One thing about Los Angeles is no two neighborhoods are the same. The dynamic mix of cultures, lifestyles, and atmospheres allows each area to carry its own unique essence and vibrancy. From the bustling up-all-night energy (and best barbeque) of Koreatown to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood – a mere 10 minutes away. While Venice is home to bohemian charm, the artistic heartbeat of Silver Lake and the cultural richness of Pasadena couldn’t be anything different. 

The kaleidoscope of diversity in Los Angeles keeps visitors and locals on their toes and is what makes the city beat. With such variety, you may not find your spot right away, but one thing’s for sure, there’s a neighborhood for everyone. 

A young audience reacts to a performance at a nightclub in Los Angeles.
Koreatown is the place to go for an all-nighter in Los Angeles © John Eder / Getty Images

Stay up all night in Koreatown

Best neighborhood for nightlife 

New York City may have the title of "The City That Never Sleeps", but Koreatown is a close second. Known for its culturally rich neighborhood and vibrant nightlife scene, Koreatown is found in Central Los Angeles, within 10 minutes of Downtown.

Daytime exploration yields a bustling environment within its three square miles, with its shopping scene a popular attraction. In fact, Koreatown is home to more large malls than any other similar-sized area within the United States. Music Plaza – found inside the three-story Koreatown Plaza, is a must-visit for K-Pop fans, while beauty enthusiasts will get lost in Palace Beauty Metro. 

Koreatown comes alive when the sun sets, especially for those who live and breathe Korean barbeque. Parks BBQ is a local favorite with chef Jenee Kim opening the acclaimed spot in 2003 after receiving a degree in culinary science from Seoul Women’s College. For a more casual Korean pub-like feel, try Dan Sung Sa, an authentic spot without the barbeque scene. You can’t go wrong ordering here with prices starting at $2.99 and the kitchen open until 2 am.

While much of Los Angeles requires a car to get around, visitors to Koreatown have the advantage of being able to explore the city on foot. Alongside the ample nightclubs, lounges and bars, electric energy is also found at its karaoke bars. Once you’ve warmed up your vocal cords, head to Cafe Brass Monkey for a high-energy atmosphere, or if you prefer your own space, Gaam Karaoke is also a guaranteed great time. 

An all-nighter in Koreatown isn't out of the question, with many choosing to end their nights at one of the many spas. Wi Spa is open 24 hours and not only offers standard spa treatments but has its own restaurant too – perfect for when those 3am cravings hit. 

: Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles where 2400 stars pay tribute artists who have made contributions in entertainment.
 2600 stars pay tribute artists in the entertainment industry on the Hollywood Walk of Fame © littleny / Shutterstock

Spend your day like a celebrity in Hollywood 

Best neighborhood for tourists 

Hollywood is the heart of Los Angeles and home to all the glitz and glamour. With iconic attractions and easy access to public transport, it’s a popular place to visit when exploring Los Angeles. A walk along the famed Hollywood Walk of Fame is a great place to start and get excited about the talent-filled town. The stretch along Hollywood Boulevard was developed in 1958 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to create a landmark to promote tourism in the area. Since then, over 2600 entertainers like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey have been honored with a star. The strip is busy all year round, so if you want to take your time to admire all the names and take pictures with your favorite stars, start your day early.

While on Hollywood Boulevard, visit the Hollywood Museum and explore the city's rich history through memorabilia and artifacts. Across the street is the TCL Chinese Theatre, where if you're lucky enough, you may get to witness a movie premiere red carpet. If it's not blocked off for a big event, admire all the celebrity hands and footprints at the iconic venue and book a movie to watch. The Runyon Canyon hike is also in the heart of Hollywood and is known to be one of the best places for celebrity sightings. 

Being a prime tourist destination, finding accommodation, eateries, and things to do in Hollywood is a piece of cake. Between the countless street performers, celebrity house tours, and diverse dining and drinking options, Hollywood has something for everyone – and it's a top place to take kids. 

Hispanic woman riding skateboard at beach
Skateboarders, roller-skaters, runners and street performers all contribute to LA's iconic beach culture © Peathegee Inc. / Getty Images

Experience SoCal’s relaxed beach culture in Venice 

Best neighborhood for beach lovers and chilled vibes 

Barbie is the most recent movie to use Venice as a film location with its rollerskaters, runners, and street performers. And that isn't just for show, Venice is truly a lively-yet-chill beach town to visit. 

Along the boardwalk you'll find the iconic skatepark that attracts skateboarders, rollerbladers and spectators, who love watching and performing tricks and stunts. Within a five-minute walk from the skatepark are the famous basketball courts and Muscle Beach. The historic workout area originated in the 1930s and quickly became a hub for bodybuilders, weightlifters and fitness enthusiasts like Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Nearby off 25th Street is the Venice Canals which will quickly take you away from LA and transport you to Venice, Italy. Founded by Abbot Kinney in 1905, the tobacco millionaire was inspired by the European town so much so that he dug several miles of canals to drain the marshes here. However, after many court hearings, in 1928 the Supreme Court ruled that the city was within their rights to pave most of them in as they needed more roads. Starting with 13, six remain today and offer a charming escape within the Venice neighborhood. 

A few blocks up will lead you to the namesake, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a trendy strip known for its bohemian boutique shops, art galleries, and upscale dining options, many of which are Australian-owned or inspired. Daytime exploration will offer a glimpse of the artistic and fashion-forward side of Venice with countless shops and eateries to choose from. 

People smelling roses in Rose Garden of the Huntington Museum and Gardens in Pasadena © David Peevers / Lonely Planet

Leave the hustle and bustle and enjoy Pasadena’s small-town charm

Best neighborhood for relaxed culture

Pasadena exudes a balanced mix of sophistication and small-town charm. Found 20 minutes northeast of Downtown, it’s close to the main city’s attractions while still being its own peaceful escape. Pasadena is an inviting town with a relaxed atmosphere and a culturally enriched environment. The San Gabriel Mountains serve as the backdrop, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy hiking, biking, and picnicking. 

If you happen to be visiting Los Angeles on New Year’s Day you'll be right in time for Pasadena's Tournament of Roses Parade. The annual tradition began in 1890, and now sees a two-hour 5.5-mile parade of elaborate floral floats, marchings bands, and high-stepping equestrians. The parade even inspired the name of Pasadena’s 92,500-person stadium, the Rose Bowl, which opened in 1922. If you’re not able to catch a show or game at the stadium, the Rose Bowl Flea Market takes place there every second Sunday of the month. With over 2,500 vendors, it’s known as the "Flea Market of the Stars".

Eat your way through trendy spots in Silver Lake 

Best neighborhood for food lovers 

Silver Lake is considered an Eastside neighborhood in Los Angeles and a creative hub that fosters a sense of individuality and is known for its artistic and hipster flair. The atmosphere is inclusive, trendy, vibrant, diverse and home to those who value cultural expression and community. 

While artisanal coffee shops and independent bookstores stand out in the day, diverse eateries with some of the best vegan options and trendy bars take over when the sun sets. Ruby Fruit is a popular new natural wine bar and LA’s first lesbian bar in about a decade. Night + Market is another must-visit, but note their Silver Lake location doesn’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait (trust me, it’s worth it). 

Staying in Silver Lake isn’t as easily accessible as other areas like Hollywood, however, they offer many boutique hotels and options on home rental sites like Airbnb.

This article was first published Jun 22, 2021 and updated Feb 29, 2024.

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