(credit: istockphoto)

(credit: istockphoto)

Locals and visitors alike tend to joke about Los Angeles as being 464 square miles of “in search of a city.” While this may be true according to some definitions of what urban is, the City of Angels reigns over diverse neighborhoods offering distinctive traits that make some Angelenos settle there while others tend to prowl those parts for what they have to offer. Following are five of LA’s best neighborhoods and what’s make them unique.
(credit: thinkstock)

(credit: thinkstock)


Santa Monica
www.santamonica.com

Life in this tidy little hamlet that measures two square miles is meant to be lived outdoors with the emphasis on being within sight of the mighty Pacific Ocean as much as possible. While this is often on tap in Santa Monica, the chance to soak up enough rays comes in all forms, from being on the beach surrounding the Santa Monica Pier, to being at the open-air Third Street Promenade shopping center doing some shopping and dining at a number of venues that offer al fresco seating. In essence, living in Santa Monica makes all kinds of excuses for letting the sunshine in whenever and wherever possible.

(credit: Pascal Walschots / Creative Commons)

(credit: Pascal Walschots / Creative Commons)


Beverly Hills
www.beverlyhills.org

Home to the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles and the world, Beverly Hills is unique to say the least. Featuring some of the best world-class hotels ranging from the Beverly Hills Hotel to The Montage and The Regent Beverly Wilshire, the city also offers top-notch dining options. Most famous though for its shopping, the city, located in the heart of Los Angeles, is a great place to scope out celebs while trying out some great eats and luxury shops. The most famous part of Beverly Hills is most likely Via Rodeo with its picturesque walkway that is featured in so many movies and travel books.

(photo credit: laparks.org)

(photo credit: laparks.org)


Sherman Oaks / Encino / Tarzana / Woodland Hills

On the Valley side of the city lies the towns of Sherman Oaks, Encino, Tarzana and Woodland Hills. Most of the retail and shopping can be found along the stretch of Ventura Blvd. which is the main drag, however other parts of these mostly residential communities can be found north of Ventura. For terrific food, try Stanley’s restaurant located in Sherman Oaks. Offering up terrific Californian cuisine, its makes for the perfect meal after a day out or if you’re just in the neighborhood.

(credit: Damien B./Yelp)

(credit: Damien B./Yelp)


North Hollywood

It’s not necessary to put on a Valley girl or dude accent to express yourself in this hot spot residing “over the hill” as those who live on the other side like to call this and neighboring communities like Burbank and Valley Village. That said, North Hollywood has found a distinctive and very artistic niche in the past 15 years, with various community theaters and a number of cool coffee shops popping up that now allow you to hang out whenever you are looking for inspiration or even when you’re not.

Related: Walking Tour Of Hyperion Corridor

 (courtesy UCLA CityLAB)

(courtesy UCLA CityLAB)


Westwood

A college town in the form of a village, Westwood is home to UCLA. But don’t think that this place is only for kids seeking higher education while partying until the cows come home. This notorious west side enclave is home to many movie premieres, colorful street life, top-shelf boutique hotels, trendy restaurants and plenty of clever shops from which to buy whatever suits your fancy. The village proper is delineated on the south by Wilshire Boulevard, which is a corridor of cheek-by-jowl office buildings and high-rise apartments. The village offers up shopping, as well as hotels, restaurants and residential areas.

(credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

(credit: Harry How/Getty Images)


Pasadena
www.cityofpasadena.net

Once a distinctively defined and refined city and now absorbed into the general Los Angeles sprawl, Pasadena boasts a variety of architecture styles with arts and crafts structures aplenty, lush landscaping and an Old Town where the little old ladies who Jan and Dean sang about in the ’60s mingle with millennials and baby boomers at the large number of small shops and restaurants to be found on Colorado Boulevard. This is the same thoroughfare where big box stores like Macy’s and Target also welcome customers and where Pasadena’s Apple Store is the best of its type in the Southland because of the brand of attention given.

Related: Best LA Neighborhoods For A Car-Less Date Night

Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.

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