Where To Sleep In Your Car In Los Angeles: A Comprehensive Guide

Finding a safe and legal place to sleep in your car overnight in Los Angeles can be challenging. With limited parking rules and high housing costs, many people have no choice but to live out of their vehicles. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about where you can and can’t park to catch some ZZZs in the City of Angels.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Some of the best areas to legally sleep in your car in LA are industrial areas like Vernon and Commerce, neighborhoods like Venice Beach where overnight parking is allowed, and Walmart and rest stop parking lots outside the city.

Know the Laws on Sleeping in Vehicles in Los Angeles

Before deciding to sleep in your car in Los Angeles, it is important to understand the laws and regulations surrounding this issue. By being aware of the legalities, you can ensure that you are abiding by the rules and avoiding any potential fines or penalties.

California Vehicle Code

The California Vehicle Code addresses the legality of sleeping in vehicles. According to Section 22502, it is generally prohibited to use a vehicle for living or sleeping purposes on any public street, highway, or parking lot.

However, it is crucial to note that the law does not apply to recreational vehicles or campers that are legally parked in designated areas.

Furthermore, Section 22507.8 of the code states that local authorities have the power to regulate the parking or standing of vehicles on public streets or highways. This means that specific cities, such as Los Angeles, may have their own regulations regarding sleeping in vehicles.

Los Angeles Municipal Code

In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Municipal Code provides guidelines on sleeping in vehicles. According to Section 85.02 of the code, it is illegal to use a vehicle for dwelling purposes within a residential zone or within 500 feet of a park, licensed school, preschool, or daycare facility.

Additionally, Section 85.02.1 states that it is unlawful to park a vehicle on any public street, alley, or highway in a manner that blocks or impedes the normal flow of traffic, or creates a hazard or safety concern.

This means that even if you are not sleeping in your car, you must park in a way that does not disrupt the regular functioning of the road.


While the laws in Los Angeles generally prohibit sleeping in vehicles, there are a few exceptions to be aware of. One exception is if you are parked on private property with the owner’s permission. In this case, as long as you are not violating any other laws or regulations, you are generally allowed to sleep in your car.

Furthermore, there are designated Safe Parking Programs in Los Angeles that provide safe and legal overnight parking for individuals experiencing homelessness. These programs offer a secure environment with access to services and resources.

It is important to note that the laws and regulations surrounding sleeping in vehicles can vary, so it is always a good idea to research the specific rules in the area where you plan to park. Additionally, it is recommended to be respectful of the community and to never park in a way that obstructs traffic or poses a safety hazard.

For more information on the laws and regulations regarding sleeping in vehicles in Los Angeles, you can visit the official website of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Where You Can Legally Park and Sleep Overnight

When it comes to finding a safe and legal place to sleep in your car overnight in Los Angeles, there are a few options to consider. Here are some areas where you can park and sleep without breaking any laws:

Industrial Neighborhoods

Industrial neighborhoods in Los Angeles can be a great option for overnight parking. These areas typically have less residential traffic and are less likely to have strict parking regulations. Just make sure to find a well-lit area and park in a legal parking spot.

Some popular industrial neighborhoods for car sleepers include Vernon, Commerce, and Boyle Heights.

Coastal Areas

If you prefer to wake up to the sound of crashing waves, coastal areas can be a fantastic option for sleeping in your car. Many coastal towns in Los Angeles County have public parking lots near the beach where overnight parking is allowed.

Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Long Beach are just a few examples of coastal areas where you can legally park and sleep overnight. Just be sure to check for any signage or restrictions before settling in for the night.

Walmart and Other Store Parking Lots

For those looking for a convenient and safe place to sleep, Walmart and other store parking lots can be a viable option. Walmart is known for allowing overnight parking in many of their locations, including some in Los Angeles.

Other stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, may also permit overnight parking. It’s always a good idea to check with the store manager or security personnel to ensure that overnight parking is allowed.

Rest Stops Near Los Angeles

If you’re on a long road trip and need a place to rest for the night, there are several rest stops near Los Angeles that offer overnight parking. These rest stops are equipped with restroom facilities, picnic areas, and designated parking spaces for overnight stays.

Some popular rest stops near Los Angeles include those along Interstate 5, Interstate 10, and Interstate 15.

Remember, it’s important to prioritize your safety when sleeping in your car. Always park in well-lit areas, lock your doors, and be aware of your surroundings. Additionally, it’s crucial to respect the rules and regulations of the area you choose to park in.

If you’re unsure about the legality of overnight parking in a specific location, it’s best to find an alternative.

For more information on overnight parking regulations and resources, you can visit the official website of the City of Los Angeles or check out websites like Overnight RV Parking and Freecampsites.net.

Tips for Staying Safe and Comfortable

When sleeping in your car in Los Angeles, it’s important to prioritize your safety and comfort. Here are some tips to help you have a restful night:

Choose Well-Lit Areas

When parking your car for the night, look for well-lit areas. This not only deters potential thieves but also provides a sense of security. Parking near streetlights or in well-populated areas can help ensure your safety.

Additionally, consider staying in designated overnight parking areas or campgrounds that offer security.

Use Window Covers

To maintain privacy and keep the inside of your car cooler, consider using window covers. These can be as simple as cardboard or reflective shades that block the view from the outside. Window covers also help prevent others from seeing valuables inside your car, reducing the risk of break-ins.

Keep Valuables Out of Sight

It’s always a good idea to keep your valuables out of sight, whether you’re sleeping in your car or not. Storing them in your trunk or a locked compartment can help deter thieves. Remember to remove any visible signs of expensive items, such as shopping bags or electronics cords, as these can attract unwanted attention.

Consider a Camper Shell

If you plan on sleeping in your car frequently, investing in a camper shell can greatly enhance your comfort and security. Camper shells provide a dedicated space for sleeping and can be equipped with insulation, ventilation, and even a small bed.

They also offer additional storage space for your belongings. Consider checking out Campway’s website for a wide range of camper shells and accessories.

Remember, when sleeping in your car, always be mindful of local laws and regulations. Some areas may have restrictions or permit requirements for overnight parking. Stay informed and plan ahead to ensure a safe and comfortable experience.

Alternatives for Short-Term Housing

RV Parks

RV parks can be a great option for those looking for a place to sleep in their car in Los Angeles. These parks often offer amenities such as showers, laundry facilities, and hookups for electricity and water. They provide a safe and convenient place to park your car and get a good night’s sleep.

One popular RV park in Los Angeles is the Hollywood RV Park, which is located in the heart of Hollywood and offers easy access to popular attractions. Another option is Dockweiler RV Park, which is located right on the beach and offers stunning ocean views.

It’s important to note that RV parks often charge a fee for overnight parking. However, the amenities and convenience they offer can make it well worth the cost.


Another alternative for short-term housing in Los Angeles is staying in a hostel. Hostels are budget-friendly accommodations that offer shared dormitory-style rooms or private rooms at a lower cost compared to hotels.

Staying in a hostel can be a great way to meet fellow travelers and get recommendations for things to do in the city. Many hostels also offer communal kitchen facilities, which can help you save money on meals.

Some popular hostels in Los Angeles include the Banana Bungalow Hollywood and the USA Hostels Hollywood. These hostels are centrally located and offer a range of amenities, including free Wi-Fi, social events, and 24-hour reception.


Couchsurfing is a unique option for those looking for a place to sleep in their car in Los Angeles. It is a hospitality exchange network where travelers can connect with locals who are willing to offer a place to stay for free.

Through the Couchsurfing platform, you can find hosts in Los Angeles who are open to hosting travelers in their homes, including those who are traveling in their cars. This can be a great way to experience the city from a local’s perspective and make new friends along the way.

It’s important to note that Couchsurfing relies on trust and mutual respect between hosts and guests. It’s recommended to read reviews and profiles of potential hosts before making a request to ensure a positive and safe experience.

Comparison of Alternatives
Option Pros Cons
RV Parks
  • Access to amenities
  • Safe and convenient
  • Costly
  • Budget-friendly
  • Opportunity to meet other travelers
  • Shared accommodations
  • Free accommodation
  • Local experience
  • Rely on trust and mutual respect

When considering where to sleep in your car in Los Angeles, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that best fits your needs and budget. Whether you opt for an RV park, a hostel, or Couchsurfing, these alternatives can provide a comfortable and affordable solution for short-term housing.


Sleeping in your vehicle may not be ideal, but for many people in Los Angeles it’s a necessity. By being aware of the laws, finding safe and legal parking areas, and taking basic safety precautions, you can get the rest you need. For more long-term housing solutions, considering alternatives like RV parks, hostels, or couchsurfing. Wherever you choose to stay, be respectful of neighborhoods and public areas so car sleepers continue to have safe options in LA.

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