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11 Best Neighborhoods To Visit in Los Angeles (From A Local's Perspective)

Travels With Elle logo: MainLogo Travels With Elle 8/4/2022 Travels With Elle

As a former Los Angeles resident of 6+ years, I often get asked where to go in this bustling city for a good time.

Los Angeles is a big city with lots to offer visitors. If you’re looking for the best neighborhoods to visit in LA, you’re in luck. I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots in LA. From food to nightlife and everything in between, I’ve got the scoop on the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles!

Whether you’re into movies, art, museums, nightlife, or shopping, there’s something for everyone in these neighborhoods. So without further ado, here are the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles to visit.

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11 Best Neighborhoods To Visit in Los Angeles

1. SILVER LAKE

Visitors to Silver Lake in Los Angeles will find a beautiful and lively family-oriented community with plenty to see and do.

The sophisticatedly-hip Silver Lake neighborhood is home to a thriving arts scene, and what you’ll find is that on Sunset Blvd, the main drag of Silver Lake, the streets are lined with art galleries, murals galore, and fun boutique shops. Among some of the shops are Parachute, Wild Fang, Mohawk General Store, and more.

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There are also plenty of great places to eat and drink, from upscale restaurants to casual cafes. For a great happy hour, head to Mohawk Bend for brews and pizza! For brunch, All Day Baby and Millie’s Cafe are both local favorites.

And of course, no visit to Silver Lake would be complete without taking a walk around the reservoir itself. With its picturesque setting and beautiful views, it’s no wonder that Silver Lake steals the hearts of many who visit!

2. ECHO PARK

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Located adjacent to Silver Lake is Echo Park, one of the most vibrant and eclectic neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. It’s probably best known for its artistic residents and grungy hipster vibes!

From its stylish shops and indie boutiques to its excellent restaurants, there’s something for everyone in Echo Park. For those looking to explore the neighborhood, here are a few of the best things to do in Echo Park.

Start your day with a coffee or pastry at one of the local cafes, such as Cafe de Leche or Cookbook Marketplace. Then, stroll through the neighborhood and check out some of the vintage stores, like Shout and About, Sunday’s Best Thrift Apparel,

or Wacko Soap Factory.

Popular attractions here include Echo Park Lake (you can rent pedal boats here), the Bob Baker Marionette Theater (a totally fun and quirky activity), and the Echo Park Time Travel Mart (another must-visit for those of you who love kitschy attractions).

Once you’re done enjoying the quirky wonders of Echo Park, enjoy a leisurely lunch/dinner at one of Echo Park’s many eateries, such as Masa of Echo Park (Chicago-style pizza). If you are still here during the night, you can either catch a concert or monthly dance event at The Echoplex or visit Button Mash, a vintage arcade bar known for its selection of craft beer and pan-Asian cuisine.

Whether you’re looking to shop, eat, drink, or just soak up the vibe of this unique neighborhood, Echo Park is sure to keep you entertained.

3. LOS FELIZ / ATWATER VILLAGE

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If you’re looking for unique neighborhoods to visit in Los Angeles, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Los Feliz and Atwater Village. These two neighborhoods offer a variety of activities and attractions that are sure to please everyone in your group.

If you’re starting in Los Feliz, you cannot miss a stop at Maru Coffee–their signature drink, the Cream Top, is so delightful! For brunch, my favorite joint is Home Restaurant. It’s literally the cutest little brunch setting ever.

If you’re interested in exploring the arts scene, you can check out the galleries and performance spaces in Los Feliz. The neighborhood also has a lively nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs to choose from.

Or, if you’re more into shopping and dining, you’re going to love Atwater Village. Atwater Village is known for its eclectic shops, cafes, and variety of restaurants. The neighborhood is also home to the Atwater Village Farmers Market, which takes place every Sunday. Don’t leave without grabbing a pastry or two from Proof Bakery, followed by Asian-inspired ice cream at Wanderlust Creamery!

And of course, no visit to Los Angeles would be complete without a stop at one of the nearby popular tourist destinations like Griffith Park or the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

So whether you’re looking for a day of adventure or a chill night rubbing elbows with the locals at casual bars, the neighborhoods of Los Feliz and Atwater Village have something to offer everyone.

4. SANTA MONICA

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Santa Monica is a must-visit neighborhood when in Los Angeles. There are a few different parts of the city that make it worth visiting–downtown Santa Monica, Main Street, Third Street Promenade, and Ocean Park.

Downtown Santa Monica is the center of the action with its array of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Main Street is lined with upscale shops and restaurants (they also have a great farmers market on Saturdays), while Third Street Promenade is a pedestrian-friendly outdoor mall where you’ll find various street performers trying to get tourists’ money.

Santa Monica State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles, and the attached Santa Monica Pier (while quite touristy) is still a destination that most tourists need to walk through once in their life. If beaching is not your thing, why not ride bikes along the Santa Monica Bike Path instead?

Biking in Santa Monica - 2 Days In LA Itinerary © Provided by Elle Leung Biking in Santa Monica - 2 Days In LA Itinerary

Other adjacent neighborhoods worth exploring include Venice Beach and Brentwood (for Pizzana, one of my favorite pizzerias in all of LA).

5. VENICE

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Venice is a beachfront neighborhood in LA known for its canals, boardwalk, and oceanfront walkway. The main reason why tourists visit is for the Venice Boardwalk, famed for its people-watching opportunities and live music. And let me tell you, the people here are quirky.

While you’re in the area, do not miss a visit to Abbot Kinney. Abbot Kinney is a street in Venice known for its eclectic shops and restaurants. The block of Abbot Kinney Boulevard between Venice Boulevard and Main Street is especially popular with locals and tourists alike.

You’ll find people zooming around on e-scooters, walking their dogs, and shopping for the latest fashion with their friends. You can find everything from vintage clothing stores to indie boutique shops to classy restaurants to hip coffee and matcha shops.

Not into shopping? It’s still a great place to go people-watching after you’ve observed all you can at the Venice Boardwalk! You can even pop into the infamous Erewhon and ogle at the exorbitant costs for groceries and smoothies. (Last I went, they were selling a jar of drinkable sea moss for $39. Quite a sight to see if I do say so myself.)

6. ARTS DISTRICT – DOWNTOWN LA

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Downtown Los Angeles is a huge metropolis with many different neighborhoods to explore, each with its own unique atmosphere. Exploring Downtown LA will take you all day, so do allocate a good chunk of your day to this area of LA alone.

For those who enjoy urban exploring, the Arts District is a must-see, with its graffiti-covered buildings and street art. This little neighborhood is known for its many restaurants, shops, and art galleries. The area is also home to several art installations, including the iconic “Angel’s Gate.”

At the Arts District, you can get coffee at Blue Bottle, grab one of the many delicious pastries baked in-house at Bread Lounge, grab a pint of beer at Angel City Brewery, shop at the Poketo art store, browse art and homeware at Alchemy Works, and much more.

If you’re ready for cocktails at this time of day–or if you’d rather come back later in the day–do not miss Villains Tavern (a steampunk-themed bar) or EightyTwo (a super-fun arcade bar).

7. LITTLE TOKYO – DOWNTOWN LA

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History buffs and Japantown lovers will appreciate a visit to Little Tokyo. For those looking to learn more about Japanese culture and history, a visit to the Japanese American National Museum is a must. Linger a little while in Little Tokyo and eat some truly delicious Japanese food!

The original Daikokuya ramen shop is here, as well as Fugetsu-Do, one of the finest Japanese manju / mochi artisans in Los Angeles.

8. DOWNTOWN LA

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Those looking for a more laid-back vibe or an activity centered around food can head back to Downtown LA proper to Grand Central Market, where they can enjoy a meal from one of the many delicious food stalls. This historic market offers a variety of food stalls and vendors, making it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat.

Among my favorite stalls are Sticky Rice and  Tacos Tumbras a Tomas! Whatever you do, do NOT miss the chance to follow up your meal with McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams (Hint: get the cookies and cream flavor–it’ll change your tastebud’s life.)

All the eating opportunities aside, Downtown Los Angeles is also home to a number of popular museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Broad, the California Science Center, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For those who enjoy classical, contemporary, and world music, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is also located here.

Visitors to Downtown Los Angeles will find plenty to explore at these popular attractions. Regardless of your interests, there’s sure to be something for everyone in Downtown Los Angeles!

9. KOREATOWN

Koreatown is one of the most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. There’s always something to do, whether you’re exploring the shops and restaurants or enjoying the nightlife.

Out of all there is to do in Ktown, eating is the number one thing people come to do. You can expect hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants in the area, with some of my favorites being Crab House (for raw marinated crab), Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong (great quality KBBQ), Hae Jang Chon (all-you-can-eat KBBQ), and Zzamong (for jjajangmyun and jjambong).

Next up is shopping. Koreatown is filled with shops selling everything from traditional Korean goods to Kpop shops to trendy fashion items. You can spend hours browsing the different stores, and you’re sure to find something unique.

Koreatown is also home to several museums, including the Korean American Museum and the Korean Central History Museum. These are great places to start if you want to learn more about Korean culture and history.

And if you’ve managed to stay in Ktown into the night, do not miss a chance to experience nightlife here. Koreatown is known for its lively nightlife scene. There are plenty of karaoke bars and clubs to choose from, so you can sing, dance, or sip cocktails all night long. Some of the more popular spots include Pharaoh Karaoke Lounge for karaoke and Lock & Key for dancing.

10. THAI TOWN

Thai Town is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and one that I love so dearly! Whenever I’m in LA, I need to visit this neighborhood at least once during my trip to get in my Thai food fix!

Located on Hollywood Boulevard between Western Avenue and Normandie Avenue, Thai Town is home to a diverse community of Thai-Americans. The neighborhood is filled with Thai restaurants, markets, and cultural organizations. Visitors can literally experience the rich culture of Thailand without leaving the United States!

By far the most popular thing to do here? EAT! Among the many restaurants you’ll find, I recommend Ruen Pair, Saap Coffee Shop, Northern Thai Food Club, and Bhan Kanom Thai (for all the best grab-and-go Thai desserts you could ever hope for).

Thai Town is also home to a number of annual events, including the Songkran Festival, which celebrates the Thai New Year, and the Lotus Festival, which honors the Thai national flower.

11. BEACH CITIES (MANHATTAN, HERMOSA, & REDONDO BEACH)

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While the South Bay of Los Angeles is not a place known for its crowd-drawing tourist attractions, there are some really fun things to do here. From watching comedy shows to surfing, driving Porsches to beach volleyball–there’s a whole lot the whole family will enjoy.

Of course, you could easily spend a few hours exploring the beach towns of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach. Each of these towns offers quite a different atmosphere from the next. They are all filled to the brim with great restaurants/bars, specialty boutiques, surf shops, acai bowl/smoothie joints, and they each have their own piers!

Looking to spend some time outside? The Strand, officially known as the Marvin Braude Trail is a 22-mile bike path that extends almost the full length of Santa Monica to the South Bay. You can take on the whole path if you’re an avid cyclist, but most people enjoy The Strand with a light walk or jog, or leisurely bike ride!

Lastly, how could I mention “beach cities” without mentioning the beach? Specifically, Manhattan Beach has an amazing beach that’s perfect for swimming, surfing, or just relaxing. This is my all-time favorite beach in all of the Los Angeles area because the waves are calm for swimming and the water is actually clean!

So when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city life or want to spend some time breathing fresh coastal air, make some time to explore in the South Bay–you won’t regret it!

Read More: 28 Fun Things To Do In The South Bay Los Angeles, California

Consider The Go City Los Angeles Pass

If you’re going to be going all over LA and doing a good amount of sightseeing, consider getting Go City’s Los Angeles All-Inclusive Pass. This easy-to-use mobile attraction pass really helps travelers see a lot of LA in a really short amount of time, and it’ll help you save a ton of money!

The Go City Los Angeles Pass is a digital attraction pass that provides easy access and admission to some of LA’s most popular museums and excursions. With certain excursions, you’re even able to skip the line, saving you both money and time.

There are two types of passes–the All-Inclusive Pass and the Explorer Pass.

The Go City All-Inclusive Pass is really great for travelers who want to see as much as possible while they’re in LA. With the All-Inclusive Pass, you can choose between a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-day pass that will grant you free admission to 35+ parks, museums, and attractions throughout LA and even other parts of Southern California.

Prices start at $99 for the All-Inclusive Pass and you can visit literally as many attractions as you can fit into each day!

The pass includes admission to the following heavy-hitters:

  • 1-Day Universal Studios Hollywood (Retail: $144)
  • Knott’s Berry Farm (Retail: $99)
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain (Retail: $92)
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus 1-Day Classic Tour (Retail: $52)
  • Hollywood Sign Tour (Retail: $55)
  • Dolby Theatre® Guided Tour (Retail: $25)
  • Guided Celebrity Bike Tour (Retail: $75)
  • Whale Watch in Long Beach (Retail: $50)
  • Downtown LA Food and Culture Tour (Retail: $35)

And even some awesome attractions in the San Diego area:

  • San Diego Zoo (Retail: $67)
  • LEGOLAND California (Retail: $111)

If you don’t plan on visiting a ton of different attractions, Go City also has an Explorer Pass which will still save you a lot of money. With the Explorer Pass, you’ll pay one flat fee for a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-choice pass.

You’ll then have 60 days to use the Explorer Pass on whichever attractions you’d like. There is also no need to pick attractions ahead of time, so you’ll have the flexibility to choose attractions as you go.

Passes start at $89 for 2 choices. But get this–the more activity choices you buy, the cheaper the overall cost per activity. A 7-choice pass costs just a little over $160. That comes out to just $23 per activity!

You can buy the pass online here.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles, CA

I’ve noticed that when I type in “Los Angeles” in various hotel search sites, they often show hotels in Downtown LA first. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the atmosphere of Downtown LA (plus there is hardly any parking in this area of LA), so I’m going to be providing a few other neighborhood recommendations.

If the main objective of your LA trip is to explore museums, eat at popular restaurants, or go to rooftop bars, then sure–Downtown LA could be right for you. You’d be in the middle of a ton of great restaurants, museums, and bars.

However, I like the ambiance in the following neighborhoods more: Santa Monica, Venice / Culver City, and Northeast LA.

There’s just more parking, more space, and less noise overall. Here are some of the hippest places to stay in each of the neighborhoods above!

Santa Monica / Westwood

Venice / Culver City

Hollywood / Northeast LA

Downtown LA

My Favorite Travel Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when planning out a new trip itinerary. The sites/companies listed here typically have the best overall value, offer deals, beat out other competitors, and offer great customer service when needed.

  • WayAway | This site compares flight ticket fares from hundreds of agencies. You’re going to get the best prices on the market, at least $10 lower than those on Skyscanner, Kayak, and Priceline.com. The best part is? The WayAway Plus membership. With the membership, you’ll get up to 10% cash back on airline tickets, hotel bookings, car rentals, and other travel services.
    • DEAL ALERT! Use code ‘travelswithelle’ for 10% off WayAway Plus.
  • Booking.com | Honestly, this is my go-to accommodation booking site. This site has free cancellation and no prepayment required on reservations which is huge for me. It also has amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price. Honestly, it’s shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hotels and other accommodations a breeze.
  • Viator | Viator is a huge online marketplace for all things tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, ATV tours, sailing trips, walking tours, hot air ballooning, and more.
  • Go City | Go City offers great value-for-the-money attraction passes in various destinations around the world. Whenever I want to play tourist in a city, I always check to see if Go City operates in that city. The money you can save with this pass is unreal (as opposed to buying admission tickets for various attractions separately).
  • Bookaway | This is my go-to transportation resource when I’m traveling to lesser-known destinations and need to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Bookaway is super useful when you have absolutely no idea how to get around between cities or even between countries! Just type in your starting point and destination and it’ll show you options on how to get there by train, bus, ferry & more – as well as allow you to book your transportation right then and there!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing is by far one of the best travel medical insurance for travelers as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those heading abroad.
  • World Nomads – Also a great travel insurance company if you’re looking for the most comprehensive travel insurance out there. Their coverage is very comprehensive, making it a good choice if you are more adventurous and plan on partaking in thrill-seeking activities or plan on moving around with lots of electronics and expensive gear.

I hope you were able to discover a few new neighborhoods to visit on your next trip to Los Angeles!

Looking for more LA travel tips? Read More:

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