Growing up in suburban Southern California, I would regularly hear weather forecasts on the radio for “Los Angeles and Vicinity.” I knew where Los Angeles was, but I often wondered about that mysterious place called Vicinity. Exploring Southern California more extensively made me wonder about it even more. There doesn’t even seem to be a single definition of what “Los Angeles” is.
The city of Los Angeles itself sprawls over 1,290 square kilometers. But its boundaries blur into the the other 87 cities in Los Angeles County, and continue south into Orange County to form an agglomeration that the federal Office of Management and Budget calls “Metropolitan Los Angeles.” In another official definition (from the same agency), the “Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area” includes Ventura County to the north, along with Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
But many people who work within “Metropolitan Los Angeles” live in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to the east. They spend hours each day, in commuter vans or driving alone in their cars, on what are officially the nation’s most congested roads. So those places also merit inclusion in the (unofficial) “Greater Los Angeles Area.” Also (unofficially) called “the Southland,” this region spans five counties and would be the fourth most populous state if it seceded from California. So I’m adopting that definition. But for old time’s sake I’ll call it “Los Angeles and Vicinity.”
If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles (or Vicinity), these travel notes offer some advice and practical information that you might not find in guidebooks.