Beverly Hills is technically its own city, but as an island surrounded by L.A., it’s worth mentioning here. This is the place to rub elbows with celebrities, celebrity-watchers and those who earn their living from both. Lavish hotels, upscale cafes and luxury brand shopping (or window shopping, for those who don’t make eight-figures a movie) are all par for the course here. A stroll down palm-lined and extravagantly expensive Rodeo Drive is a must, but venturing further afield leads to lass rarefied places like the plush Beverly Gardens Park, with its fountains, sculptures and multiple gardens. If your Jimmy Choos are getting a bit worn, you can also hop on the free Beverly Hills trolley for less strenuous exploration.
Years ago, the downtown area might have made it on a list of L.A.’s no-go neighborhoods. Now, this revitalized part of the city has made a comeback with a hip new abbreviation to match: DTLA. Here, you’ll find the Fashion, Flower and Arts Districts packed with an array of photo-worthy backdrops, fantastic ethnic restaurants and chic rooftop bars with impressive views of the surrounding skyscrapers. Beyond satisfying your taste buds, you can also learn about the cultures that influence this city with visits to Olvera Street, Chinatown and Little Tokyo’s Japanese American National Museum.
Address: Downtown Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
For a neighborhood encompassing less than three square miles, Koreatown offers a dizzying number of things to see and do. It’s a dense jigsaw puzzle of bilingual neon signs, strip malls and historic buildings, with a generous sprinkling of unique destinations like the 1930s-era Wilton Theater or the quintessentially K-Town Palace Beauty Galleria. Dining at a Korean barbecue restaurant, where you’re the chef on a tabletop grill, is a must, along with treating your sweet tooth to Korean-style shaved ice dessert. The area also has a dense concentration of nightclubs and 24-hour businesses, making for some prime party opportunities. Another K-town staple: the traditional Korean bathhouses, many of which operate 24 hours. Can anyone say post-party sauna?
Address: Koreatown, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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This hillside neighborhood has its share of cool bars, restaurants and shops—along with landmarks like the Vista Theater, where you’ll spend as much time ogling the décor as watching the show—but a large part of the joy here is wandering the peaceful streets, with their mid-century houses and perfectly landscapes gardens (those with more gothic sensibilities can check out the infamous Murder Mansion, site of a 1950s homicide). To the north, Los Feliz abuts the hilltop Griffith Park, a 4,200-acre green space with hiking and horse trails, amazing lookout spots and the famous Griffith Observatory.
Address: Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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Surfers, skaters, artists and entrepreneurs make up the free-spirited counter-culture of this beachside neighborhood. Venice is synonymous with its boardwalk, where people watching is a local pastime, especially at Muscle Beach, the outdoor gym known as the “Home of Bodybuilding.” Just like its Italian namesake, this bohemian enclave also has its picturesque canals and bridges, although they’re easy to miss (hint: look for signs at the corner of Pacific and 25th Avenues). After wandering by the beautiful homes in this historic district, Italian restaurant C&O Trattoria refuels its guests with a seemingly never-ending supply of fresh garlic rolls.