Charming Personalities of the Best LA Neighborhoods
Los Angeles is an urban ocean. It is a seemingly eternal, petrifying expanse of concrete and asphalt. But while the Pacific may have no memory, this urban environment retains a rich, diverse culture that stretches back hundreds of wonderful years. Some might call the city a mosaic: a collection of beauty comprised of beaches, bricks, colors, and people. It is undoubtedly a city, but L.A.’s sheer openness differentiates itself from places like Seattle, Chicago, and New York. These places are built tall and centralized, but L.A. is vast, open, and easy-going. You may never be completely sure upon crossing the street whether you’re still in Westwood or if you’ve ventured into Bel Air–unless you start seeing loads of Beamers and students wearing Fresh Prince throwback gear. But rest easy with the saying of the SoCal locals: “Whatever, it’s all L.A..”
You could think of L.A. like a mixed tape from when you were a kid. It’s blasting with a wicked diversity of songs from every genre; sure, there are some stinkers to it (any Nickelback songs), but almost every track, or neighborhood, is one you can fall in love with. Here are some of our favorite neighborhoods and all the best deals that go along with them.
Venice Beach: Exploding with Personality
With canals designed to mimic the Italian waterways from where it derives its name, Venice is home to the world famous Muscle Beach and possibly the most exciting boardwalk on the West Coast. The eclectic flavor of the Venice Beach boardwalk is synonymous with one of its most iconic daily inhabitants. Clad in an Abe Lincoln top-hat and American flag cape, this true Venice native rides atop roller blades while playing an electric guitar. Seriously. Venice Beach is loud and vibrant like the vortex of a tie-dyed shirt from which softer tones of the same design are spread throughout the city. The walk-up beach bars, hundreds of murals, and surf shops are emblematic of the care-free SoCal attitude that so many visitors wish to immerse themselves.
Santa Monica: Picturesque Pier
Just up the beach you’ll find Santa Monica. It stands in fairly stark contrast to Venice, boasting a quieter lifestyle with a picturesque Cali beachside and the world famous Santa Monica Pier. The pier is the best place to check out while visiting. With restaurants ranging from seafood straight from the ocean to authentic Italian cooking, it will make you want to believe your mother’s advice to “wait 30 minutes after eating to swim” just so you can continue to indulge in the succulent samples of fresh, buttery lobster and the tranquil tastes of tequila margaritas offered at the pier. Oh, and did I tell you there’s an amusement park on the water?
Downtown: Architecture, Arcades, and All The Best to Eat
Whilst L.A. is not known for its skyline, skyscrapers do exist in the downtown area. But the real beauty of L.A.‘s longstanding devotion to architecture does not generally come in the form of unfathomable heights, but rather more true to the expansive nature of the city. Look no further than the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the heart of the downtown area. Spanning over three and a half acres, the stainless steel exterior speaks to the creative spirit that is so evident in L.A.. It is a dream venue for artists and orchestras from across the globe and simply iconic of the downtown scene. If you prefer to experience your art with quarters and a cocktail, head on over to EightyTwo, a massive arcade bar with over 50 rotating classic games. Enjoy a reasonably priced, quality drink while you smash your friends at Mrs. Pacman. Be sure to swing through Little Tokyo just around the block on your way home for some rotary sushi.
NoHo and WeHo: The Locals’ Version of What Hollywood Really Is
We normally picture Hollywood as one walk in the gorgeous California sun, crossing over golden stars in the street that represent the long history of entertainment in the town–all while bumping into A-list celebrities every other step. But the reality is that it’s a tourist trap and entirely underwhelming. Break free from all the other midwesterners and take a trip to easily our two favorite places in L.A.: NoHo (North Hollywood) and WeHo (West Hollywood).
NoHo is the Mecca for artists of all trades. It’s here you’ll find writers, actors, directors, and dancers all congregated around indie theaters and pouring over their lines that will lead to their next big-break. It is an arts district, first and foremost, but it has a fantastic and trendy night scene as well. Be sure to check out The Federal Bar, a gourmet gastro pub converted from an old bank, or walk around the neighborhood to taste the Latino flavors of the talented street vendors.
WeHo surrounds the cleanest strip of Sunset Blvd. The trimmed palms in this area reflect the polished nature that WeHo embraces so well. It is the home of classy clubs, luxury shopping, and the largest LGBTQ community in L.A.. I dare you not to have a good time here, as the atmosphere is entirely friendly and constantly upbeat. Get your smile on at the Comedy Store, where both Jim Carrey and Robin Williams got their start performing.