Where are you going?
Or, let us surprise youSpin the Globe ®

The Many Faces of L.A.

Food, Art, and Culture in Downtown L.A.
The Many Faces of L.A.
Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolis, but visitors will enjoy discovering its individual neighborhoods, each with their own unique character.
By Susan Mason, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • 1 / 10
    Food, Art, and Culture in Downtown L.A.
    Food, Art, and Culture in Downtown L.A.
    Downtown Los Angeles, or DTLA, has a host of top attractions, including event venues like the Walt Disney Concert Hall, L.A. Live, and the Staples Center. DTLA is also a haven for creativity, with the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Broad, dozens of galleries, and the up-and-coming Arts District. You could spend months trying all the restaurant options here, but Grand Central Market, Redbird, and Chaya are highlights to get started with. Wander around on foot to discover a variety of architectural features, street graffiti, cafés, and boutiques.
    Photo courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • 2 / 10
    Exploring Santa Monica
    Exploring Santa Monica
    Santa Monica is built for walking, with its store-packed pedestrian Promenade, its groomed dirt paths along the coastal cliffs, and its well-kept boardwalk and beaches. The ride-filled Santa Monica Pier with its iconic Ferris wheel is a lively and colorful contrast to the calmer shopping and dining destinations. Restaurants inspired by global cuisine are abundant; bars—such as the ever-popular Bungalow—are jumping; and established brands line the streets for any retail needs that come up. After hours on your feet, seek respite in one of the many movie theaters, or look up the next guided meditation class at one of the area’s studios.
    Photo by Peter Schickert/age fotostock
  • 3 / 10
    The Exceptional and Eccentric in Venice
    The Exceptional and Eccentric in Venice
    Only in Venice can you conveniently stroll to high-quality bars, boutiques, and restaurants as well as the beach. Streets such as Washington Boulevard, Abbot Kinney, Main Street, Rose Avenue, and the rapidly developing Lincoln Boulevard are bursting with character and constitute a close-knit community like no other in L.A. Walk, bike, skate, or Segway the unconventional Venice Boardwalk; wander the serene Venice Canals; lay out with a book on the beach; or simply let your feet dangle from a lifeguard stand as the sun melts into the horizon with the crashing waves as your soundtrack.
    Photo by Susan Mason
  • 4 / 10
    Baseball and Hiking in Elysian Park
    Baseball and Hiking in Elysian Park
    One of L.A.'s areas that sees fewer tourists, Elysian Park is a rare swath of green in this urban jungle. The neighborhood and parkland is home to some of the best walkable nature paths in the city—including the Elysian Park Hiking Trail, from which you'll be able to take in vistas of Downtown L.A. and beyond, largely without the crowds you'd encounter at other popular hiking spots. The neighborhood's main tourist attraction is Dodger Stadium, which garners some of the highest foot traffic in L.A. on game days—and where you'll want to catch a game at least once while you're in town.
    Photo by Joseph Sohm/agefotostock
  • 5 / 10
    Individuality Embraced in West Hollywood
    Individuality Embraced in West Hollywood
    The vibrant and progressive West Hollywood (WeHo) neighborhood is a party packed with restaurants, nightclubs, shops, hotels, galleries, and music venues. Find your niche among the variety of character-driven destinations, including iconic comedy venues on the Sunset Strip (the Comedy Store); fine dining at some of the city's justifiably hyped restaurants (Lucques, Night + Market); LGBT clubs (the Abbey, Rage); and swanky Design District shops and galleries (Balenciaga, Trigg Ison Fine Art). Whether elegant or funky, WeHo inspires everyone to march to his or her own drummer.
    Photo by Hendrik Holler/age fotostock
  • 6 / 10
    Museums, Malls, and More
    Museums, Malls, and More
    Lined with boutique storefronts and sidewalk seating for the trendiest cafés and restaurants, the streets of Mid-City West between La Cienega, Melrose, La Brea, and Third are a people-watching paradise. Filled with a range of characters from skateboard crews to Hasidic Jews, it is a rich melting pot of humanity and welcomes regular celebrity cameos. Join the audience of a TV show taping on the CBS Television City lot or discover art from all centuries at LACMA, just outside the neighborhood's boundaries. The landmark Grove outdoor shopping center, movie theater, and permanent Original Farmers Market is a hub for entertainment and socializing.
    Photo by Alex Vertikoff, courtesy of LACMA
  • 7 / 10
    Endless Entertainment in Hollywood
    Endless Entertainment in Hollywood
    Hollywood is synonymous with the movie industry and is the backdrop for fabulous red-carpet premieres and awards shows. Entertainment landmarks like TCL Chinese Theatre (originally Grauman's), Dolby Theatre, and the Capitol Records Building stand tall. The surrounding sidewalks glitter with iconic names in stars and are packed with street characters dressed as Darth Vader, Jack Sparrow, and Spider-Man. Experience live music at the Hollywood Palladium and Hollywood Bowl amphitheater, comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, bottle service at the DJ-filled nightclubs, and the thrill of moviemaking at Universal Studios Hollywood.
    Photo by age fotostock
  • 8 / 10
    Rock Out in Echo Park
    Rock Out in Echo Park
    The trendy neighborhood of Echo Park has cemented itself as a location for hip coffee shops, buzzy restaurants, and creative spaces in the past few years. The community of musicians, artists, designers, and writers have poured their souls into area establishments; evidence of this is nowhere more obvious than at the Echo + the Echoplex, the venue known for breaking names like Foster the People and hosting everyone from the Rolling Stones to Beck. The neighborhood also has an impressive outdoor park with a 13-acre lake; Echo Park Pedal Boats can help you get out on the water in either a traditional pedal boat or a hand-cranked one.
    Photo by agefotostock
  • 9 / 10
    Classic, Cozy, and Chic in Los Feliz
    Classic, Cozy, and Chic in Los Feliz
    The trendy hillside neighborhood where Mickey Mouse was first dreamed up has come into its own as a cultural destination. Hiking through its hills to the iconic landmarks of the Griffith Observatory and the HOLLYWOOD sign is an effort that will reward you with panoramic city views. New stylish boutiques, cafés, and restaurants pop up regularly along the cluster of streets around Hillhurst, Vermont, and Franklin avenues. Classic neighborhood staples include the family-style Middle Eastern restaurant Kismet; cozy and vintage Los Feliz 3 Cinemas; and the Dresden’s old-school piano lounge, made famous by the movie Swingers.
    Photo courtesy of Discover Los Angeles
  • 10 / 10
    The Life of Luxury in Beverly Hills
    The Life of Luxury in Beverly Hills
    Beverly Hills is a global icon of luxury, style, and class. Its pristine, palm-tree-lined streets are home to some of the most high-end fashion houses and restaurants in the world. Window-shop or spend some serious cash along Rodeo Drive at top designer stores like Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. Savor Italian cuisine at Sotto, Chinese at Mr. Chow, seasonal American at Spago, steak at Mastro’s, and sweets at Sprinkles, which has a cupcake ATM. Star-studded events take place in the hotels, and movie stars from Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford to Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lawrence have inhabited the neighborhood’s marvelous mansions.
    Photo by Roger Davies