I don't know if you have ever been in LA county, but there are some features of it which are really particular.
- When you arrive in LAX (Las Angeles international airport), you see a lot of little houses everywhere going up and down hill, which big spaces among them and huges roads. When you get out of the airport and go to LA. The feeling is the same: Everything is scattered and houses and buildings are really low and sparse. Even Downtown LA has just around a dozen skyscrapers and that's all...
In the former photo, you can see what my point is.
- If you want to go from point A to point B, consider it is going to take time. This city has huge dimensions because of the reason above: I think it is something like 100 km x 120 km!! From Pasadena to Santa Monica, it takes 45-50 minutes by car. And they are not so far away in terms of LA dimensions!!
- Public transportation sucks... Distances are huge and the service is not so frequent. Some pass frequencies for buses are 30-45 minutes!! Once I had to wait 45 minutes under the sun before my bus came!! You can get really really disappointed with it. (I bought a car)
- Walking is dangerous and tiring: everybody has a car and drives. Actually, there is normally only one person per car, which is an ecological disaster and one of the main problems of the city (pollution, traffic jams). If you don't have a car, you have to walk huge distances in areas without sidewalks in some cases and without anybody around. Some people get assaulted.
- You can't go out of your house thinking you will find the place you want to find. Distances are huge... so forget about thinks like: I will surely find a place where I can buy sport shoes. NO! Check it in the internet, get your car and go there! Probably there will be no way to get there if it is not using your car.
- As in all of North America, streets can be kms and kms long... even tens of kms long! So, be sure to get the right number for the house or place you want to go to!
Those are some general comments about LA county. My first SoCal (Southern California) culture talk! :)