Your Guide to LA’s Many Neighborhoods
With a population of about four million people and covering a total area of 502.7 square miles (1,302 km2), Los Angeles is big. So we understand if you’re a bit confused about where to stay during your trip. In this guide, we’ll highlight the six main areas of the city and what neighborhoods to check out in each.
Downtown LA has really had a facelift over the past 20 years. What was once not the best place to visit is now full of museums, restaurants, bars, galleries, and more. Here, you can check out Woodspoon , a Brazilian restaurant known for chicken pot pies and yuca fries, Bottega Louie for weekend brunch, The Last Bookstore for books and records, and Seven Grand for whiskey, pool, and live music. For shopping, head to The Santee Alley or The Row , and don’t forget to check out the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall .
Pasadena is a beautiful neighborhood (albeit considered a bit suburban) made famous by UCLA’s home stadium the Rose Bowl, the popular monthly Rose Bowl flea market, and the annual Rose Parade which takes over Colorado Boulevard every January 1. On this same street, you’ll find a myriad of cute shops and restaurants. You can also take a stroll through the Arlington Garden , a 3-acre botanical garden, stop into the Norton Simon Museum , and check out the The Huntington Library's Art Collections and Botanical Gardens .
Ah Silverlake, where hipsters abound! Does anything say hipster more than Moby’s vegan restaurant, Little Pine , setting up shop here? Head to Silverlake and grab a coffee at Intelligentsia - Silver Lake Coffeebar before taking a walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir, and stop for photo ops at its many painted staircases (check out this handy map). For a delightful meal at a gorgeous restaurant, look no further than The Semi-Tropic , and for an indie bookstore that hosts great authors and readings, stop into Skylight Books .
Other honorable mentions on the Eastside
Los Feliz (home to hipsters, the Ceviche Project, and live music at The Dresden made popular by the movie Swingers), Boyle Heights (home of Netflix’s Gente-fied), Highland Park (check out Triple Beam Pizza and Hippo for food and Block Party for a fun night out), Koreatown (go to Dave's Hot Chicken (Koreatown) for grub and Oo Kook Korean BBQ for Korean BBQ), Atwater Village (order a breakfast burrito at the Bourdain-anointed Tacos Villa Corona then check out the cute shops on Glendale Blvd), Echo Park, and Eagle Rock.
Oh, Hollywood; it really isn’t a trip to LA if you don’t explore this neighborhood. While you’re here, check out Hollywood Boulevard with its celebrity stars and famous old theaters, and buy a star map and take a drive through the Hollywood Hills to search out the homes of celebrities. At night, get dressed up and head to La Descarga , a Cuban-themed nightclub with a cigar room and burlesque-style dancers. Last but not least, take a trip over to Hollywood Forever Cemetery to visit the graves of Hollywood legends and enjoy outdoor film screenings, concerts, and more.
Commonly referred to as the “gayborhood”, West Hollywood is the city’s gay district, home to the LA Gay Pride Parade—the world’s first permitted Gay Pride Parade—and arguably the most fun neighborhood in the city. During your visit, don’t miss drag brunch at Hamburger Mary's , Gracias Madre (West Hollywood) for vegan Mexican food and a big tequila menu, and The Abbey andPUMP for cocktails.
For soaking up culture and tucking into some delicious food, head no further than Mid-Wilshire. This neighborhood is home to LACMA —with amazing food trucks across the street—and the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum . Speaking of food trucks, don’t miss out on Leo's Tacos Truck (La Brea) on the corner of La Brea and Venice for Tacos Al Pastor. You can also take a stroll down Third Street to check out cute cafes and shops like Toast Bakery Cafe , made famous by the TV show Entourage, and the LA staple Joan’s on Third .
Other honorable mentions in Central LA
Fairfax (home to Canter's Deli and great shopping on Melrose), Larchmont (a super cute neighborhood, you’ll forget you're in LA!), Century City (lots of malls and businesses and home to the Museum of Tolerance ), Hancock Park (with gorgeous old LA homes), and the Hollywood Hills.
*Beverly Hills, what a thrill!* Girl Scout Troops aside, Beverly Hills is home to some iconic LA spots, including Rodeo Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and the Beverly Wilshire, made famous by Pretty Woman (the hotel even offers a $300K “Pretty Woman Experience”). While in this neck of the woods, make sure you also check out Dan Tana's , an iconic eatery serving Italian staples, and Sprinkles Beverly Hills (you can get a cupcake via their cupcake ATM!). If you prefer more of an old-school Beverly Hills vibe, opt for The Grill on the Alley orSpago . Insider Tip: Parking in this neighborhood is free for two hours at their public parking garages.
Malibu is iconic, and if you spend enough time here you’ll most likely spot a celeb. Here you can also find some great surfing, both at the pier and at Malibu Surfrider Beach . After catching some waves and/or sun, head to Malibu Farm for beautiful views and organic fare, Broad Street Oyster Company for seafood, or Nobu Malibu if you’re feeling fancy, and top it off with a wine tasting at Rosenthal Wine Bar & Patio .
Your first stop in Venice should be the boardwalk, where you’ll find kitschy shops and street vendors and fantastic people watching. From there, head down Abbot Kinney Boulevard for some shopping, art galleries, and even more eateries (we suggest The Butcher's Daughter ,Gjelina , or The Tasting Kitchen ). For a post-meal stroll, walk the canals that give Venice its name and/or “The Walking Streets” (an area where people’s front doors face walkways only accessible by walking), and top it off with a rooftop cocktail at Hotel Erwin .
Other honorable mentions on the Westside
Santa Monica (for food, check out Forma , Elephante , and more mentioned in our LA Portico6), Bel Air (home to the prince; mostly residential), Westwood (stop at Saffron & Rose ice cream), Brentwood (home to UCLA, the Getty Center, Diddy Riese cookies, and Winston Pies ), Pacific Palisades (take a hike in Temescal and Los Liones for great views and check out Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine for a peaceful setting), Culver City (stop at Father's Office for burgers and The Culver Hotel for live jazz), Mar Vista (stop by Hatchet Hall for food, Alana's Coffee Roasters and The Boy & The Bear - The Grey Store for coffee, and the Rasselbock Kitchen & Beer Garden ), Marina del Rey (do some SUPing-Stand Up Paddle-around the Marina and/or Mother's Beach, which also hosts summer concerts).
While in Glendale, stop by Brewyard Beer Company and then head to the Museum of Neon Art before checking out Brand Park . You can also spend some time at the Vintage Arcade Superstore playing pinball and other arcade games, or The Americana at Brand or Glendale Galleria for shopping.
Head to North Hollywood to check out the NoHo Arts District where you’ll find the restored 1926 El Portal Theatre , numerous dance and acting studios, and the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame Garden, featuring sculptures of Emmy Award winners like Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. Afterwards, head to Lankershim Boulevard for gastropubs, tiki bars, hip cafes, and vintage stores. NoHo is also home to some killer sushi spots; we’re partial to Chiba for its great rolls and good times.
If you’re looking for awesome hikes, head to Sherman Oaks. Here, you can explore Deervale Trail, the Davana Road Lookout Trail, the Longridge Park Trail, the Charles & Lotte Melhorn Overlook, Crisp Canyon Road Trail, Dixie Canyon Park, and more. Also make sure to head to Ventura Boulevard for wine bars, brunch cafes, and old-school Mexican restaurants, and to the Sherman Oaks Galleria for open-air shopping.
Other honorable mentions in the Valley
Encino (yup, like the movie Encino Man) and Toluca Lake.
This neighborhood has a rich history. Formerly known as South-Central LA—*today was a good day*—South LA emerged as the heart of the black community in southern California in the 1940s, boasting one of the first jazz scenes in the western U.S. However, in the 1950s the neighborhood became the site of significant racial violence, with whites bombing and firing into the area. The black “mutual protection clubs” that formed in response to these assaults became the foundation for the region’s street gangs of today.
This historically black neighborhood was developed in the 1920s and features Spanish Colonial Revival homes and tree-lined streets. While here, check out Vision Theater (built by Howard Hughes in 1932), stop by Harun Coffee for a delicious cup of joe and their art gallery, and don’t forget to browse through the black-owned Eso Won Books .
Most people now know of Inglewood due to the construction of the new SoFi Stadium for the NFL teams the Chargers and Rams, which opened in 2020. In addition to this new addition, don’t miss out on Three Weavers Brewing Company , Hollywood Park Casino , and The Forum .
Other honorable mentions in South LA
University Park (home to USC), Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw (commonly referred to as “The Black Beverly Hills”), Compton (as in *straight outta*), and Exposition Park (home to the LA Coliseum and Banc of California Stadium, home of the MLS’ Los Angeles FC).
While stopping through Manhattan Beach, don’t miss out on the great breakfast burritos at Brothers Burritos before surfing at El Porto—where you’ll be able to find both surf and boogie board rentals right on the beach—and OB’s Pub and Grill for delicious bar food after your surf session.
Hermosa Beach is known for its bars on the pier, as well as the nearby Pier Avenue, one of the community's main dining, shopping, and entertainment areas. If you find yourself here, also check out The Strand—also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail—a paved bicycle path that runs along Hermosa Beach and most of the shoreline along the Santa Monica Bay.
Don’t overlook Long Beach! It is definitely worth a visit while in LA. Long Beach offers a college bar/shopping/dining area (2nd street), beautiful walkable canals (Naples), vintage shops and hipster bars (4th street), and a downtown area—all butted up against the beach. While here, check out Jerry's Breakfast Place for the all-time best breakfast burritos (try the chorizo breakfast burrito and don’t forget the homemade salsas), attend a free yoga class on the bluff with Yogalution, or stop into the Blind Donkey for a great selection of whiskey and bar games like darts and pool.
Other honorable mentions in the South Bay
Redondo Beach (check out King Harbor Brewing Company ), Playa del Rey (for food and cocktails check out Bacari PDR and Playa Provisions ), El Segundo (as in *I left my wallet in*; head to Dockweiler for a bonfire—it’s one of the few beaches that allow them).