Venice beach has an eclectic blend of arts, history, and of course the beach. Like the European city of the same name, this area is also home to old canals. While walking along the waterway you can see locals tending their outdoor gardens outside their uniquely styled beach homes. There is a strong sense of community here and the charming area is renowned for its artistic bohemian vibe. There is a boardwalk filled with street performers, artists, and arcades. This neighborhood is perfect for the beach lover with an eccentric side.
Santa Monica has everything that comes to mind when you think of California, an ocean breeze coming from the beach and a pier with an amusement park including a Ferris wheel that brings to mind nostalgia of summer vacations of long ago. If you ever wanted life to feel like a vacation, this might be the neighborhood for you. The community is very manicured and coordinated. An array of shops and restaurants line the streets of the Third Street Promenade and there is a strong sense of community with a blend of young and old residents. Live here and your vacation might just become a ‘stay-cation.’
Lights, camera, action. Culver city holds the nickname, ‘The heart of Screenland.’ Many famous movies were produced here, including The Wizard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind. Sony Pictures, located in what used to be MGM, along with The Culver Studios, call this neighborhood home. The area has museums celebrating its cinematic history as well as an assortment of galleries. Culver City is also home to The Actors Gang that offers live theater performances. Restaurants and bars offer nightlife options, while quiet side streets lend a more suburban feel. This neighborhood is great for families and young singles looking for a peaceful outlet while still being in the center of city life.
As ‘Weezer’ put it, this is where we want to be, and it definitely lives up to the expectation. Blended in with the secluded retreats and beautiful homes are a pleasant mix of upscale bakeries and cafés. The quiet neighborhood is known for its famous residents and even more famous fashion retailers. Rodeo drive serves as a runway of swanky street style and is dressed with a plethora of boutiques to serve every style. The town also has several sculpture gardens that lend a beautiful aesthetic to the area. One afternoon spent in Beverly Hills and the only word that comes to mind about the community is ‘flawless.’
Mid-Wilshire also referred to as midtown by local residents, is a neighborhood comprised of many smaller neighborhood areas and communities. Entertainment can be found at theaters and performances spaces housed in buildings from the Art Deco period. Blended with the vintage style backdrop of Fairfax and Hancock Park, the architecture of the area is a marvel. Little Ethiopia, Koreatown, along with many others comprise this area’s diverse mix of cultures and flavors. Head to the farmers market or take a trip to The Grove. The neighborhood also boasts close proximities to museum row, including the famous Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Easy access to art, culture and its central location to the rest of the city makes this neighborhood an appealing choice.
Silver Lake and Echo Park
Located on the east side of Los Angeles are the trendy neighborhoods of Silver Lake and Echo Park. The area is infamous for a young hipster crowd with a love of all things indie. The streets and buildings are covered in public art, and the shops are a blend of delicious bakeries, cafés, and thrift shops. Grab a bike and check out the local scene. Behind Silver Lake are two reservoirs, the Silver Lake reservoir and the Ivanhoe Reservoir that provide an earthy escape from city life. Echo Park is great for local food and it’s easy to find vegan and vegetarian fare. Hit up a dive bar or go to a Dodger game. These neighborhoods are perfect for the young vintage lover in the modern world.
The downtown LA area and the Arts District are in the process of a renaissance. The industrial buildings and warehouses are now being converted into lofts filled with trendy apartments and chic coffee bars that line the streets. There is a strong sense of community here. Several festivals take place throughout the year, and many residents participate in the Art Walk on the second Tuesday of each month. Entertainment is also easy to come by with lots of music venues and clubs ranging from hole in the wall spaces to the famous Staples Center that serves as a hub of sports games and big name concerts. Access to great public transportation is a draw for this part of LA. Downtown definitely is in the center of activity, and the tall skyscrapers provide a classic urban city feel to the area.
West Hollywood is perfect for the bold and exciting lifestyle that comes to mind when you hear ‘Hollywood.’ This neighborhood is a true 24-hour destination. During the day there is work or play. The district offers the most exercise classes in the city so there is always a new workout to try. Or relax and spend the day shopping along Melrose Avenue, which has high-end shops from glamorous designers. At night the neighborhood really comes alive with the Sunset Strip serving as the backdrop for an electric night on the town. Clubs, bars, and performance spaces will be sure to guarantee a wild night. West Hollywood is known for being very liberal and accepting of everyone. It’s a quality that makes this community diverse and welcoming, so it’s no surprise that this is the hub of LA’s gay community, and has been among the most active in the fight for equal rights and equality. West Hollywood is perfect for those that are young and full of life, and who like to seize the day and night.
The Valley (Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Toluca Lake)
If fast paced city life is a lackluster appeal, consider heading to the San Fernando Valley. Here the neighborhoods of Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Burbank, North Hollywood, and Toluca Lake reside. This area is glistening with family homes and guarantees a suburban haven. There is a wealth of green spaces, parks with playgrounds, and recreational areas. Sherman Oaks has an abundance of shopping with two malls filled with every retailer under the sun. Burbank houses not only families but major studios as well. Don’t be fooled by the big time Hollywood studios, this area is a call to the nostalgic. Many of the areas in the valley have a 50s era atmosphere. Small diners and eateries beckon with a milkshake and two straws ready to welcome you to the neighborhood.
A lush getaway from the urban center of the city, Pasadena provides the true small town experience for the lovers of classic charm. The open promenades, clean streets, and friendly people make this area feel like you are being welcomed with open arms. The city of roses is also home to the annual Rose Bowl, along with a number of other parades. Pasadena is garnished with museums and culture. Spend a Sunday at the Norton Simon Museum and examine original works by Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. Then sit on the sidewalk and enjoy a fresh lunch of classic California fare. At night bars and restaurants fill with residents, giving this classic town a youthful vibe.
If you find yourself called to the tranquil quiet of a small beach town, look no further than Manhattan Beach. The neighborhood located on the South Bay is very family oriented and has a strong sense of community. Grab a quick bite at a beach bar, or dine in at on of the upscale eateries lined with patios. The area, however, does still maintain a relaxed vibe with a slower pace. The streets becoming quiet around 9am. This area is also great for the more nature oriented. There are many hiking trails, bike routes, and green areas. If luxury meets small town is more your style, consider making Manhattan beach your home.
By Daren DeFrank