of the liveliest pedestrian malls anywhere in Los Angeles. Over the years, many of the food stalls and quaint local shops have been pushed out by franchise stores and eateries, but the promenade is still a great place for people watching, strolling, and shopping. The Third Street Promenade is especially fun after sunset, with lots of buskers along the walking route. There’s also a walking tour of the area held by the Santa Monica Walking Tours every Saturday morning.

Bergamot Station

The Bergamot Station is a funky converted warehouse space that houses numerous art galleries and related cultural activities. It’s not within walking distance of the seaside attractions we’ve listed, but it’s easy to get to from the 10 Freeway in your Santa Monica car rental, and there’s lots of parking nearby.

The warehouse buildings are huge, and cover an 8-acre area. The location is named after the trolley station that served the area, and a flower that grows in the area. It’s been an art complex since 1994, and  is currently the largest attraction of its kind in California. It’s fun to visit any or all of the forty or so art galleries at Bergamot, and there’s a cafe onsite if you want to make a day of it. The Bergamot has recently been purchased, and it’s soon to be known as the 26th Street Art Center. The new owners plan to keep the existing galleries, plus add new 120-room hotel.

The Santa Monica Playhouse

Other theaters in the Los Angeles area are better known than the Santa Monica Playhouse. However, The Santa Monica has the best live entertainment for children and families in the city. The playhouse is modestly sized, but has a long pedigree of entertaining productions since it was founded in 1960 by local actors, including the actor who starred in TV’s Gunsmoke. You can also sign up kids and teens for theater workshops that will help them with their budding performance skills.

Santa Monica Pier Aquarium

The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is a throwback attraction. It’s a small, interactive aquarium that’s short on big exhibits but big on fun. Admissions ranges from cheap for adults to free for kids under 12, so it’s an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon if you have a big group to amuse. The aquarium stressed education about marine conservation, but it’s more fun than a typical aquarium. There are over 100 exhibits, and many allow you to touch the fish, shellfish, and plants on display. You’ll have to plan your excursion to the aquarium to make sure they’re open. They’re closed to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to make way for local school groups.

The Broad Stage

The Broad Stage is a large (500+ seats) venue located at Santa Monica College. It’s a state of the art performing arts space that has everything from traditional stage plays to avant-garde music performances. There are actually two stages at the Broad (pronounced “Brode”), including a smaller stage called The Edye. It’s a less casual place than the Santa Monica Playhouse, but it still has lots of performances that are suitable for the whole family. If you’re searching for directions, be sure to avoid confusing the Broad Stage for the Broad Museum. They’re both named after the same patrons.

Value Rental Car has Santa Monica car rental rates that can’t be beat. Rent a car at LAX, and you’ll be able to visit all the attractions that nearby Santa Monica has to offer!

Photo courtesy of the The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The Definitive Guide to Los Angeles Area Beaches

Los Angeles is a very diverse city. Many other cities in the United States have a definable vibe that’s based on a few landmarks or traditions. Los Angeles is so big, and its citizens and its economy is so varied, that it’s hard to pin a single tag on it. Of course many tourists visit Los Angeles with a specific destination in mind. Perhaps it’s a week in Disneyland, or one of the many movie studio tours in the city. Business travelers often fly in, look for affordable car rental, a comfy place to stay, and a few reliable restaurants they can visit until they fly out again without giving the rest of the city a second thought.

That’s understandable, but it’s a shame. Los Angeles has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike. But if there’s one natural resource that gets overlooked by almost everyone who lives or visits the area, it has to be its beaches. Los Angeles has some of the most interesting and beautiful beaches in the world. Unfortunately, most people forget they’re there.

One of the reasons that Los Angeles beaches don’t get the respect they deserve might be because there are so many of them, and they’re so different from each other. We’ve assembled a comprehensive list of all the major beaches in the Los Angeles area, along with a short rundown on what makes each one special. We hope it makes it easier to find the seaside spot that’s just right for you.

Will Rogers State Beach

We put Will Rogers State Beach first on our list, because it’s the Swiss Army Knife of beaches in the Los Angeles area. The beach itself is a slender sliver of sand, almost two miles long, with the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the Pacific Coast Highway on the other. Will Rogers is closer to LAX and Los Angeles proper than beaches like Malibu, but it’s far enough from the middle of the city to avoid huge crowds.

Even if you’ve never been here before, you might feel like you have. The beach has been featured in so many movies and TV shows that it looks familiar to almost everyone. At the very least, you’ve probably seen the Baywatch beauties run up and down it in slow motion at least once.

Will Rogers is great for most any seaside activity, from swimming to surfing to scuba diving. There’s usually a lot of volleyball, picnics, and bike riding going on, too. That makes the beach a bit noisy for people who prefer quiet strolls by the water. The water quality is generally good, although there are occasional warnings during wintertime months. Use the money you saved on affordable car rental to pay for parking near the beach. There aren’t enough no parking signs to warn unwary out-of-towners, and the cost of a ticket and towing is a lot more than the available parking lots.

Zuma

Zuma beach is in Malibu, so it’s a little more upscale than beaches closer to the heart of Los Angeles. It’s another beach that’s appeared in countless TV shows and movies, so people on vacation from anywhere might feel like they’ve been there before. Zuma’s iconic lifeguard stations are a great place to take a selfie, but they’re not just for show. Zuma has the best surfing in Malibu, and the lifeguards aren’t ornaments.

Zuma is huge, so despite its popularity, it’s easy to stake out a place on the sandy beach and relax. The local scenery is wonderful, and you’re more likely to spot a celebrity here than at Will Rogers, for instance. If you’re in the mood for a more energetic workout than sunbathing, you can hike up Point Dume and get a view fit for scattering the ashes of Theodore Donald Kerabatsos.

Here’s Zuma Beach from the air:

Venice Beach

Technically, Venice Beach isn’t a Los Angeles beach. Venice is its own city, and for many local people, Venice Beach is its own universe. If you’re in the mood for a beach that’s a much a social phenomenon as a seaside retreat, Venice Beach is perfect for you. The beach itself is really big, with wide expanses of unbroken sand to stretch out on. Just off the sand is the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk, a strip of vendors, street performers, weightlifters, skaters, skateboarders, and free spirits.

The beach is one of the few in the area that’s has eating, drinking, and shopping within easy walking distance of the ocean. If you’re in the mood for a lively street scene to go with your sunburn, head to Venice Beach.

Leo Carillo

Leo Carillo Sate Park might be more your style if you’re more interested in tidepools than getting a tan. The beach has a much more complex mix of cliffs, crags, and inlets than a typical Los Angeles beach. The beach is great for swimming, windsurfing, fishing, or just sunbathing, but it’s especially suited to just poking around for sea life and beautiful landscapes.

There’s a campground at Leo Carillo, but you’ll be disappointed if you think that means you can camp surfside. The campground is well-kept, and you can bring even big trailers onsite, but it’s located across a busy highway from the beach itself. Leo Carillo State Park is located almost 30 miles north of the city, so be prepared to spend a while in your rental car looking at the taillights of the commuter ahead of you. The bright side is the beach is less crowded than beaches located closer to LAX and Santa Monica.

Here’s an overflight view of Leo Carillo:

Oxnard

Oxnard doesn’t fit the description of your usual tourist beach. It’s actually a series of many distinct beaches that make up almost 20 miles of sandy coastline in Oxnard, California, in Ventura County. Oxnard is about an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. It’s more of a daytripper’s destination than a short trip to the beach. If you want to get out of the city and enjoy a relaxed vibe and cool seashore temps, Oxnard is perfect.

Oxnard knows it needs to keep you amused to attract you to their beaches, so there’s lots to do. The surfing is excellent, or you can rent jet skis or other watercraft and putter around. The Pacific Coast Bicycle Route wends its way through Oxnard’s waterfront. You can rent beach cruisers, tandem bikes, and assorted pedal mobiles to cruise far and wide.

Santa Monica State Beach

The Santa Monica beach is another location that’s familiar to people who’ve never been to Los Angeles before. The iconic Santa Monica Pier is a miniature amusement park that sticks out over the Pacific, and offers hours of fun for kids of all ages. The beach itself is really, nice, too, with long, unbroken stretches of white sand. Santa Monica is a compact and pedestrian friendly area, so you can venture off the beach to shop and eat without too much trouble.

Hermosa Beach

Hermosa means “pretty” in Spanish, and Hermosa Beach is appropriately named. If you’re looking for a romantic beach getaway, a late afternoon excursion to Hermosa Beach is just the ticket. The views of the sunset over the water from the pier are astonishing. There are lots of walking and biking paths if you feel like stretching your legs. The Strand, a paved offstreet path, runs along the beach from Torrance all the way to Santa Monica. There are plenty of places to shop, eat, and enjoy your favorite mixed drinks.

Laguna

The Laguna beach is located right in the middle of the downtown area of Laguna Beach, the city. That makes the beach a bustling place almost all the time. Laguna Beach is known for the predictability of its climate. It’s about the same, winter and summer, which makes it a great destination when other beach areas are seasonally too hot or cold. The beach itself is a great people watching destination, although it’s a much more sedate crowd than a beach like Venice or Santa Monica. There are lots of volleyball and basketball games, and a long boardwalk that’s perfect for poking around. There’s a substantial artist colony in the area, so you can mix in some gallery browsing into the general fun.

El Matador

El Matador gets lumped in with a handful of other beaches in Malibu, but it has a different vibe than all the surrounding areas. It’s usually crowded in the summer. During the off season, you might find you have the place mostly to yourself. It’s a tiny, “pocket” beach, but there’s plenty of room for strolls with picturesque scenery around. There are lots of nooks and crannies in the cliffs, and the sea stacks, towers of sandstone that have been eroded by the surf, make this beach a great selfie destination. The swimming and bodyboarding is great, but El Matador is really shines for long, romantic walks. You can see some great pictures of El Matador here.

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach is a worthy competitor for Hermosa Beach when it comes to sunsets. There’s a big pier and a concrete bikepath, too. The beach itself is really wide and flat, and seems to go on forever compared to some of the pocket beaches we’ve featured. The beach does eventually morph into big sand dunes at Sand Dune Park, but most people stay on the long, flat stretches of soft sand.

If you’re into people watching, Manhattan Beach has been voted the #1 place for the Rich and Single, and placed high on the Travel Channel’s list of the Sexiest Beaches. If you’re a surfer, Manhattan is a kind of paradise, although it can be pretty crowded. The city hosts a yearly volleyball tournament and surfing festival that keeps things hopping.

Dockweiler

If you’re staying close to LAX, Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey is really handy. It’s just a little south of LAX, and it’s easy to find. If you’ve got an affordable car rental deal, the $12 parking fee won’t hurt your budget. Unlike a lot of the beaches in the Los Angeles area, the parking lot is really big, so you’re unlikely to get shut out.

Visitors to everything you can think of at Dockweiler Beach. It’s a long, sandy beach with very clear water, great for surfing, boogie boarding, or just swimming. There’s a bike path that runs for miles.  There’s hang gliding for the more adventurous, too. The beach allows beachside barbecues, another treat if you’re looking to spend the whole day at the beach. Even bonfires are permitted on the beach.

Bolsa Chica

Bolsa Chica State Beach is one of the most interesting beaches in the greater Los Angeles area. It’s near Huntington Beach, California, so it’s not a long drive from downtown LA. The beach is popular for family outings, and allows fire rings and grills on the beach.  Surf casting is a local specialty. During certain times of the year, you can even catch fish with your bare hands. The beach is popular with wildlife and bird watchers, too. Across the highway from the sandy beach is the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, where you can enjoy wetland areas filled with fish, birds, waterfowl, and interesting plants.

Photo courtesy of the The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

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9 Surefire Strategies To See a Celebrity While You’re in Los Angeles

charlize-theron-lax-car-rentalThere’s a lot to see and do when you visit Los Angeles. Greater Los Angeles covers a big area, and you can find everything from sandy, sunlit beaches to quiet mountain hiking trails. Millions of people visit Los Angeles every year, from every corner of the world. Unlike many popular travel destinations, Los Angeles has more than one or two vacation attractions to tempt a traveler. The economy isn’t a one-trick pony, either. The Los Angeles area is a hotbed of commerce, too.  You’ll find everything from manufacturing to e-commerce startups. However, if there’s one thing Los Angeles is known for, it’s the entertainment industry. If seeing a celebrity is the first thing on your mind when you leave the LAX car rental counter, you’re in luck. You’d be surprised how often people spot their favorite celebrities out and about in L.A.

You’ll be disappointed if you expect movie stars to be standing on every corner in Hollywood, however. People who work in the movie, TV, and recording industry value their privacy. In order to lead any kind of normal life, they have to put up barriers between themselves and their fans. As the crush of paparazzi and autograph hounds has increased, so have the steps celebrities take to avoid unwanted attention.

Don’t worry. If you have your heart set on seeing one of your favorite stars while you’re in Los Angeles, you can still do it. You simply have to know where to look. Here’s our list of 9 Surefire Strategies To See a Celebrity While You’re in Los Angeles:

Visit the Chinese Theater

The Chinese Theater changes its name every so often, but it’s still the number one destination in Hollywood for film fans. It was originally called Grauman’s Chinese Theatre due to its elaborate, Oriental design motif. In the 1970s, it was renamed Mann’s Chinese Theatre, and since 2013 it’s been called the TCL Chinese Theatre. Naming rights aside, the movie theater is still as exotic and fun as it ever was. The interior is very opulent by today’s strip-mall movie theater standards. The real fun happens just outside.

The sidewalk outside the Chinese Theater is filled with the impressions of the shoes and hands of dozens of famous celebrities, with more being added all the time. It’s fun take a selfie standing in the same spot as your favorite actor or actress. Even if you never rub elbows with a celebrity at the LAX car rental counter or the Ralph’s supermarket parking lot, it’s still fun to stand in the same place they once stood.

While the handprint-footprint ceremony doesn’t happen very often, but it’s a blast to see one. The ceremonies don’t get held very often, but if you see one announced, get there early for the best views. Regular folks don’t get much of a view of the imprint process itself because of the crush of celebrities and press. You’ll get to see dozens of notable people arriving and departing. Installation ceremonies are reserved for the biggest stars, often during the premieres of their newest movies, which leads to another great way to see celebrities:

Movie Premieres

Hollywood is still the heart of the movie business. Although movies are made all over the world, Los Angeles is the favorite place to hold movie premieres. That presents a great opportunity to see the biggest stars walk the red carpet into famous movie houses.

One of the best things about movie premieres is that they’re designed to attract the maximum number of fans. The producers of movies desperately want you to pay attention, and they do everything they can to attract big crowds. Movie houses like the TCL Chinese Theatre post upcoming movie premieres right on their website. It’s next to impossible to get tickets to attend the biggest openings, but you’ll be able to hang outside and watch all your favorite stars come and go. Movie stars understand that publicity is important, and they attend the premieres of their own movies as well as the openings of movies made by their colleagues.

Walk of Fame Ceremonies

The handprints and footprints outside of the Chinese Theatre started the craze for commemorating big stars, but the Walk of Fame has taken over as the biggest collection of movie, TV, and music stars in the world. Famous entertainers get pink terrazzo stars embedded into the sidewalks all along Hollywood Boulevard, as well as on nearby Vine Street all the way to Sunset Boulevard. Some celebrities get more than one star, depending on their contributions to different kinds of entertainment.

It’s fun to simply wander around Hollywood and discover the stars for your favorite entertainers as you walk. If you want to be more organized, you can use the search box on the Walk of Fame website to find the address of your favorites before heading out. If you prefer live celebrities to sidewalk icons, just check the list of upcoming ceremonies. It’s always free to attend a Walk of Fame ceremony. It’s fun to see celebrities and their families bask in the glow of their new sidewalk stars. Movie and TV actors have a tendency to be less aloof at Walk of Fame ceremonies than other occasions. It’s common to get a handshake or a selfie if you play your cards right.

Academy Awards Cheap Seats

If you’re not in the movie industry, you have no chance to sit inside at the Academy Awards. Just because you can’t get in doesn’t mean you can’t attend. Hollywood stars love to walk the famous red carpet at the Oscars, and you can watch them do it from bleacher seats. The awards ceremony is in late February or early March, but you’ll have to plan a lot farther ahead to get a seat outside the auditorium. You can visit the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website to sign up for coveted bleacher seats.

Comedy Clubs

If your taste in entertainment tends more towards sitcoms, Los Angeles is the place for you. Los Angeles is a hotbed of comedy clubs and other intimate venues. It’s very common for comedians who got their start in the standup world to return to the clubs that got them their first break to tell a few jokes. It’s not likely that you’ll see top names on the billboard outside, however. Most appearances by household word stars are unannounced.

You’ll have the best chance to see a star if you visit one of the premier comedy clubs. You can find a list of some of the best comedy clubs in Los Angeles here on the Value Rental Car Travel Guide blog. Insider’s hint: Many stars choose off nights to perform, so don’t be afraid to try a Monday night instead of a Saturday show.

LAX Car Rental Dropoff Area

If you’re flying into LAX, you’re already at ground zero for celebrity sightings. Many movie and TV stars live in the Los Angeles area. Others live elsewhere, but still fly in for business meetings, award shows, and interviews. While some celebrities shun the terminal and stick to private gates and flights, many others walk through LAX like any other passenger. Los Angeles natives are more low-key about seeing celebrities in public than visitors are. A polite wave or a smile is the best way to acknowledge your favorite performers if you see them in their natural habitat near the LAX terminal dropoff and pickup door. Say something pleasant, and you might even get a selfie with your fave. Check out all these showbiz movers and shakers making their way through the LAX terminal.

Studio Audiences

It’s fun to see celebrities at the supermarket or a restaurant, but it’s not that common anymore. Why not watch them work? Plenty of TV shows are recorded in Los Angeles every day, and it’s not that hard to get a ticket to a taping if you look around. If you’ve never been in a studio audience before, you’re in for a treat. The actors usually address the audience directly before the show, and you’d be surprised how informal the productions can be.

Game shows and talk shows have the most reliable schedules, because they’re on most every day. If you plan well ahead, you may be able to get tickets to a taping of your favorite situation comedy.

Location Shoots

If you don’t mind standing around a little, you can watch a location shoot of a movie or TV show. Newcomers to the entertainment world might be surprised at the slow pace of filming, but if you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of movies and TV shows, location shoots can’t be beat. Of course you might spend more time looking at the outside of the star actor’s trailer than the actor. You can rest assured that sooner or later they’ll show up, however, which is more than you can say for public functions. Check online for websites that list filming locations in real time to schedule a day trip.

Playhouses

Many actors get tired of only performing their craft to a camera lens and a bunch of stagehands. Even the biggest celluloid stars try to get in front of a live audience whenever they can, for the love of acting as much as the paycheck. Sometimes the easiest way to see a big star up close is to attend a live stage performance. Luckily, the Los Angeles area has many fine playhouses that stage a wide variety of shows. Nearby areas like Pasadena also have highly-regarded venues for live performances, like the Pasadena Playhouse. If music is more your bag, don’t forget the Hollywood Bowl, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Remember, it’s Los Angeles, so the audience might have as many stars as the stage on any given night!

How To See a Celebrity in L.A. from Value Rental Car rentavaluecar.com

Insider’s Guide To Driving in Los Angeles

los angeles freeway cheapest monthly car rentalIf you’re planning on staying in Los Angeles for more than a day or two, it’s smart to rent a car to get around. Los Angeles has always been a car-centric place. Public transit is spotty compared to other big cities like New York. Driving in Los Angeles is slightly more complicated than simply looking for the cheapest monthly car rental you can find and turning on your GPS. If you’ve never driven in Los Angeles before, you’ll soon find out that drivers do things a little differently here compared to the rest of the country.

Because of the sunny weather and the big highways, many drivers find that it’s simpler to make your way around Los Angeles than it is in almost any other major American city. However, it still pays to understand the city’s neighborhoods, traffic patterns, and local traffic laws and driving customs. We’ve assembled an insider’s guide to driving in Los Angeles to make it easier!

What To Call It

Los Angeles is a big city. It has a definable vibe, and that vibe is based in large part on the automobile. Drivers in Los Angeles have their own particular vocabulary for most everything that has to do with getting around in a car. You’ll have fewer problems getting from point A to point B in Los Angeles if you know some driving terms that are peculiar to the Los Angeles area:

Los Angeles Has Freeways, Not Highways

Get used to every big road being called a freeway. You’ll almost never hear a Los Angeles driver referring to anything as a highway, an interstate, or a state route. If you want to sound like you belong in Los Angeles, call everything with guard rails a freeway.

Los Angeles freeways all have names. For instance, the 405 freeway is called the San Diego Freeway. The Golden State Freeway is the 5 freeway anywhere north of Downtown L.A. It’s not really necessary to learn all the freeway names, however. Los Angeles drivers don’t use freeway names very often. They simply refer to roads by their number, preceded by “The.” If you ask for directions in Los Angeles, you’ll most likely hear something like, “Take The 405 to The 10.”

Even the road signs are set up for following freeways by number. Road names are mostly absent from freeway signage. Most simply list the freeway number and the compass direction. Some add the largest city or neighborhood for each direction. For example, if you’re looking for signs for the Santa Monica Freeway, you might miss your turn. Look for “The 10,” and you’ll be fine.

Telling Surface Streets From Service Streets

It can be easy to be confused by the difference between the terms “surface streets” and “service streets” when you’re getting directions in Los Angeles.

Surface Streets in Los Angeles

You’ll hear the term surface street a lot when you’re driving in Los Angeles. For the most part, locals refer to any street that isn’t a freeway as a surface street. If it’s not a limited access road, it’s a surface street. Los Angeles is an enormous grid of surface streets that’s crisscrossed by big, limited access freeways.

Service Streets in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the city of boulevards. In general, a boulevard is a wide, multi-lane road, often with a median strip. Boulevards can also have lanes that run parallel to the main road. These lanes are called service streets, and are usually separated from the main boulevard by a grassy island. If you’re trying to visit an address on a boulevard that has a service street, you’ll have to make a turn before you reach your destination, or turn around shortly after.

Luckily, service streets don’t usually have a different name than the boulevard they serve. The signage will read the same as the main road. If you’re from a crowded eastern city, you’ll appreciate how much easier it can be to drive slowly along a service street to find a street address. It makes finding a parking space, easier, too.

There Are Cities Inside The City of Los Angeles

You can drive at full speed for more than an hour and never leave Los Angeles. It’s a big city, and really spread out. However, it’s also possible to pass through four different cities in about ten miles of road. Cities like Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are completely encircled by the City of Los Angeles.

All these smaller cities inside of Los Angeles makes the city much more vibrant and interesting. They can pose problems for out-of-town drivers, however. Street names can change when you enter a new city. Sometimes a street name changes when you enter a city, and changes back when you reach the other border.

Sometimes streets just end when they reach a notable destination like a park, a lake, or an airport. The road may begin again on the other side of the obstacle, but they’re disconnected.

Beware Familiar Street Names in Unfamiliar Places

If you’re stuck in traffic, it can be tempting to see a familiar street name on a sign, and take the exit thinking you can go the rest of the way on surface streets. Be careful. Many smaller cities inside of Los Angeles have roads with the same names as other local cities, but that are completely unrelated to roads with the same name elsewhere.

cheapest monthly car rental driving los angelesHow Los Angeles Natives Drive

Driving in Los Angeles isn’t much different than anywhere else in the US. There are some laws and habits you might not be aware of, however. Here’s a short list of traffic rules for L.A

DUI

Law enforcement is very strict for driving under the influence. The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0.08%, and sobriety checkpoints are common. You can still be charged with driving under the influence for even lower levels if you exhibit other signs of intoxication. If you’re out for a big bash in Los Angeles with a bunch of friends, it’s smart to rent a party bus or use limousine service to avoid trouble with a DUI.

Carpool Lanes

Los Angeles was a pioneer in the use of carpool lanes. On L.A. freeways, they’re called High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, or simply HOVs. You can recognize HOV lanes by they diamond painted on the road surface. You’ll have to be vigilant about what constitutes a HOV lane. Some require only two occupants, others are reserved for three or more.

If you’re visiting from other parts of California that have HOV lanes that are only restricted during rush hour, don’t forget that in LA, carpool lane rules apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Some motorcycles and low emission vehicles are eligible to ride in the HOV lane at any time, so don’t get confused if you see a car in the HOV lane with just a driver.

Cell Phone Etiquette

It’s legal to talk on your cell phone while you’re driving. You must use a hands-free device, though. If you’re spotted holding a smartphone to your ear while driving, you can expect a hefty ticket. Texting is specifically banned, including reading texts. You shouldn’t use the GPS in your handheld phone while driving, either. Even the cheapest monthly car rental deals are available with dedicated GPS now, and it’s smart to use one.

Leaving Children in the Car

It gets hot in Southern California. It’s not smart to leave a small child in an unattended car even for short periods, and it’s also against the law. Children under the age of six can’t be left in a car alone, and a child must be at least twelve to look after another child in a parked car. It’s also illegal to leave pets unattended in parked cars. One more thing about kids and cars: it’s against the law to smoke if you have a child in the car.

Traffic Is a Fact of Life in LA

If you’re new to Los Angeles, you might be astonished by the number of cars on the road, and the number of roads for cars to be on. LA natives are accustomed to heavy traffic, and have smart strategies for avoiding freeways during rush hours. There are plenty of major surface streets that can look like parking lots for long stretches during commuting hours. If you have a traffic app like Waze,  Google Maps, or Mapquest, you’ll be able to avoid many traffic tie-ups. You’d do well to ask LA natives for advice on the best times to travel, too.

If you’re more old school, you can tune in t KNX-AM 1070. They feature traffic reports six times an hour, all day and night. You can also dial 511 on your phone for an instant traffic report, but remember to use hands free mode on your phone.

If you’d like to get a real feeling of what it’s like to drive in downtown Los Angeles, check out this video:

Remember, for the cheapest monthly car rental in greater Los Angeles, contact Value Rental Car, with convenient locations in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

Insider's Guide To Los Angeles Freeway Names from rentavaluecar.com

Photos courtesy of the The Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

How To Rent a Car Without a Credit Card

cash deposit car rentals value rental carWhen it comes to modern traveling, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. With the power of the internet, there are a million ways to choose destinations and make travel arrangements. It seems like there’s a million ways to pay for your trip, too. Consumers are no longer tied down to a credit card or two when they want to make purchases. Alternative payment methods like PayPal, virtual currencies, debit cards, and wire transfers are accepted almost everywhere now. If you’re trying to rent a car, however, you might run straight into a wall if you’re trying to pay with anything but a major credit card. Cash deposit car rentals are one alternative if you want to rent a car without a credit card. You’ll have to hunt around in some cities to find car rental companies that accept cash deposits, however.

If you’re one of the millions of consumers who don’t carry a major credit card, don’t lose heart when it’s time to rent a car. We’ve assembled a handful of smart strategies for renting a car without a credit card.

Avoid Prepaid Cards

Rental car companies that accept cash deposits aren’t as common as regular car rental companies. Most cities have at least a few to choose from. They’ll all have different rules for cash deposit car rentals, but you can usually work out something that fits your budget and your payment method. However, it’s smart to avoid using prepaid credit cards, like gift cards, to rent a car. Here’s why

A prepaid credit card isn’t cash, it’s not a debit card, and it’s not really a credit card, either. It doesn’t bring all of the benefits that a traditional credit card enjoys. There’s no credit line backing it up, and there are no extra features like free travel insurance.

Since the money is available immediately on a prepaid card, you might think that it’s as good as cash. Your car rental company probably won’t. That’s because even though the card is loaded with cash, it still carries a few of the protections for the consumer that a regular credit card has. It might be possible to reverse a charge on a prepaid card, for instance. That means you might have a more difficult time using a prepaid card than with straight cash deposit car rentals.

Debit Card Car Rental

Many travelers are surprised to find out they can use their debit card to rent a car. Car rentals using a debit card are similar to cash deposit car rentals, but not exactly the same. The differences might mean the difference between a carefree trip and a traveling disaster, so plan ahead.

Travel budgets can be tight. It’s smart to have contingency funds available at all times to take care of travel hiccups, or to take advantage of opportunities for extra shopping or added excursions. That kind of cash buffer can be hard to maintain if you use a debit card. Cash deposit car rentals have a fixed amount, for instance, but using a debit card for car rental, hotel stays, and the like can be trickier. Many businesses treat debit card transactions like a regular credit card purchase. That means they place a hold on contingency funds they require to cover any potential charge you might make.

On a credit card, this contingency isn’t such a big deal. It’s applied against your credit line. The car rental agency just verifies that you could charge up to the amount that’s required.  It doesn’t charge the whole amount at once. With a debit card, they freeze the total amount they need to cover any potential charges. That means your money will be held in your debit card account until the transaction is complete. That won’t happen until your vacation is over. Even if your car rental charges are low, you can’t spend the rest of your money until the bill is settled. If you need the money in your debit card account for other purchases, you’ll be out of luck.

Use Premium Debit Cards

All debit cards are not created equal. Some debit cards are more like hybrid credit cards, especially if they’re linked to bank accounts that have overdraft protection. If you use a premium debit card at the car rental counter, you’ll probably end up with a smaller hold on your available funds. That will leave you more leeway on other purchases while you’re traveling.

For example,  PayPal debit cards come in many flavors. If you qualify for a Business or Premier PayPal debit card, you can link a backup funding source to the card. This can be one of any number of accounts, from checking to a money market fund. This allows you to use the debit card for things like car rental, but doesn’t require having a huge cash balance that’s put on hold to make the transaction go through. As long as there’s a backup funding source for emergencies, you’ll satisfy the requirements of most car rental agencies. When you return the car, the hold on your backup funds will be removed.

Cash Deposit Car Rentals

If you don’t carry a major credit card or premium debit card, car rentals with cash deposit is always an alternative. For the most part, you’ll do better at smaller, independent car rental companies than at the major car rental outfits. While some big car rental companies advertise non-standard rental terms, you might be turned away from the counter anyway. Many car rental companies are franchises, and the local outlet has the right to refuse service to cash customers.

Beware Online Aggregators

If you’re planning on looking for car rentals that accept cash deposits, you have to be very careful if you use online travel comparison sites. Car rentals that take cash deposits are harder to find, and many comparison websites lump all their listings together. Some travelers make reservations through online travel aggregators because the listings promise one thing, only to find out that the listing is out of date or in error.

This can lead to a big problem when your reservation puts a hold on your funds. If you cancel the reservation because the car rental company won’t accept a cash deposit, the hold on your funds can last for days, or even weeks. You won’t have a rental car, and you won’t have access to your available balance, either. It’s always better to talk to the actual rental car company for car rental with cash deposit.

Avoiding a Credit Check

Lots of traditional car rental agencies advertise cash deposit car rental. They use credit checks to turn away cash customers anyway. Many consumers who use cash don’t have a credit history, or are still rebuilding their credit. A credit check can be a non-starter for any kind of car rental. Make sure a prospective car rental agency will accept cash and valid ID for cash deposit car rentals, and without any strings.

Don’t forget, one of the reasons car rental agencies like credit cards is that they represent a second form of identification. They also serve as a form of of credit check. If you’re using cash, or a debit card, be prepared to show more proof of identity than just your driver’s license. Some possible ID might include things like a passport, an insurance card for a vehicle, an airline ticket, or a copy of a utility bill or bank statement that shows your name and address. A military ID is also an excellent form of identification.

For more information about cash deposit car rental in Los Angeles, contact Value Rental Car. They have convenient locations near LAX, and in Pasadena. 

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Car Rental Under 21 Years Old? Here’s How!

car rental under 21-value rental car-los angelesIt’s great to be a young adult. You’re in the prime of life, and you have fewer responsibilities than you’ll have when you’re older. You can travel around, see the world, meet new people, and try out different vocations. It’s interesting to visit other parts of the country, and the world, and then decide where you might want to live. Unfortunately, even though you’re old enough to vote, join the armed forces, and pay taxes on your earnings, you don’t always qualify for many of the benefits that older adults take for granted. One of the most common troubles young adults face is car rental under 21 years of age.

Sorry, Everyone Under 25 Pays More

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 21, don’t assume that your troubles will be over when you hit the magic 21. While car rentals for under 21 drivers are hard to come by, you’re still going to be treated differently by car rental companies until you’re 25 or over. Here’s why:

Car Rentals Under 25 Are Riskier

Car rental companies worry about accidents. Their insurance rates are very high, and they’re always on the lookout for ways to lower them. Car insurance companies use statistics to set their rates, and drivers under the age of 25 are much more likely to have a car accident than older, more experienced drivers. Car rental for under 21 drivers is statistically even riskier for them.

The insurance companies don’t forbid car rental companies from offering underage car rental, but they do try to discourage it. Blanket insurance policies for rental car agencies make insurance rates higher across the board if underage car rentals are included. Most large car rental companies charge substantially more for car rental under 25, and simply forbid car rental under 21.

State Laws Don’t Help Underage Rental Car Customers

A few state legislatures have tried to help out younger drivers. Michigan and New York, for instance, require all car rental companies to offer rental cars for under 21 drivers. The federal government has also looked into regulating rental car fairness.

There’s a catch. While the state can force car rental agencies to rent the cars, they don’t set what the rental car companies can charge. If you’re over 18 but under 21, you might find yourself paying daily fees in excess of $100 to rent a car in states where it’s mandated. That’s usually far more than the rental itself costs. And that doesn’t count all the other fees involved. In practice, underage rental car laws don’t have a big effect on your ability to rent a car affordably.

Major Agencies Avoid Car Rental Under 21

If you shop around for rental cars for under 25 drivers, you’re bound to find conflicting information. This is especially true of major car rental companies like Advantage, Dollar, Enterprise, Avis, and others. While many of the policies for car rentals are set at a corporate level, a lot of details are left up to the operators of each car rental location. That included policies on under 21 car rental.

That’s why it’s important to check with the actual car rental location where you’ll be picking up and dropping off your car. If you rely on the information on a central corporate website, you might be turned away. It’s also possible that the requirements to rent a car are so strict that you’ll be unable to meet them.

How To Save Money on Under 21 Car Rental

Renting a car when you’re under 25 is expensive, and even pricier and harder to find when you’re under 21. That doesn’t mean you can’t find great deals. Smart shoppers do their homework, and look for companies who specialize in unusual rental situations. Because you’re not a typical customer, there are bound to be more rules and higher fees. Here are some smart strategies to offset some of the drawbacks of car rental under 21:

Avoid luxury vehicle and truck rentals

What you rent is as important as how old you are when it comes to car rental. Many young drivers see car rental as an exciting change from driving their parents humdrum minivans, or riding on public transportation. That’s understandable, but trying to rent high-powered sports cars, large trucks, and other luxury vehicles is going to be prohibitively expensive or impossible for young drivers.

That makes sense. More expensive cars need bigger insurance policies, and car rental agencies charge more to cover their potential liability. Be smart, and stick to renting regular vehicles at regular rates. You’re much more likely to be turned away at a rental counter if you try to rent a Porsche than a Toyota.

Don’t overlook corporate and organization rates

If you have a job with a big company, be sure to see if they have a corporate account with a major car rental firm before you shop around. Most corporate accounts require the rental car companies to treat every member the same, including young drivers. Not only will they rent to underage drivers, they’ll often waive all fees as well.

Exceptions for military members

You can join the military when you’re 18, so there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be able to rent a car at that age, too. Most car rental companies agree. If you’re a serving member of any military branch, you probably qualify for rental car service at reduced rates. Civilians who work for the federal government sometimes qualify as well. Membership in USAA may also help underage drivers to rent a car. Children of members often qualify for the same benefits as their parents.

Your insurance might be more important than your age

For young drivers, rental car companies will take a particular interest in your car insurance policy. If you’re fully insured to drive in the state where you want to rent a car, you’ll have a much easier time finding a good deal. If not, look into the benefits you get with your credit cards and other insurance. While it might not be enough to avoid big fees at the counter, it might make the difference between driving away or walking away from the counter.

How you pay affects what you can rent

If you have a major credit card with all the bells and whistles, you’ll have an easier time finding a rental car agency to work with you. Debit cards also work, but you’ll have to have a big balance available to cover any potential liability. If you’re too young to have good credit, it is possible to rent a car using a cash deposit. However, you should be prepared to pay a lot more, and to be able to prove your identity in several ways to rent a car. For all car rental under 21, you’ll need good insurance to get the best deals.

Independent Car Rental Agencies Are Your Best Bet

You’ll have an easier time with car rental under 21 years of age if you recognize that you’re an unusual customer for a regular car rental company. You’ll have an easier time dealing with independent car rental agencies who specialize in unusual car rental terms. Every city has small car rental companies with more flexible policies than the bigger brand names.

For Los Angeles car rental under 21, contact Value Rental Car in Inglewood and Pasadena. They have flexible policies and alternatives to traditional car rental policies that will have you driving in no time, even if you aren’t over the age of 25.

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7 Solid Strategies for Vacationing With Children

family vacation tips affordable car rentalsVacations are for relaxing. They’re great for getting away from your regular schedule so you can recharge your batteries. That means that the best vacations have the fewest hassles. Even if you love energetic holiday getaways filled with activities like hiking, skiing, or swimming, taking care of travel arrangements, comfortable hotel accommodations, and affordable car rentals in advance will allow you to relax and have more fun.

Even for the seasoned traveler, bringing children along sometimes makes travel more of an adventure than you’d like. Children can bring unexpected complications to any kind of travel. That doesn’t mean you can’t plan a successful vacation just because you’re bringing children along. With careful planning, you’ll be able to avoid common pitfalls and enjoy your vacation even more. Here’s a list of 7 solid strategies for vacationing with children:

Pre-Book. Or Else

Adults often get away on the spur of the moment. Once you introduce children into the mix, spontaneity gets much harder. Children like normal routines, and they prefer to have familiar things to eat, wear, and look at. Travel can be challenging for an adult. It can be even harder for a child who’s overtired, hungry, and in a strange place.

Make your reservations for hotels, car rental, and flights well in advance, so there’s less chance of being shut out at the last minute. You’ll get more affordable car rentals, hotel rooms, and airfare if you don’t book at the last minute, too.

Have Entertainment Handy

In any long trip, there are bound to be periods when nothing much is going on. Children have a much shorter attention span than adults, so it’s best to have something on hand to amuse them during layovers and other trip interruptions.

Many people rely on smartphones as their go-to entertainment device these days. Think twice before putting all your eggs in the smartphone basket, however. You never know when there will be gaps in your internet connectivity that might turn your smartphone into a dumbphone in a hurry. A tablet pre-loaded with favorite movies and games might be a better bet. Don’t forget to bring the charger!

Prepare for Car Trips

If you have a lot of pavement to cover between stops, make sure you’re ready to amuse your little ones the whole way. Luckily, it’s easy to keep children amused in the car. Try matching and identification games like “I Spy,” or “Punch Buggy.” A bag full of little handheld toys like fidget spinners are useful, too.

Don’t rely strictly on devices like tablets or phones to amuse your children during car trips. Many children get motion sickness when they stare at screens for long periods in the car.

Synchronize Flights With Sleep

Smart travelers plan their long haul flights and lengthy rental car rides to coincide with their children’s sleep patterns. You’ll have a much easier time if your children sleep on planes and during car trips. They’ll also be less cranky when you do arrive at your destinations.

Search for Child-Friendly Services

Traveling with children is different than traveling with other adults, and many businesses cater to traveling families. Don’t settle for the first offer you find for your trip. Choose resorts and hotels that cater to families instead of singles. Some resorts have activities just for kids that can give you a welcome break, too. Finding affordable car rentals doesn’t just mean low prices. Select a car rental company that has the right kind of vehicle for your group. Many car rental companies have minivan rentals, for instance.

Keep the Weather In Mind

Adults sometimes enjoy roughing it a little when they’re on vacation. Children enjoy themselves more when they’re comfortable and rested. Make sure you have a lot of the proper clothes for your children for the climate at your destination. Children need more spare garments, too, because they spill food and drink more than adults.

Make Parenthood Pay

It’s true that traveling with children requires more careful planning than traveling with only adults. If you minimize any hitches, your little companions can also make your trip more enjoyable and lively. Having children along can also pay off another way. Many businesses offer family-friendly deals on transportation, lodging, meals, and accommodations. Many attractions like theme parks offer very attractive discounts, or even free admissions, depending on the age of your children. Make sure to inquire about family rates when you book your trip. You’ll enjoy your trip even more if it costs less!

Don’t Miss These 5 Venice Beach Attractions While You’re in L.A.

venice beach cheap rental cars at LAX value rental carThe Los Angeles area is really big and spread out. If you just flew in and took advantage of cheap rental cars at LAX, you might not know where to drive first. For L.A. newbies, it can be hard to know one neighborhood from another, and where to go to find the kind of fun you’re searching for.

While you’re trying to decide, it’s important to remember that the Los Angeles area is more than just one city. Many of the locations you know from television and movies are actually their own cities. Each of these cities has their own unique vibe. Venice Beach is one of the most intriguing places in the L.A. area, and many tourists end up spending a lot of time there. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most rewarding destinations to visit in Venice while you’re in town.

Take a Walking Tour

Venice is an interesting place, so it’s no surprise that a walking tour of the area is interesting, too. There are a bunch of walking tours available. One of the most highly rated is the Real To Reel Vintage Walking tour. The guide knows their way around, of course, but that’s only half the fun. At each stop on the tour, you can see movie and TV show snippets that feature the site over the years. If you’re only familiar with Venice from seeing it on the silver screen the tour is a great way to match up your memories with the actual places.

Real To Reel Vintage Walking Tour

Walk Along the Venice Canals

Venice California really does have canals! Of course, they’re not as elaborate as the canals in Venice, Italy, but as Venice has become more upscale, residents and businesses have taken better care of their waterways. The canals wend their way through a residential neighborhood, so it’s important to respect people’s privacy. However, there are well maintained sidewalks on both side of the canal, and footbridges here and there to get from one side to the other. Here’s an aerial view:

Venice Canals Association

Hit the Boardwalk

If Venice Beach is famous for one thing, it’s got to be the Boardwalk. Like everything else in Los Angeles, the Venice Boardwalk is paved, but that doesn’t detract from its charm. It’s a broad walking boulevard that runs along a strip of interesting shops of all kinds, restaurants, and other attractions. It’s a great place to see and be seen. You’ll always see lots of street entertainers, and a constant assortment of interesting people. There’s a winding path along the beach that’s popular with skaters, too.

If you’ve taken advantage of cheap rental cars at LAX, you can usually find on-street parking within a few blocks of the beach.

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Which Way To Muscle Beach?

Technically, there’s more than one Muscle Beach in the Los Angeles area. Hardcore lifters prefer the Venice Beach version of Muscle Beach. Towards the southern end of the Venice Boardwalk, there’s a big outdoor gym that’s a favorite for exhibitionists of all kinds. If you’ve got the nerve to work out in front of hundreds of spectators, and next to guys that look like Aahnold, the Venice Muscle Beach is for you.

Muscle Beach Venice

Shop on Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Abbot Kinney Boulevard has become one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world. It’s palm-tree-lined sidewalks are bustling with shoppers all year round. There are also yearly festivals that turn the street into a full-time bazaar. There are many great eateries along the boulevard. If you’re feeling informal, there’s always a ton of food trucks parked there, too.

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Photo of the Venice Canals courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.