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


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

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.

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.

Under 25 car rental-value rental

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.

5 Garden Spots in Pasadena You Don’t Want To Miss

car rentals in pasadena gardens and parks value rental carPasadena is an unusual place. The city is probably best known for its Tournament of Roses parade, held every year on New Year’s Day. It’s also home to the highly regarded Cal Tech University, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Even though Pasadena is home to so many important institutions, it still retains its reputation for quiet, elegant streets and architectural charm. However, it’s easy for tourists to find rental cars in Pasadena, good restaurants, beautiful historic architecture, and exciting nightlife.

Pasadena has nice weather throughout the year. Newcomers to the area might find that the summer temperatures are hotter than many parts of nearby Los Angeles. Luckily for nature lovers in Pasadena, there are many public gardens and parks where you can spend some time and beat the heat. We’ve assembled a list of 5 garden spots you won’t want to miss, whether you’re in Pasadena for a business trip, vacation, or a permanent resident.

Wrigley Gardens

The Wrigley Gardens is one of the best examples of old Pasadena you’ll find. The house, called Wrigley Mansion, has 22 rooms and more than 18,000 square feet of total floor space. The house is mostly converted to the headquarters for the Tournament of Roses parade, but it’s still a beautiful destination. While the parade only lasts a few hours, once a year, planning this enormous spectacle keeps almost 1,000 people busy all year round.

Outside the mansion you’ll find an astonishing arrangement of roses, camellias, and various other beautiful annual plants. If you’re a fan of the yearly parade, you’ll love to see where many of the cultivars of roses were developed for the elegant parade floats.

Wrigley Gardens

Arlington Garden

Pasadena and nearby Los Angeles are generally green all year round. Don’t let that fool you. They’re basically a desert when it comes to yearly rainfall. Gardeners in the area manage water restrictions by growing many types of drought-resistant plants. Arlington Garden is a great place to see how a community can establish and care for a drought-tolerant garden.

The garden is only about an acre, but it feels like more. It’s a peaceful retreat from urban street scene, and a great place to relax or meditate. The park seems larger than it is, because the paths take long, winding routes to show off all the plantings. Go in the spring to see the best flowers.

Arlington Garden

Eaton Canyon

Eaton Canyon is more wilderness than park. The canyon is a wonderful place to hike and sightsee. If you’re in town on business, the canyon makes a nice break from pavement and buildings. The San Gabriel Mountains allow for both easy and challenging hikes, depending on your mood. It’s a great place for birdwatching, too.

Don’t let Eaton Canyon’s proximity to the built-up parts of Pasadena fool you. It can get wild really quick. It’s easy to get lost if you wander off the trails. Luckily, the trails are clearly marked, and you can follow trails for any level of exertion you prefer.

Eaton Canyon

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Parts of Los Angeles borrow heavily from Japanese culture, architecture, and gardening. The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden is an excellent example of  a Japanese style tea house and garden. Like many Japanese gardens, it’s small in size but packed with interesting yard architecture, water features, and lush plantings. It’s refreshing to sit next to the pond and forget you’re in the center of a city. The garden is a great way to recharge your mental batteries, especially on a hot day.

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

The Huntington Library and Gardens

Finally, the Huntington Library is a great destination any time of the year. This urban oasis is split evenly between an interesting interior art museum and a beautiful outdoor garden. The museum has a nice mix of European and American art. For novice art lovers, it’s nice to find familiar works like The Blue Boy by Gainsborough, or one of Edward Hopper’s famous paintings of sailboats.

The museum has American art from the 17th to the 20th century, and it’s interesting to follow the development of art in the United States over its history. The European collection is eclectic, and has many fine sculptures and bronzes to go along with its fine art paintings. There’s a library that will interest any book lover as well. Parking is easy for rental cars in Pasadena, and there’s lots of dining and shopping nearby.

Huntington Library and Gardens

Top 10 Pasadena citizens

5 Overlooked Destinations for Fun in Los Angeles

walt disney concert hall rentavaluecar.comLos Angeles is a very big city. Its growing population isn’t the only thing that makes it big. Los Angeles is a sprawling place compared to cities like New York or Chicago. Greater L.A. has oceanfront, hills, riverfront, rich farmland and deserts. There are dozens of definable neighborhoods that have their own particular vibe. If doesn’t matter if you’re a Los Angeles native or a visitor, it would be hard to run out of things to do and see. Los Angeles makes it easy to accommodate extended trips to the area. You’ll find affordable car rental, lodging for all budgets, and a foodie culture that suits any taste or budget.

Even though the weather’s almost always pleasant, Los Angeles is very in tune to the calendar as well. You can find exciting and interesting events during most any time of the year. In fact, there are so many things to do in the city that it’s easy to overlook places that would be essential destinations in a less diverse city. Here’s a list of five of the most overlooked destinations for fun when you’re in Los Angeles:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic

Los Angeles has a long history, but it can seem brand new compared to east coast cities. The city also is associated with the movie industry, which is also constantly re-inventing itself. Don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s nothing cultural to do in the city. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale are world class performers, and they hold court in the astonishing Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Many visitors to the city only take pictures of the exterior of the Walt Disney concert hall. Don’t miss out! The Frank Gehry design is as iconic as the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Step inside, and you’ll find out that the sound is as amazing as the architecture.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic

The Derby Dolls

Looking for something a little less sedate to do? Los Angeles has its very own roller derby team, the Derby Dolls. The all female squad has charming stage names like Thora Zeen, Amber Alert, and Carmen Monoxide. They deliver lots of action and laughs at their new location, the Dolloseum on Alhambra Avenue in Los Angeles.

The Derby Dolls aren’t really just one team. They’re a league with over 150 skaters and other volunteers, and they field five full roller derby teams on their banked track. The whole organization is run by volunteers, and the teams rely on the local community and the fans to keep the doors open. If you’re looking for 100% fun, with real spills and thrills, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the derby dolls. The Dolloseum is handy to the 101 freeway, and you’ll find plenty of affordable car rental places, hotels and motels, and eateries in the area.

The Derby Dolls

Dodger Stadium

The Los Angeles Dodgers are a hot team again. They were sort of an afterthought in decades past while the Lakers reigned supreme. Their stadium wasn’t considered a baseball cathedral like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park. Even though the stadium is close to downtown L. A., it seems a bit out of the way in the middle of Elysian Park. Don’t let that fool you. Dodger Stadium is one of the best places in the country to watch an MLB game.

The stadium  has aged well since it opened in 1962, and over the decades it’s hosted eight World Series. There’s plenty of nightlife and restaurants in the area, so the stadium makes a great place for an excursion while you’re in town.

The Los Angeles Dodgers

The Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles is famous for its great beaches. Don’t restrict visits to the beach to sunbathing and swimming. There’s lots to do and see along the waterfront. The Santa Monica Pier is a great place to take the whole family, and there’s enough activities to keep you busy all day and night.

Sadly, most people just take Instagram pictures outside the gate that leads to the pier without entering. They’re all missing out. One of the most memorable rides in the world is at the end of the pier. It’s a blast to ride the world’s only solar powered Ferris wheel and look out over the ocean. If heights aren’t your thing, you can always stick to riding the carousel from the famous ’70s movie The Sting.

The Santa Monica Pier

The OUE Skyspace

Most people wouldn’t expect to find any fun in a bank building. The US Bank Tower in Los Angeles is an exception. The top of this tower has a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city, plus a very unusual twist. The building has a transparent slide on its exterior that lets you experience the city from midair. It’s a blast to test your bravery in the glass chute that makes it appear you’re flying between floors. There’s plenty of other activities and shopping destinations in the downtown area when you’re done with your thrill ride and sightseeing.

The OUE Skyspace

Photo of the Walt Disney Concert Hall courtesy of the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

How To Deal With an Overbooked Airline, Hotel, or Auto Rental

hotel lobby auto rental valuerentalcar.comFor many travelers, airline flights, hotel stays, and auto rental are heavily dependent on each other. If any one of your travel arrangements are disrupted, it can have downstream effects on all of them. Each reservation you make for your trip is like a link in a chain. It’s important that no link in the chain is less reliable than any other.

For most travelers, the weakest link is airline travel reservations. Airlines routinely overbook their flights, because they figure that some of their customers will cancel. This policy helps airlines keep their flights full. It can cause a lot of problems for travelers who need to make connections like auto rental pickups, and hotel check-ins, however.

Airlines Have More Regulations Than Hotels and Auto Rental Companies

Airlines operate under more government regulations than most businesses. That’s because they’re common carriers. Since major airlines operate internationally, they must comply with regulations from many different countries. That means that when there’s a problem with your flight, there are more rules in place to cover it.

If your flight is oversold, it’s likely that you qualify for specific levels of compensation. The exact amount of help you’ll get depends a lot on the circumstances of your travel arrangements. Short hop economy flights with last-minute tickets don’t qualify for the same level of compensation as round the world trips booked many months in advance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that anyone bumped off a flight is entitled to some form of legal recourse.

Hotel Guests Have Rights, Too

Hotels overbook rooms for the same reason that airlines overbook flights. They want to ensure that their hotel is full of guests, and they’re afraid that some guests will cancel. Hotels usually have a better idea of how many cancellations they can expect than airlines. They’re also much more likely to have a few rooms in reserve at all times in order to deal with emergencies. Airlines can’t just add a few folding chairs in the aisle and invite more people on board. Hotels have more flexibility.

There are many reasons why a hotel might be overbooked. It’s not always due to deliberate overbooking of rooms. Hotel guests often check in with a certain length of stay in mind, but later change their minds and stay longer. Hotels are under no legal obligation to enforce the length of hotel stays in order to make sure rooms open up in time for new reservations. It would be infuriating to most hotel guests to be turned out of a hotel to make way for new guests in any case.

Car Rental Reservations

As anyone who has watched Seinfeld can tell you, some car rental companies aren’t great at holding on to reservations. There are very few laws about auto rental reservations. That means it’s up to the individual car rental company to set a policy, and stick to it. Most large car rental companies have policies set by their home offices, and don’t have a lot of flexibility. Independent car rental companies are much more likely to work with you when there’s a problem.

What To Do if Your Reservation Falls Through

Airline Customers

Remember, the airlines have a lot of rules to follow. If you’re bumped from a flight, you almost always have compensation coming. Some delays and other mishaps also qualify you for additional compensation. It’s important that you defend your rights, but without becoming agitated at airline personnel. Airlines offer passengers different alternatives when their flights have been interrupted. You’re under no obligation to take the first offer made to you. Passengers who hold out for more often get more.

Don’t make the mistake of being unreasonable, however. Airlines do have limits on what they’re willing to offer you. If you get an offer that takes care of your inconvenience, you should take it and move on with your trip.

Hotel Customers

If your hotel is overbooked, it’s likely that some form of alternative will be offered to you. It’s actually quite common to get an upgraded room at no extra charge if you’re bumped from the room you reserved. On the other hand, if your reservation was for a large suite, and the only room available is an economy room, make sure you receive the downgraded rate.

In the event that a hotel doesn’t have any rooms available, don’t give up. While there are no laws forcing them to, most hotel chains have a policy of “walking” customers to a new hotel if they can’t accommodate them. It’s quite common for overbooked hotels to make all the arrangements for your new room with another hotel, and even pay for your cab ride if you need it.

Auto Rental Customers

There are few legal requirements for car rental companies to honor their reservations. Once traditional car rental companies run out of cars, there’s usually very little they can do to help you.

First, ask if an upgrade or a downgrade is available for the car you reserved. If there is, it’s usually smart to take what’s available. You’re in the right, but it’s more important for you to get some sort of transportation. It’s OK to negotiate, but being adamant can turn you into a pedestrian in a strange city in a hurry.

Never Do This

No matter whether you’re bumped from a flight, a hotel room, or an auto rental, there’s one approach that never works. Never cancel your reservation in a huff. A reservation is a legally binding contract. While it doesn’t always pay to argue at a reservation desk over your rights, it never makes sense to cancel your reservation because you’re angry. By cancelling your original reservations, you remove the original obligation the company has for you. In essence, you’ve made their problem into your problem.

In all cases, be reasonable with the companies you’re dealing with, and they’ll be more likely to be reasonable in return. Threatening bad reviews on social media sites is unlikely to help you, and may hurt. Don’t be a pushover, however. Ask for what you’re entitled to, and remind the company of their obligations to their customers when they take — but don’t hold — a reservation.

How To Find the Best Hollywood Tours in Los Angeles

paramount pictures hollywood tours valuerentalcar.comLos Angeles is a big city with a bright future and an interesting past. The local economy is incredibly diversified. Industries of all kinds thrive in southern California, and Los Angeles is home to many famous brands. There’s one industry that stand above all others, however. For some people, Los Angeles is synonymous with Hollywood, and Hollywood means the movie and TV industry. Hollywood tours are some of the most popular reasons to visit Los Angeles. True to the city’s reputation, there are many to choose from. Value Rental Car welcomes many visitors from all over the world who want to rent a car, find a hotel, and then see where their favorite movies and shows are made. We’ve assembled a handy list of Hollywood tours to make it easier to find what you’re looking for:

Paramount Studios Tour

Paramount Studios are a great destination for tourists who want to visit a working movie studio. Technically, it’s the only remaining major movie studio still operating in Hollywood. Visitors to Paramount will enjoy a more old-school feel than some of the other studios. The studio is right next door to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and it can seem like the great names in Hollywood history never left.

The tour covers a lot of ground, so there’s a lot of walking and riding in golf carts to see the whole thing. One of the big highlights is passing through the iconic Bronson Gate, which is instantly recognizable from many movies and TV shows.

Make sure you stick around for the part of the tour that features Paramount’s back lot. There’s a maze of little street the studio uses to represent cities like New York, Chicago, and Saint Louis. There’s also a giant water tank used for water scenes like the parting of the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments.

Paramount Studio Tours

Universal Studio Hollywood Tours

If you’re more in the mood for a theme park experience than a history lesson, Universal Studio Hollywood Tours is for you. The studio tour is free with your admission to the Universal Theme Park. There’s a tram that takes you past familiar blocks of studio buildings from many different movies. Unlike other Hollywood tours, at Universal, the exhibits get up and perform. You won’t just see memorabilia from Jaws. The shark will jump right out of the water and give you a toothy smile as you pass by.

Universal Studios Hollywood Tours

Sony Pictures Studio Tours

Sony Pictures tours are held at the old Metro Goldwyn Mayer lot in nearby Culver City. The tour is more compact than some of the others, so there’s more walking and less riding. MGM had a long and illustrious history before Sony Pictures added to it, so there’s a lot to see.

Sony is big in television, as well, and the tour visits the set of familiar shows like Jeopardy for a backstage look. The whole tour is interesting for the nuts and bolts look at making entertainment over the decades.

Sony Pictures Studio Tours

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Warner Brothers Studio is located in “The Valley” in Burbank, California. The Warner’s tour has the best mix of movie-making history and real-time fun of any of the Hollywood tours. The tour begins on an open bus, and takes you past familiar streetscapes from countless movies and TV shows. The tour stops at a warehouse for props and costumes from such familiar hits as Harry Potter and Batman.

Further along the tour, you’ll see demonstrations of the process of CGI effects. There’s also an interactive exhibit of cinematic steps that show you how the studio takes an idea from script to screen.

The Warner Brothers tour lets visitors do more things than many other tours. It’s fun to sit on an original set from Friends, or even be filmed in front of a green screen and placed in a movie scene.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Photo of the Melrose Gate to Paramount Studio 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

Insider Travel Tips for International Visitors to Los Angeles

lax at night affordable rental car Angeles is a frequent destination for travelers from all over the world. That’s because Los Angeles is such a multi-faceted city. The L. A. area is home to lots of different industries. It’s also an entertainment and leisure destination without equal in the whole world. If you’re coming to Los Angeles for the first time, the city can be a little intimidating. It’s much more spread out than other cities in the United States. Visitors from countries with densely packed cities will be especially surprised to see how far apart local landmarks can be. If you want to get the most from your trip to the City of Angels, you’ll need more than just affordable car rental and a map. Check out this list of travel tips that will save you time and money when you visit Los Angeles.

A Shorter Stay Isn’t Necessarily Cheaper

It might seem crazy, but a longer stay in Los Angeles might be cheaper than zipping in and out. Many airlines hotels, motels, and affordable car rental companies offer big discounts for longer stays. It’s more logical than it sounds if you look at it from the point of view of the hotel or other service. Turnover costs money. Checking people in and out of a hotel or similar business is time-intensive. Businesses will offer premium rates to customers with longer term deals that require the same amount of paperwork and other administration as shorter stays.

Airlines also charge a premium for short term stays in a city. You might find that you can save so much money on airfare by extending your stay that it pays for the additional cost of things like accommodations and affordable car rental.

Plan Ahead

If you’ve never been to Los Angeles, simply driving around can be intimidating. Many foreign visitors are amazed at how wide open the roads are, and how easy it is to find parking compared to other cities. That’s the good stuff. Unfortunately, those roads are packed during certain times of the day, and certain days of the week.

Los Angeles isn’t the kind of city where you can hop on a subway, day or night, and predict how long it will take to arrive at your destination. Affordable car rental is your first priority if you want to travel to multiple destinations in the city. It’s smart to plan your excursions well in advance to avoid needless delays in traffic.

Embrace the Offbeat Food Culture

Eating out in Los Angeles has a different vibe than any other city in the world. Los Angeles was built on car culture and the entertainment business. That’s spilled over into its local food scene. You’re just as likely to get an amazing meal from a food truck in Los Angeles as you’d get from a four-star restaurant in a more traditional city. And if you’re open to offbeat food combinations served in somewhat theatrical eateries, you’ll find some of the best eating in the United States.

L. A. Has Outdoor Activities Most Cities Lack

The weather in Los Angeles is glorious almost every month of the year. There’s no reason to hole up inside when you visit, whether it’s winter or summer. Another surprising detail about the city is how rural a lot of it can be. You can schedule activities like hiking or horseback riding near Griffith Park, or even kayaking on the L.A. River to get great views of the city that others miss. Of course you can always visit one of the local beaches if your idea of fun tends more to swimming, surfing, or suntanning.

All the Beaches Aren’t the Same

If you’re new to Los Angeles, all the sparkling blue water and sand can look the same from beach to beach. You’ll find that each beach on the map has a different vibe, and will be crowded at different times of the day, week, month, and year. Different beaches also cater to different activities. If you’re into people watching, you’ll love Venice Beach. If you’re a novice surfer, you might prefer Malibu or Topanga. Ask around to find out the best beach for you.

Save Money By Avoiding All-Inclusive Vacations

If you’re headed to vacation destinations like Disneyland, you might want to rethink that all-in-one vacation package. If you’re trapped inside the park, you’ll pay more for things like lodging and food than you would if you stayed outside the park and visited every day. You’ll also be able to avoid the worst lines at rides and at restaurants by coming and going to the park when it’s convenient for you.

Photo of the approach to LAX airport 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