As discussed in our other article, Mistakes People Make When Moving to LA, newcomers can often get confined to their neighborhood. In your case, this isn’t such a bad thing. There are LA veterans that would kill to live where you do. Or maybe just maim. I’ll have to fact-check that.
However, just because Venice Beach is an eclectic mix of nonstop, eventful fun doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to have every single thing you need. Luckily, LA is massive, and each sector sports its own demographic, its own events, its own architecture, even its own ethos. Here’s our guide to Los Angeles neighborhoods.
Let’s start with immediate proximity. West Hollywood is the cleaner version of Hollywood filled with attractive men and women that are hopelessly addicted to the gym. There are even numerous fitness clubs around here that provide a mix of social events and group exercise where members encourage each other to stay fit, happy, and healthy.
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And of course, if you’re looking for a menu of venues that cater to same-sex mingling, this is your hood. The Abbey is an iconic LGBT bar/restaurant/nightclub, and it’s actually so famous now that you’ll find plenty of heterosexual attendees as well. But don’t feel limited to the landmark choice; this street is lined with gay venues, each featuring different themes, crowds, cuisines, and music.
When you frequent the bars in Venice, you feel a little sad at closing time, and there aren’t any clubs to bounce to. When you go to a comedy club, you expect heavy hitters. When you go out, you want to go big. You’re looking for the nightlife, the swanky parties – the glitz, the glam.
Besides the obvious tourist appeal of Hollywood, this is also the place to go if you like to slap on a button-up shirt or a flashy dress and boogie. The famous Avalon will keep your fists pumping to bass-heavy beats into the wee hours of the night. If one club isn’t enough, check out the Hollywood Club Crawl for a package deal. And expect to walk out of those clubs to the smell of sizzling bacon-wrapped hotdogs on a street cart.
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Want a classier, less energetic vibe? No Vacancy is a pretty choice (are people still saying that?) speakeasy where you might just catch sight of someone famous. And for those that want a little Latin flavor – and a lot of cigar smoke – check out La Descarga for the type of burlesque lounge that’s a rarity in this city.
Although Venice supports a thriving culture for all sorts of artists, you might be looking for something a little different – or just a little more hipster – and East LA is full of varying boroughs where art and coffee flourish in unique, hipster-ish ways.
In addition, you could be realizing that the Mexican food around you is extremely unique (and often surprisingly healthy), but you’re looking for that authentic, hole-in-the-wall Mexican food. You’re looking for Echo Park.
But Echo Park isn’t just about Mexican food. The Echo is a thriving venue for the indie music scene as well as a place to find gem events like Funky Sole and Booty LA. It’s also a haven for struggling artists. Oh, and there’s the park itself: a place where hipsters of all ages and backgrounds gather to enjoy the outside world.
Nearby areas Los Feliz and Silverlake provide a pricier version of this experience replete with old school movie theaters and quaint restaurants, and of course, more taste-oriented music venues like The Satellite.
If life in LA isn’t fast enough as is, it’s time to head to Downtown LA and find the more stereotypical “city experience” you might be looking for. If you’re coming from New York or Chicago, this is going to feel more at home to you. It’s like a mini version of major cities. The buildings are tall, the streets are claustrophobic, homeless people are out of their minds – you get the gist. Here, you’ll find a mix of nightclubs, lounges, restaurants, offices, and more – all catering to different demographics. And DTLA is really committed to putting on seasonal festivals like the Los Angeles Salsa Festival and the Adult Swim Festival.
Its technical name is Koreatown, but if you’re gunning for that LA local status, call it “K-Town.” If you’re from San Francisco, you might be a bit disappointed at LA’s Chinatown: it’s more like a movie set than it is a bustling reflection of transplanted culture. However, that’s not the case with K-Town: it’s arguably the greatest haven for Korean culture in the United States.
For one, the food is incredible. Multiple Korean-Americans have told me that it’s as good if not better in K-Town than it is IN Korea (although, those are just singular testimonies). Find out for yourself by taking a trip to places like Park’s BBQ and Soot Bull Jeep and try to see if you can keep yourself from eating a near dangerous amount of mouthwatering meat.
K-Town is also known for its idiosyncratic karaoke bars. There are a few with the classic karaoke bar feel, but most of them instead feature private rooms you can rent out. Why wait in line at a bar when you can take turns singing with your friends until everyone is blue in the face? HOT TIP: Look for those that are BYOB to save money.
But for some, their “scene” might be taking a break from society: peace and relaxation. If that’s the case, K-Town also has some great spas that won’t shake you down for every last dollar in your savings account
Yup, in an article featuring specific areas, “hiking” gets its own section, too. Maybe you’re healthy and your scene is the good ol’ outdoors. And if the beach just isn’t enough to satisfy that craving, guess what? Hiking is a massively popular activity in LA. I know, your mind has been blown.
Just a bit inland is the Culver City Stairs. They provide a good incline with a great view of LA. However, the full up and down walk isn’t too long. To experience the LA frontier at its finest, you’ll need to journey to Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon. These trails go on forever and provide you with access to the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, and expansive, idyllic views of the north AND south skyline. The north, of course, features North Hollywood. That’s nice to look at, but I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you absolutely have to because why spend more time on the 405? Are there cool places to visit over there? Sure. Is there a “scene?” Not really.
Along the coast, you’ll find plenty of beautiful hikes featuring expansive views of the ocean and Malibu area. Both Topanga Canyon and Tuna Canyon Park sport a selection of exciting trails to choose from.
Finally, if you don’t already know what your scene is, you’ve chosen the perfect place to find out. Go see all that LA has to offer, and don’t be shy. The more you try, the better. There’s plenty of time to fall in love with a certain area and frequent it again and again, treating it as your weekly or bi-monthly getaway.
Seriously though, what are you waiting for? Go explore! Go on now, git’!
Want to live in a welcoming LA community? Check out Starcity Venice Beach today.