A Guide to The Best Neighbourhoods in Los Angeles
East Hollywood / Little Armenia
Gawk at the fantastic views of the Hollywood Hills, visit the Griffith Observatory, have a leisurely picnic at Barnsdall Park, and most importantly, enjoy the unmatched regional Thai restaurants, dive bars, and Armenian bakeries which comprise this multi-hyphenate district. Nextdoor Los Feliz is a charming bohemian enclave.
Located to the city’s northeast sector, right off the Arroyo Seco Parkway (the oldest freeway in the Western United States), Highland Park is defined by York Boulevard and Figueroa Street, two thoroughfares which enjoy a variety of shops, vintage furniture, traditional Mexican cafés, and old-school theatres, known for being busy on the weekends come nightfall, when crowds of young creatives huddle in bars and music venues, but full of baby strollers during the day. On the top of adjacent Mount Washington is the Self-Realization Fellowship, a shrine for individuals to tend to their spiritual side. An example of creative Eastside charm, like Boyle Heights to the south, Highland Park has been steadily gentrifying, bringing with it the complications of displacement and rising rent.
Second only to nextdoor Westlake/Macarthur Park, central Koreatown is L.A.’s densest neighbourhood. The 2.7 square-mile district may be the best example of how a distillation of cultures leads to world-class gastronomy: Korean BBQ and regional dishes, Oaxacan tlayudas, and Bangladeshi curries. Nightlife is king, with no shortage of afterhours pubs and karaoke. Tree-lined residential streets offset the main artery, Wilshire Boulevard, with grand Art Deco buildings and bustling intersections.
Downtown / Fashion District
More like a conglomeration of five or six distinct districts, Los Angeles’ Downtown has a bit of everything for everyone. Avoid the pedestrian-unfriendly Bunker Hill section—save for Disney Hall, The Broad, and MOCA—and garish L.A. Live, and opt for Little Tokyo, the nation’s largest Japantown, or the Fashion District, where you can bargain on Santee Alley. Peruse the early-morning flower merchants in the Flower Market and jewellers in the Diamond District. Talk with food vendors at Grand Central Market, admire the intricacies of the Ace and Orpheum Theatres, and meander the multiple Art Deco bridges over the Los Angeles River, more concrete valley than waterway. Warehouses to the south often host off-the-grid parties and art exhibitions. Bear in mind the increasing disparities of this area: foreign and domestic wealth materialises in the form of sleek skyscrapers, while blocks to the east in Skid Row, home to the largest stable homeless population in the United States, where tent shanties, heaps of trash, and conspicuous drug use is common—an example of the local government’s failure to house and render aid on a citywide scale.
Leimert Park / West Adams
The historical home to Los Angeles’ Black community, Leimert Park is located south-west of Downtown. Ethiopian and Jamaican restaurants are common, and you’re likely to see live concerts, poetry readings, or drum circles in the Plaza. The neighbourhood, part of the larger Crenshaw District, is also known for its Book Fair and annual Juneteenth celebration. Leimert Park-native Mark Bradford co-founded Art + Practice, a gallery and community organisation, to promote the arts for an area that has historically lacked the social resources compared to other parts of the city. Neighbouring West Adams is a youthful district known for its elegant historical homes, some of the oldest in the city, and a vibrant Black and Latinx community.
Miracle Mile / Fairfax
This area is a perfect example of how tourism, arts, hypebeast culture, sleepy residential communities, and wide, restless boulevards, all coexist in a well-oiled machine, without one element overcrowding the other. Here is where titans like LACMA, Sprüth Magers, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures reside. It’s also where tourist traps like The Grove and the Original Famer’s Market can be found—luckily, this environment is relatively condensed and kept at bay. Park La Brea is the largest urban housing development west of the Mississippi River. Further north is the Fairfax District, the city’s historically Jewish neighbourhood, where now, instead of delis and bakeries, it’s more probable you’ll see lines for sneaker drops and streetwear stores at Supreme or Golf Wang. On Sundays, the flea market Melrose Trading Post holds court at Fairfax High School.