Los Angeles is an immense city of unique well-defined neighborhoods (that all feel like good-sized cities unto themselves). And because the best things to do in Los Angeles are spread throughout the Los Angeles area and its suburbs there isn’t one best part of town to stay. Los Angeles has neighborhoods for almost any interest whether it is a beach vacation, high-end shopping, celebrity sightings, art galleries, nightlife, or foodie travel.
Los Angeles County is a sprawling metropolis and includes many communities, villages, and neighborhoods. Hollywood, Downtown Los Angeles, The Westside are all part of the city of Los Angeles. There are some neighborhoods on the Eastside of Los Angeles like Silverlake and Los Feliz that are also worth exploring. To the west, Venice Beach and Marina Del Rey are also part of the city of Los Angeles and a must-see. West of the Cahuenga Pass and over the hill from Hollywood you’ll find Studio City and the beginning of “The Valley”. Cities such as West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Burbank, and Pasadena are their own cities.
The list of what to do in Los Angeles is huge; from visiting one of the many film studios, to taking a ‘map of the stars’ tour through Beverly Hills and Hollywood, to lounging at one of the many beaches along the Pacific Ocean. These are just a few of the Los Angeles highlights.
Downtown Los Angeles has a great art district, the famous Grand Central Market food court, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the majority of theaters. Hollywood is where you’ll find Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign, Hollywood Blvd, and many of the nightclubs. Los Feliz is a neighborhood where you’ll find a lot of beautiful homes, the LA Zoo, Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park. Silverlake is a quirky neighborhood known as more of an artist’s enclave with more obscure nightclubs and bars.
South of Hollywood you’ll find additional neighborhoods that include Larchmont Village, Wilshire District and the Fairfax District. In these additional areas you’ll find the Original Farmers Market, The Grove Shopping center and many streets filled with shops and restaurants including Beverly Blvd, Fairfax Blvd, 3rd Street and Melrose Blvd.
West of Downtown and Hollywood you’ll find the up-scale residential areas of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood and finally the beaches in Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu.
The section of Sunset Blvd before it turns into West Hollywood is considered the Sunset Strip and known for its nightlife. West Hollywood is also a top nightlife hotspot with an abundance of bars and music venues. Beverly Hills is where you’ll find the infamous Beverly Hills Hotel and high-end shopping on Rodeo Drive.
Los Angeles is a city that requires a car. Whether you Uber or rent a car, you won’t want to depend on public transportation in Los Angeles, especially if you want to visit many of the sites throughout the city.
The weather in Los Angeles is beautiful the majority of the year. Average highs are in the mid-90’sºF in the summer, and low-70’sºF in the winter making it a great vacation destination any time of year.
Mid September through mid October is one of the best times to find spectacular weather and great prices on hotels as the summer crowds have left. Spring is the rainiest season in Los Angeles and the most unpredictable for weather, although it will rarely rain for more than a few hours on any given day.
The best hotels are not focused in one neighborhood and it’s easy to find great accommodations ranging from budget to luxury in most areas of Los Angeles.
One thing to note in Los Angeles: There are many sports teams, conventions and events throughout the year including star-studded galas like the Grammy’s and Academy Awards. Booking a hotel during events like these and throughout summer should be done about a year in advance. For slower seasons try to reserve rooms at least three months in advance.
The Best Places To Stay in Los Angeles
Best Luxury Hotels in Los Angeles
The Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel • Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills • Hotel Bel-Air • Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills • Beverly Hills Hotel
Best Beach Hotels in Los Angeles
Shutters on the Beach • Hotel Casa del Mar
Best Boutique Hotels in Los Angeles
Hotel Shangri-La • Plaza La Reina • Sunset Marquis Hotel
Best Cheap Hotels in Los Angeles
Venice Beach House • Freehand Los Angeles • BLVD Hotel & Suites
Best Hostels in Los Angeles
HI Los Angeles Santa Monica Hostel • Orange Drive Hostel • Banana Bungalow Hollywood
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles to Stay for First Timer: Hollywood or Santa Monica
If it’s your first time visiting Los Angeles the first thing to know is that the city is very big and traffic is an issue. Choosing a hotel based on your main site-seeing goals makes a lot of sense in this city. If you want a lot of beach time, Santa Monica is a great choice. There is a great walking and biking path that connects to Venice Beach. In Santa Monica you’ll find a wide stretch of beach, pier with amusement park and arcade. Santa Monica is also the end of Route 66 and you can see the iconic sign at the entrance to the pier. Just inland from the beach is Santa Monica Place, an open-air shopping center filled with restaurants and great boutique shops. Hollywood is a second choice for first time visitors. If you want to visit Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood sign, and see the stars on Hollywood Blvd, this is a great location for a homebase.
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Sightseeing: Hollywood
When it comes to sightseeing, Hollywood is a must. Here you’ll find the iconic Hollywood sign, studios such as Paramount Pictures and the infamous Hollywood Boulevard and the Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame, begun in 1958 with an initial 1,588 honourees, and is located on 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre can be extremely busy on weekends. The theatre is located on the Walk of Fame and this is one of the busiest tourist spots in Los Angeles. It’s a common misconception that Hollywood is glitz and glam, but in truth it is a bit of a seedy area with lots of very interesting people.
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Nightlife: Hollywood and West Hollywood
You can find clubs and bars throughout all of Los Angeles, but Hollywood and West Hollywood are the top nightlife hotspots. Here you’ll find a wide array of bars and music venues. Most clubs don’t get going until at least 9pm and throughout the year you’ll find live music at a multitude of clubs including some of the most well-known spots like the Roxy, Troubadour, Whisky a Go Go, and Viper Room (opened by Johnny Depp). If you are interested in a possible celebrity sighting check out Chateau Marmont’s Bar Marmont or Avalon Hollywood.
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Food and Restaurants: Beverly Hills and throughout Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a foodie town and the best restaurants are scattered throughout the city. Beverly Hills and Santa Monica offer a nice variety of upscale and trendy spots where you can find every type of food and wonderful brunch spots. One of LA’s oldest food-centric destinations is Chinatown, located downtown near the city’s civic and cultural center. Chinatown offers a wide array of eclectic options. Also downtown is the famous Grand Central Market, a downtown landmark since 1917, where the food and cultures of LA merge. Los Angeles has the only official Thai Town in the US, which is located in East Hollywood. Nearby are the bakeries and kabobs of Little Armenia which is located between Los Feliz and Silverlake. In Hollywood you’ll find some old-school restaurants worth a visit including Musso & Frank Grill and Miceli’s. The Fairfax area is where you’ll find one of the best deli’s in the city, Canters as well as the Original Farmers Market dating back to 1934 and offering over 100 gourmet grocers and food kiosks. For upscale dining, there are currently 26 Michelin starred restaurants in Los Angeles. https://la.eater.com/maps/los-angeles-michelin-restaurants-stars-2019-map. Beyond these award winning restaurants, head to Beverly Hills and Santa Monica for a wide range of upscale dining. A few not to miss restaurants are Nate ‘n Al, Maude and Spago in Beverly Hills. For brunch head to The Polo Lounge at Beverly Hills Hotel. In Santa Monica, a few few choices are Osteria Bigoli and Forma. Fia is your top choice for brunch near the beach.
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Families: Santa Monica
Just north of the wackiness of Venice Beach is the wonderfully family friendly Santa Monica.This beach town has some great resort hotels and of course the uber fun Santa Monica Pier. The pier has been the backdrop for many movies and TV shows and where you’ll find restaurants, street artists, and the Pacific Park amusement park which is packed with rides, games, food and all kinds of family fun. At the end of the Santa Monica Pier is a sign that marks the end of the legendary American Route 66 highway. Of course, beyond the pier is a wide stretch of beautiful sandy beach and a great walking and biking path.
Most Romantic Neighborhood in Los Angeles: Malibu, Beverly Hills
Some of the most romantic and luxurious hotels in the world can be found in Los Angeles and can set the stage for a truly romantic vacation. Los Angeles offers a variety of romantic things to do throughout the city including a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a visit to the Griffith Observatory at night to stargaze, taking in a sunset from the cliffs in Malibu and brunch at the Polo Club. If you want a luxury boutique hotel experience, Shutters on the Beach or Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica is the place for strolling on the beach at sunset and enjoying candlelit waterfront dinners. In Hollywood, it must be the quintessentially glamorous Chateau Marmont—it is a castle! In downtown, the Millennium Biltmore offers old-school charm with it’s carved friezes, gigantic chandeliers, and afternoon tea service—and is one of the oldest hotels in Los Angeles. There is also the fairytale experience of Hotel Bel Air. There is simply nothing more romantic than the beachside paradise of the Malibu Beach Inn, which sits on a section of the coast named Billionaire’s Beach.
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for a Local Vibe: Los Feliz, Silverlake & Larchmont Village
These neighborhoods offer a great opportunity to meet locals and get a much different viewpoint of Los Angeles. Larchmont is a neighborhood just below Melrose Blvd and near Hancock Park that has a quaint old-town shopping street and beautiful historic homes. Los Feliz is a neighborhood with plenty of old-school watering holes, hip shops and cafes. It is also home to two Frank Lloyd Wright homes. The neighborhood borders Griffith Park where you can find great hiking trails, the Greek Theatre and the Griffith Observatory. Just east of Los Feliz is the neighborhood of Silverlake. It’s an artsy area drawing a hipster crowd. There are plenty of funky shops, street art, artisanal coffee shops, creative eateries, and indie music venues.
Best Neighborhood in Los Angeles for Walking: Hollywood, West Hollywood and Beach Cities
You might have heard that nobody walks in L.A., but this isn’t entirely true. Head to Venice or Santa Monica and you can jump on the 22-mile paved bicycle and walking path that runs along the Pacific coastline, from Will Rogers State Beach (north of Santa Monica), in the Pacific Palisades to Torrance County Beach (as you head south). West Hollywood is tied with Santa Monica as one of the most walkable cities in Southern California. West Hollywood is only 1.9 square miles, so all of the city’s best attractions are in close proximity. Hollywood and it’s top sites are also best explored on foot.
Safest Areas of Los Angeles
Los Angeles’ safest neighborhoods tend to be the most affluent ones of Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles. Most touristy areas are safe, especially during the day, but standard precautions apply at night. It’s also worth noting that there are sections in Hollywood and the beach cities, especially Venice Beach that can bring some interesting characters.
Unsafe Areas of Los Angeles
Regarding safety, LA has extremes with uber rich and safe areas as well as some seedy and unsafe areas. While most of the touristy neighborhoods such as Hollywood, Beverly Hills or Santa Monica are safe, L.A. has some dangerous areas downtown (Skid Row) and nearby (South Central). With any big city, be careful, especially at night and don’t wander alone.
The 7 Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles for Tourists
No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to Hollywood. If you are looking for the quintessential Hollywood experience you can visit many of the top sites and landmarks on foot such the Chinese Theatre and star-studded Walk of Fame. Nearby are Paramount Pictures, the Hollywood Bowl, and Dolby Theatre (home of the Oscars). The Hollywood Walk of Fame alone comprises more than 2,500 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.
Best Hotels: The Hollywood Roosevelt | Kimpton Everly Hotel
Best Moderate Hotel: BLVD Hotel & Suites
2. West Hollywood
West Hollywood is considered one of the most walkable cities in Southern California. The 1.9 square miles includes restaurants, shops and is one of the top neighborhoods for nightlife in Los Angeles. Santa Monica Boulevard is home to a number of gay bars, dance clubs and shops. The ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives is the largest active LGBTQ organization in the U.S., housing the biggest collection of books, photographs, artworks and personal papers of its kind in the world.
Best Hotels: Chateau Marmont | Mondrian Los Angeles | Sunset Marquis
Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Ramada Plaza by Wyndham West Hollywood Hotel & Suites
Best Hostel: Banana Bungalow – West Hollywood Hostel
3. Beverly Hills
Most known for its opulence, the upscale shopping street of Rodeo Drive and it’s famous 90210 zip code, Beverly Hills is synonymous with luxury, fame and wealth. It may surprise you, that it is a small city of just 5.7 square miles. Top things to do are to shop, dine and take a trolley tour of the mansions, celebrity homes, luxury hotels where you’ll also hear fun stories about the rich and famous. Not to miss restaurants include s Spago, Maude, Tempura Endo and the The Polo Lounge at Beverly Hills Hotel.
Best Hotels: Beverly Hills Hotel | Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills | Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills
Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Maison 140 Beverly Hills
Downtown Los Angeles includes Chinatown, Little Tokyo and the Arts District. You’ll find art museums, buzzworthy restaurants & hip bars. More importantly, it’s in downtown where you can visit El Pueblo de Los Angeles (also known as Olvera Street), the city’s 1781 birthplace. Many of the music and theater houses are downtown including the Walt Disney Concert Hall and in the historic Broadway Theatre District there are 12 movie theatres that were built between 1910 and 1931. When in downtown,visit the Arts District for a Graffiti and Mural Tour. A few upscale restaurants worth a visit are Otium and 71Above. If you are craving Mexican food, Tacos 1986 is a must. Some of the oldest and most popular restaurants in the city are located downtown including Philippe the Original, Pacific Dining Car and The Original Pantry Cafe.
Best Hotels: The Ritz-Carlton | The NoMad Hotel | JW Marriott L.A. LIVE | Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles
Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: Freehand | Arts District Co Living Space
5. Venice Beach
Venice is the most famous eccentric neighbourhood in Los Angeles. The 2.5-mile Venice Beach Boardwalk is best experienced by walking and enjoying the oddball people and shops complete with tattoo parlours, cannabis shops, street vendors and lots of street performers. Skate plaza and Venice Muscle Beach are two of the most famous spots here. The boardwalk is the second most-visited place in Southern California. Heading inland a few streets, Abbot Kinney is a mile long stretch of shops that include great second hand stores, restaurants, coffee shops, antique stores and galleries. While hotels can be expensive in Venice Beach, you’ll need to head to nearby Marina Del Rey for a 4 or 5-Star hotel experience.
Best Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey | Su Casa At Venice Beach (3-Star) | Inn at Venice Beach (3-Star) | The Venice Beach House (3-Star)
Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: The Ellison Suites | AIR Venice
Hostels: Samesun Venice Beach | PodShare Venice Beach
6. Santa Monica
In this beach city you’ll find excellent shopping, dining, and many family friendly attractions like the amusement park on the Pier and of course the beach itself. Next to the pier is Santa Monica’s version of Muscle Beach; an outdoor gym established in the 1930s. Biking, skating and of course surfing are all top things to try when visiting. Santa Monica is a fairly big city and encompases more than just the beach. Just inland from the beach is Santa Monica Place, an open-air shopping center filled with restaurants and great boutique shops. Head a bit further inland, just about three miles, to Montana Avenue and from 7th to 17th Street there are more than 150 stores, boutique shops and restaurants.
Best Hotel: Shutters on the Beach | Hotel Casa del Mar | Oceana | Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel
Best Cheap/Moderate Hotel: Cal Mar Hotel Suites | Hotel Carmel
Best Hostel: HI Los Angeles Santa Monica Hostel
Malibu is located west of Los Angeles and north of Santa Monica. It’s primarily known for Zuma Beach and Malibu Lagoon State Beach (Surfrider Beach to locals) and of course it’s home to many celebrity homes. The 1905 Malibu Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks that Malibu has to offer. There are some good hiking trails and waterfalls if you head into the hills. Two of the most popular are Solstice Canyon and Escondido Falls. While in Malibu you can visit the Spanish Revival–style Adamson House and the Malibu Lagoon Museum. There are plenty of great restaurants in Malibu and many offer gorgeous views of the Pacfic Ocean. A few to check out are Mastro’s Ocean Club, Duke’s, and Mr. Chow. Malibu Farm Restaurant is a top choice for breakfast and brunch. There aren’t an abundance of hotels in Malibu and even the two and three star hotels tend to be quite expensive because of the location.
Best Hotel: Malibu Beach Inn | Nobu Ryokan Malibu
Best Cheap/Moderate Hotels: The M Malibu