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Los Angeles

Best neighborhoods in central LA?

Looking to compare different neighborhoods in LA for long term stay. I prefer a central location with more relaxed bar scene, coffee shops, healthy eating, comedy clubs... I know traffic in LA is super bad so a neighborhood where the necessities are somewhat accessible by walking would be great! And of course relatively easy access to the beach would be an added bonus.

11 Answers

top answer by
Jelena from Los Feliz

Just pick East or West side, living in the middle deprives you of the fun of having a tribe of teammates who will join you in arguing that the side you've picked is far superior to the other!

West side = beaches, green bike lanes, street performers, guys who wear pink trousers with Hawaiian shirts. (Santa Monica) East side = Biking in crazy large groups with no bike lane at all, Griffith Park, hipsters, mustaches, better coffee, vintage stores, being close enough to drive to the Rose Bowl Stadium for concerts, and easy drive into DTLA for all the things you want to do downtown (but you really don't want to live downtown when new to LA, give it time). 

I like living in Los Feliz myself. It's close to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and Los Feliz Village is very walkable. Just beware the barristas at Bru Artisan Coffee+Tea... they are wonderfully talented but will make you feel ignorant about all things coffee, lemonade, and LA. Ultimate hipster experience!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Monica (city)
  2. Griffith Park (attraction)
  3. Rose Bowl Stadium (attraction)
  4. Los Feliz (neighborhood)
  5. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (attraction)
  6. Bru Artisan Coffee+Tea (restaurant)
7 thankscomments (1)

answered first by
Katie from Amherst (Massachusetts)

Hi Kristen!

I think some great neighborhoods based on what you're looking for are Venice Beach Santa Monica Manhattan Beach or Hermosa Beach

Venice Beach, especially in the area around Abbot Kinney has some really great coffee shops, funky boutiques, and cute beach houses. Santa Monica is a central location for shopping, bars, and every type of restaurant you can think of (you'll be able to find healthy places easily- LA people are into all the latest health food trends)

Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach are a little further south but are great options if you want easy access to beautiful beaches that won't be as crowded as the ones in Santa Monica. Do your shopping and eating in downtown Manhattan, and head to Hermosa for the bar scene. Hope this helps! :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice Beach (attraction)
  2. Santa Monica (city)
  3. Manhattan Beach (city)
  4. Hermosa Beach (city)
  5. Abbot Kinney (attraction)
7 thankscomments (4)

answered by
Matt from Hermosa Beach

Based on your desire of being able to walk to restaurants and shops while having easy access to the beach, a few cities you may want to check out are:

West Hollywood. Lots of restaurants, coffee shops, bars. Very congested but lots to do. Lots of actors and the entertainment industry settles here based on its central location. Tons of improv theaters, comedy clubs etc. Younger, free spirited crowd. Downside is lots of traffic and about a 30 min drive to the beach on a good day. Close to some great hiking though.

Brentwood. Upscale neighborhood just next to Santa Monica. Lots of shops, restaurants and bars within walking distance. Also very close proximity to Venice and Santa Monica, only about a 5-10 drive to beach. Farther away from Downtown and Hollywood but closer than being all the way at the beach. Weather is a bit nicer as you get the ocean breeze.

Culver City More affordable in most cases than West Hollywood or Brentwood. Very centrally located in LA. Not quite as congested as West Hollywood and a little closer to the beach but not as close as Brentwood. Culver City has a cute downtown area and lots of bars and restaurants. A lot of actors and young professionals live here as it is less expensive and a break from the super congested norm of places closer to the city. Location is about a 15-20 min drive to downtown, Hollywood and the beach so centrally located for sure.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. West Hollywood (city)
  2. Brentwood (city)
  3. Culver City (city)
6 thanks

answered by
Sarah from Los Angeles

Hey Kristen, I live in the Miracle Mile area of LA and love it! Right in the center of the city and I can walk to a few bars and restaurants, the grocery store and am near LACMA and the Grove. I don't live there anymore but Park La Brea Apartments is a large apartment complex in the area that's a nice transition into LA, it's a gated community so it's safe and you're right in the middle of everything and they always have units available. It's not really close to the beach, but nowhere in central LA really is. However you can hop on the 10 freeway and be there in about 15-30 minutes so it's not too bad.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Miracle Mile (metro area)
  2. Park La Brea Apartments (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Paul from New York City

I live in west hollywood/park La Brea and its probably perfect for you.   Here are the boundaries of the area I would suggest: 

East: La Cienega Boulevard

West: La Brea

North: Santa Monica

South: W 3rd St

Almost anywhere within this area will be within walking distance of great shopping/dining/cafes/galleries (and yes there's at least one comedy club). Its also very central. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. La Cienega Boulevard (attraction)
  2. La Brea (attraction)
  3. Santa Monica (city)
  4. W 3rd St (attraction)
5 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Valerie from Los Angeles

Hey Kristen! 

From what you're saying I can totally see you enjoying the Venice Beach or Santa Monica neighborhoods! 

I think both of these neighborhoods match what you are looking for, and the beach is essentially right in your backyard.

Both areas are perfect for cute little coffee shops. Intelligentsia Coffee is one of my favorites in the Venice area. They have great coffee and its a perfect spot for getting some work done or even meeting up with a friend to chat and hangout for a bit. In Santa Monica, I like The Refinery. Their coffee is delectable and they even have light bites to eat. 


I would say the bar scene is more prominent in Santa Monica, but you can still find great ones in Venice too! They are all relatively close to each other, no freeways (thank goodness, traffic truly is awful here). A popular spot for going out is on Main Street which runs through both Venice and Santa Monica. There are a ton of fun bars you can go out to along this street! Some of my favorites are Brick + Mortar and Basement Tavern which is located underneath The Victorian (super fun for dancing, they have live music!)

(The Victorian, Basement Tavern is below)

Los Angeles is the mecca for healthy eating. You can find great spots all over the city but some of my favorites in the Venice/Santa Monica area are Cafe Gratitude and Lemonade in Venice, and Urth Caffé in Santa Monica. On the first of every month in Venice, they have First Fridays which is a bunch of food trucks lined up on Abbot Kinney. I wouldn't necessarily call them "healthy" (think, deep friend macaroni balls) but its a fun event to go to, treat yourself:)

(Cafe Gratitude)

Im not too familiar with comedy clubs but I have a friend who really enjoys going to a comedy show called Brew Ha Ha. Its a comedy show drinking game and they happen every now and then around the city. I would check their site for the next event!

I hope this helps! I really think you'd enjoy these areas, they have everything you listed above. Welcome to LA:)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Venice Beach (attraction)
  2. Santa Monica (city)
  3. Intelligentsia Coffee (restaurant)
  4. The Refinery (restaurant)
  5. Main Street (attraction)
  6. Brick + Mortar (restaurant)
  7. Basement Tavern (attraction)
  8. The Victorian (attraction)
  9. Cafe Gratitude (attraction)
  10. Lemonade (restaurant)
  11. Urth Caffé (restaurant)
  12. Abbot Kinney (attraction)
5 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Eric from Los Angeles

In my humble opinion, Culver City is one of the best centrally located areas in LA. It's pretty relaxed, but close to Sony Studios and a nice bar/restaurant selection. 

It's not so great with proximity to comedy clubs. Your best bet there is probably West Hollywood or the area by UCB on Franklin. That's technically Hollywood, but there's a nice coffee shop/restaurant/bar scene that's walkable. Cool, relaxed vibe. Better beach access from Culver City though, no question. Good luck!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Culver City (city)
  2. West Hollywood (city)
  3. UCB (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by

this guide (though nowhere as funny or good as the bold italic's guide to san francisco neighborhoods) is a pretty good summary:

2 thanks

answered by

No one really stays in Central LA. You go Downtown Los Angeles or Culver City, Center City :) Pretty much anything between the 405-105-10-710 freeways bucket is not recommended, with the exception of nice pockets of Ladera Heights, Culver City :)

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Downtown Los Angeles (metro area)
  2. Culver City (city)
  3. Center City (neighborhood)
  4. Ladera Heights (city)
2 thanks

answered by
Sue from Los Angeles

You might try the area around Beverly Center. You are close to freeways, centrally located, the area is highly walkable. If you are looking for a livelier experience you could do  Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Beach? Try Santa Monica.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Beverly Center (attraction)
  2. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (hotel)
  3. Santa Monica (city)

answered by
Paul from Ocean City, New Jersey

Kristen, The Little Tokyo and Los Angeles Arts District of downtown are really pretty nice. A more popular place that excites locals is Silver Lake, but I say forget that and go to the West Side. I'm from Philly as well and used to hate LA…but settle in…it will grow on you. I love Venice Beach and Manhattan Beach…which are polar opposites - typically people love one and hate the other. Reach out to me for anything you need at all on my site Nomaders by searching Palo Alto. Hidemi, my fiancé, is in Palo Alto too and from LA and has lived everywhere…hit her up. It's a great platform to connect with locals.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Little Tokyo (neighborhood)
  2. Los Angeles Arts District (neighborhood)
  3. Silver Lake (attraction)
  4. West Side (attraction)
  5. Venice Beach (attraction)
  6. Manhattan Beach (city)
2 thanks

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