Choosing where to stay in Los Angeles is one of the most important steps in planning your visit. This sprawling city of LA has a great deal to offer every visitor – beautiful beaches, glamorous rooftop pool parties, world-class restaurants, thrilling theme parks, and the Hollywood hustle. You’ll find legendarily good weather, notoriously bad traffic, and tons of fun things to do in Los Angeles.
Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or a fun-filled adventure, having the right place to stay in Los Angeles can very much make or break your vacation! Picking a hotel in the right area will drastically enhance your experience. Opting for something that seems close enough on a map can leave you stuck in traffic for hours on end.
As a local Angeleno, I’ve spent years exploring this incredible, diverse metropolis. In this article, I’ll lay out the 12 top Los Angeles neighborhoods for staying in LA, plus suggested places to stay in each area.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles
- 12 Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles
- Tips for Staying in Los Angeles
- FAQs About Where to Stay in Los Angeles
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!
Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles
Just looking for a quick rundown of some great places to stay in Los Angeles? Here are my top picks:
- 🌟 Best Hotel Overall – 1 Hotel West Hollywood
- 🏊 Best Rooftop Pool – Petit Ermitage
- ⛱️ Best Hotel on the Beach – Shutters on the Beach
- ⭐ Best Hollywood Hotel – The Hollywood Roosevelt
- 💎 Best Luxury Hotel – Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
- 👪 Best for Families – The Shore Hotel
- 💻 Best for Business – InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown
- 🏨 Best Boutique – The Charlie West Hollywood
- 👉 Best Near Universal Studios – Hilton Los Angeles- Universal City
- 🛏️ Best Budget-Friendly Option – Beverly Laurel Hotel
👉 Prefer an apartment? Check out the exclusive listings on Plum Guide. Plum Guide only lists the top 3% of properties, which makes it so much easier to find the best apartment in LA for you.
Ok, let’s do a deep dive into the best areas and neighborhoods in Los Angeles:
12 Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles
For a comprehensive look at the layout of LA, check out this neighborhood map put together by the Los Angeles Times. 26 neighborhoods may seem intimidating, but not to worry! I’ve narrowed that down to 12 key areas for travelers. You can also check out my article on the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles for even more info on each area.
Within these areas, you’ll find all of the big LA attractions and several local gems.
Odds are you’ve heard of this neighborhood before. After all, Hollywood is famous for being famous!
Nestled at the foot of the Hollywood Hills, this area showcases iconic sights at every turn. Seek out favorite celebrities’ stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and follow in the footsteps of entertainment royalty.
At Hollywood & Highland station you can catch the Metro Red Line, a useful and easy-to-navigate train. One stop north you’ll find Universal Studios and Universal City. Access Downtown LA via stops to the south, ending at Historic Union Station.
Tour guides in LA are often aspiring actors or comics. On top of cruising around to see the sights, you might get your very own ‘before they were famous’ story! Hollywood & Beverly Hills Celebrity Homes & Landmark Tour offers a variety of options to fit any schedule or budget. Feeling fancy? Splash out on a bougie Private Tour of Los Angeles in a luxury vehicle.
One thing many guests ask about Hollywood is “Where is the Hollywood sign?” Sneakily… not in Hollywood. Check out my tips at the end of this article for info on how to get a peek at this iconic sight.
Pros of Staying in Hollywood:
- Iconic locations and photo-ops galore
- Lots of shopping and restaurants
- Bustling nightlife
- Many of the best things to do in Hollywood are close together
- Walkable in the daytime
- Easy access to public transportation
Cons of Staying in Hollywood:
- Pickpockets and scammers target crowded areas
- Not the cleanest area of town
- The vibe after about 10 pm can lean NSFW
📚 Hollywood Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Iconic Locations
- ✨ Best Hotels – The Hollywood Roosevelt • Loews Hollywood Hotel • Magic Castle
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Hollywood
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Musso & Frank Grill ($$$), Petit Trois ($$$), Salt’s Cure ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Spare Room, Sunset & Vinyl, The Frolic Room
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Hollywood Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theater, Madame Tussauds
Santa Monica is the most popular beach in Los Angeles. Hotels often offer resort-style amenities, such as an on-site restaurant or heated outdoor pool. Within walking distance of the beach, Third Street Promenade hosts a mix of cool restaurants and well-known chain stores.
Palisades Park in Santa Monica has one of my favorite views of the Pacific Ocean horizon. The overlook of Santa Monica Pier and golden beaches dotted with palm trees is gorgeous any time of day. A most incredible location to watch a breathtaking West Coast sunset.
Along with beautiful Santa Monica State Beach, the pier is the Santa Monica’s top attraction. Souvenir shops along Santa Monica Pier are fun and affordable. A variety of restaurants offer plenty of kid-friendly options.
At the far end of the pier, Pacific Park is a fun-filled carnival packed with games and rides. Soaring more than 130 feet above the waves, the iconic Ferris wheel is a don’t-miss attraction for one and all.
A Small Group Electric Bicycle Tour of Santa Monica is a great way for newcomers to get to know the area. For drivers, it’s worth noting that Santa Monica Boulevard actually runs through or parallel to nearly every neighborhood in this guide.
Pros of Staying in Santa Monica:
- Gorgeous beaches and parks
- Fun-filled attractions for all ages
- Lots of great restaurants and bars
- Walkable area
Con of Staying in Santa Monica:
- Getting to other areas of LA can be time consuming
- Hotels can be pricey
📚 Santa Monica Mini Guide 📚
Best Area for Families
- ✨ Best Hotels – Shore Hotel • Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel • Shutters on the Beach
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Santa Monica
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Water Grill ($$$), Rustic Canyon ($$), Bay Cities ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Misfit, Bar Chloe, Chez Jay
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, The Getty Center
For those who appreciate exclusivity and affluence, Beverly Hills has it all. Luxurious hotels, world-class restaurants – and then some.
High-end shopping along Rodeo Drive ranks among the best in the world. The designer boutiques pride themselves on carrying items you can get nowhere else.
Restaurants here are excellent, though many require a reservation. Some of those reservations are very difficult to get so you’ll want to book as far ahead as possible.
Should you have the coin, luxury in Beverly Hills is unparalleled. The Maybourne, for example, offers each guest a Turkish cotton bathrobe for visits to the saltwater rooftop pool.
Pros of Staying in Beverly Hills:
- Extraordinary opulence
- Luxury hotels
- Excellent food and shopping
- Most likely place to spot a celebrity
- Lovely, uncrowded parks
Cons of Staying in Beverly Hills:
- Expensive with a capital ‘E’
- Few activities for kids
- Locals aren’t the most welcoming
📚 Beverly Hills Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Luxury
- ✨ Best Hotels – Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills • L’Ermitage Beverly Hills • The Peninsula Beverly Hills
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Beverly Hills
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Crustacean ($$$), The Grill on the Alley ($$$), Nate ‘n Al’s ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Honor Bar, Bar Noir, Above SIXTY
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Rodeo Drive, Greystone Mansion and Gardens: The Doheny Estate, Beverly Gardens Park
I love West Hollywood. Affectionately known as WeHo, this trendy locale is situated south of the stretch of Sunset Boulevard bordering the Hollywood Hills and north of Melrose Ave. The west end of this neighborhood bumps up against Beverly Hills, with Hollywood to the east. On top of being a great location, locals here are proud of offering inclusivity, resulting in a wonderful sense of camaraderie. Plus the nightlife is amazing.
The stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood – particularly between Robertson Blvd and Fairfax Ave – is a lively hub for LA’s thriving LGBTQIA+ community. The Abbey is great for drinks and dancing. Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race can catch a live set from some of their favorite queens at Mickey’s.
Sunset Strip is a paradise for lovers of live music and comedy. Bands that headline festivals will also play The Roxy. Comics who sell out stadium tours often perform sets at The Comedy Store and The Improv on Melrose Ave.
Several hotels along Sunset Boulevard boast a rooftop pool with fantastic views. Modern amenities and trendy, updated decor add great value for visitors eager to post their trip on social media.
Of all the neighborhoods on this list, West Hollywood is the best for anyone wanting to experience more of a local vibe. It’s a great place to get in amongst Los Angeles scenesters. Check out my guide to things to do in West Hollywood to learn more.
Pros of Staying in West Hollywood:
- Vibrant nightlife
- LGBTQIA+ friendly
- Great entertainment at reasonable prices
- Centrally located
- Local vibes
Cons of Staying in West Hollywood:
- Not many activities for kids
- Hotels on Sunset Boulevard get some street noise at night
- Will need car or rideshares to get between the Sunset Strip and the rest of WeHo
- Parking fees are steep
📚 West Hollywood Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Nightlife
- ✨ Best Hotels – Pendry West Hollywood • Sunset Tower Hotel • Kimpton La Peer Hotel
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in West Hollywood
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Night + Market ($$), Rosaliné ($$), Tesse ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Abbey, Tower Bar, Rainbow Bar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Sunset Strip, The Comedy Store, Chateau Marmont
The majority of travelers to Downtown LA are there on business – but not “the” business. Conference facilities and 24-hour business centers are common amenities in area hotels, and several feature a rooftop pool. While the entertainment industry populates other environs, downtown is the hub for much else.
The arts district is a neighborhood on the come-up where you’ll often find exciting new exhibits or festivals. I strongly advise researching ahead to locate the exact spot you want to visit. If you do choose to trek without a specific destination in mind, then safety first – stay east of Alameda Street, west of the Los Angeles River, south of 4th Street, north of 7th Street.
The best restaurants in downtown LA aren’t too expensive and make more space for groups. Bars tend to shut down at an hour conducive to morning meetings.
If you like skyscrapers or street art, this area may well be right up your alley. Home to the Crypto.com arena – formerly Staples Center – the area also holds a lot of draw for sports fans.
For more, check out my guide to what to do in Downtown LA.
Pros of Staying in Downtown Los Angeles:
- Top-tier venues for concerts and sporting events
- Public transportation hub
- Business class hotels, often with free breakfast
- Bargain shopping
- Thriving arts district
Cons of Staying in Downtown Los Angeles:
- Higher than average crime rates
- Not the most family-friendly area
- Lots of street noise
- Not walkable
📚 Downtown Los Angeles Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Business
- ✨ Best Hotels – InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown • Hotel Figueroa • The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles L.A. Live
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Downtown Los Angeles
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Orsa & Winston ($$$), Bestia ($$), Grand Central Market ($ – $$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Bar Jackalope, Everson Royce Bar, Seven Grand
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Walt Disney Concert Hall, Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center,) L.A. Live
Beverly Grove/Fairfax is an excellent area to stay when visiting Los Angeles. It’s my first recommendation to my own friends and family as it’s especially well-located for anyone looking to visit destinations throughout the city.
With average traffic, you’ll be just 20-30 minutes from most attractions. Adjacent to Beverly Hills, Beverly Grove boasts a multitude of food and some of the best boutique hotels. Shopping ranges from kitschy LA popups to well-known chains and designer shops (albeit not as bougie as the designer shops on Rodeo Drive.) Visitors staying here can rest knowing that anything needed can be easily found.
During the holidays, The Grove transforms into a festive West Coast wonderland.
One of my perfect LA days centers around Beverly Grove. First up is a visit to Page Museum, followed by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A short, pleasant walk between the two goes past our famed LaBrea Tar Pits. To finish the day in style, treat yourself to dinner and a movie at The Grove. All without ever getting in a car or walking more than 2 miles! (Pro tip: If your theater offers upgraded seating options, they’re a small but worthy luxury.)
Pros of Staying in Beverly Grove:
- Central location
- Top-tier museums
- Great shopping and restaurants
- Local vibes
- Many attractions within walking distance
Cons of Staying in Beverly Grove:
- The most famous attractions are in other areas
- Will need car or rideshares to get to other areas
📚 Beverly Grove/Fairfax Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Central Location
- ✨ Best Hotels – Elan Hotel • Hotel Sofitel Los Angeles • Beverly Laurel Hotel
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Beverly Grove
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Joan’s on Third ($$), Canter’s ($$), The Original Farmers Market ($ – $$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Blue Collar, a.o.c., The Kibitz Room
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – The Grove, Beverly Center, The Pink Wall
Palm trees backlit by blue sky. Babes in bikinis gliding past street performers and artists hawking handmade wares. Weightlifters working up a sweat on Muscle Beach. Sounds like the opening to more than a few 90’s movies… because it, like, totally is, bruh.
Along the boardwalk, you’ll find $7 sunglasses, $10 t-shirts, and $5 margaritas. You can get a simple, tasty meal from The Venice Beach Bar and Kitchen at the north end, or The Venice Whaler near the pier.
Venice is among the best places in the LA area to get some exercise in a more fun and exciting setting than the hotel fitness center. Work out on Muscle Beach, or enjoy a pickup game at the basketball, handball, tennis, or paddle tennis courts.
Though budget Venice Beach centers around the boardwalk, areas nearby Venice Beach have plenty to offer.
The Venice canals rival Venice Beach for my favorite neighborhood. Picturesque and peaceful, the canal district is best enjoyed by boat. A Private Tour on Historic Venice Canals is great to get an insider point of view from a Venice local.
Abbot Kinney Blvd is lined with farm-to-table restaurants and shops specializing in artisan goods. A veritable paradise for anyone who prefers things to be organic and sustainably sourced.
Anyone on an extended stay should for sure consider checking out another of Los Angeles County’s beach cities! Our Ultimate Guide to Long Beach offers a wealth of useful info. I lived on Belmont Shore in Long Beach for a short while myself and it’s a lovely area with a lively beach-meets-city vibe.
Pros of Staying in Venice Beach:
- Spirited, bohemian lifestyle
- Reasonable prices
- Wide variety of food and lodging
- More cost-effective and free activities than other areas
- Many of LA’s best outdoor activities
- Mostly walkable
Cons of Staying in Venice Beach:
- Will need car or rideshares to get anywhere else in Los Angeles
- The boardwalk is noisy, day and night
- Lowest budget options are not well maintained
- Can get a bit seedy
📚 Venice Beach Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Beach on a Budget
- ✨ Best Hotels – Hotel Erwin • Inn at Venice Beach • The Kinney – Venice Beach
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Venice Beach
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Rose ($$), Dudley Market ($$), La Isla Bonita ($)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Brig, Venice Ale House, Townhouse/Del Monte Speakeasy
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice Canals, Abbot Kinney
Westwood is best known as the home of the University of California, Los Angeles. High-end homes and high-rise office buildings surround the campus. Hotels here cater to families visiting students and visitors on business.
One of my favorite places in all Los Angeles is The Getty Center. This stunning marvel of art and architecture is situated atop the hills immediately northeast of Westwood. Admission is free. If you opt to drive, there is a $20 parking fee.
The nearest beach to Westwood is Santa Monica, about 20 minutes by car.
Pros of Staying in Westwood:
- Upscale, well-maintained area
- Lively, inexpensive bars
- Wide variety of options for food
- Great museums
- Westwood Village is walkable
Cons of Staying in Westwood:
- Will need car or rideshares to get anywhere else in LA
- Hotels can be pricey
- Traffic congestion around 405 freeway makes it hard to get around
📚 Westwood Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for UCLA & The Getty Center
- ✨ Best Hotels – Palihotel Westwood Village • Kimpton Hotel Palomar Los Angeles • Hotel Angeleno
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Westwood
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Hamasaku ($$), Sichuan Impression ($$), Shamshiri Grill ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The West End, Broxton Brewery & Public House, Barney’s Beanery
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – The Getty Center, UCLA, Hammer Museum
Silver Lake is a popular area with Los Angeles locals. A mix of moderately priced housing, trendy restaurants, and dynamic nightlife add to the appeal of mellowed out eastside vibes. Any visitor wanting a taste of what it’s like to live here will enjoy this low-key cool destination.
Hotels here are comfortable, if not plentiful – it’s worth considering a vacation rental. Sidewalk cafes and niche coffee bars focus on regional ingredients and sustainability.
Nearby Echo Park is the home of Dodger Stadium, so Silver Lake is a great choice for anyone hoping to catch a game.
Whether the proper spelling is ‘Silver Lake’ or ‘Silverlake’ is a point of contention amongst locals. Scandal!
Pros of Staying in Silver Lake:
- Authentic local experience
- Close to Dodger Stadium
- Hipster vibes
- Good restaurants & bars are less expensive than some areas
Cons of Staying in Silver Lake:
- Will need car or rideshares to get anywhere else in LA
- Not an easy area to navigate
- Few hotels
- The beaches in LA are at least 45 min away
📚 Silver Lake Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Local Vibes
- ✨ Best Hotels – Silver Lake Pool & Inn • Sanborn Guest House • Mod Pop-Art Pad in Silver Lake
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Silver Lake
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – L&E Oyster Bar ($$), El Cochinito ($$), Bar Restaurant ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – The Thirsty Crow, Tiki Ti, 4100 Bar
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Silver Lake Reservoir, Sunset Junction, Dodger Stadium
With Los Angeles International Airport directly north, South Bay is convenient for many travelers. Beautiful beaches, plentiful restaurants, and a variety of hotel options make this an ideal spot for a long layover stay in Los Angeles.
In total, South Bay refers to the wider area seen in this map. The best areas to stay in are beach cities. Furthest north is Manhattan Beach, more upscale and residential than Hermosa and Redondo.
Hermosa Beach features more laid-back vibes. Popular with surfers, Hermosa offers travelers comfortable, attractive lodging and unpretentious restaurants. Lively bars near Hermosa Beach pier serve bottomless mimosas and bloody marys.
Furthest south, Redondo Beach is best for beaches, parks, and wildlife. You’ll be able to find a restaurant to suit every taste.
Pros of Staying in South Bay:
- Quieter beaches, local vibes
- Easy access to LAX
- Individual beach towns are walkable
Cons of Staying in South Bay:
- Will need car or rideshares to get anywhere else in LA
- Water conditions vary
📚 South Bay Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Less Crowded Beaches
- ✨ Best Hotels – Shade Hotel Manhattan Beach • H2O Hermosa • Sonesta Redondo Beach & Marina
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in South Bay
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – The Arthur J ($$), Baran’s 2239 ($$$), Jus’ Poke ($)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Manhattan Beach Post, Hermosa Brewing, Georgia’s Lounge
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Redondo Beach Pier, Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum, Lighthouse Cafe
If you’re headed to Universal Studios Hollywood, there’s no better place to stay than right across the street! Hotels in Universal City are centered around this world-famous attraction.
Connected to the park, CityWalk offers over 50 shops and restaurants. You can enjoy this area admission-free.
Being located near the 101 freeway makes it pretty simple to get to Santa Monica Beach for a day. It’s roughly a 40-50 minute drive.
Pros of Staying in Universal City:
- On the doorstep of Universal Studios
- Many options for food and shopping
- Great location for families
Cons of Staying in Universal City:
- Not close to any attraction except Universal Studios
- Hotels are near a major freeway
📚 Universal City Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Theme Parks
- ✨ Best Hotels – Hilton Los Angeles – Universal City • Sheraton Universal • The Garland
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Universal City
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. ($$), Buca di Beppo ($$), The Three Broomsticks ($$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, NBC Sports Grill & Bar, Moe’s Tavern
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Universal Studios, CityWalk
Bel Air, Hollywood Hills
Incredible views and privacy make Bel Air and the Hollywood Hills very attractive to anyone looking for a peaceful getaway. The Hotel Bel Air is an icon of exclusive luxury. Many celebrities and artists live in this area.
Fryman Canyon Park and Coldwater Canyon Park are lovely pockets of California wilderness tucked away in these hills – both are perfect spots for a romantic picnic. Scenic Mullholland Drive along the crest extends from the 405 freeway to Universal City.
Getting to & around the hills is next to impossible without a car. Even experienced rideshare drivers can easily get confused in the vast network of narrow, winding roads. Cell phone service here gets spotty, which can make GPS unreliable.
Pros of Staying in Bel Air, Hollywood Hills:
- Excellent hiking trails
- Authentic local vibe
- Incredible views
Cons of Staying in Bel Air, Hollywood Hills:
- Few restaurants or stores
- Will need car
- Cell signals drop out in places
- Difficult to navigate
📚 Bel Air, Hollywood Hills Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Peace and Quiet
- ✨ Best Hotels – Hotel Bel Air • Beverly Hills Hotel • Hollywood Hills Hotel
- 🏠 Apartments – Browse Top Rentals in Hollywood Hills or Top Rentals in Bel Air
- 🍽️ Where to Eat – Wolfgang Puck Hotel Bel Air ($$$), Vibrato Grill Jazz ($$$), Yamashiro ($$$)
- 🍸 Where to Drink – Vibrato Grill Jazz, Polo Lounge, Bar & Lounge at Hotel Bel Air
- 🎟️ Top Attractions – Fryman Canyon Park, Runyon Canyon, Mullholland Drive
Tips for Staying in Los Angeles
Pick Your Location Wisely
There is no easier way to ruin a trip to Los Angeles than by choosing to stay in a location that isn’t convenient to your desired LA attractions. Wasting time in traffic is by far the most common complaint. In the worst-case scenario, tourists can end up in dangerous areas.
Here’s another simple breakdown of these top LA locations, based on interests:
- Famous attractions – Hollywood, Santa Monica, Universal City
- Theme parks and/or amusement park – Santa Monica, Universal City
- Nightlife – West Hollywood, Silverlake, Hollywood
- Live entertainment – West Hollywood, Universal City
- High-end shopping and dining – Beverly Hills
- Mid-priced shopping and dining – Beverly Grove, Santa Monica, Westwood
- Budget shopping – Downtown, West Hollywood, Venice Beach
- Family beach area – Santa Monica, South Bay
- Romantic beach area – Santa Monica, South Bay
- Budget beach area – Venice Beach
- Hipster vibes – Venice Beach, Silver Lake, West Hollywood
- Business trips – Downtown, Westwood
- Outdoor fun in nature – Hollywood Hills, South Bay
For more detail, be sure to check out my guide to the 55 best things to do in LA.
Key for logistical reasons, planning is also a necessary requirement for enjoying some of the more exclusive restaurants or hotels. L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills and The Charlie in West Hollywood, for example, are hotels you’ll want to book well in advance.
The Polo Club, Spago, Bestia, and Crustacean are restaurants that may be difficult to get a table at without a reservation. Just to name a few. On a busy summer weekend, the list grows exponentially.
Stay Aware of Current Events
👉 COVID-19 Pandemic
Los Angeles has at times faced frightening statistics over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of this writing, indoor and outdoor mask restrictions have been lifted for those who are fully vaccinated. Specific guidelines are detailed in this recent statement from the mayor’s office.
All patrons will be asked for proof of vaccination at hotels, restaurants, and other public venues. Unvaccinated persons or persons not fully vaccinated – including appropriately timed boosters – will need proof of a negative test and will be required to wear a mask. Facilities offering free tests are widely available, many with same-day results.
👉 Political Climate
In order to address the potential concerns of as many visitors as possible, it is necessary to mention a controversial topic. Los Angeles received substantial coverage related to a number of political protests in 2020. While mass protests have lessened and are unlikely to affect travelers, legitimate concerns raised within these protests are ongoing and may be shared by some travelers.
Los Angeles can be dangerous, some parts more than others. The most potentially dangerous area mentioned in this guide is downtown LA.
Statistically, visitors to Los Angeles are much safer when these areas are well patrolled by local authorities, though some visitors are less comfortable with a strong police presence. The most heavily patrolled areas on this list are downtown and Hollywood.
This information is offered with respect. Personal judgment and perspective factor heavily into these considerations, so please use this information as it best suits your needs.
👉 Party town
In certain circles, LA has a reputation for more than one variety of risky business. Popular culture tends to glorify activities involving fancy parties and the whole gamut of illicit substances. In reality, seeking out such activity will likely result in arrest, or worse.
Listen, there’s plenty of party to be had. Cocktails here are delicious. Marijuana is legal and available for purchase in reputable dispensaries. Someone at your hotel’s front desk or a concierge will usually know the best shops nearby. Buying or attempting to buy marijuana or any other drug on the street is illegal. Don’t risk it.
Have a Plan for the Iconic Hollywood Sign
Few sights in Los Angeles rival this icon. Originally it was a billboard for a fancy housing development, putting it in a residential area that is tricky to navigate.
If you want a picture of the Hollywood sign, the best way to go is by doing this official Hollywood Sign hike. Alternatively, there are good photo ops for this feature on Beachwood Drive, north of Franklin Ave and south of Rosalia Drive.
Don’t Miss the Museums
Los Angeles has many great museums. With low admission prices, this can be a cost-effective way to jump into some of Los Angeles’ finest cultural centers. Two of the best are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Page Museum, conveniently located right next to each other in Beverly Grove.
As a music lover, I also thoroughly enjoy the Grammy Museum in DTLA.
Make Time for Traffic
The layout of LA, combined with inadequate public transportation, makes having a car a must for any local, though visitors may well be more comfortable utilizing rideshares. Anyone who is not very comfortable behind the wheel will have a much more relaxing trip this way. In addition to being tricky to navigate, freeways can be nerve-wracking for new or nervous drivers.
Regardless of who is driving, expect to spend some time in traffic. This is unavoidable unless you are exclusively dedicated to one specific area. For example, if you’re dedicating a weekend to just Hollywood, you may not need a car at all.
Factor in Rush Hour
Speaking of traffic, rush hour hits every weekday, from about 7-10 am, then again from roughly 4:30 to 7:30 pm. Fridays and Wednesdays are often the heaviest traffic days. The morning rush can be just as bad as the afternoon, making the idea of ‘leaving early’ a bit of a trap.
Usually, you’re best off enjoying the area where you’re staying until rush hour is done. Lounging an hour at the hotel pool is infinitely more pleasurable than spending that same time sitting in a car. The odds are good you’ll reach any planned destination around the same time.
Visit During Off-Season
The weather in Los Angeles is almost always good. Rarely does a daytime temperature dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We locals would prefer a lot more rain than we get, but it’s a bonus for those visiting our fair city. Planning your trip off-season, which is roughly October-March, can help get you much lower rates on hotels. Reservations are also easier to get outside the busier summer months or December holidays.
Ditch the Fitness Center
Take advantage of our beautiful Southern California weather by getting your exercise in the great outdoors. Griffith Park has mile upon mile of hiking trails and acres of picnic-perfect parks.
Prefer to trek with a guide? Try An LA Tour Through the Hollywood Hills for a look around Griffith Park. A Private Tour of Griffith Observatory provides guests with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture & history, as well as the wonders of outer space.
Get Pool Passes
An outdoor swimming pool is a common amenity in hotels at nearly all price points. If you happen to choose lodging without a pool or want to indulge in a few hours of rooftop pool luxury without shelling out for a luxury hotel rate every night, search for pool passes.
Many hotels and resorts offer travelers who are not guests options to enjoy loungers or a cabana. Rates vary from around $75 to upwards of $400.
FAQs About Where to Stay in Los Angeles
Which area of LA is best to stay?
The best area to stay in LA is the neighborhood that is nearest to the attractions you want to visit. Planning ahead is crucial to avoid needless hours spent in traffic. If you prefer exploring without presets, West Hollywood is an excellent choice of base for more freeform adventures.
Where is it safe to stay in Los Angeles?
Safe areas to stay in Los Angeles include Hollywood, Santa Monica, DTLA, Venice Beach, Westwood, Silver Lake, and the other LA areas mentioned in this guide. It is recommended to be aware of your surroundings and careful of your belongings. This is especially important in crowded areas of LA.
Is it better to stay in LA or Santa Monica?
If you want beach, theme parks, and Hollywood, for example, pick Hollywood & Santa Monica. For shorter trips, pick the area that has the most of what you want. If you’re after a beachside getaway, Santa Monica is the spot for you. For any trip not beach-focused, an LA neighborhood is best.
Is it safe to stay in downtown LA?
It is safe to stay in downtown LA, especially if you choose a quality hotel. Hotels in downtown LA, including all of the places mentioned in this guide, put a lot of focus on security. Travelers are well-advised to be cautious and practice common sense when visiting downtown LA.
Check out our article Is Long Beach Safe? for more great safety tips that are also useful in Los Angeles.
Overall, no other place can match the eclectic, alluring energy of Los Angeles. Whatever style of travel suits you best, it’s on offer here. With a complimentary side of sunshine.
If you didn’t spy your ideal LA excursion in this introductory guide, it is no doubt tucked away in one of those other 19 neighborhoods. Check out my list of things to do in LA for more inspiration.
Interested in more of sun-soaked Southern California? Check out our Ultimate San Diego Travel Guide.
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