|One of the few points about Los Angeles that
just about all will agree upon is its lack of cohesiveness or "city
feel". While this fact has provided more than a fair share of writers
and comedians the opportunity to poke fun, a more enlightened soul might
see this as the city's greatest positive. For regardless of your origin,
interest or personality, you're just about certain to find an area to
like, or in the case of most, one to love.
As you drive west down Sunset Boulevard, you reach a definite point where
the trees become greener, the houses become larger and the cars all become
Jags and Bentleys. You're certainly not in Kansas anymore - you've just
entered Beverly Hills. This world famous city, with the world famous zip
code, is synonymous with wealth, status and celebrity. A quick drive down
any given side street will take you past homes worth more than some
countries' entire economies. Rodeo Drive offers some of the finest
shopping on the entire planet for those who have the means or who simply
want a glimpse at how the other half lives.
It's a shame that many people around the world first came to know
Brentwood courtesy of the O.J. Simpson hoopla. Angelenos, however have
been living, shopping, partying and enjoying this exclusive enclave long
before Mr. Simpson ever moved in. Home to a great number of the city's
A-list celebrities, this is one of the best spots to sip a latte and watch
the world go by.
Similar to downtown, this collection of skyscrapers almost looks out of
place as you approach it. Once inside, however, it doesn't take long to
realize that this west-side entity is very much a part of the city. The
high rise buildings mostly house corporate offices (including those of the
ABC television network), but the area also boasts a mammoth shopping mall,
a world-famous hotel (Century Plaza) and the Fox studio lot.
This is a great example of how reputations can be deceiving. This
neighborhood gained worldwide publicity as the center of the infamous 1992
riots. While that may have been true, the world media has seemed to
portray Crenshaw as a war zone to be avoided ever since. It's actually one
of the city's best kept secrets. Home to a great number of African
Americans, Crenshaw offers wonderful shopping, dining and recreation. A
continuing economic boom is helping to bring back more tourists and
residents with each passing year.
Dominated by the Sony Studios backlot, Culver City is another one of LA's
well-kept secrets. Many locals even remain unaware of the plethora of
thrift stores, ethnic restaurants and neighborhood bars hiding within its
borders. While the commercial coffeehouse craze has slowly infiltrated the
area, there is still a great many old time coffeehouses and latte bars to
be found here.
It almost seems as though this very modest collection of skyscrapers was
built as an after-thought to the city's infrastructure. While not exactly
in the center of things geographically, downtown is still a major center
of activity. In addition to housing hundreds of corporate offices, many
shops, restaurants, bars and even a few museums are found here. The LA
Criminal Courts building is also here'the site of several recent high
As indicated by its name, this area forms the eastern edge of the city and
is home to a large part of LA's Latino population. Perhaps nowhere else in
the city is LA's cultural diversity better represented than here. Ethnic
shops, restaurants and even Chinatown is found here. Although East LA
doesn't have the greatest reputation for safety, it's not as bad as it's
made out to be and people certainly shouldn't be afraid to experience this
culturally enriching area.
This fairly large community was once the transportation gateway to all
points north. Nowadays it's a bustling center of corporate and shopping
activity. Among other shopping attractions, it features the monstrous
Glendale Galleria, a shopping mall larger than some small towns. Brand
Boulevard offers some of the finest independent bookstores around.
The big sign just about says it all. Once the literal center of the movie
business, Hollywood still retains its grand reputation, long after many
production companies have vacated to other parts of town. The center of
things is without a doubt, Hollywood Boulevard. Here you'll be able to
marvel at the Mann's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the
Pantages Theater, the El Capitan movie house and about a hundred and one
souvenir shops. Some lesser-known Hollywood attractions include Ripley's
Believe it or Not Museum of Oddities, the Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood
This mountainside area, overlooking Hollywood is home to scores of hiking
trails, dog parks and million-dollar homes. The centerpiece is Griffith
Park, which features the Greek Theater and the Griffith Park Observatory.
The network of hiking and biking trails found here is vast enough to
provide solitude for those who seek it.
This is a fairly large city in its own right. Aside from a plethora of
shopping and dining options, this beach community is perhaps best known
for the Queen Mary, a Titanic-esque ocean liner now permanently docked
here and open for tours.
One of the city's great nostalgic neighborhoods, this area has been the
scene of a recent popularity surge that shows no sign of weakening. It's
nestled at the southeast base of the Hollywood Hills and is so small you
can literally walk across it in minutes (yes, some places exist where
people still walk in LA!). Here, you'll find a great collection of
bookstores, non-Starbucks coffee shops, late night diners and the Derby,
the hottest swing club in town.
The motto of this coastal community is "27 miles of scenic
beauty". That about describes it best. The main attraction here is
the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, which is so scenic in places
that it borders on sensory overload! You'll pass beach after beach on one
side of the road and million-dollar hilltop estates on the other. Make
sure you have plenty film, and the top down, of course.
This is the quintessential Southern California beach town. Its located
along the Pacific Coast Highway, a few minutes south of LAX airport and
offers much in the way of shopping and dining. In this place, politics and
world affairs take a major back seat to the all-important matter of how
the surf is today.
Marina Del Rey
Known simply as "the Marina" to locals, this is the undisputed
center of all sailing and boating activities in the area. The actual
marina is one of the largest in the nation and houses vessels of all
shapes and sizes. Not to be overlooked, there is also a decent-sized town
here that's full of upscale shopping and restaurants.
Before the emergence of the freeway system, this stretch of Wilshire
Boulevard was one of the primary links between downtown and the coast.
Among the many historic buildings remaining here is the classic Wiltern
Theater which still offers big name music acts periodically.
Miracle Mile District/Hancock Park
Another one of LA's historical neighborhoods, this area's main attractions
are the LA County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits. Both museums are
contained within Hancock Park, a small but peaceful oasis in the center of
hectic urban activity.
While Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills are known for their celebrity
residents, this large community, just north of Santa Monica might actually
contain more. Its quiet and unassuming and the neighbors aim to keep it
that way. However there are some great parks and beaches which the celebs
willingly share with the general public. This could even be a place to
befriend one of your favorite stars.
This is one of the most recognizable land formations in the area. On a
clear day, this hilly peninsula can be seen from points all over town.
It's mostly residential (and pretty exclusive at that), but there are some
great parks and biking trails to be explored here.
This is one of the most prominent communities in the entire state of
California. The impressive list of landmarks here includes the Rose Bowl,
Cal-Tech, the National Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Mount Wilson
Observatory. That's just part of the story, however. Old Town Pasadena
provides one of the greatest clusters of bars, shops, cafes and
restaurants in the entire LA area. Every New Years Day, this not-so-sleepy
town becomes the focus of the entire world for the annual Tournament of
As you drive south of LA, you seem to get into greener pastures...quite
literally. Orange County is a collection of beautifully manicured suburbs
and picturesque beach communities. Some great spots include Anaheim (home
of Disneyland), Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point.
San Fernando Valley
On the other side of the Hollywood Hills sits "The Valley" as
its known to locals. Perhaps best known as the setting of the Brady Bunch
(the house is still in there somewhere), the Valley has enjoyed a
love-hate relationship of sorts with the rest of LA. The Valley features a
seemingly endless sea of houses, strip malls, funky shops and restaurants
and a few major movie studios. There are two things you can always count
on in the valley: the earthquakes always feel stronger, and the
temperature is always ten degrees hotter.
Back in the hey day of Route 66, this was the end of the line. Today, this
beachfront community is one of the most popular places to live, work and
enjoy. The main shopping attraction is the bustling Third Street
Promenade, a three-block stretch of Third Street that is closed off to
vehicular traffic but is very much open to shops, bars, dining and more.
Other area hot spots include the Santa Monica Pier, Main Street and of
course the beach.
This ritzy neighborhood is home to one of the city's most famous (or
infamous) attractions: the Sunset Strip. Along this two-mile stretch of
Sunset Blvd, you'll find most of the famous clubs (The Roxy, The Viper
Room, The House of Blues, etc.), as well as some of the city's finest
shopping and hotels. There's much more than shopping and dancing, however.
This is also home to the vast majority of the city's gay and lesbian
residents. If you happen to be by around Halloween, look for the annual
costume parade down Santa Monica Blvd., which has become one of the city's
most popular annual events. Also, be sure to pop into the Hustler Store
for a shopping experience that's, well, a little different!
The centerpiece of this charming and upscale neighborhood is UCLA. The
world-renown university's presence is felt in just about every bar,
restaurant and corner grocery store in the area. Recently, however the
area has become the spot of choice for major studios to have their biggest
movie premieres. So if you happen to be by on the right night, don't be
surprised to catch a glimpse of your favorite star walking down the red
This is the city's home to all things eclectic...and many things downright
bizarre. Santa Monica's neighbor to the south, Venice offers one of the
greatest collections of cafes, bars and one-of-a-kind shops around. Sunday
afternoons are hopping with beach-goers, tattooed street-performers,
rollerbladers, merchants and representatives from just about every walk of
life on the planet. Unbeknownst even to many long time LA residents,
there's also an extensive network of canals here...hence the city after
which it's named.