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10 Must-See Los Angeles Neighborhoods and How to Visit

See everything from Hollywood glam to the largest Koreatown in the US.

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Hi, I'm Fiona!

Fiona Chandra is a freelance food and travel writer born in Indonesia and currently based in Los Angeles. She loves to explore different food and cultures in California and beyond. When not eating, she's off discovering new destinations or scuba diving.

Los Angeles is known for many things: being the center of the film industry, the glitzy lifestyle of its wealthiest residents, and serving as a melting pot of cultures from around the world. Visiting for the first time can feel overwhelming, as it’s a sprawling city containing over 100 neighborhoods, each with their own identities. These 10 picks will give you a vibrant taste of what Los Angeles has to offer, including tourist attractions, historic landmarks, and multicultural communities.

1. Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles, California
The skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles.Foto: Hun Young Lee / Shutterstock

History, art, and dining.

Downtown Los Angeles contains more than a dozen districts with distinct characteristics. The historic core’s beautiful buildings were mainly built at the turn of the 20th century, and it’s well worth taking an architecture tour for a better understanding. Civic Center and Bunker Hill are both the administrative and cultural hubs, while the Walt Disney® Concert Hall, The Music Center, Broad Museum, and Museum of Contemporary Art are all within walking distance of each other.

Also in the Downtown area, Little Tokyo is the largest Japantown in the US—along with numerous Japanese restaurants and shops, and two Japanese gardens, it’s home to the Japanese American National Museum. To the south of Little Tokyo, the revitalized Arts District houses a number of small galleries and some of the hottest restaurants and bars in town.

2. Beverly Hills

Buildings in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
Beverly Hills has some beautiful architecture.Foto: Pabkov / Shutterstock

Luxury shopping and 5-star hotels.

Synonymous with wealth and high-end fashion, Beverly Hills is all about the brand-name stores, upscale restaurants, and celebrity homes. Even for those who can’t afford to shop here, the world-famous Rodeo Drive remains a popular sightseeing destination and photo-op spot. Explore this glitzy neighborhood on a Segway or go full Beverly Hills on a Ferrari tour.

As one of the most affluent zip codes in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills also has one of the largest concentrations of 5-star hotels in the country. Some of the standouts include The Maybourne, The Peninsula, The Waldorf Astoria, and the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel.

3. Hollywood

Los Angeles' famous Hollywood sign.
The iconic Hollywood sign shouldn't be skipped.Foto: Kirk Wester / Shutterstock

Tinseltown landmarks and history.

Most sightseeing tours in Los Angeles include stops in Hollywood—and with good reason. Within a few blocks along Hollywood Boulevard you’ll find the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), and the Dolby Theatre. Beyond the main strip, there’s also the Hollywood Bowl, one of the country’s best live music venues, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. A popular way to see this—sometimes notorious—neighborhood is on a haunted tour.

4. West Hollywood

The interior of the historic Chateau Marmont Hotel, Los Angeles.
The famous Chateau Marmont Hotel is a popular West Hollywood hangout.Foto: California Prod / Shutterstock

LA’s nightlife hot spot.

West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip is famous for its entertainment, with live music venues, comedy clubs, and bars, including the legendary Comedy Store and Whisky a Go Go. Chateau Marmont, famous as a celebrity hideaway, can also be found on Sunset Boulevard.

Another West Hollywood strip bustling with nightlife is Santa Monica Boulevard, a stretch of which is part of the historic Route 66. It’s now the center of the LGBTQ+ action in the city, with plenty of gay hotspots, including famous hangout The Abbey.

5. Santa Monica

Sunny Santa Monica, Los Angeles
Sunny Santa Monica.Foto: Natalia Macheda / Shutterstock

A classic Southern California beach community.

Santa Monica offers one of the most accessible beaches in the LA area, complete with activities such as biking and surf lessons. On the Santa Monica Pier, you’ll find a historic merry-go-round, as well as Pacific Park and its photogenic, solar-powered ferris wheel. The area is also known for the Third Street Promenade, and while the pedestrian-only outdoor shopping isn’t as lively as it used to be, there are still some great boutiques, restaurants, and bars to explore. Start the day with a donut tour around this neighborhood before hitting the beach.

6. Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile sign on a lamppost, Los Angeles.
Miracle Mile is a small but worthy neighborhood.Foto: Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock

Where art, history, and film museums mingle.

A small neighborhood that spans roughly a mile along Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile contains quite a few of LA’s top museums. Explore the art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and its street lamp installation that’s an attraction in and of itself, Urban Lights; the impressive cars at Petersen Automotive Museum; or check out the city’s prehistoric side at the La Brea Tar Pits. Wilshire’s latest addition is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which delves into everything about the film industry. Get the lay of the land with a Segway tour before heading into the museums.

Related: Must-See Museums in Los Angeles

7. Koreatown

Koreatown signage in Los Angeles.
Koreatown in Los Angeles is the largest in the US.Foto: Hun Young Lee / Shutterstock

Korean food and nightlife.

The largest Koreatown in the country, this 3-square-mile (8-square-kilometer) neighborhood is filled with so many restaurants and nightclubs that it would take months to explore. Here you’ll find some of the best Korean restaurants outside of Seoul, from tabletop Korean BBQ to spicy stews. Aesthetically pleasing coffee and dessert spots can be found on almost every block, and there are also 24-hour Korean spas.

In addition, there’s a significant Oaxacan community here, and some of the best Oaxacan restaurants in town can be found in this neighborhood. The Wiltern, a historic art deco theater that hosts some of LA’s biggest live music performances, is also in Koreatown.

8. Silver Lake

Silver Lake Reservoir, Los Angeles
The Silver Lake Reservoir gave its name to this eclectic LA neighborhood.Foto: Ruben Hornillo / Shutterstock

Trendy restaurants and eclectic shops.

Named after the Silver Lake Reservoir, this was once a small community with bohemian roots, but these days it’s known as one of LA’s trendiest neighborhoods. Silver Lake’s streets are lined with restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and small boutiques, and its hidden staircases—which lead up to the hillside residential homes—are also prime photo backdrops, especially the colorfully painted Micheltorena Stairs.

9. Los Feliz

Telescope in the Griffith Observatory, California.
The Griffith Observatory is perhaps Los Feliz's biggest attraction.Foto: travelview / Shutterstock

Home of Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory.

On the northern edge of Los Feliz lies Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Covering over 4,000 acres (1,600 hectares), it’s the site of some of Los Angeles’ most iconic landmarks, including the Hollywood Sign to the west and the Griffith Observatory to the south. The observatory is free to visit, but a guided tour will help you dive into the history, architecture, and astronomy behind it.

After exploring the park and observatory, head down to Hillhurst Avenue and refuel at one of the many independently owned restaurants, coffee shops, and bars.

10. Venice Beach

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California
The Venice Beach boardwalk is a must when in Los Angeles.Foto: telesniuk / Shutterstock

An eclectic oceanfront boardwalk.

Compared to its neighboring beach, Santa Monica, Venice Beach has a wilder vibe, with its colorful murals and plenty of people-watching opportunities. In the summer, street performers showcase their talents up and down the Venice Boardwalk, entertaining the tourists with their ad-hoc shows. Muscle Beach Gym, perhaps the first gym set right on the beach, was where famous bodybuilders such as former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger once trained. Join a walking tour to get the scoop on this beachside community.

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