The iconic Hollywood sign on Mount Lee represents all that's wonderous about the city of Los Angeles, California: endless prospects for modern entertainment and the lush outdoors. And while the mainstream locales have drawn travellers to the city for long, it has so much more to offer.
During your time away from touring Hollywood theatres and production studios or long hikes through Griffith Park, you can choose to indulge in the city's burgeoning gastronomy, get to know the historic enclaves or simply laze around the pristine beaches!
But with a city as expansive as Los Angeles, choosing the right neighborhood to base yourself at is a significant choice. The efficient public transport network has made access easy and no part of the city is off limits; you can then decide based on the general vibe that each varied locale offers.
And we have come up with a comprehensive guide to help with just that. Here, we have listed some of the best neighborhoods of Los Angeles and what they might have in store for you traveller!
The quintessential city centre, Downtown LA is just the perfect place for travellers looking for a taste of the city's extravagance. Vast shopping districts, high-rise buildings and a bustling gastronomy are some of the neighborhood's immediate draws.
The Bloc and the FIGat7th are popular mixed-use spaces with a little bit of everything; neighborhood streets offer an even bigger range of entertainment options, the most popular among which are the casual eateries.
And even with the largely modern cityscape, the neighborhood is not without a certain amount of character. Architectural landmarks including the Victorian Bradbury Building, the Broadway Theater District and unique steel-built Walt Disney Concert Hall are representative of distinctive eras from the city's long history.
And that's without mentioning the fun everyday distractions offered by the expansive Grand Park and the city's very own Arts and Fashion Districts. End your busy weekend with a trip to the OUE Skyspace LA, an observation deck sitting atop the 1081 feet-high U.S. Bank Tower; the view from here is sure to leave a lasting impression on your mind!
Downtown is serviceable through the central Union Station, the city's major transportation hub offering both inter- and intra-city travel. Hotels and rental apartments are in plenty and among some of the finest that Los Angeles has to offer!
While technically still a part of Downtown LA, the neighborhood of South Park warrants a special mention. It doesn't vary much from other Downtown sub-districts in terms of the cityscape, but it's what the neighborhood has chosen to do with these ordinary-looking spaces that sets it apart.
Running out of most of these buildings are a range of businesses: small marquee theatres, indie clothing stores, bars and microbreweries with music, sushi bars, Mexican joints and other such eclectic restaurant options.
South Park is also where you'll find some of Los Angeles' biggest cultural institutions. Chief among them are the Staples Center, home to the Lakers team; the LA Live, a renowned centre offering an evolving musical experience; the adjacent concert venues of Microsoft Theater and the Novo; and the LA Convention Center, known for its glass halls featuring rotating art exhibits. In short, while in South Park, you are unlikely to run out of things to do!
The 7th St / Metro Ctr Station of the Los Angeles Metro is situated just outside the northern end of South Park, which also has a tram stop at Pico. Hotels from all budgets should be easy to find and you can get rental apartments that are available for longer stays.
One of the two cultural enclaves on the list, Chinatown is a highly recommended option. Situated at just a stone's throw from Downtown, the neighborhood offers a completely different outlook to the city.
Outdoor pagodas, ornate gates, Taoist temples and lantern-lit streets characterise the unique flair of Chinatown; it is easily one of the most walkable of all Los Angeles neighbourhoods and you'll enjoy exploring every nook and cranny.
While you're at it, keep an eye out for the seafood restaurants, the tea houses and the several take-out noodles and dimsum joints. The neighborhood also has a few great Mexican and fusion restaurants; the ones in the vicinity of the historic Olvera St (also known for its 19th century housing) and the North Alameda Streets are especially worth your time!
The neighborhood is serviceable through the eponymous station of the L Line of the Los Angeles Metro.
If you're planning to stay in Chinatown, plan ahead and try to time your visit to coincide with one of the two major local festivals: the Chinese New Year celebrations and the Lantern Festival (February).
Koreatown sits all the way to the southern end of Downtown, about a 15 minute ride from the central quarters. With some of the city's most popular bars and clubs, the neighborhood is one of the best suited to experience the city's 24-hour lifestyle.
Among some of the most frequented spots in the neighborhood are the stylishly decorated Frank 'n Hank and The Normandie Club, karaoke clubs including The Venue and Brass Monkey among many others.
Outside of that, the neighborhood's major draws offer a varied mix as well. The old-world Wiltern Theatre has a stunning green terracotta tiles facade and intimate halls, while the Koreatown Plaza offers modern entertainment with endless shopping options and a movie theatre.
You can also always laze around the pedestrian-only streets, most of which are dotted with ice cream parlours, ramen bars and bubble tea shops.
Koreatown can be accessed through the B and D Lines of the Los Angeles Metro. The Wilshire/Normandie station, which lies on the latter line serves as the major transportation hub for the neighborhood. Hotels and accommodation options are largely concentrated in the southern end of the neighborhood.
Hollywood, the big draw for many travellers flying into Los Angeles, is next on the list. The neighborhood is home of quite a few of the city's most recognisable landmarks; start your tours from a behind the scenes look at the functioning of the industry at the Paramount Pictures Studio, before heading over to Hollywood Boulevard for the TLC Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame and the Dolby Theatre.
Hollywood is also home to a few immersive museums: the World of Illusions and Hollywood Wax Museum, art galleries: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions and C4 Contemporary Art, and performance venues: Hollywood Bowl and Avalon Hollywood & Bardot. In short, the neighborhood will be all that you would have expected, and so much more.
Northward, you'll find multiple scenic trails leading up to Griffith Park. The expansive green space is also home to quaint gardens, picnic areas, an art deco observatory and a huge amphitheatre. Families also enjoy trips to the Los Angeles Zoo and the 1926-built Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. All of that might still fade in comparison to the hike all the way up to the Hollywood Sign and the accompanying city views!
Hollywood is only about a 20 minute ride from Downtown Los Angeles; the neighborhood also has rather easy access to most other parts of the city. Some of the biggest names in the hospitality business have set up shot around the neighborhood, making it the perfect place for a luxury stay.
Next up on the list is the free-spirited Silver Lake. Somewhat sandwiched between the Downtown districts and Hollywood, this is a perfect place for travellers looking for a quieter stay without having to worry about travelling too far out. The neighborhood is centered around the namesake water body, which is surrounded by a variety of green spaces. Much like the lush outdoors of Griffith Park, they also offer a quick change of scenery if that's what you desire.
Going back to the general vibe of the neighborhood, you are likely to come across a lot of graffiti and street art around Silver Lake. The central thoroughfare of Sunset Boulevard also has an avenue of opportunities; while in the vicinity, you can choose to spend your time picking up a sandwich at the local farmers market, trying out the hip eateries and coffee shops, or window shopping at the many indie boutiques. Or better so, take turns at doing all of the aforementioned.
Silver Lake doesn't have a metro station within its quarters, but can still be easily accessed through the B Line at the Vermont/Santa Monica station. The neighborhood has come to be associated with a modernist architecture, so for your stay, you might want to look for a nice room at one of the early 20th century villas that make up a large part of its residential districts.
The seaside neighborhood of Venice borrows a lot from its predecessor's free-spirited and outdoorsy charm. Sitting atop the shore, this is the neighborhood where you can best experience the Los Angeles' oceanfront. The eponymous Venice beach - a long stretch of pristine golden sand with a biking/walking trail, open-air art displays, street performers and a seaside skateboard park - captures a lot of the neighborhood's casual vibe and should definitely be high on your to-do list.
And for your days away from the beach, Venice offers a few alternative entertainment options. Starting from some of the city's best coffee and doughnut shops, to farmer's markets selling local produce, to the very photographable streets (make sure to check out the iconic hanging "Venice" sign), the neighborhood has more than what one could ask for in such a compact space .
The Venice-inspired canals, with the accompanying bridges and palm tree-laden boardwalks run through upmarket residential districts and are a delight to spend time around. And if all the walking begins to feel like too much work, try getting a rental boat from one of the local service providers to take you on a complete tour or these 1905-built waterways.
Venice might feel a little far out than most other neighborhoods on the list, but the neighborhood's serene beaches are definitely worth the trip. For your stay, you might want to choose a nice sea-facing room at one of the hotel/resorts close to the central beach.
And for the last neighborhood on the list, we bring to you Los Angeles' nightlife capital - West Hollywood. The famed Sunset Strip/Boulevard runs through most of the neighborhood and offers a palm tree-laden stretch that's dotted with trendy bars, clubs with live music and an eclectic mix of restaurants.
Most of these establishments stay open till late into the night and contribute to West Hollywood's lively vibe.
The neighborhood is also known for its comedy clubs; the Comedy Store and Laugh Factory are the most renowned among the lot and feature both established and up-and-coming acts. West Hollywood also lies in touching distance from Beverly Hills.
You can make the trip and check out the landmarks that include the Spadena "Witch" House, the Greystone Mansion and the Rodeo Drive.
Santa Monica Boulevard connects West Hollywood to Downtown and makes for straightforward access. Hotel and accommodation options are varied, but you might want to go for a nice boutique hotel in the vicinity of the Sunset Strip.
That's our complete list of neighbourhoods from Los Angeles traveller. Take your pick and get packing for your next vacation; La-la-land awaits!