Overlooking view of neighborhoods in Los Angeles

13 Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles, By a Local (in 2022)

The best neighborhoods in Los Angeles are among the most desirable in Southern California. Beach-side beauty, soaring skyscrapers, and picket-fence suburban living, we’ve got it all!

Whether you’re looking to move here, or just need a place to stay in LA for a trip, there’s a lot to consider when choosing an LA neighborhood. As an area local, I’ve created this guide to help readers get to know the City of Angels.

I’ll cover large areas like West Los Angeles or South Los Angeles, and the most notable neighborhoods or cities in each. Los Angeles County is the most populous in the United States, and these 13 spots are home to more than half the 10 million residents.  

‘My first LA apartment’ is a staple in local small-talk, a scary tale told ‘round the fireplace at the craft brewery. We’ll steer away from the most dangerous areas, but I’ll list some to help you know where is best avoided.

Let’s dive in!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

13 Best Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

Central L.A.  

Thriving urban sprawl stretching from the Hollywood Hills to Downtown 

Aerial view of Central Los Angeles

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: Los Angeles Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Kimpton Hotel Wilshire

The 26 neighborhoods comprising Central Los Angeles are the heart of LA. They are home to over 845,000 residents, from every walk of life. Property prices range from condos in the high $400,000’s to multi-million dollar mansions.

WeHo and Fairfax feature tree-lined streets and a bevy of entertainment. Beverly Grove has some of the best shopping and museums in town, including the Beverly Center and La Brea Tar Pits. Hollywood, Hancock Park, and Koreatown surround Larchmont, a residential gem boasting small-town charm.

Twisty residential streets in Hollywood Hills weave among green space and hiking areas with spectacular views. Urban wilderness Griffith Park lies at the north end of Western Avenue. Southeast, trendy hipster enclaves Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park are abuzz with eclectic businesses and mid-priced apartments. 

The furthest point south is downtown LA, bordered by crowded, somewhat run-down areas. Mid-Wilshire tends to be safer than other areas offering rent prices on the lower end. 

Pros of Central L.A.

  • Conveniently located
  • Real estate nearly always gains value over time
  • Many desirable attractions & neighborhoods 

Cons of Central L.A.

  • ‘Better’ neighborhoods can be pricey
  • ‘Worse’ neighborhoods have high crime rates

👉 Local Tip: There’s nowhere better for late-night dining than fresh-made noodles in Thai Town, on the east end of Hollywood. 

Downtown Los Angeles

Impactful and historic architecture in a bustling center of industry, art, and culture

View of skyscrapers in Downtown Los Angeles

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: LA Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: citizenM Los Angeles Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles is an active urban area filled with art and culture, shaded by towering financial district skyscrapers. Bordered on all sides by busy freeways, this notoriously congested area is one people either love or loathe.

There is a lot to love about Downtown LA, and several of the best LA attractions are located here. Walt Disney Concert Hall and Crypto.com arena host spectacular concerts and events. Museums like MOCA and The Broad showcase compelling works of modern art. Little Tokyo is a haven of Japanese culture with shops, restaurants, and a Buddhist temple.

A vibrant arts district occupies the blocks from 1st Street & 7th Street (north/south,) Alameda Street & the LA River (east/west.) Art walks and street cinemas are accompanied by a cornucopia of food trucks. 

Among the downside, popular areas with lovely restaurants and art galleries are right next to some of the most dangerous districts, such as Skid Row. Premium attractions LA Live & Crypto.com arena are well-patrolled and considered safe to visit, but both are in South Park, which has high crime rates. 

Keep an eye on your belongings and surroundings. Ask rideshare drivers to drop you as close as possible to every destination. Avoid wandering alone, or at night.  

Pros of Downtown

  • Giant skyscrapers and office buildings 
  • Dynamic arts & cultural attractions
  • A lot of resources are devoted to improving the area
  • Public-transportation hub

Cons of Downtown

  • High crime rates 
  • Issues related to the housing crisis in LA are prominent
  • Schools are not known to be great

West Hollywood

A lively area with charming residential streets, energetic nightlife, and a thriving LGBTQIA+ scene  

A illuminated sign of One Love in West Holllywood

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: Los Angeles Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Beverly Laurel Hotel

WeHo is wonderful. This LA neighborhood offers a strong sense of community, coupled with excellent restaurants and entertainment. Melrose Avenue is perfect for strolling from shop to shop, browsing the latest trends.

Rainbows and pride flags fly free along Santa Monica Boulevard, reminiscent of the Castro District in San Francisco. The neighborhood is a mainstay for the gay community and a vital part of LA culture.

Sunset Boulevard is where the city meets the hills. Bars, clubs, and venues for live music & comedy populate the Sunset Strip. Upscale boutiques give way to less expensive options as you head east, toward Hollywood.

Though homes in this area are not overly large, the housing market is highly competitive. Condos start around $600,000 and single-family homes go into the millions.

Apartment living is mid-range in price, with one-bedrooms available for under $2,000 p/month, most in well-maintained buildings with hardwood floors.

Pros of West Hollywood

  • Lots of fun things to do
  • Pleasant, walkable streets
  • Great shopping and restaurants
  • Nice apartments at fair prices

Cons of West Hollywood

  • Property market is expensive and competitive
  • Less than generous pet policies

Silver Lake

A vibrant, artsy district with fun nightlife and trendy coffee shops 

A welcome sign of Silver Lake Sunset Junction
Sunset Junction shops prefer to set trends rather than follow them

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: L.A. Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Silver Lake Pool & Inn

When you move to LA and decide to stay, laid-back and artsy Silver Lake is where you get your second apartment. 

The furthest northeast of areas mentioned in this guide, this neighborhood is accessed via the 2, 101, and 5 freeways. These run around rather than through the area, which means residents can use the roadways without having to live next to one.

There’s a mix of businesses throughout, but in general, it’s Hyperion Ave. for errands, Sunset Blvd. to eat, drink, or shop. 

Hilly residential areas offer a mix of small apartment buildings and large homes. You can still find a reasonable amount of square footage for under a million dollars, rare for neighborhoods in central LA.

Silver Lake Boulevard runs alongside the ‘lake’, which is Silver Lake Reservoir. A popular jogging path around the water connects to a dog park and grassy meadow.  

Pros of Silver Lake

  • Quirky, fun area
  • Lots of places to eat & drink
  • Unique activities like hidden stairs
  • Lower prices for homes than in other areas

Cons of Silver Lake

  • Far from the coast, long commute to anywhere west of La Brea
  • Lower-priced homes are likely to need some work, make sure to get a thorough appraisal

South Bay

A collection of charming communities near the coast, with good schools and a relaxed atmosphere

Scenic view from Hermosa Beach at sunset
Sunset on Hermosa Beach

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: Palos Verdes Unified School District, Redondo Beach Unified School District, El Segundo Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Hyatt House LAX Manhattan Beach

North of Long Beach and the port, this LA neighborhood melds the feeling of a smaller beach town with the advantages of metropolitan living.

Manhattan Beach is a bougie beach town, with organic fine dining and luxurious shops. Hermosa serves surfer vibes and boozy brunches. Redondo offers fun for the whole family on the long, sandy beach and horseshoe-shaped pier.

The beach cities are among the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles County for family life. Crime rates rank low, schools rank high. While owning property here comes with seven-figure price tags, buyers generally get a lot more for their money compared to other neighborhoods in LA County. And, of course, you’re close to some of the best beaches in LA.

Apartment living in South Bay is on the pricey side, with rent starting upwards of $2,000 p/month. If you keep an eye on the market, El Segundo is just about the only place you can find a condo within walking distance of the beach for under $500,000.

Slightly inland, the cities of Torrance, Gardena, and Hawthorne offer more opportunities for those with less to spend. 

(Note: While the majority of LA is served by a single school district, most cities here feature a dedicated district. I’ve listed the top 3, using ratings from Niche.)

Pros of South Bay

  • Pleasant, relaxed neighborhoods
  • Great schools
  • Close to several great beaches
  • Possible to find good deals on property
  • Significantly lower crime rates

Cons of South Bay

  • Commute into central LA takes 45 min to an hour
  • Higher cost of living than other areas

The Westside

A beautiful, largely affluent area including some of LA’s most sought-after neighborhoods

Boats and yachts on the Marina del Rey
The namesake marina in Marina del Rey

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School District: L.A. Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Fairmont Century Plaza Los Angeles

In LA terms, saying you live ‘on the westside’ translates roughly to ‘yes, I have money, but let’s not make a thing of it.’ The streets are clean, public services are top-notch, with property taxes to match.

Here you’ll find UCLA, Bel-Air, the Getty Center, and spectacular Rodeo Drive boutiques. There are loads of great restaurants, including fantastic ramen at Mogu Mogu on Olympic Blvd.

Culver City, Venice, Playa del Rey, and parts of Santa Monica make up a relatively new district known as Silicon Beach. Named for tech companies that have branched southward from Silicon Valley, it’s popular with young up-and-comers who prefer modern amenities. 

Marina del Rey is ideal for those who love the boat life. Huge apartment complexes around the marina come with a full complement of amenities such as pools, gyms, and parking garages. They are pricey, but great for roommates.

Pros of The Westside 

  • Quality of life is hard to beat
  • Goldilocks weather – not too hot or cold, just right
  • Beautiful parks and beaches
  • Smaller, separately-funded school districts

Cons of The Westside

  • Pricey
  • Getting to/from this area requires negotiating the dreaded 405 freeway

Santa Monica 

One of SoCal’s finest coastal communities, with glorious sunsets and expansive public amenities

View of the Santa Monica Pier while on the ferris wheel
Looking inland from the Ferris Wheel on SM Pier

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School District: Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Ambrose Hotel

This beach city offers an active, welcoming environment with gorgeous weather. Beyond the cheerful pier, white sand beaches, and touristy Third Street Promenade, leafy neighborhoods are accessed by wide streets.

The local government is proactive about public health and environmental issues, with a Sustainable Plan in effect since 1994. Public spaces such as roads and parks are clean and well-maintained.

Housing in Santa Monica is expensive. Most apartments start around $2,400 per month, with homes costing north of $2 million. Even so, those who live here rarely complain. Even so, as neighborhoods go, this beachside beauty is sort of the embodiment of ‘yeah, worth it.’ Come sunset, nowhere in town has a better view. 

To the north of Santa Monica, you’ll also find Malibu, Topanga, and Calabasas – a favorite LA neighborhood among entertainment industry superstars. 

Pros of Santa Monica

  • Beautiful coastline
  • Most popular beaches
  • Plentiful parks
  • Schools are some of the best in LA

Cons of Santa Monica

  • Very pricey neighborhood
  • More touristy than other beach towns

Beverly Hills

A lush, exclusive area with multi-million dollar mansions and gilded boutiques

A street sign in Beverly Hills

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School District: Beverly Hills Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

For those who have money and do want to make a thing of it, Beverly Hills is happy to oblige. Enormous mansions, exclusive boutiques, and phenomenal restaurants cater to the rich and famous. 

Nowhere in LA is better to get a taste of ultimate luxury. Browsing on a budget is even more fun if you dress for the occasion, with plenty of great photo ops to get the most out of your best looks.  

Realistically, if you can afford to live here, you’re probably only reading this article after having it vetted by someone paid to read things for you. 

Pros of Beverly Hills 

  • Clean, aesthetically pleasing environment
  • Quiet neighborhoods 
  • Elite lifestyle

Cons of Beverly Hills

  • Extremely expensive

Culver City

A pleasant neighborhood with a major movie studio and growing opportunities in the tech sector

The Culver City sign and the clear blue sky over it

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School District: Culver City Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: The Culver Hotel

The only westside neighborhood east of the 405, Culver City is a growing creative and tech hub that is home to Sony Pictures. Steady redevelopment over the past several years has resulted in a picturesque village with trees lit by fairy lights.

In LA terms, Culver City is sort of the westside Echo Park. Think of it as hipster-lite, if you will. It has fewer bars, better restaurants, and things are more comfortable overall. The air is a bit cooler, and the streets a bit cleaner.

Real estate is not cheap, but there are some good deals to be had on apartments. Westside Rentals is the most popular site for finding inexpensive LA rentals.

Pros of Culver City 

  • Up-and-coming neighborhood
  • Easier access to other neighborhoods than most westside cities
  • Highly-rated schools with smaller class sizes
  • Lots of tech-industry job opportunities

Cons of Culver City

  • More expensive than adjacent areas
  • Property crime rates are higher here than in similar areas

Venice Beach 

A bohemian area with a wild boardwalk, sandy beach, and enchanting canal district

Scenic view from Venice Beach during sunset

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School District: L.A. Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: The Kinney

While few LA attractions are as famous as the Venice Beach boardwalk, there is so much more to this eclectic beach town. The gorgeous beach is serene, as is the picturesque canal district. Along Abbot Kinney, trendy restaurants and shops specialize in unique, sustainable offerings.

Real estate is expensive, particularly on the canal side. More reasonably priced apartments can be found in older buildings. Newer properties appeal to those working in the tech firms setting up shop in bright offices along the ocean-front walk. 

For a great deal on some of the best tacos in town, check out La Isla Bonita, a food truck permanently stationed at Rose & 4th. 

Pros of Venice 

  • Lively, free-spirited area with lots to do
  • Less expensive than nearby beach areas
  • Unique, artsy shops, and restaurants  

Cons of Venice 

  • Far from everywhere but the westside
  • Schools are better in other beach cities

San Fernando Valley   

Suburban cities with warm weather 

Overlooking view of the San Fernando Valley from Mullholland Drive
The valley, seen from Mullholland Drive

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: L.A. Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Lexen Hotel

Known as “the valley,” the San Fernando Valley area is the epitome of LA suburbs.

The entertainment centers of Burbank and Universal City are home to production lots for Warner Bros. and Disney. The main attraction, of course, is Universal Studios Hollywood. Neighborhoods around the theme park feature hiking trails with views of the Hollywood Sign.     

The food scene is a big upside of valley living. Long-time local favorites like Bill’s Burgers in Van Nuys serve simple, tasty bites. Well-known chefs have set up shop here, too, such as Ludo Lefevre’s Petit Trois in Sherman Oaks.

Busy highway 101 runs the length of the valley, as does Ventura Boulevard. North Hollywood is ideal for public transit, with easy access to the metro rail and an abundance of new-build apartments & lofts. 

From north-facing slopes of the Hollywood Hills, Sherman Oaks and Studio City overlook leafy Valley Village. This idyllic residential area is literally picture-perfect. Film crews shooting on location are a common sight.

West of the 405, Encino and Reseda offer families more accessibly priced housing on cozy cul-de-sacs.  

Pros of the Valley

  • Ideal for families 
  • Lower cost of living

Cons of the Valley

  • Far from central LA
  • All commutes require negotiating heavy traffic areas
  • Temperatures regularly reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer

The Verdugos   

Suburbs featuring wide, tree-lined avenues and stately homes with manicured lawns

View of a street in Pasadena surrounded with trees
A serene street in Pasadena

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: Glendale Unified School District, Pasadena Unified School District, L.A. Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Residence Inn Los Angeles Glendale

Named for the Verdugo Mountains to the north, this area was popular long before movie studios moved west. 

Now known best for the Rose Bowl, Pasadena’s history is classic old-west, from Native American origins to Spanish Missions and old-west saloons. Old-town Pasadena pays homage to this storied past with restaurants and boutiques behind quaint brick facades. Food and film festivals are held in lamplit squares.  

Between Pasadena and Griffith Park, Glendale is a peaceful suburb with more of a new-build feel. Highlights include a spacious, well-stocked shopping mall and plentiful dining along a walkable high street.

Prominent American Craftsman architects lived here in years past, making this area a pinnacle of their style. Property prices go well into the millions, with costs easing as you go further north toward the more industrial regions of La Cañada and Sunland.

Pros of the Verdugos

  • Quiet residential area away from city stresses
  • Lovely shopping malls and restaurants 
  • Abundant outdoor activities 

Cons of the Verdugos

  • Commuting to other areas of LA can be time consuming 
  • Some communities in the region can be less than welcoming

Northeast L.A.

A historic core carved into steep hillsides  

Overlooking view from Mount Washington
View from Mount Washington

📍 Google Maps | Neighborhood Website | School Districts: L.A. Unified School District | 👉 Best Hotel for Your Scouting Trip: Arroyo Vista Inn

This diverse LA neighborhood is an eclectic mix of history and hipster carved into steep hills, with many homes and businesses owned by families dating back many generations.

San Fernando Rd & Eagle Rock Blvd provide a degree of separation from freeways that border the area. Restaurants and strip malls along the main streets feature budget-friendly options.

Atwater Village mirrors fashionable neighbors Silverlake and Echo Park. Glassell Park is good for home-buyers who are looking to put in some sweat equity on a long-term investment. Mount Washington is a piece of LA history, with notable landmarks, large homes, and great views.

Cypress Park and Highland Park are densely populated lower-income areas. Montecito Heights has similar demographics, with a large public park and sweeping views of the downtown Los Angeles skyline.

Eastward, Eagle Rock is the wealthiest quarter, with better schools and larger properties. Farm animals are prohibited in much of LA, but residents here can sometimes keep a few chickens or even a goat.

Alhambra is the gateway to the San Gabriel Valley, extending 300 square miles from chic San Marino to San Dimas on the eastern edge of LA county.     

Pros of Northeast LA

  • Classic architecture 
  • Lively culture 

Cons of Northeast LA

  • More rundown than other areas
  • Not walkable

FAQs About LA Neighborhoods

Reflection of cars in Los Angeles through a side mirror

What is the most beautiful neighborhood in Los Angeles?

Santa Monica is the most beautiful neighborhood in Los Angeles for many. The hills, West Hollywood, and Malibu are also gorgeous.

Which part of Los Angeles is the safest?

Statistically, the safest part of Los Angeles is Hermosa Beach. Several more affordable cities in the San Gabriel Valley have similar safety ratings.  

What is the best area to live in Los Angeles?

The best area to live in Los Angeles is Santa Monica, followed by Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach (based on ratings by Niche.) That said, it’s key to consider where you work when choosing where to live. 

What areas should I avoid in Los Angeles?

Areas to avoid in Los Angeles include Skid Row, West Adams, South Central, and East LA.

What neighborhoods are part of LA city?

26 neighborhoods in Central LA are part of LA city, including Hollywood, Downtown, and Silverlake. There are many more. Generally speaking, the main area is anywhere south of Mullholland, west of Interstate 5, and east of the Pacific Ocean.

***

That’s a wrap! I hope you have a blast exploring LA. You can find great activities for these top areas and more in this guide to the 55 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles.

14 Comments

  1. BH resident here. North of Sunset is amazing. Venice is gangland, huge crime rate. DTLA is hell right now. Verdugo community you dance around is the massive Armenian community than can at times be unwelcoming, but also some great people. Montrose is charming. I lived there before BH.

    1. They also forgot to mention that Venice is overwhelmed with homeless encampments every where it’s become Dangerous in the daytime and night time.

  2. I live in Los Angeles. I’ve lived here since 1992.

    Thank you for describing Northeast Los Angeles the way that you did. It will keep undesirable people from continuing to move in. I’m tired of people from other parts of the country coming here and paying about a million dollars and behaving like self entitled children.

  3. You forgot to mention Arcadia is a hidden gem with top 1% in schools and clean safe neighborhood!

    1. Great neighborhoods for what you pay but not considered actual Los Angeles. You’re actually much closer to OC there.

  4. Another wonderful thing about most of these neighborhoods are the Farmers Markets, full of fresh and delicious seasonal produce delivered every week by such kind people. It is so fun and easy to find one nearby because there are so many every day all over the LA area.

    1. Yeah, I agree, I love the Farmers Markets and some have music and jewelry and other kinds of products and services.

  5. Hard to beat Pacific Palisades, although it is very expensive, but not so much as BH.

    Take Sunset as far West as you can. My High School is now a top Charter School…go Dolphins!

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