Los Angeles is one of North America’s premier vacation destinations. It’s a must-visit city for movie and pop culture fans, but there’s plenty of other attractions for fun-seekers of all ages. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of big city life, or take a quick road trip to explore Southern California’s picturesque natural beauty. With so many exciting places to choose from in the greater Los Angeles area, it can be hard to decide on the perfect spot. To help you get started, here are top 12 Los Angeles vacation rental locations.

1. Hollywood

hollywood

Hollywood is classic L.A. From the iconic Hollywood sign to the Walk of Fame, it’s the epicenter of American film, music, art, and pop culture. Take a behind-the-scenes tour at Universal Studios Hollywood, and enjoy the rides at the family-friendly theme park. Find your favorite celebrities’ stars on the Walk of Fame, and then finish your stroll with a movie at the world-famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. If your kids love Disney movies, be sure to stop by El Capitan Theatre for a milkshake and a screening of the latest Disney movie.

2. Valencia

mountain
Source: Flickr/Jeff Turner

Valencia is just far enough away from Los Angeles to give you plenty of peace and quiet when you want to retreat to your vacation rental, but it’s less than an hour drive from the busy city when you’re feeling adventurous. This family-friendly community is unofficially nicknamed “Awesometown” for a reason. Tee off with the kids at Fin’s Glow Zone, a blacklight-lit miniature golf course, and then get your adrenaline pumping on the rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain.

3. Manhattan Beach

manhattan beach
Source: Flickr/Jason Tenenbaum

Manhattan Beach is a fantastic family-friendly beach city located southwest of L.A. Its most famous landmark is Manhattan Beach Pier, which is the oldest standing concrete pier on the West Coast. It’s a great place for people-watching, as it attracts a diverse group of people, including anglers, artists, photographers, surfers, tourists, and locals. Grab a bite to eat and a coffee at the pier’s cafe, and then check out the fascinating marine life at the aquarium.

4. Irvine

great park balloon
Source: Flickr/Daremoshiranai

Irvine is a delightful upscale city in the Orange County area. It’s definitely a luxurious area, but vacation rentals tend to be a bit more affordable than other O.C. resort cities such as Laguna Beach. Bring the kids to Pretend City at the Children’s Museum of Orange County. It’s 17 interactive exhibits that allow kids to explore various aspects of city life, such as police and fire stations, a post office, a dental office, a construction site, and more. Experience the scenic area from 500 feet in the air at the Great Park Balloon, located at Orange County Great Park. Don’t forget to go for a spin on the Great Park Carousel — it’s free!

5. Santa Monica

santa monica
Source: Flickr/Tim Welbourn

If you’re planning on spending some time at the beach, Santa Monica is an ideal place to look for vacation rentals. The Santa Monica Pier is one of the area’s most popular destinations. Ride the iconic Ferris wheel, and ride the rides the pier’s in-house amusement park, Pacific Park. Santa Monica Beach is well-maintained, and it’s the perfect place to catch some sun, play volleyball, go surfing, and go swimming. Bring or rent bikes, and take a scenic ride down the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail to Torrance County Beach.

6. South Pasadena

garfield park panorama
Source: Flickr/Joe Wolf

A welcoming and safe community, South Pasadena is a wonderful spot to look for a vacation rental, especially if you’re traveling with children. It’s minutes from Los Angeles, making the commute to the big city a breeze. South Pasadena has some excellent public parks. Pack a picnic and watch the butterflies at Nature Park, or head to Garfield Park where you’ll find a playground, jogging paths, tennis courts, and a meditative garden space. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a free concert. Garfield Park is also a great place to bring dogs if you’re traveling with any four-legged family members.

7. Newport Beach

newport beach
Source: Flickr/Orange County Archives

Newport Beach is a coastal city that attracts people who love boating and water sports, and if you’re lucky, you may be able to find waterfront vacation rentals. The Wedge is a surfer’s paradise, and Corona del Mar State Beach is a great place to go diving. There’s plenty of fun for land-lovers too. Enjoy a leisurely stroll on Newport Pier, or take the kids to Balboa Fun Zone, a charming mini amusement park with classic rides such as bumper cars and a Ferris wheel.

8. Laguna Beach

laguna beach
Source: Flickr/Don Graham

Laguna Beach is a little less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. It’s an affluent coastal city in Orange County that became famous on MTV’s reality show by the same title. Although vacation rentals may be more expensive than other areas, the luxury is worth the cost of admission. Laguna Beach is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, as there are quite a few breathtakingly beautiful cove beaches, canyons for hiking, and outstanding spots for diving. The city also has a thriving arts scene and world-class nightlife and entertainment.

9. Beverly Hills

beverly hills
Source: Flickr/Levi Sanford

Home to many of Hollywood’s biggest names, Beverly Hills is a wealthy neighborhood. Vacation rentals are pricey but decadent. Go shopping on Rodeo Drive, and go for a scenic drive on Mulholland Drive. Head over to Virginia Robinson Gardens for a breathtaking view of camellias, gardenias, azaleas, and aged trees. Will Rogers Memorial Park is a great place to bring the kids, and it’s a visual treat thanks to rose gardens, palm and dragon trees, and expansive grassy areas.

10. Downtown

concert hall
Source: Flickr/Didier Baertschiger

If you want to stay in the heart of Los Angeles, the downtown area is your best bet. Explore the exotic sights, sounds, and smells in Little Tokyo, or see a show at the world-class Walt Disney Concert Hall. When hunger strikes, take a walk to the Grand Central Market, a European-style food hall with an abundance of delectable cuisines from various parts of the world.

11. Venice Beach

venice beach
Source: Flickr/Pedro Szekely

Venice Beach is a magical city that’s most well-known for its beaches, canals, and boardwalks. During the summer, Ocean Front Walk is a circus — quite literally. It’s a great spot for people-watching, as you’ll see a wide range of characters, including performance artists, fortune tellers, vendors, and more. Find a vacation rental near the beach, and you’ll have access to a bike trail, a variety of restaurants and cafes, and tennis, handball, and volleyball courts.

12. Old Town

old town
Source: Flickr/Jerome T

Old Pasadena, or Old Town as it’s often called, is a fantastic alternative to the busy downtown area. It’s known for its eclectic stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Enjoy exploring this thriving area by foot, as it’s one of the more walkable areas in the city. If you’re looking for a tranquil place to relax, check out Arlington Garden. It’s an enchanting garden teeming with gorgeous plant life, and admission is free.