Los Angeles City Guide: Neighborhoods & Things to Do
Founded in 1781, the original name for Los Angeles was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Rio Porciúncula.” In English, that means “The town of our lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River. Since that time, the city has become the heart of the American film industry and the home to many movie stars. The sunny Southern California city has every amenity imaginable while still being close enough to the mountains (for summer hiking and winter skiing) and of course, the glorious Pacific Ocean. If you’re ready to put down roots in this richly diverse city, make sure to peruse our Los Angeles city guide where you’ll find rental neighborhoods to fit your budget and lifestyle.
Los Angeles city highlights
Do you love the idea of living in the heart of Los Angeles? We don’t blame you. As a resident of this fair city, you’ll have access to some of California’s greatest attractions.
- The Getty Center: The Getty Center is home to some of the finest works of art in the world. You’ll find artwork from a variety of countries and periods in history, making a trip to the Getty Center both educational and enjoyable. If you’re a fan of incredible architecture, you’ll love the building itself. It’s a circular structure made of concrete and steel designed by Richard Meier. Guided tours take you to parts of the museum you wouldn’t normally find by exploring on your own.
- Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park: The Griffith Observatory is an iconic landmark in Central LA made famous, in part, to its starring role in Rebel Without a Cause, starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. The observatory has an incredible planetarium and multiple exhibits. The Park and Observatory overlook the Los Angeles basin and provide some of the most stunning views in California.
- Studio Tours and Celebrity Home Tours: If you’re a fan of the movies, there’s no better place to live. The LA area is full of iconic places to visit, including Sunset Boulevard and The Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as multiple studios such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Paramount and Universal. You’ll even find guided tours through the city showing you where today’s stars and those of the Golden Age of Hollywood call home.
- Runyon Canyon Park: Just a few blocks from Hollywood Boulevard is Runyon Canyon Park. Besides the beautiful palm trees and sweeping views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, you’ll also find Old Hollywood-style mansions and estates. Because of the beauty of the area and abundance of hiking trails, the Park is a favorite place for celebrities to get some exercise.
- Hollywood Bowl: The Hollywood Bowl is an outdoor amphitheater built in 1922. It’s hosted the biggest names in music including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The sound quality is one of the best features of the Hollywood Bowl, making concerts even more enrapturing. The scenic views make this a great destination, too.
- Sherman Oaks Castle Park: Located in South Valley, this Park is ideal for families. Here you’ll have access to batting cages, miniature golf, and arcades. The Park allows special events like birthday parties complete with table decorations and a friendly, helpful, accommodating host.
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles: Located in South LA, the Natural History Museum is the largest historical and natural history museum in the country. It is home to over 35 million artifacts. Exhibits include the ever-popular dinosaurs and bugs to those celebrating the natural beauty of the area and the diversity of the city.
Los Angeles city guide to the best neighborhoods for renters
Where’s the best place to live in Los Angeles? That really depends on your preferences. Our Los Angeles city guide can help you find an amazing apartment in a variety of LA neighborhoods. Here are just a few of the most popular neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles.
Koreatown has a dense, urban feel to it with plenty of bars, eclectic restaurants and coffee shops. Over 90% of residents in the area rent and most of them are young professionals. It’s one of the most coveted communities in Los Angeles due to the affordable residential developments. While those who live in the neighborhood tend to get around by car, developers have made sure to make the area more pet- and pedestrian-friendly in recent years. Developers are planning many renovations in the area, as well as high-end developments, both of which are sure to make this one of the hottest neighborhoods in LA.
For years, Silicon Valley was the place to be for tech startups and innovators. However, prices have soared there, making it almost impossible for anyone but the very rich to call it home. Nowadays, people are migrating away from Silicon Valley to Silicon Beach, home to over 500 tech startups. Multiple cities make up the Silicon Beach area, including Venice, Culver City and El Segundo. While prices in California cities are typically on the higher end, residents love that they’re not spending as much as they would in Silicon Valley while they get to enjoy the gorgeous beaches and palm trees of Southern California.
Downtown LA is an ideal home for young professionals, foodies, art connoisseurs, creatives and those who love entertainment. It is constantly evolving, making it one of the most fascinating and popular neighborhoods in California. The area is pedestrian-friendly, which is something you can’t say about a lot of Los Angeles neighborhoods as it is a city that sprawls across over 500 square miles. The neighborhood is also an interesting mix of low-key and luxury – from restaurants and apartment complexes, there’s something for everyone.
Located in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley, you’ll find an abundance of great restaurants, shops and places to explore the natural beauty of the area. O’Melveny Park on Balboa Boulevard is the second-largest park in LA. It is lush, well-kept and has plenty of picnic tables and trails, making it a great place for some weekend fun or after-work exercise. The local commute takes about 30 minutes and most residents (over 90%) own a car.
The Miracle Mile neighborhood is ideal if you like historical architecture (particularly from the Art Deco period) and modern innovation. You’ll find multiple museums and art galleries, as well as restaurants that appeal to every palate. The Miracle Mile is one of the few places where you can park your car and take a stroll, run some errands, get a drink or a bite to eat and enjoy some entertainment. Most of the single-family homes in the area were built in the 1920s and 1930s but you can also find townhouses, condos and apartments that have a more modern feel.
Silver Lake is home to millennial creatives, families and artists who have lived in the area for decades. The area is trendy and hip, but it also has a rich history. Silver Lake was home to the first Disney studio. One of the first protests for gay rights happened in this area, too. Residents love the walkability of the area. Within a 10-minute radius, you’ll be able to take a yoga class or get a coffee with friends.
Little Tokyo covers about five city blocks and has roots dating back to the late 19th century. It is one of only three official Japantowns in the country, and as of 1995 was declared a National Historic Landmark. Residents of the area love the culture of the neighborhood with plenty of bars and restaurants, as well as cultural festivals. You’ll have access to the Japanese American National Museum, incredible restaurants with delectable menu options, as well as bars, cafes and entertainment venues.
Looking for a charming, affordable neighborhood that’s still close to the hustle, bustle and glamour of LA and Hollywood? Then, you should consider finding an apartment to rent in East Hollywood. This neighborhood was known as Prospect Park in the late 1800s. To make the area more appealing to outsiders, the name was changed to East Hollywood. Since that time, it’s become a diverse neighborhood with immigrants from Russia, Armenia, Japan, Mexico and Thailand. You’ll find art galleries, restaurants, old Art Deco buildings and beautiful outdoor spaces.
The Mar Vista neighborhood is tranquil and laidback. Yet, with the tech startups moving into the Silicon Beach area, Mar Vista has become home to numerous eateries (perfect for all the foodies out there), shops and specialty boutiques. While there aren’t a lot of parks in this neighborhood, it is home to one of the largest recreational areas in this part of Southern California – the Mar Vista Park. At this park, you’ll find places to play soccer, baseball, volleyball, hockey and basketball. It even has a swimming pool, playground, running trails and barbeque pits. The neighborhood is great for students and young professionals as there are plenty of places to study and work, like coffeeshops and specialty dessert shops and restaurants.
Santa Monica is ideal for families, with excellent schools and plenty of parks and family-friendly activities. Don’t worry, though – you won’t feel like you’re living in Suburbia. Santa Monica has a very urban feel to it with plenty of excellent restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The nightlife is top-notch as well.
Playa del Rey is an ideal neighborhood for just about anyone: Families, singles, empty nesters, young professionals and retirees. Good public transit and walkability scores make this neighborhood even more appealing. It’s a mostly residential neighborhood but around the marina you’ll find shops, coffeeshops, restaurants and more. Commute times vary, ranging from 20 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the area where you work and whether you’re going by car or public transit.
Mid-Wilshire is a neighborhood that is alive with culture and history. In the 1920s, developer A.W. Ross bought land in the area and turned it into a retail hub centered around the automobile. He was convinced he could get shoppers from Beverly Hills and Hollywood to the area if he built it in a way that made shoppers feel like they were in a non-rushed, luxurious area. To this day, everything in the area – from the shops and restaurants to the schools – are considered above average, even excellent. It’s a neighborhood that Mr. Ross would still be proud to call his own.