A local's guide to the areas of Los Angeles

Sep 23 2018, 9:15 pm

When people speak of Los Angeles (LA), they are usually referring to all the cities and neighbourhoods that comprise Los Angeles County. There are 88 fully incorporated cities in Los Angeles County, including Hollywood, Downtown LA, Venice Beach, and… well, we’ll get to it!

Not only is Los Angeles an awesome sun-soaked place to escape to no matter the time of year, but it is full of things to do and places to see. It has been deemed the sporting capital of the world, with more major sports franchises, events and venues than any other city in the US. It’s also got an abundant range of outdoor activities and landscapes to enjoy, from hiking trails to its sandy beaches.

The definition of setting yourself up for success in the City of Angels is picking a central home base and then exploring everywhere around it. We recommend renting a car so you can see as much as possible without spending a ton on Ubers (although this is a great option too if you’re looking to enjoy some boozy bevvies).

Here is a roundup of the diverse areas to visit in Los Angeles.

Venice Beach

areas Los Angeles

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. (Shutterstock)

Come to Venice Beach for the laid-back vibes and picturesque stretch of sand… and then stay for the people watching. The people of Venice are bringing a whole new meaning to turnt. Between Muscle Beach, the Venice Skate Park, and people decked out in costumes that we want to borrow for Halloween, there is always someone interesting to see in Venice.

Here you can try your hand at surfing, swimming, beach volleyball, paddle boarding and even skating. We recommend renting a bike from Ride! Venice along the promenade and cruising till your heart’s content along the sandy stretch. Stop near the graffiti-covered palm trees right by the skate park for that signature Insta pic.

About a 15-minute walk from the beach, do yourself a favour and scope out our pick for the trendiest street in LA (dare we say – in the country? In the WORLD?) — Abbot Kinney Boulevard. From the boho chic clothing and decor shops to the best veggie lunch spots, this is a must-visit. The palm tree-lined streets and vibrant murals make for great photo ops.

Your Insta feed will thank you.

Hollywood

areas Los Angeles

Streets of Hollywood. (Shutterstock)

When visiting LA, you have to check out the centre of the star-studded city. Hollywood presents epic views of the hills, venues you’ve only seen on awards shows, and if you’re lucky, a celeb spotting or two.

If the stars are what you’re after, step along the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see the names of Mickey Mouse and Charlie Chaplin etched in gold along the path. Follow the stars and you’ll pass some of the top dining, shopping and awards venues, including the TCL Chinese Theatre; Dolby Theatre, home to the Academy Awards; and the 100-year-old Musso + Frank Grill, famous for their martinis. Or, skip the crowds and head a few blocks south of Hollywood Boulevard for rooftop drinks and unbelievable views at Mama Shelter or The Highlight Room.

You can hike behind the Hollywood Sign or visit Lake Hollywood Park for open fields, a picnic lunch and scenic views of the iconic landmark.

From there, lose yourself in another world at Universal Studios Hollywood as you stroll through the movie sets, plus the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, among other rides and attractions.

Harry Potter fans, listen up: hit the park early and head to the Wizarding World first thing. You’re not the only one wanting to get your sorting hat on, and it’s the best way to beat the lines.

Beverly Hills

areas Los Angeles

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. (Shutterstock)

You won’t get a true feel for Los Angeles without a tour of Beverly Hills. In this area of enviable houses and perfectly manicured properties, take a guided bike tour; it’s more affordable than a bus tour and you have a private guide that will allow you all the time you need for stopping at Marilyn Monroe’s old stomping grounds and Elvis Presley’s former mansion.

Tour companies in the area have bicycles with electronic assistance, so if you’re still recovering from the LA nightlife the next day, you can still ‘bike’ up those Hollywood hills.

For those of you who dream of expensive goods, stop by Rodeo Drive for all your window shopping fantasies. There are also some more affordable shops in the area for those of you looking for some retail therapy during your trip.

West Hollywood

areas Los Angeles

Sunset Plaza in West Hollywood. (West Hollywood Travel & Tourism Board)

The trendy hotspot of West Hollywood (affectionately known as WeHo) is a perfect home base for exploring La La Land. The WeHo scene is trendy, casual, and luxurious all at the same time, and known for being extremely welcoming — 40% of its population identify as LGBT. Being an art, food, and culture hub of LA, this area will cross off all items of your trip checklist. From rooftop dining and speakeasies to world-class design and boutiques, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Check out our list of the hottest rooftop bars in West Hollywood to get the best views and bevvies in the city.

Santa Monica

areas Los Angeles

Santa Monica pier from above. (Shutterstock)

This is a must visit (and very gram-worthy) scene. Start by strolling the many shops along the Third Street Promenade, stopping for a patio bev along the way. Then head down to the promenade where you can ride a roller coaster, win your loved one a stuffy, or take in the beautiful beach scenery on the Ferris wheel.

Pro tip: If you want to save some mula, book your parking spot online in advance.

If you walk up from the beach, Santa Monica is all about the tree-lined streets and enviable Cali-style homes. Its laid-back, trendy, beachy vibes make it the ultimate residential goals.

Silver Lake

Aerial view of Silver Lake Park (Shutterstock)

Often named one of the hottest areas of the city to live, Silver Lake is a unique pocket of the city with great green spaces to explore. The vibrant and diverse neighbourhood has become a haven for a hip Angelenos, artists and even celebrities.

Once home to Walt Disney’s first large studio, the area is renowned as a community that’s constantly in flux.

Here, you’ll find a wide range of creative spaces, vintage stores and coffee shops, plus hot spots and family-run restaurants promoting international cuisine around the world. Local favourites include the wildly popular Sqirl, Cliff’s Edge, Same Same ThaiPine & Crane and the Cuban cafeCafé Tropical.

Culver City

los angeles areas

Culver City: The Heart of Screenland. (Discover LA)

Stretching from the Marina del Rey border to Mid-City, Culver City is one of the more emerging areas of Los Angeles, making it a little less crowded and more affordable than other areas of the city. It is accessible by public transit, allowing you to live or stay somewhere quiet but still navigate your way to a tourist attraction with ease.

Culver City is known historically as “The Heart of Screenland.” Hundreds of classic films such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, and Grease were filmed were made on Culver City studio lots at Sony Pictures Studios (originally MGM Studios), Culver Studios, and the former Hal Roach Studios.

Today, it still remains a nostalgic area with tree-lined streets, modest art-galleries and community theatres, plus a few delicious hidden gems. Try The Wallace for locally sourced fare, some of the best fried chicken in LA at Honey’s Kettle, and the Office Burger, one of LA’s iconic dishes at Father’s Office.

West Adams

 

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One of Los Angeles’ oldest neighbourhoods, West Adams has morphed into one of the city’s liveliest neighbourhoods due to its growing Latino and LGBTQ communities. It is set between two freeways, making it the perfect hub for the traveller looking to explore Los Angeles and beyond by car.

Take a break from your travels and find some inner peace at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, one of the city’s top spots to truly chill, before diving into one of Taqueria Los Anaya’s much-revered burritos.

Beverly Grove

The Grove Shopping Centre (Shutterstock)

Connecting West Hollywood to Beverly Hills to Fairfax, the neighbourhood of Beverly Grove can be hard to define because it often bleeds into its neighbours, but this understated destination is a backbone of LA’s easy-breezy, laid-back reputation.

Swap your outfit for something with local flair at the eight-story Beverly Center, a haven for any shopaholic, before taking on “Restaurant Row.” This much-loved stretch of La Cienega Boulevard is a must-visit for foodies, with popular restaurants Stinking Rose, Lawry’s, Fogo De Chão, Genwa Korean BBQ and more. Top off your visit with rooftop drinks at SLS, and you’ll be soaking in those laid-back vibes.

Mid-City

los angeles neighbourhoods

LACMA Urban Lights at night. (Discover LA)

At the very heart of L.A., Mid-City is full of vitality. Encompassing Mid-Wilshire, Miracle Mile, La Brea and Fairfax, Mid-City is a major hotspot of Los Angeles, full of everything from shopping and entertainment to art, food, and culture.

Get your hands on the latest fashions (and maybe spot a celeb or two) at The Grove, a massive, world-renowned outdoor shopping centre next to the Original Farmers’ Market. Beyond the mall, there are a ton of delicious spots worth exploring that bring out the L.A. charm, from Jon & Vinny’s to The Roger Room to Kibitz Room (where The Red Hot Chili Peppers got their start).

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is a major draw for Mid-City visitors. While it’s worth exploring the museum to escape the heat and explore their exhibits, the outdoor installations at LACMA are very photo-worthy and you can snap that classic Insta in the Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden (pictured above).

Los Feliz

Griffiths Observatory, Los Angeles (Shutterstock)

In a city notorious for its traffic, Los Feliz is known for its walkability. While you’re here, stroll through Hillhurst and Vermont Avenue for a great selection of charming, independently owned restaurants and shops.

It is also a gateway to Griffith Park with the iconic Griffiths Observatory and shows at the Greek Theatre. It is well worth the hike for the view of the Hollywood Sign and the city below – on a clear day, you can sometimes see all the way to Catalina Island!

We recommend hitting the grocer on the way to have a picnic at the top to take in the views. This way, you’re saving a buck or two while having a picnic above the city. We call this elevated dining.

Downtown

los angeles areas

Rooftop skyline in Downtown L.A. (Discover LA)

Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) is a hub for economic development and growth in the city, making it the centre of all the action. It’s also home to the iconic STAPLES Center, where the Lakers, Sparks and Kings get the crowds on their feet every game. Also in the DTLA area is the Coliseum and Dodgers Stadium.

Beyond the concrete skyscrapers lies the artistic heart of the city. The Arts District is a cool area of the city with breweries and food spots always opening up. Independent galleries and Hauser + Wirth Los Angeles call the Arts District home, and just a short distance away are  Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, The Broad, Grammy Museum, California Science Center, Japanese American National Museum, plus several other free galleries and museums—not to mention public murals and wall art on just about every corner. Art lovers, do we have you yet?!

Echo Park

los angeles areas

Echo Park. (Discover LA)

The beauty and draw of Echo Park is that this neighbourhood was built around its namesake lake, making it the perfect backdrop to your picnic or a spot for outdoor activity like peddle-boating on the water.

Here, you can take a walk up the Baxter Street Stairs for some of the most breathtaking views in Los Angeles, step back in time at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, or stroll through Carroll Avenue in Angeleno Heights, one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods with 19th century Victorian homes that can be seen in films, TV shows and even Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

Sunset Boulevard stretches all the way into Echo Park, where you’ll find delicious spots like Sunset Beer Co, Woodcat, Eightfold and Guisado’s.

Koreatown

 

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Koreatown is the place to be in Los Angeles if you’re searching for an eclectic urban scene, ’80s inspired bars and karaoke. Today, Koreatown has the largest Korean population outside of Korea itself, which has largely influenced the bar and restaurant culture in this area.

Take a swing at Aroma Spa & Sports, home to the largest semi-indoor golf range in L.A., learn a new recipe with a class at the Korean Food Academy, and make sure to save time for a drink at Break Room 86 where you’ll experience the 80s all over again — including high school lockers, vintage arcade games and VHS cassette menus (leg warmers optional).

For Korean BBQ, look no further than Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong, and Soowon Galbi. After dinner, go bowling at Shatto 39 Lanes or catch a show at The Wiltern.

Tip: Parking is extremely limited in this area so it is worth to splurge for the Uber ride if you’re going to spend your evening bar hopping in Koreatown.

Pasadena & San Gabriel Valley

Pasadena City Hall, Los Angeles (Shutterstock)

Pasadena has charming small-town vibes even though it is only a 30-minute drive from the bustle of Los Angeles city. This low-key area is the perfect spot for families or a romantic getaway, and it’s another big filming location, including spots like the Huntington Library and gardens and Pasadena City Hall.

Pasadena is also home to the Rose Bowl where The UCLA Bruins play, and the site of one of the coolest monthly pop-up flea markets in the city.

If you’re looking at staying in Pasadena, your best bet for accommodations is to book one of the iconic homes that more likely than not were the site of one of your favourite movies. Or, for an entirely different experience, The Langham Huntington gives you an upscale resort experience different from the urban hotels in downtown L.A.

The Valley & Burbank

The entrance to Warner Brothers Studios, Burbank, Los Angeles (Shutterstock)

For a more suburban experience in the city, the Valley is filled with condos, apartment complexes, and McMansions set beside some of the city’s most popular strip malls. The San Fernando Valley is known for the restaurant culture in the strip malls, with top-notch sushi at Go’s Mart and rows of bars at the corner of Lankershim and Magnolia.

Burbank is Hollywood 2.0, being the home of Warner Bros, Nickelodeon, and Disney offices. Burbank feels like it has been frozen in time for the last 60 years with classic Californian style homes and family-run restaurants like Pinocchio Restaurant and Giamela’s.

Frogtown (Elysian Valley)

 

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Sitting along the Los Angeles River, Frogtown and the Elysian Valley are considered some of the most bikeable and walkable areas of the city. Filled with artists and small businesses, many of the best spots are set in renovated old warehouses, giving this neighbourhood an urban industrial feel.

From the L.A. flagship of the popular La Colombe Coffee and the family-run Frogtown Brewery in warehouses, to the sandwich shop Wax Paper in a shipping container and Salazar in a former auto body shop (selling some of the best tacos in town), this industrial area has been revitalized to create a one-of-a-kind neighbourhood in Los Angeles.

Westwood & Brentwood

Powell Library at the University of California, Los Angeles

Home to UCLA and now Lebron James, Westwood and Brentwood are some of L.A.’s most affluent neighbourhoods. Dripping with culture and A-list residents, you’ll find chic restaurants beside student dive bars that are busy on almost every night of the week, plus various fitness studios like BarreWorks and YogaWorks, and nearby hiking, including Madeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon Trail and Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park to keep you at the top of your game — you know your fellow L.A.-ers are!

Take in some culture with Brentwood’s 20th century architecture at the mid-century modern Nesbitt House built for radio personality John Nesbitt in 1942 and Frank Lloyd Wright’s George Sturges House. You also can’t visit this enclave without a stop at The Getty Center, a 24-acre hilltop campus for arts, culture, gardens and an extensive collection of European, American and Asian works, and the Skirball Center with its unique and educational exhibits.

Westwood itself is a cultural mecca with UCLA’s artistic gardens, music hall and Hammer Museum, renowned for its collections of modern and Impressionist art, plus award-winning productions put on at the Geffen Playhouse Theater. Plus, though this may sound a bit morbid, the Westwood Village Memorial Park is a popular spot to visit as it not only one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the city, also but the resting place of many iconic celebrities like Marilyn Monroe.

Show us your favourite neighbourhoods of the world by using the hashtag #dailyhivemapped.

With files from Kellie Paxian, Caleigh Alleyne, Pamela Torres, Discover Los Angeles.