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Like most big cities, Los Angeles isn’t a homogeneous blob but rather is comprised of a number of neighborhoods. Each of these have their own look and feel, a result of history, architecture, and culture. Here’s our favorite 23 neighborhoods, and what you can expect to find in each one.
Bel Air, set in the Santa Monica Mountains, is the archetype of LA neighborhoods, immortalized as the ritzy part of town by Will Smith in The Fresh Prince. Part of the Platinum Triangle (along with Holmby Hills and Beverly Hills), it owes its status and popularity to its historically large residential lots, outrageously perfect weather, and views. It’s a haven for California elite.
Beverly Hills is where the creative types head to work and play. It’s the home of those who work in media, TV, and film. Only surpassed for star-power by Bel Air and West Hollywood, Beverly Hills is a network of high-end designer boutiques stretched along the famed Rodeo Drive, with some of the highest-value homes in the city looking down from the hills north of Sunset.
Beverly Hills Post Office (90210)
Beverly Hills Post Office is the official name of what’s probably the world’s most famous zip code: 90210. Extremely exclusive, the neighborhood looks down from the hills onto the Beverly Hills city centre, giving it the stunning views and cool mountain breezes that drive up property values. And with a reputation for splendor, it’s no wonder that 90210 is probably the only zipcode with it’s own reality TV show.
Beverlywood is a small neighborhood of just over 6,000 people. What makes Beverlywood remarkable is that it’s a planned community, and continues to hold onto it’s CC&Rs, giving it an organized, tidy suburban feel. However, times are a-changin’ for Beverlywood. Mansions are cropping up more and more, driving up property values and adding some serious stock to the original 1,354 single family homes.
Nestled at the base of the Santa Monica hills and overlooked by the esteemed Getty museum, Brentwood is a high-end hub in a city that loves the good stuff. Packed with farmers markets and covered in quintessentially LA homes, Brentwood combines class, sophistication, and quality for a truly unforgettable place to live.
Century City is West LA’s downtown. Tiny, dense, and fully of high-rises and skyscrapers, the diehard urban dwellers will be right at home here. And with a large chunk of the neighborhood’s official acreage dedicated to Fox Studios and Westfield Century City, it’s an even denser neighborhood to live in. Despite this, over 5,000 people call it home, along with major corporate headquarters. For apartment lovers who want to be in the thick of the action the Century City is hard to look past.
Image by Christophe Choo / Flickr
Founded in 1924 and conveniently located between two major studios, Cheviot Hills is one of those quietly luxurious neighborhoods that tend to crop up in big cities. With low density and expansive views, it’s easy to see why Cheviot Hills remains the exclusive purview of the rich and famous.
Culver City is a neighborhood with just enough grit to be interesting, but with enough high-class polish to be an incredible place to live. Art, venues, and restaurants all sit side-by-side for an eclectic streetscape. Restored buildings give the neighborhood some serious charm, and if you get bored, you’re right next to downtown.
Hancock Park is an architectural mecca in the heart of LA. The elite, suburban, small town feel contrasts beautifully with the the fact that over 80% of the buildings in the neighborhood are protected heritage sites. Paul Williams (designed Frank Sinatra’s house), A.C. Chisholm, and John Austin (designed LA City Hall and Griffith Park Observatory) all have their work in the area. Plus, it’s an amazing place to live, with a vibrant restaurant scene including the best Korean BBQ in the city.
Image by Dominique BARRIER / Flickr
Hollywood is arguably the most famous neighborhoods in the city. But it’s more than just a big sign. It’s where the film industry was born, where actors made it (or didn’t), where Capitol Records is headquartered in the iconic Capitol Records Tower, where tourists go to gawk, and where the famous Hollywood elite work. But beneath the surface, beyond the grasp of touristy gaud, is a neighborhood to fall in love with. Farmers markets, back-alley art galleries, plenty of pedestrian-friendly areas, and some of the best people watching in the world, it’s not a neighborhood to be written off. Hollywood’s still got some life in it, that’s for sure.
The Hollywood Hills are a part of the Santa Monica mountains and is a relatively lightly populated part of the city, perfect for outdoor lovers. The neighborhood boasts a lake at its heart and backs right onto Griffith Park. And with Franklin Village within walking distance, bars and cool cafes are never far. Plus, ‘Hollywood’ Hills lives up to its name, with celebrities like Matthew Perry and Ben Affleck calling it home.
Los Feliz is a densely populated 2.6 square mile neighborhood just north-west of Silver Lake. But don’t let that deter you. Spread across a hillside, Los Feliz is extremely diverse, not to mention being home to some seriously big names. What’s more, the neighborhood is steeped in history; Micky Mouse was born in Los Feliz, as was the original First National motion picture company’s studio (where Charlie Chaplin filmed A Dog’s Life). What’s more, the neighborhood has a number of incredible architectural gems, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House.
Malibu is a beachside neighborhood about 30 miles outside of downtown LA, sandwiched between low hills and the Pacific Ocean. Long known for it’s prominent surf culture, today it’s mostly modern architecture and luxury living. Houses regularly sell for north of $10 million, or $200,000 per square foot of beachfront. Malibu is also home one of the two Getty Museum’s campuses, Getty Villa.’
Image by Kira Laktionov / Flickr
Marina Del Rey
Marina Del Rey is a tiny neighborhood that packs a lot of punch, including having one of the world’s largest small watercraft harbors as its central feature. And that harbor isn’t exactly packed with fishing boats. It’s home to luxury yachts, beautiful sailboats and, yes, a fair few house boats too.
Rancho Park is a blessed relief for young families who don’t want to give up the urban lifestyle, but don’t want to raise kids amongst the noise and downtown chaos of Venice or Culver City. Comprised mostly of single-family Spanish colonial and Ranch houses from the 20s, manicured trees providing a suburban feel. It’s easy to see why it’s popular with professionals looking for the next stage of their life.
Santa Monica is one of the best neighborhoods in the city, if for no other reason than the 310 days of sunshine and a year-round temperature of 66 degrees. And with the incredible tidiness of Pacific Palisades to the north and gritty, counterculture real of Venice to the south, Santa Monica is the perfect middle ground for neighborhood hopping. Not that you have to – it’s classic LA, with boardwalks, laid-back attitudes, and endless boutiques.
Named in 1927 for the Studio lot of comedy genius Mack Sennett, Studio City sits in the San Fernando Valley and is home to more organic stores and yoga studios then you can possibly need. It’s a beacon of healthy eating and healthy living among a slightly older crowd of urban elite. Unassumingly elegant and luxurious, Studio City caters to those with a taste for a high life, but can’t be bothered with the dreary tasks of keeping up with the Joneses. For refined elegance, Studio City is hard to pass up.
A small section of indie culture buried in the east side, Silver Lake is a gritty (but in a good way) hangout for hipsters and trendsetters who like a slower pace. Vintage LA through and through, sometimes it seems like Silver Lake never left the 1970s. But in a good way. Walk along the wake in the morning before hitting one of endless indie cafes. And for nightlife, you can look forward to a thriving bar and restaurant scene.
Sunset Strip is among the most famous streets in the world. Just 1.5 miles long, this stretch of road is LA’s answer to Times Square. Since the beginning, Sunset Strip has had a lively and energetic nightlife, originally fueled by its exclusion from LA municipal authority (instead governed by the freer rein of the county police). From the 30s onwards, nightclubs, casinos, restaurants, and venues cropped up to serve the upper crust of LA society. Movie stars, authors, and rock bands have all frequented Sunset Strip at various times. With almost 90 years of party history, the feel of Sunset Strip is truly irreplaceable.
For a small-town feel among the big city, you can’t look past Pacific Palisades. Mega-mansions overlook the Pacific, but you’ll still know your local barista’s first name (not to mention them knowing your usual). And with plenty of walking trails down the defining cliffs to the ocean, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting. Mostly single-family homes make Pacific Palisades perfect for families, particularly due to the neighborhoods extreme tidiness and manicured appearance.
When you picture LA, you probably picture Venice. Not only is this neighborhood extremely photogenic, it’s also an incredible gem within the city. Perpetually exciting and a hotbed of counter-culture, Venice is all the better for being slightly off-the-beaten-path. Largely a professional neighborhood, Venice has a high proportion of single folks living alone, giving the neighborhood tons of energy day and night. Venice is defined by canals (which it takes its name from) and it’s long, pedestrian-only promenade ending in the iconic Venice Pier. For the perfect lunch visit.
West Los Angeles
West LA is a relatively small, extremely diverse community in the Westside region of LA county. Stretching towards the beach community of Santa Monica on one edge and bleeding into the flats below UCLA, West LA has a relaxed, low key vibe perfect for a lingering morning coffee or a casual bite to eat. Indie theaters butt up against classic diners, and the whole neighborhood oozes a slower pace of life, while still being steps away from the goings-on of the big city.
The true home to the creative genius and the epic parties that mark Los Angeles, West Hollywood has long been a high-end bohemian hotspot. Comprised of a walkable grid and plenty of dense/mixed use zoning, it’s like a slice of Greenwich Village on the East Coast.
LA is one of those cities with something for everyone. Whether it’s the luxury boutiques and fancy cars of West LA and Bel Air or the 1970s vintage feel of Venice, you’re sure to find a place to call home in the city of angels.