Unlike more compact cities, L.A. is all about neighborhoods. Sometimes, choosing the best one to stay in can be quite a daunting task. From the West to the East and all in between, there are hip haunts and ritzy digs to be found along funky beachside boardwalks or within classy cultural ethnoburbs. Depending on what you want to see, do, or feel while in this sunny Southern Californian city, there’s tons to pick and choose from. So whether the dream is to dwell in a high-rise condo overlooking a flashy coastal neighborhood, or to go back to your suburban childhood roots with a brand new house just minutes away from the park and playground, you’re sure to find all you want--and so much more-- in the City of Angels. Here’s a list of the most popular and very best neighborhoods to stay in Los Angeles.
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
Stop and smell the roses in this small-town city escape that promises endless entertainment, tons of culture, and wholesome good community fun that’s filled with superb amounts of class and style—a stark contrast to the gritty urban metropolis that is Los Angeles proper. Old Town Pasadena may not have soaring edifices or sandy beaches, but it does stand out by taking pride in its rich past, which includes the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, seasonal football face offs at the infamous Rose Bowl, and rows after rows of restored shopping districts and charming tree-lined neighborhoods that continue to attract droves of new residents and visitors each and every year.
It truly is an ethnically and radically diverse area, where you’ll find block after block of Craftsman bungalows in different stages of renovation (or dilapidation) by heading further north, or, some way more urban spots offering thousands of luxury condominiums and apartments by heading south. Plus, everything is relatively close to city center (the downtown Pasadena Playhouse District), where stores, theaters, museums, as well as a light-rail line are all just a short walk away. Young and old alike will no doubt be equally attracted to the vintage charm and clean surroundings of this well-known L.A. hub—which is probably why an eclectic mix of young couples, singles, and affluent retirees continue to make it their home sweet home.
2. Echo Park
With an ever-evolving music, food, and art scene, this underrated Los Angeles hotspot gets hipper each and every minute. The northeast neighborhood is the perfect place to roll up those pant legs or to resurrect your dad’s worn-out denim jacket, as well as to ride that old Harley bike or to go searching for that long lost vinyl record you’ve been wanting to groove to.
Filled to the tee with retro stylings, Echo Park is located right next to super-hip enclaves like Los Feliz and Silver Lake, making it a centrally located nook that continues to cater to young singles, boho couples, and wannabe actors in all stages of success (or denial) who don't mind dealing with some of the pesky hassles of urban life in return for incredibly easy highway access to culture, jobs, and entertaining 24/7 attractions.
The town’s biggest attraction used to be the Six Flags Amusement Park, or better known by locals, as good old Magic Mountain. But with a brand dew downtown area, built from the ground up next to the Valencia Town Center mall, there’s now a classier, more grown-up alternative to that roller coaster-filled theme park.
Just about thirty-five miles north of Los Angeles, this forty-year-old master-planned community may not be as hip and nightlife frenzied as most, but it does remain a super convenient place to live (especially with the newly implemented commuter rail line) that’s great for moms, dads, and kids alike, especially with its array of top-notch public schools, active church groups, and long miles of landscaped walkways and bikeways that weave in and out of separate neighborhoods. Plus, the city’s got a notoriously low crime rate-- perfect for conservative middle-class families in search of all the comforts and conveniences of suburbia at its very best.
4. Pacific Palisades
Home to surfboards and the one and only Gidget—everybody’s favorite original beach babe—this bluff side small town community towers high over the mighty Pacific Ocean and has, in recent years, become as affluent an enclave of million-dollar, ranch-style hillside estates as its nearby counterparts of Malibu and Brentwood. Plus, it boasts a way more quaint and conservative atmosphere than the crowded boardwalks of Santa Monica or Venice Beach, as residents and visitors alike can stroll along shops, restaurants, banks, postal offices, and barbershops all lined neatly up on the same narrow streets.
It’s the perfect place for those with dogs and little kiddies as well, featuring a fine and fancy cluster of award-winning schools, as well as parks, playgrounds, and recreational opportunities for families, couples, and affluent executives to enjoy—all while experiencing a traditional neighborhood setting alongside a stunning sea-laden coast. What’s more is that in addition to the sandy beach beckoning below those monstrous bluffs, there’s also the option of seeking refuge in the Santa Monica Mountains, where you’ll be able to discover yin, yang, and a sparkly natural waterfall all by taking a short hike through Temescal Canyon Park. Just be sure to head on out early before the day heats up!
5. West Hollywood
It’s central to both Hollywood and Beverly Hills, or as many call it, “Central Los Angeles,” and offers an abundance of shopping and dining at the nearby Grove shopping center, or all along the infamous Sunset Strip or Santa Monica and Melrose Boulevards.
Public transportation in ‘WeHo’ is also super easy to access, as well as a bunch of sleek boutique hotels featuring amenities like rooftop pools, upscale bars, and suites with kitchens and private balconies that visitors can pick and choose from. Plus, it’s a more than pedestrian-friendly area that’s bursting with high energy, high culture, and an all around high-end vibe that makes it the ideal basecamp for those wanting to be fairly close to the beach, to Hollywood, and to Downtown L.A. all at the same time.
Just thirty miles east of Los Angeles, this squeaky clean Midwestern-like college town is the best place to grab a cup of coffee, to shop for hard-to-find gifts, or to gawk at graceful old homes and welcoming porches lining gorgeously landscaped streets that eventually lead to the historic grounds of the Claremont Colleges, which first opened in 1887.
It can be said that the prestigious universities and the seven campuses on-site do dominate the town and its cultural life in many ways, providing it with a distinct identity that’s far more unique than the strip malls and suburban housing tracts surrounding this little-know eastern city. It also happens to be home to the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, the state's largest native plant garden, where large collections of beautiful Manzanitas bloom each year from November to March. Be sure to spend a season or two in this traditionally conservative upper-middle-class town—especially since the extensions of the 210 Freeway through the northern end of the community, and the grand openings of new Village-adjacent cinemas, shopping centers, and town-homes have all managed to attract plenty of progressive liberal folks into the area as well.
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This article was written by Pamela Chan.