Los Angeles, California is the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the United States and the 13th largest in the world. With its more than 300 museums and 80 stage theaters, more than any city in the world, Los Angeles is rich in cultural and performing arts. According to the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, “there are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any time in the history of civilization, thereby truly making it the Entertainment Capital of the World.”
With LA sprawling over 500 square miles, there are numerous neighborhoods and areas to choose from. Here are some sources to help you pick!
Mapping LA Neighborhoods, by Los Angeles Times
Discover Los Angeles, by Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board
An Idiot’s Guide to 40 LA Neighborhoods, by Thrillist
Is it possible to live in L.A. without a car? Well, maybe… but not likely.
As you may have heard, Los Angeles is huge. Spread out as far as the eye can see, this city was made to navigate in a car. That’s not to say there isn’t any sort of decent public transportation, there is and it’s actually getting better every day, but it still isn’t what it should be and it’s definitely not comparable to other big cities such as New York. Plan on driving and dealing with traffic A LOT.
Golden advice: LIVE NEAR YOUR WORK. It will make your transition and basically every day of your life a lot smoother if you figure this out early. Also, download Waze onto your phone and join the rest of us battling the historically epic L.A. traffic.
You have been warned.
Areas to Explore:
The Great Outdoors
Zuma Beach. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or an expert sunbather, this gorgeous Malibu beach is pretty magical. And you don’t have to go during the summertime to enjoy it—the California sunset against the sparkling water is a crowd pleaser all year long.
Escondido Canyon Waterfall Hike. North of Santa Monica on the way to Malibu, you can pull off of PCH and begin a trek deep into Escondido Canyon. It’s a 4.2 mile round-trip, so you will get your day’s worth of cardio. To see the waterfall at its most active, go in the springtime.
Santa Monica and Hollywood Farmers Markets. It’s no secret that Team LC loves the farmers market. These two farmers markets each span several city blocks and are the spots where L.A.’s professional chefs get their farm fresh produce each week. Enjoy the atmosphere and wide selection of prepared food, perfect for a picnic lunch. You might just see baby goat at the goat cheese stand!
Rose Bowl Flea Market. Taking place the second Sunday of each month, the Rose Bowl flea is the place to find vintage furniture, antiques, and fashion. Get there bright and early (like 7am early) for the best finds, and be prepared to spend several hours sorting through the booths.
Melrose Trading Post. The Melrose Trading Post happens every Sunday and is like a mini version of the Rose Bowl Flea—not as wide of a selection, but much more manageable and generally less expensive.
Lemonade. Lemonade is just about the cutest place to grab a quick bite in L.A. Think gourmet school cafeteria meets kitschy lemonade stand. The food is fast, but it’s also seasonal, wholesome, and light.
Huckleberry. Headed to the Westside for brunch? Snag a table at Huckleberry and peruse their dozens of baked goods while waiting to order at the counter. They use fresh produce from local farmer’s markets and free range meat in their dishes, so everything on the menu is just as good for you as it tastes. Don’t forget to grab a few salted caramel cookies to-go on your way out.
Malo. This Silverlake spot is a fun place to go for margaritas and Mexican cuisine inspired by L.A. street food. It sounds a little strange, but trust us when we say you have to try the Ground Beef & Pickle Taco (available in a vegetarian version too). It’s delish!
Joan’s On Third. This adorable breakfast and lunch joint has a fun market feel and is located in the hub of West Hollywood. The short rib sandwich is a popular favorite, and their assortment of cupcakes and baked goods will end your meal on a sweet note.
Blue Plate Taco. If you get a table on the patio, you can look out at the Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean while eating lobster tacos. When the ocean breeze picks up in the winter. Blue Plate provides woven Mexican blankets for their guests to bundle up in. Drinking one of the passion fruit margaritas will warm you right up, too.
Handsome Coffee Roasters. Play Angeleno for a day at this artsy, L.A. coffee spot. The menu is simple, so this one isn’t for Frappuccino lovers. We’re talking only coffee or espresso, with organic whole milk, no sweetener. But, there’s no denying that they know how to do simple the right way. The street art alone is enough reason to make a trip.
Intelligentsia. Intelligentsia is actually a Chicago transplant, but it’s become an L.A. staple. With outposts in both Silver Lake and Venice, you can pop in this hipster haven no matter what side of town you’re staying on.
Lamill. With its elegant atmosphere and award winning coffee, Lamill is a great Eastside spot to enjoy brunch with girlfriends or grab a quick cappuccino. Not a coffee drinker? They also have the best chai tea latte you’ve ever tasted.
Caffé Luxxe. This Westside café has locations in Santa Monica and Brentwood, and therefore has a laid back vibe. Their espresso is one of the best in town, so go for a latte or cappuccino.
Be a Tourist:
LACMA. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with amazing exhibitions and an incredible permanent collection. Several installations actually stand outside the museum (like Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” and Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass”), so you can get a taste of the art it has to offer even if you’re just passing by.
Getty Villa. If you’ve already visited the Getty Center, take a trip out to the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades to feast your eyes on colorful gardens, tranquil fountains and a perfect view overlooking Malibu. Inside the museum you will find art from the ancient world of Greece and Rome. It’s worth a trip for the art, architecture, and landscaping.
Disneyland. No trip to Southern California is complete without a little stopover at the Happiest Place on Earth! We still love Disneyland as much as we did when we were 10.
The Hollywood Bowl. This family-friendly concert venue is smack-dab in the middle of the Hollywood hills, making it an iconic spot to catch a live show while visiting LA. You can bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine to enjoy while listening to the L.A. Philharmonic orchestra or your favorite band.