In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of fun LA and Southern California theme parks. Whether you're visiting the area's fun amusements, or one of SoCal's myriad other interesting sights, you'll need to find your way around. Hopefully, this page can help you get where you need to go!
LA's freeways aren't simply legendary---
They're REAL! And you WILL need a map to get around the area!
On this page, you'll find links to various maps of Los Angeles and Southern California---interactive maps, road maps, real-time traffic flow maps...and even traffic cams.
Bear in mind, though, that looking at maps on the internet as you plan your visit is NO SUBSTITUTE for having an actual map or GPS by your side as you're driving! The LAST thing you'll need on your vacation is to get lost!
If you're a new visitor to LA, it's our opinion that you should have a map in ADDITION to having a GPS/smart phone. People get routed crazy ways sometimes; ways that are off the beaten path. You may start to wonder where you are (in relation to the main roadways.) You should always know how to get back to the safely-beaten path if you don't like the way that your device is routing you. For that, nothing is more reliable than an old fashioned paper map----even a simplified map that lists only the major streets and thruways.
If you're a member of the AAA (USA) or CAA (Canada), you can get FREE MAPS of Los Angeles from your local office before leaving on your trip. If you forgot, simply stop into a Southern California office once you arrive; there are dozens of them located throughout Los Angeles and the other Southern California cities.
Buying a Southern California map is easy, too Every truck stop and major book store carries them, including atlas-style books of local maps and large-print editions (which makes for easier scanning, even if your eyesight is 20/20.) Walmart has perhaps the cheapest prices on road maps and atlas volumes, if you don't mind their limited selection.
And don't forget other types of maps that can make your trip more fun, too! Full-service book stores like Barnes & Noble carry far more than just road maps. This includes a number of specialty maps like hiking maps, attractions maps, bike path and bus maps, etc. And on street corners in certain parts of town, you'll even find vendors hawking LA's own unique tourist staple---the Hollywood Star maps!
Online maps of Los Angeles
OVERVIEW MAPS---Getting the big picture---Let's start with a couple of overview maps to help you get a feel for the city's location and general layout.
PDF map of California: Here's a printable map produced by NationalMap.gov that will show you the layout of the entire state. You can view the Los Angeles metropolitan area near the bottom of the map. This will fill you in on the major roadways into and out of LA. Here's a link to the
This map gets updated from time to time, and when it does, the link changes. If this link isn't working when you need it, you may refer to the following page where you'll find the full
NationalMap.gov list of available maps.
PDF road map of Los Angeles: To see an overview of LA's major freeways and streets, here's the link to a
PDF color road map of Los Angeles
from DiscoverLosAngeles.com, the city's official tourism website. This is surprisingly intricate for a small map. If you need details of a particular area, you may zoom in for a closer look.
NEIGHBORHOOD MAP OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA---On this next map you may view the major areas of Los Angeles. It's an interactive map, so you may click on various sections of the map to see detail maps of various neighborhoods. The roadways aren't very clear in this map, but its a great way to accustom yourself to the various neighborhood names you'll be reading about in travel guides and when talking with the local residents once you arrive. Here's a link to the
interactive neighborhood map of Los Angeles
produced by the LA Times, the area's largest daily newspaper.
GOOGLE MAP OF LOS ANGELES: You have undoubtedly already looked at the Google map of Los Angeles. But if not, it's a terrific map to use. You'll get a clear view of every freeway, street and even alleyway in the area. Here's a link to the
Google map of Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles Maps -- PDF maps of Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego
Many readers are searching for printable PDF maps, so here are a number of them that you may enjoy viewing. They're getting harder to find. Now that many people use their cell phone's mapping functions...and no longer carry around physical maps...many of the map sources that used to provide this service (mainly, various state and local tourist bureaus) have simply stopped doing so. But transit authorities still need to print maps, so you'll find us referring to their maps below, in several cases:
Printable PDF map of Los Angeles: If you'd enjoy viewing anoverview map of Los Angeles county (showing major traffic routes and attractions,) there's a good one produced by the LA Metro (transit service.) Here's the link to a printable PDF Map of Los Angeles County showing all of LA's major surface streets, plus buslines. If you're going to use the subway, you will need a different map. In fact, you'll need to see a whole LIST of subway maps...and you'll get to take your pick on the LA Metro & Bus Maps and Timetables page of the Metro website.
The bus maps, in particular, are very good, detailed maps for specific Los Angeles neighborhoods...and they're PDF, too, for easy printing.
There's even a bike map of Los Angeles, if you're interested. Tourists may not realize how huge the city is...nor how much traffic. Most of the parks and beaches offer bike paths or bike lanes for recreational cyclists, which fit the bill perfectly for enjoying a relaxing outing. But...if you are wanting to use your bike as a method of transportation then, yes, there is a map available for that, too. Here's a
PDF bike map of Los Angeles
produced by the Metro transportation service. If you need a different part of the metro area, there are still other maps you may find useful. Here's the entire
list of Metro's available bike maps
that includes Long Beach, Santa Monica, San Bernardion county, and quite a few more.
West Side--Santa Monica's own Blue Bus: If you're going to stay mainly in the Santa Monica/West Side area, you should be aware that Santa Monica has its own transit system, separate and apart from LA's. If so, you'll want to see the routes. Plus, they have a PDF system wide transit map showing all of Santa Monica and the west side areas that they cover. You'll be able to download that map to your computer, then print it up. Here's the Santa Monica transit website for info about the Big Blue Bus.
PDF MAP OF ORANGE COUNTY: Next, here's the link to a good PDF Map of Orange County, California. This is a transit map from the OCTA website. It shows Orange County's main streets, along with bus lines. Orange County is where you'll find many popular Southern California tourist attractions...including Disneyland theme park, the number one tourist draw in the state! To see still more maps of Anaheim and Orange County, including the busy Disneyland tourist area, please see the Disneyland and Anaheim Maps page of our site.
PDF MAP OF DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO: An inset in the above map will show a map of San Diego's downtown area. For more specific information showing bus routes, here's a list of PDF San Diego neighborhood maps that also show the bus routes in those areas. Every area that has a bus line going through it has its own small PDF map of that area.
Downtown San Diego a relatively small part of the city, but it is home to the San Diego Convention Center, which hosts many thousands of visitors each year. Also, downtown is where you'll find the Petco ball park, popular with sports fans. The Gaslamp Quarter is downtown, and a favorite of both history buffs and shoppers by day (& diners and nightclubbers by night.) Speaking of shoppers, an important and popular San Diego shopping mall is downtown---the famous Horton Plaza Mall. And, one of San Diego's most stunning sights---its Embarcadero---is downtown, as well (and is also where you'll find the San Diego Convention Center, Seaport Village, the Cruise Ship Terminal and the San Diego Maritime Museum. If you're interested in learning more about San Diego's wonderful tourist attractions, you may wish to visit the San Diego Attractions section of our site.
Los Angeles Maps -- Traffic Flow Maps
LOS ANGELES TRAFFIC FLOW MAP: Many tourists are dreading to encounter LA traffic because of the inevitable "scare stories" they've heard. Actually, traffic jam time is no worse in Los Angeles than any other major US city...although knowing that fact won't help you feel better when you're stuck traveling 10 miles per hour! (At non-rush hour times, the wide freeways of Southern California move traffic along efficiently!)
The Google LA traffic map will tell you how congested the streets of Los Angeles are at any given moment. When traffic is moving at its full speed, the roadway will be green in color. Moderate congestion is designated by a golden yellow color, while severe snarls are shown in red. Traffic that's at or near stand-still speed will be reddish-black. Here's a link to the
Google Traffic Flow Map of Los Angeles.
SIGALERT.COM, A HELPFUL WEBSITE TO KNOW: There's still another important website which will help you navigate through the traffic of Southern California more easily. On this next website, you'll even be able to choose locations in Orange County and San Diego county...as well as different neighborhoods in Los Angeles. (For Los Angeles county itself, there aren't as many links to specific areas as there were in the first link.) On the other hand, you're probably not going to stay within Los Angeles County for your whole Los Angeles vacation getaway...and with this map, you'll be able to view traffic flow no matter where you go within the Southern California area. Use the following link then, to view the
www.sigalert.com website, with traffic flow maps for various Southern California areas.
WHAT IS A SIGALERT? While we're talking about "Sigalert.com," why don't we talk about what a "Sigalert" IS? A Sigalert is the name unique to Los Angeles for a "mega traffic jam." As you're listening to drive-time radio in Los Angeles, you'll undoubtedly hear the word "Sigalert." And, if the radio tells you to avoid a certain freeway because there's a Sigalert in progress, then...by ALL MEANS...avoid that freeway! (That's one reason WHY you MUST have a map of Los Angeles! There are plenty of ways to detour around a Sigalert mega-traffic jam...but they won't be available to YOU unless you have a map!)
Why the name "Sigalert?" Well, "Sig" was the nickname of a popular radio announcer in days gone by. He's crossed over to the "other side" now, but back when he was broadcasting Los Angeles traffic reports, he coined the word as a cute way to warn motorists. As a gesture of fondness to this iconic LA radioman, ALL radio and TV announcers use the term these days. That's the story!
Los Angeles Maps -- Traffic Cams
CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC CAMS: While we're on the subject of traffic flow, here are links to some live traffic cams. If you use the following link, you'll head to the state of California site listing all its traffic cams...so not only will you be able to view traffic cams in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, but also in other parts of the state. If you're headed to the Los Angeles theme parks via a road trip from out of state, you might find these other traffic cams (say, in San Francisco or Sacramento) to be useful, as well. You may click on the following link to see the menu for
State of California live traffic cams.