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Where To Stay In Los Angeles: 12 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

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Modern-day Los Angeles is famous for movie stars, Hollywood, and taco trucks. It’s also one of the most sprawling metropolises to visit to fill your days with unique experiences and legendary tourist sites.

Los Angeles boasts some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, from the iconic Hollywood Sign and Sunset Boulevard to the Santa Monica Pier. But it’s not just tourist hotspots and famous venues. Los Angeles is beautifully and wonderfully unique.

The city covers more than 500 square miles, and that figure grows by almost ten times when you add in all the famous neighborhoods that make up the Southland and Los Angeles County.

LA offers visitors many places to explore, great restaurants, and famous landmarks that will appeal to virtually any traveler, from those looking for a quiet beach getaway to those who want to rub elbows with Hollywood stars.

You might assume the rich and famous of Southern California lock themselves away inside their exclusive neighborhoods and gated homes. However, you might be surprised how frequently internationally famous actors and performers regularly engage in mundane activities like walking the supermarket’s aisles or getting a cup of coffee.

Sometimes, rubbing elbows with A-list actors simply requires a trip to the grocery store. But you’re not planning a tour of the grocery stores of Los Angeles, right?

Southern California is so much more than a place where famous people live and work, and planning your trip may feel a little overwhelming when you’ve never visited. After all, Los Angeles boasts more than 650 miles of freeways and is a massive city.

How do you decide where to stay in Los Angeles? Should you choose the chaotic streets of Hollywood or the quiet boulevards of Pasadena? Let’s take the first step in planning your vacation and look at some of the best places to stay in Los Angeles.

Local’s Tip: Los Angeles is chock-full of amazing attractions and it can be hard to figure out which ones you want to hit up – not to mention expensive. Do yourself a favor and grab a tourist pass, like the one from GoCity to save big money on tons of LA attractions!

TL;DR: Best Places to Say in Los Angeles

Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles

  • Area for first-timers/tourists – Hollywood
  • Area for budget travelers – Burbank
  • Area for luxury travelers – Beverly Hills
  • Area for families – Santa Monica
  • Area for unique experiences – Venice
  • Area for couples – Manhattan Beach

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

1. Hollywood

The street of Hollywood Boulevard at dusk
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

The quirky history of Hollywood started in the 1880s when Harvey Wilcox began building roads for a new subdivision. Lured by great year-round weather, filmmakers began moving to the community after the turn of the century. By the 1920s, a pair of real estate developers decided to erect a giant sign that read “Hollywoodland,” to advertise new homes in the hills.

Yes, you read that right. The iconic Hollywood sign wasn’t actually constructed as a monument to the burgeoning film industry — it was originally built in 1923 as an advertisement for a housing development! The original sign was covered in bright flashing lights, and the builders even brought in searchlights to call more attention to the sign.

With the film industry’s rise in Los Angeles, the sign eventually became synonymous with feature films and was left up for decades. Over time, the sign began to deteriorate, even missing a few letters.

A small group of donors eventually got together in the 1970s to sponsor repairs of the sign. The improvements cost $250,000, more than a million dollars in modern money. Today, most film studios operate outside the confines of Hollywood, but Los Angeles is still the world’s filmmaking center.

If you’ve never seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame in person and never hiked to the Hollywood Sign, Hollywood is where to stay in Los Angeles for the first time. If you love movies and want the classic Los Angeles experience you’ll get it – as well as easy access to nearby West Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, and DTLA.

From the iconic Dolby and Chinese Theaters to the flamboyant Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood is a chaotic and crazy place. Hollywood is most certainly a tourist trap, but it’s an unforgettable and worthwhile tourist trap. And as long as you rent a car, you can easily venture outside the boundaries of Hollywood for even more fun.

Here are a few excellent ways to spend your time in Hollywood.

  • Take a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which runs along Hollywood Blvd
  • Drive or horseback ride into Griffith Park, north of Hollywood, and hike to the Hollywood Sign
  • After that, take a trip to the world-famous Griffith Observatory
  • See an IMAX movie at the Chinese Theater, which boasts a state-of-the-art laser projector
  • Visit the Hollywood Wax Museum or Madame Tussauds Hollywood to see surprisingly realistic celebrity wax figures
  • Take the Paramount Pictures Studio Tour at the second-oldest movie studio in the U.S.

Check out some of the best hotels in Los Angeles and enjoy easy access to everything Hollywood has to offer.

See Related: Most Overrated Tourist Attractions & Destinations

2. Burbank

Aerial view of the downtown area of Burbank, California, USA
Matt Gush / Adobe Stock

On its face, Burbank is a crush of movie studios and film industry buildings, but if you dig deeper into the locale, you’ll find some kitschy streets full of odd businesses and a truly retro feel. If you have time, take a drive down Magnolia Blvd. The street is full of retro shops, antique stores, and trendy places, like a Halloween store that’s open all year.

Technically, Burbank is in the San Fernando Valley but at the extreme eastern edge of it. The city gets its name from David Burbank, a dentist who built a sheep ranch in the area in the 19th Century.

Today, Burbank is the location of several movie company headquarters, including The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Universal Studios Hollywood is located near Burbank, too, about five miles down the freeway.

If you’re keen on touring movie studios but don’t want to pay for the privilege of staying in a pricier area like Hollywood or DTLA, Burbank is an affordable place to consider. 

Burbank offers the ideal combination of relatively affordable stays alongside easy access to some of the region’s biggest venues like Universal Studios. You can even reach hiking trails in Griffith Park from the Burbank (Valley) side of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Burbank is also home to one of Los Angeles’s local airports, and it’s an excellent alternative to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), especially if you’re staying in Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena, or the Valley. Fly into Burbank Airport and reach Hollywood and Universal with ease.

Burbank Airport is pretty small, too, so it’s also easy to get on your flight when you depart without having to show up at the airport three hours early. Check out the following entertaining things to do for your stay in Burbank:

  • Enjoy walking tours of the neighborhood
  • Take the Warner Bros. studio tour, where you’ll see actual, working sound stages
  • Go to a taping of a television show at Warner Bros. Studios, making sure to get your tickets ahead of time because tapings usually fill up
  • Learn more about LA’s cannabis culture
  • Enjoy a fun hike or ride with great views through Stough Canyon as an alternative to the hustle and bustle of the city
  • Visit Magnolia Park on the last Friday of the month for food trucks, retro vibes, and a chill party atmosphere
  • Tour the Martial Arts History Museum to see loads of martial arts and film memorabilia
  • Head to nearby Universal City for the Universal Studios Tour and spend the afternoon strolling along Universal Citywalk for shopping and food

Since Burbank is just north of Los Angeles, visitors can score some very reasonable prices for hotel stays. Check out the following for where to stay in Los Angeles on a budget.

See Related: Things to Do in Anaheim, California

3. Beverly Hills

Palm trees in the morning sun in Beverly Hills, California
ADLC / Adobe Stock

Beverly Hills grew from humble beginnings in the 1820s, first as an agricultural community and then as an incorporated city in the early 1900s when developers began selling plots of land.

Famous movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were two of the earliest homeowners in the area, building a huge home in Beverly Hills in 1921.

Since its founding, the city has become an international icon for luxury, excess, and giant houses. Some of the best luxury stays are in Beverly Hills hotels, which house amazing amenities.

When you stay in Beverly Hills, you’ll normally have access to a luxurious spa, on-site restaurant, and outdoor or rooftop pool. When you’re not luxuriating next to the pool or ordering room service, you’ll probably be shopping.

When you want to experience nothing but the best and most luxurious accommodations offered in LA, Beverly Hills is where to stay in Los Angeles. It’s an incredible location for world-class restaurants and shopping and fairly convenient to other touristy locales like West Hollywood and the Sunset Strip, Downtown LA, and Santa Monica.

However, you don’t need to have an Amex Black Card in your wallet to enjoy Beverly Hills. Many of the streets on which the biggest houses sit are wonderful for walks.

You’ll love the towering palm trees and the wide streets that rise toward the Hollywood Hills to the north. Beverly Hills is full of luxury hotels, trendy boutiques, and eateries, but its neighborhoods are ideal for getting out, stretching your legs, and seeing where the rich and famous live.

Here are a few activities to get you started when you arrive for your luxury vacation:

  • Stroll around the Golden Triangle and visit shops on Rodeo Drive and restaurants on Wilshire
  • Take a picture in front of the Beverly Hills sign on North Beverly and North Cannon
  • Walk around the Greystone Mansion and Doheny Gardens, the filming site of many famous movies
  • Spy on Hollywood celebrities with a drive along the mansion-filled Mulholland Drive or on any of the streets in the Hollywood Hills
  • Find some culture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  • Check out the ever-pungent La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
  • Go on a Beverly Hills flightseeing tour

As you might expect, Beverly Hills is home to some seriously luxurious hotels, but you’ll find some modestly priced options available, too.

See Related: Things to Do in Palm Springs, California

4. Pasadena/South Pasadena

an aerial view of the city of Pasadena, California
Marcus Jones / Adobe Stock

Those who aren’t familiar with Pasadena will usually associate this city on the northeastern side of Los Angeles with the Rose Bowl and the yearly Tournament of Roses Parade. Still, the city is much more than a once-a-year event.

Pasadena is also home to the lauded California Institute of Technology, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and some of the largest homes in the county.

This neck of the LA area has a fascinating history. Interestingly, Pasadena was first incorporated as a city because locals wanted to stop a saloon from operating within its borders. The city was officially founded in 1886 and modern conveniences like sewers, electricity, and paved streets were soon common throughout the town.

Today, Pasadena is a vibrant community offering visitors a peaceful and calm environment, so it’s where to stay in Los Angeles when you want to focus on safety. Many of its streets are wide and pastoral, quite a different experience from the streets in Los Angeles (especially the hilly areas), where the roads are often so crowded that driving feels like an obstacle course.

South Pasadena, too, immediately to the south of Pasadena and its own incorporated community, is one of the safest places to visit and stay in the Los Angeles area. The beautiful craftsman cottages, incredible architecture, and open skies of Pasadena feel quite different from the crush of humanity in other Los Angeles regions.

You’ll find a wealth of activities just a short walk from your Pasadena hotel, which means you can spend your entire vacation venturing just a few miles away from your hotel or vacation home. However, it’s also easy to get to the bright city lights of Downtown Los Angeles with a quick trip down the 110 Freeway, which starts in Pasadena and passes right through DTLA.

Here are a few activities to consider in the connected communities of Pasadena and South Pasadena:

  • Tour the Gamble House, a National Historic Landmark and one of the most-visited Pasadena sites
  • Take a stroll through historic Old Town Pasadena for shopping, gelato, and laid-back fun
  • Get fat on a Pasadena food tour
  • Visit the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to get your science and technology fix
  • Get active with a hike or have a picnic at Eaton Canyon and its nature center
  • Visit the Rose Bowl and take a 3-mile jog around its perimeter or visit during the famous flea market
  • Drive through the amazing Bungalow Heaven neighborhood of Pasadena, which is loaded with gorgeous bungalow homes and craftsman cottages

Check out the hotels in Pasadena if your vision of a Southern California vacation includes some quiet time spent by the hotel pool and evening walks through a historic, picturesque, and vibrant Old Town.

See Related: Things to Do in Lancaster, California

5. Santa Monica

Ferris Wheel at Santa Monica Pier
Zarnell / Adobe Sock

Santa Monica is home to one of the Los Angeles area’s most famous tourist attractions: the Santa Monica Pier. No Southern California vacation is complete without a stop at the pier, whether it’s for a brief photo op or for the entire afternoon.

Many streets in Santa Monica feature trendy boutiques and cute little shops, but don’t let the beachy, upscale feel of the area scare you away if you’re traveling with kids. Santa Monica is a friendly and upbeat community with lots of amenities for kids and families, like the Pacific Park amusement park, which is on the Santa Monica Pier.

The rides aren’t particularly scary, so they’re ideal for a family with young kids. The beach also offers exceptional family fun, and the Los Angeles County lifeguards are some of the best in keeping your family safe while swimming.

The iconic California lifeguard series Baywatch was filmed in Santa Monica. However, rumor has it actor David Hasselhoff has retired from lifesaving activities – which does make sense since the Hoff is in his seventies.

Santa Monica is where to stay in Los Angeles with kids because it’s reasonably safe and offers excellent attractions for young ones. Santa Monica is also close to other beach cities with great activities, like Venice, its famous boardwalk, Malibu, and its amazing beaches and surf breaks.

Getting to Hollywood is a bit of a drive from Santa Monica. Still, you can avoid the freeways and take the scenic route through Beverly Hills via Santa Monica Boulevard, all the way to Hollywood and the famous tourist attractions there.

Here are some ways to make the most of your Santa Monica stay:

  • Visit the Santa Monica Pier and spend some time having fun at the Pacific Park amusement park
  • Walk along Santa Monica Beach or nearby Venice Beach and spend some time in the water if you’re visiting LA in the summer
  • Learn how to surf!
  • Go shopping at the Third Street Promenade, an open-air shopping mall that often features street performers and holiday celebrations
  • Hike Los Leones Canyon for stellar views of the Pacific Ocean
  • Ride bikes along the Santa Monica bike path northward toward Will Rogers State Beach
  • Stroll up the beach to Palisades Park for some photo ops and some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of Santa Monica Beach
  • Enjoy a walking tour of Santa Monica or book a bar crawl around some of Santa Monica’s best watering holes

Santa Monica boasts some gorgeous beachside hotels, as well as many cozy boutique hotels, some of which are within walking distance of the beach or actually on the beach.

See Related: Things to Do in The Bay Area, California

6. Venice

Venice Beach Palm Trees and Skyline
BRIAN_KINNEY / Adobe Stock

The oceanfront community of Venice, California, is a unique neighborhood in that it features some of the highest-cost real estate in the nation while still luring a rather large number of bohemians and street performers to its iconic Venice Beach boardwalk.

The fabulous dichotomy of expensive property and eclectic boardwalk denizens is like nowhere else in Los Angeles. Whether your tastes are luxurious or humble, there’s a side of Venice that will enthrall you. If you’re looking for a unique and one-of-a-kind experience, Venice Beach is certainly where to stay in Los Angeles.

Venice was intended as an oceanfront resort town when it was founded in 1905. The city was run under its own government until it became a part of Los Angeles in 1926. Today, you can address an envelope to “Venice, California,” and the post office will deliver the mail even though the address is actually in Los Angeles.

Venice is aptly named, too, as it sports several canals, just like its Italian namesake. For a time, the Venice canals fell into a state of disuse, and some were even paved over to accommodate cars, but a huge renovation project to restore the canals occurred in the early 1990s and fueled a significant revival in real estate and the desirability of the area.

Despite losing several canals over the last century, Venice remains a unique part of Los Angeles, from the chaotic traffic circle that was once a lagoon to the crazy boardwalk that usually feels like an uninhibited circus. Choose Venice if you’re searching for shenanigans and tomfoolery in Los Angeles.

Whether your tastes are routine or unusual, this famous West Coast neighborhood has something for everyone. Here are a few terrific ways to spend your time in Venice, California:

  • Visit the famous Venice Boardwalk and try to remain calm amidst all the hyperactive performers
  • Spend a lazy day on Venice Beach and take a dip in the water if the weather’s right (the fall is actually a great time for warm water in the Pacific Ocean)
  • Stroll the Venice canals at sunset when the whole neighborhood feels dreamy and quiet
  • Get your wallet out for some shopping along the bougie Abbot Kinney Boulevard
  • Visit the famous Muscle Beach, a strange gym that’s more an exhibition than a real gym
  • Wander down to Santa Monica Beach and the Santa Monica Pier, making sure to patronize one of the street vendors for lunch along the way
  • Watch people slay it or wipe out at Venice Beach Skatepark

Living in Venice these days is a rather expensive proposition, but fortunately for visitors, some several hotels and establishments cater to many different price points.

See Related: Things to Do in Laguna Beach, California

7. Manhattan Beach

Aerial of Manhattan Beach Pier and the pacific ocean near Los Angeles, California
trekandshoot / Shutterstock

Manhattan Beach is part of a trio of towns along the coast that locals call the Beach Cities. Along with Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach represents one of the most picturesque areas in Los Angeles.

Along the coast, row upon row of beautiful homes rise along steep hills that ensure everyone has an amazing view of the Pacific, even if their home isn’t right on the beach.

Manhattan Beach was originally planned as a resort town when a company from New York bought several acres of property in 1901. The beautiful strand boardwalk was built quite early in the city’s history, and the lighting along the boardwalk was originally supplied by a wave motor housed at the pier.

Manhattan Beach saw its population soar after World War II when servicemen began returning from the war in search of a place to raise families. Today, Manhattan Beach is a cozy and welcoming seaside community with spectacularly expensive real estate and easy beach access from just about anywhere in town.

One of the best ways to enjoy your cozy vacation in Manhattan Beach is to walk on the boardwalk at dusk when the sun sets over the Pacific and the ocean breeze smells like palm trees and roses.

Manhattan Beach is wonderfully walkable, and if you stay anywhere in the vicinity of the beach, you’ll only have to walk a few minutes to reach the restaurants and chill spots along Highland Ave, which runs parallel to the coastline.

Manhattan Beach is where to stay in Los Angeles when you’re looking for a quiet couples getaway. You’ll love sleeping in each morning, getting coffee from one of the fun little shops, and heading to the beach for a sunny afternoon. Even when the weather is overcast, Manhattan Beach is a dreamy, beautiful place.

If your goal during your Los Angeles visit is to sit on the beach, Manhattan Beach, as well as neighboring Hermosa Beach or Redondo Beach, will suit you beautifully. Manhattan Beach is less touristy than Venice or Santa Monica, so it’s an excellent place for a sunny beach escape.

Some of the best things to do at Manhattan Beach include:

  • Walk along the Manhattan Beach Pier and tour the Roundhouse Aquarium that sits at the end of it
  • Try your luck surfing at El Porto, the beach on the northern end of Manhattan Beach
  • Skate, ride, run, or walk the Manhattan Beach Strand, which travels up and down the coastline for several miles
  • Get some absolutely excellent pizza at Beach Pizza on Highland Ave
  • Watch the sunset while sitting on the beach; every spot is a great spot for a beautiful photograph
  • Go out for drinks and dining at one of the bars near the Hermosa Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach is a wonderful place to plan your romantic Los Angeles escape with your significant other. You’ll find many options for cozy hotels with excellent views of the ocean.

See Related: Things to Do in Long Beach, California

8. Westchester

In n Out Burger and an American Airlines plane landing at LAX in Westchester, California
Atomic Hot Links / Flickr

If you’ve only got a few days to spend in Los Angeles and want easy access to the airport, as well as a great place from which to launch your day trips throughout the city, Westchester is a natural choice.

The community is immediately north of the airport, full of quiet residential streets, humble eateries, and little parks. The quiet streets of Westchester might make you think you’re in the quiet suburbia of Middle America rather than sunny Southern California.

Westchester is also within a stone’s throw of the beach and the little seaside neighborhood of Playa del Rey, which means enjoying the beach is easy. At the same time, you stay in Westchester without conquering the crowds at the busier Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach up the coast.

Additionally, Westchester is right next door to the trendy and upscale Playa Vista, located just to the north and down the hill. Playa Vista has multiple parks for family outings and some shopping venues.

Not only is Westchester centrally located, which makes it easy to visit all the beach communities like Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Venice, and Marina del Rey, but it also sits within easy reach of the 105 and 405. Those freeways will get you almost anywhere you want to go in Los Angeles or connect to other freeways that will get you there.

Enjoy the quiet suburbia of Westchester in the evening at your hotel and spend your days galivanting across Los Angeles via super easy freeway access during the day.

Here are some fun activities for your stay in Westchester:

  • Take a serene stroll on the beach in Playa del Rey, just west of Westchester
  • Visit Westchester Park, which has a skate plaza, seasonal pool, and loads of room for picnics
  • Go shopping at The Runway Playa Vista, immediately north of Westchester
  • Rent a stand-up-paddleboard (SUP) and paddle the marina in neighboring Marina del Rey
  • Visit the iconic Randy’s Donuts, which sits on the border between Inglewood and Westchester to the east
  • Walk along the Ballona Wetlands Trail, a beautiful and easy 1.5 route along a small stretch of wetlands that meets the ocean on the west

Westchester is a quiet and laid-back area that caters to families and commuters working Downtown and in the tech-heavy Playa Vista to the north. You’ll find that most hotels are the same and offer quiet, easy stays.

See Related: Day Trips from San Diego, California

9. West Hollywood

Aerial Photography of West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
BEKIR / Adobe Stock

Los Angeles is a city of firsts and trends, and nowhere is that more apparent than in West Hollywood, where you’ll find some of the most delicious and stylish restaurants in the Southland. Los Angeles natives will endure any number of traffic jams and freeway miles for a seat at a West Hollywood or Beverly Hills-adjacent restaurant.

West Hollywood extends a famous and friendly welcome to LGBTQIA+ visitors, but travelers of all kinds will find their happy place in this vibrant urban oasis.

The city was incorporated rather recently, in 1984 when a group of senior citizens, LGBT activists, and residents got together to create a new city within Los Angeles County.

One of the features of West Hollywood that sets it apart from some of the other communities throughout Southern California is that you can stay in one of the local boutique hotels or vacation homes here and get to several venues on foot.

From fashion and art to food and fitness, West Hollywood is a rather compact little slice of Los Angeles, and it’s filled with trendy hotspots like Ajisai for sushi and Fiesta Cantina with its rooftop deck.

West Hollywood is also a great locale for easy access to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. You’ll still need to take a car or a rideshare to neighboring communities from West Hollywood. Still, it shouldn’t take much more than about 10 or 15 minutes in the car to reach many of the most popular tourist stops of Hollywood and the shopping opportunities in Beverly Hills.

Here are a few activities to consider during your stay in West Hollywood.

  • Take a picture in front of The Pink Wall, a popular selfie location in West Hollywood. You’ll often see professional photographers at the wall
  • Attend the legendary West Hollywood Halloween Carnival for some of the most fun you’ll ever have at a party
  • Go on a foodie tour of West Hollywood with visits to Night + Market for Thai food, Dan Tana’s for Italian, or Olivetta for the best steak in Los Angeles
  • Attend a performance at The Comedy Store, where you might see some big-name comedians take the stage
  • See an experimental fashion show or other avant-garde performance at the MAK Center, housed within the architecturally distinct Schindler House
  • Walk across the fun and photogenic Rainbow Crosswalk, which crosses San Vicente Blvd. at Santa Monica Blvd.

West Hollywood is an excellent place to stay for a cozy and comfortable hotel or vacation home in a fun and welcoming Los Angeles community.

See Related: Northern California vs Southern California: What’s the Difference?

10. Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles Cityscape
Tierney / Adobe Stock

Like the downtowns of many major metropolitan areas, Downtown LA represents one of the best areas to stay in Los Angeles for enjoying clubs and vibrant nightlife. Over the past few years, the downtown area has welcomed several additional skyscrapers, as well as cool restaurants and other slick clubs and lounges.

Downtown LA is an extremely busy place, and walking down some of its streets with skyscrapers flanking you actually feels like a stroll in Manhattan. It’s also about the most central location in the city, meaning you’re never too far from the best LA has to offer but bear in mind you will need a car to get out of DTLA.

Nightclubs and cocktail bars you may want to swing by after dark include The Continental Club, a cocktail lounge, and The Conga Room, a nightclub. Interested in visiting more than one club? A handful of local tourist companies run club crawls and pub tours after dark in DTLA.

If you plan on visiting the Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center) or the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center, DTLA is the most convenient place to stay.

Downtown LA is also one of the best options if you’re planning on a trip to Dodger Stadium for a baseball game. You can get to the stadium without a car when you stay downtown or in one of the surrounding neighborhoods like Chinatown or Echo Park.

From the endless maze of the Grand Central Market to the towering skyscrapers that create DTLA’s concrete jungle, you’ll always have something interesting to look at and explore when you stay in Downtown LA.

Looking for fun downtown? Here are some top picks:

  • Walk to Chinatown and enjoy the traditional restaurants and the Chinese-style buildings & décor
  • Visit the Walt Disney Concert Hall for pictures or attend a concert from the LA Philharmonic
  • Stroll through Santee Alley for bargain basement shopping opportunities on all sorts of items
  • Tour the Grammy Museum and see artifacts like Michael Jackson’s famous glove
  • Visit OUI Skyspace for panoramic views of Los Angeles and try the Skyslide, a unique glass slide
  • Get a French dip sandwich or a breakfast plate at Philippe’s on Alameda St. (the restaurant is officially named Philippe The Original, but locals call it Philippe’s)
  • Take once-in-a-lifetime a helicopter tour of Downtown LA

Downtown LA features several ritzy and stylish hotels at various price points. Many Downtown LA hotels offer excellent views of the Los Angeles skyline.

See Related: San Diego vs Los Angeles: What’s the Difference?

11. Malibu

Exclusive mansions at Malibu beach at the Pacific Coast Highway
4kclips / Adobe Stock

Perched at the extreme western edge of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, Malibu is famous for its surf breaks, movie star homes, and how the community welcomes beach bums as easily as it does billionaires.

Some of the most beautiful homes in the county are located in Malibu, and those homes have amazingly gorgeous views of the Pacific to match. If you’re looking for the most beautiful place in Los Angeles to get married, consider Malibu. Malibu is also a prime location for spending an entire Los Angeles vacation on the beach.

Malibu is a rather thin strip of land along the coast that runs 21 miles from Santa Monica at its southern end to the Los Angeles County line on the north. Malibu is so thin that no resident lives more than a mile away from the beach, with many homes tucked away inside the canyons that run inland.

There are some homes perched further into the canyons that aren’t technically in Malibu, but they’re often difficult to find and very private, owned by the ultra-rich and uber-famous.

Visitors to Malibu have their pick of almost a dozen distinct beaches, Zuma being one of the most famous and beautiful for its wide, sandy expanse. Malibu is an extraordinary place to gather with friends and family for a wedding, as well as one of the best options for romantic getaways.

One thing to remember about staying in Malibu is that you’ll fare best with a car rental. Malibu is long, thin, and without sidewalks for much of its length.

Riding bicycles along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is a gas, but you must avoid the plethora of speeding Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Tesla Model S Plaids. Just make it easy on yourself and rent a car. Better yet, book a VW sightseeing van and wine-tasting experience to take in all the views and sample some of Malibu’s best wines!

If you’re lucky enough to vacation in Malibu, consider one of these activities during your stay:

  • Play parking roulette on Point Dume and visit the beach if you’re lucky enough to get a spot
  • View the ancient artifacts and art housed at the Getty Villa in neighboring Pacific Palisades
  • Go on an awesome paragliding adventure
  • Book a whale-watching excursion
  • Go camping at Leo Carrillo State Park, especially if you have a dog and want a dog-friendly beach
  • Stroll out onto the Malibu Pier and grab a seafood lunch, take pictures, and people watch
  • Learn how to paddleboard at the beach
  • Hike through Solstice Canyon with your choice of an easy 2-mile or challenging 6-mile route
  • Go on a Malibu winery tour
  • Get hitched and wedding photos here – seriously, it’s hecking romantic

It’s safe to say that most of the properties throughout Malibu are beautiful, including hotels, vacation homes, and even camping. 

See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit

12. Silver Lake

Sunset Junction sign in Silverlake California
savagecats / Flickr

Silver Lake is one of the trendiest places to live in Los Angeles, and it’s a popular destination for movie stars who want to embrace the hipster way of life.

You’ll find more than the average number of trendy restaurants, artisan bakeries, and cool bars throughout the community. Silver Lake is full of hills and twisty roads, and it’s within a stone’s throw of other interesting communities on the Eastside, like Frogtown, Atwater Village, Echo Park, and Los Feliz.

On any given day, you’ll find loads of people running or walking around Silver Lake, the body of water for which the community is named, as well as at the popular dog park that’s on the south side of the water.

You’ll also find some fantastic architecture of the homes around the lake, from ultra-modernist pads to hillside bungalows. Everything about Silver Lake is on point regarding style and trends.

Silver Lake offers easy access to several popular Los Angeles neighborhoods and venues like Hollywood, Downtown LA, and Dodger Stadium. Still, you don’t need to venture too far outside Silver Lake to have a good time.

You’ll love the delicious food, the cozy winding streets, and the kitschy subculture of this trendy area of Los Angeles. Check out these to-dos for your stay in Silver Lake.

  • At the heart of Silver Lake is its lake, and it’s a must-see during your stay
  • Go on a hike in Elysian Park and score an amazing shot of the Downtown LA skyline
  • Get tickets to a Dodgers game if you’re visiting Los Angeles during baseball season
  • Head to nearby Frogtown for a bike ride along the Los Angeles River toward DTLA, and make sure to get breakfast at Spoke Bicycle Cafe
  • Go on a foodie tour of Silver Lake and visit some of Southern California’s best dining spots
  • Learn about Silver Lake’s charming painted stairs

Silver Lake is a fun and hip place to stay, and you’ll find that friendly and responsive proprietors’ staff accommodations.

See Related: Best Lakes in California to Visit

FAQ

Where is the best area to stay in LA?

The best area to stay in Los Angeles definitely depends on how you want to spend your time. Are you a beach lover who wants to luxuriate on the sand? One of the beach cities will suit you wonderfully. Are you keen on seeing all the wonders of Hollywood? Something closer to Downtown will offer you the best experience.

Is it better to stay in Downtown LA or Hollywood?

Downtown Los Angeles is great if you’re keen on nightlife, but Hollywood is closer to the classic tourist attractions in LA, like the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood Sign. If you want to experience the best clubs and lounges in Los Angeles, choose Downtown LA. If your main aim during your SoCal vacation is to see tourist sites, stay in Hollywood.

Where should I stay for the first time in LA?

Hollywood is the best place to stay in Los Angeles if you’ve never visited Southern California. Everyone should see the Hollywood sign and the Chinese Theater up close at least once, and that’s easiest when you stay in Hollywood. You’ll also find many hotels in Hollywood, so finding a place to stay is usually a breeze.

Which part of Los Angeles is walkable?

Overall, Los Angeles is a very car-oriented metropolis. No area of Los Angeles is truly “walkable” in that you can walk to everything you want to experience. Communities like Pasadena and Manhattan Beach have some genuinely nice streets for walking, but you still tend to need a car. Downtown Los Angeles is reasonably walkable but isn’t within walking distance of the most famous SoCal tourist destinations or the beach.

Is Downtown LA worth visiting?

You should visit Downtown LA at least once during your Los Angeles vacation, but staying Downtown is unnecessary to experience everything the area has to offer. Dedicating one day to exploring DTLA is enough to see all the biggest attractions, as well as get some excellent food from one of the city’s best restaurants.

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