Before deciding where you want to stay in Los Angeles, you first need to define exactly what it is you want to see and do while in the City of Angels? The sprawling city is famed as the centre of the nation’s film and television industry and top attractions such as the Walk of Fame and Universal Studios are a prerequisite for visitors. However, the city also extends itself to offer some of the top dining and nightlife hot spots in the country, as well as luxury and one-off shopping experiences. Our guide to Los Angeles provides the lowdown on the most prominent neighbourhoods in the city, ensuring that you pinpoint the best location for you within 1200 square kilometres.
Downtown Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles is one of the most reasonably priced districts in the city. However, visitors should not be fooled into thinking they have booked accommodation in the city centre. Nevertheless, visitors will find plenty to entertain themselves from world-class restaurants to entertainment venues and the best nightlife spots in the city. A typical day in Downtown Los Angeles can begin shopping in the LA Fashion District. A dent in your bank account can certainly be made in Santee Alley and the California Market Center. Shoppers can continue onto Little Tokyo to hit the large shopping centres there. Once in Little Tokyo, visitors will find themselves among excellent restaurants, as well as shopping opportunities. Chinatown is another recommendation for leading shops and eateries. It hosts Philipe’s, a restaurant known as one of the creators of the French Dip sandwich. Wind up the day by catching a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a game at the STAPLES Center, or by relishing the popular attractions at the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex which includes the GRAMMY Museum, Lucky Strike Lanes and Regal Cinemas.
Visitors to Downtown Los Angeles will also find themselves in the same precinct as the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Historic Exposition Park, home to the California Science Center, the California African American Museum, the LA Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena and the Natural History Museum.
Hollywood is a must-see destination in Los Angeles, if only for a trip to the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. The centre of the film industry, it also accommodates Universal Studios where visitors can enjoy an action-packed day at the theme park. Film buffs can also take a tour of the Dolby Theatre and catch a glimpse of the glamour associated with the Academy Awards. The TCL Chinese Theatre is another good option. For something a little different, an evening spent with upcoming comedians at the Laugh Factory is sure to rise many a giggle.
The streets of Hollywood parade some of the most multicultural cuisines in Los Angeles, with nearby Thai Town and Little Armenia always considered top choices. One of the most famous restaurants in the neighbourhood is Musso and Frank Grill, where Charlie Chaplin and F. Scott Fitzgerald once dined. Hollywood also has the best public transportation in the entire city, easily allowing visitors to stop by other parts of Los Angeles.
West Hollywood is mostly known as the home of beautiful Sunset Boulevard. With entertainment venues like the House of Blues and the Comedy Store, the lively Saddle Ranch Chop House, and fine dining at Herringbone, some might say that the boulevard is enough to keep any visitor amused during their stay in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, it is still worth heading over to Robertson Boulevard, which offers a hefty contribution of unique boutiques and designer clothing and jewelry stores.
West Hollywood prides itself as being one of the most authentic and welcoming gay-friendly neighbourhoods in the country. In fact, it has even been prized as one of the world’s finest gay meccas. As well as the LA Gay Pride festival in June and Halloween street party in October, it also offers many thriving bars and happening nightclubs. If you can get over the long queues at the weekend, it is worth taking a visit to the Abbey, which is annually voted one of the world’s best gay bars.
For a neighbourhood rich in character, the Arts District is a great choice. Visitors can walk down any street here to find colour spilling from every surface, and a creative energy streaming from numerous galleries, restaurants, boutiques and bars. An entirely different form of shopping to any other part of Los Angeles can be accomplished in the Arts District. With a plethora of artist’s workshops popping up within the brick walls of old warehouses, it is the place to find something truly unique whether it be jewelry, clothing or home ware. Many of the shops are family owned, as are several of the great restaurants in the area. Highly recommended is popular The Pie Hole, which offers one-of-a-kind sweet and savory pies served within a simple decor.
As the name might give away, Hollywood Hills is a hill-top neighbourhood set among the Santa Monica Mountains. To choose to book an apartment here is to choose to rub shoulders with highly-esteemed celebrities. It is a must that all visitors to the area stop by the iconic Hollywood Sign. It is possible to follow some nature trails to reach the sign, or board a shuttle to some viewpoints, or go on a guided tour. The neighbourhood is also notable for its stunning views over Los Angeles.
For those wishing to experience Los Angeles from beyond the bustling atmosphere of city life, Westlake is a great choice. Located just outside the border of Downtown Los Angeles, it provides proficient public transport options for commuting to the rest of the city. Lazy days can be spent relaxing in MacArthur Park, while visitors coming to the city by car can easily drive to the stunning beaches of Malibu, Venice Beach and Ventura to soak up the sun with a sea view. Food wise, Westlake boasts numerous restaurants whom supply diners with the flavorsome dishes of South American countries. The culture of this predominantly Latino neighbourhood also spills out into the streets in the form of various sounds and colors.
(Header image: STAPLES Center. Photo by Al Pavangkanan, via FlickrCC.)