In Los Angeles, there are so many places worth checking out that it can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated. But a number of free smartphone apps can help travellers weed through the city’s many offerings and navigate the sprawling City of Angels like a local.

Field Trip, a new Android app that came out in September is like carrying a knowledgeable Angelino with you in your back pocket. Using your phones GPS settings, the app sends notifications about what’s cool in your immediate area, be it movie locations (“LA Confidential was filmed here”), hot restaurants, deals, upcoming events or historical landmarks. It aggregates content from publications like Zagat (restaurant reviews), Flavorpill (cultural events guide) and Arcadia Publishing (historic sites). An iPhone version is in the works.

Los Angeles’ rich and culturally diverse culinary landscape is a haven for visiting foodies. Fortunately Los Angeles Magazine’s Dining Out iPhone app allows travellers to search for the best food and drink spots in the area, complete with editor’s picks like the top 10 Mexican restaurants or the best new bars for 2012.

For a wider range of suggestions, LA Weekly’s Best Of Android/iPhone app covers everything from where to find the best shoe repair shop to the best place to catch an indie film. And since LA Weekly is part of the Village Voice publication group (which publishes alternative weekly newspapers throughout the country), the app also covers other cities including New York, Austin and Chicago.

If you’re travelling in LA without a car, the Android/iPhone app for the Metro keeps bus and train schedules at your fingertips. Look up your nearest station, find out what amenities it has and plan your trip around the city. To book a ride, the Android/iPhone app Taxi Magic will send a cab to you and give you an idea of how much it’ll cost to get to your destination. Riders have the choice of either paying with credit card via the app or in person with cash.

Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes