LA is a Hollywood haunt brimming with celebrity appeal and star-struck tourism. Let's face it. You're more than ready to brush shoulders with the likes of the Kardashians and Ryan Reynolds.
If life doesn't bring celebrities to you, you'll have to go to Los Angeles to find them!
Los Angeles is a vast city. Aside from being a playground for the rich and famous, it boasts an impressive tourism industry that attracts visitors from across the globe.
Knowing the ins and outs of LA is a must for a first timer. That's why I'm here to be your trusty guide through the must-see neighborhoods of the City of Angels.
Dress to impress and get your camera ready. Let's go!
Why Visit Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is a stunning city with an abundance of activities to keep you busy throughout your trip. It's the home of a global entertainment market and a wonderful place for sightseeing and celeb spotting. The pristine streets are bursting with niche cafes, amusement parks, art galleries, and museums to suit every interest.
That's without mentioning the golden sandy beaches just waiting to be sunbathed on!
The glitz, glam, and luxury will leave you feeling on top of the world and give you one truly unforgettable vacation. For a little more guidance, check out how to plan the perfect Los Angeles Day Trip.
With over 10 million residents, LA is a big place. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it here. That said, some LA neighborhoods are more essential than others for a first-timer's trip to the city.
5. Downtown LA
has you covered. The neighborhood is packed full of niche eateries that cater to every taste, from fine dining to cool cafes. Let your taste buds guide you and explore the elaborate menus before deciding where to go.
Need some recommendations? Here are a few options to try:
Downtown LA is known for live performances at The Walt Disney Concert Hall. Guests can indulge in a magical evening watching the LA Philharmonic Orchestra, or catch a show by legends like Herbie Hancock or Japanese Breakfast.
If you're a fan of baseball or wrestling, the Crypto.com Arena is home to the LA Kings, Clippers, and Lakers. They also host world-famous WWE wrestling events.
4. Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is well-known as one of LA's most well-to-do neighborhoods. Luxurious lifestyles, high-end shopping, and fine dining are what Beverly Hills is all about. The area has some of the most expensive real estate in the United States and attracts some of the wealthiest people in the US.
When people picture Beverly Hills, they usually picture palm trees, shining boulevards, and wall-to-wall A-listers. That's pretty much what it's like!
What is Beverly Hills Best Known For?
- Rodeo Drive
- Beverly Hills Hotel
- The Paley Center for Media
What to Do in Beverly Hills?
For Celebrity Seekers
Beverly Hills is one of the most illustrious sites in LA and attracts all kinds of A-listers looking to indulge in some high-end living. If you're in the area, you might be lucky enough to spot a familiar face or two. Just remember your manners. Celebrities are people too!
Visiting venues like the Polo Lounge and Spago might increase your chances of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or the Kardashians. Both are popular restaurants that see their fair share of A-list clientele. Don't take offense if they don't want to take a selfie with you or shake your hand. Everyone needs a chance to relax!
You can also take a Celebrity Homes Tour to see some incredible examples of celebrity homes. The luxury mansions, gorgeous apartments, and ultra-modern urban abodes will give you a tantalizing taste of how the other half live.
Once you've done your celeb spotting for the day and want to settle down to eat something out-of-this-world, you'll realize that Beverly Hills is a smorgasbord of incredible high-end eateries. Of course, you'd expected nothing else considering the clientele in the area.
For high-class dining in Beverly Hills, try:
Of course, we can't forget about shopping in Beverly Hills. With the world-renowned Rodeo Drive calling, you might want to ask your banker to add spending limits to your cards. With so many fancy boutiques and branded stores, it's easy to get lost in retail therapy!
Located in central Los Angeles, Hollywood is a neighborhood synonymous with movie magic and celebrity shenanigans. Everyone's heard of this upmarket district, and it's definitely a must-see on the list of places to visit in LA.
What is Hollywood Best Known For?
- Walk of Fame
- Universal Studios
- Hollywood sign
What to Do in Hollywood
For Culture Junkies
We all want to stand in the shoes of our most beloved actors and musicians, and one of the best ways to do that is by visiting the original district that helped them claim their fame!
Take a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and gaze at the stars. If you're lucky, you might even meet the local impersonators who offer some great entertainment as you go.
Take a Warner Bros. Studio Tour and see the magic behind some of your favorite movies. It's an eye-opener to see how much effort is put into making a movie or TV series!
You could even take a celebrity tour and discover where the rich and famous hide out when they're not busy making magic happen.
If you're anything like me, you'll be set on finding the best spots to eat. Luckily, Hollywood is brimming with vibrant and unique eateries serving a host of cuisines. Some even see a few celebrity regulars!
The variety of quality eats in Hollywood is indescribable. Here are a few great options to get you started:
- Chateau Marmont
- Off Vine
Hollywood is a wonderland for kids and adults alike, with plenty to do for people of all ages. If you're traveling with children, a trip to the Universal Studios Theme Park is a definite must!
For adults and older kids, a hike to the famed Hollywood Sign will be an excursion to remember forever.
Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive are paradises for those who love shopping. It's where the celebs grab their latest and greatest gear, with designer brands lining the streets and niche boutiques selling one-of-a-kind fashion.
Remember, window shopping is good fun too!
2. Silver Lake
Silver Lake is the neighborhood for the cool cats and hipsters of Los Angeles. It's a stunning area filled with natural and urban beauty and one that brims with history. Silver Lake is well known for its innovative architecture, created by visionaries who wanted the buildings to stand out and be unique.
This has acted as quite a drawing card for those who wanted to stay away from mainstream white-picket fences. As a result, the area has a very interesting dynamic. The community thrives on individuality, so for anyone who enjoys a scene with plenty of visual stimulation, Silver Lake is for you.
What Is Silver Lake Best Known For?
- Indie Music
- Street Art
- Sunset Junction
What to Do in Silver Lake
For Art Lovers
If you want to dive into art, Silver Lake is for you. From the streets to the curbside cafes, you'll be hard-pressed to find a dull spot in this neighborhood. If you're looking for where to go, here are some of my recommendations.
Randyland in Echo Park is an outdoor art installation in Echo Park that uses glass, bottles, and natural light to create a dazzling and awe-inspiring show each day.
The Silver Lake Art Gallery is packed full of unique, locally-created art installations to inspire curiosity and wonder. Exhibits swap out frequently, with new artists taking the stage to display their works.
Iam8bit is a bit more unusual, taking inspiration from old video games. The unique installations are built to blow minds, and the opening evenings are said to be off-the-charts fantastic!
I'll admit that a lot of my adventures somehow end up being food driven. For me, one of the best parts of visiting new places is taking a leap into the delicious cuisine on offer.
If you're looking for something a little different on your trip to LA, why not shake it up by visiting these three top restaurants in Silver Lake?
There's a lot to see and do in Silver Lake. Wherever you go, you're bound to be entertained!
The Silver Lake Reservoir offers more than just picturesque views. It's a classic example of what a peaceful day out should look like. Locals use it as a spot to get their morning workouts done, or to take picnics in the fresh air.
If you're looking for something a bit racier, a shopping spree on Sunset Junction might soothe your soul. The junction is a crossroads on Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, lined with niche boutiques, cafes, and bistros for you to explore.
1. Santa Monica
You've probably seen Santa Monica on the big screen from time to time. The bright and flashy carousel at the end of Santa Monica Pier is hard to shake from the mind, and the area really is as beautiful as it looks.
The neighborhood bustles with activity throughout the year. By day, it's a haven for shopaholics, beach bums, and foodies itching to try out Instagram-worthy venues oozing with character and class.
What is Santa Monica Best Known For?
- Santa Monica Pier
- Third Street Promenade
What to Do in Santa Monica
Santa Monica is brimming with contemporary and old-style cuisines that'll get any foodie's heart racing! It's hard to go wrong here, but some great options to try include:
If retail therapy is more up your alley, you're in luck. Santa Monica has a flair for classy shopping, with each street lined with boutique retailers.
The best places to shop are:
- Third Street Promenade
- Ocean Park Boulevard
- Santa Monica Farmers' Markets
Santa Monica Pier acts as a beacon for one's inner child. Don't worry. Nobody will judge you for soaking up the view from the Ferris Wheel, especially when you have kids to entertain!
The Pier has held a place in the hearts of locals and tourists alike for years, offering a whimsical throwback to the days of carnival games and arcades. Not to mention it's an all-in-one destination for play, food, and retail therapy.
Cayton Children's Museum is an enriching experience that's both educational and fun for the whole family. The colorful artworks double as a playground for the little ones, and interactive installations and art projects are perfect for kids of all ages.
For Beach Bums
The shoreline of Santa Monica Beach is golden and pristine. There are also plenty of amenities and rental stations to make your beach day interesting. Grab a surfboard and hit the waves, or just set up an umbrella and have some much-needed downtime in the Los Angeles sun.
Places to Avoid in LA
While Los Angeles is a stunning city with many gorgeous neighborhoods, nowhere is perfect. There are a few places that are better avoided in the city, especially at certain times. So here are a few tips about where in Los Angeles to steer clear of.
Downtown LA at Night
It's a stunning area with plenty to offer for tourists, but I'd recommend avoiding this neighborhood at night. Downtown LA has quite a high crime rate, so for your safety, seek out another nighttime adventure.
Compton doesn't offer much for tourists, so there's no reason to trek to this suburban neighborhood if you don't need to. The crime rates are high, and law enforcement is usually quite busy in the area.
Located in Central City, Skid Row has a high homeless population and is often heavily monitored by law enforcement due to crime in the area.
Live It Up in LA With Pilot
LA is a trip you won't forget! Now you're ready to explore the great wide world of celebrities, movie magic, and unforgettable music scenes, why not let Pilot help you plan?