West LA map

Getting to Know the Area Part III

Last Updated: February 17, 2024By

Here is the third part of our introducing the area of Los Angeles, and now we are moving in the heart and downtown area of Los Angeles. The most noticeable name is Hollywood, and from this city produces the movies that have defined America as a nation and produced celebrities that we all know and love. And around we see the rough cities of LA that have had many a violent past. These cities are throughout our first 3 zone areas, which include central eastern, southern and western.


Yes, they still come to the mecca of the film industry — young hopefuls with stars in their eyes gravitate to this historic heart of L.A.’s movie production like moths fluttering to the glare of neon lights. But today’s Hollywood is more illusion than industry. Many of the neighborhood’s former movie studios have moved to more spacious venues in Burbank, the Westside, and other parts of the city.

Despite the downturn, visitors continue to flock to Hollywood’s landmark attractions, such as the star-studded Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. And now that the city’s $1-billion, 30-year revitalization project is in full swing, Hollywood Boulevard is, for the first time in decades, showing signs of rising out of a seedy slump, with refurbished movie houses and stylish restaurants and clubs making a fierce comeback. The centerpiece Hollywood & Highland complex anchors the neighborhood, with shopping, entertainment, and a luxury hotel built around the beautiful Kodak Theatre designed specifically to host the Academy Awards (really, you’ll want to poke your head into this gorgeous theater).

Melrose Avenue, scruffy but fun, is the city’s funkiest shopping district, catering to often-raucous youth with secondhand and avant-garde clothing shops. There are also several good restaurants in between.

The stretch of Wilshire Boulevard running through the southern part of Hollywood is known as the Mid-Wilshire district, or the Miracle Mile. It’s lined with tall, contemporary apartment houses and office buildings. The section just east of Fairfax Avenue, known as Museum Row, is home to almost a dozen museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the La Brea Tar Pits, and that shrine to L.A. car culture, the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Griffith Park, up Western Avenue in the northernmost part of Hollywood, is one of the country’s largest urban parks, home to the Los Angeles Zoo, the famous Griffith Observatory, and the outdoor Greek Theater.


Despite the relatively recent construction of numerous cultural centers (such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels) and a handful of trendy restaurants, L.A.’s Downtown isn’t the tourist hub that it would be in most cities. When it comes to entertaining visitors, the Westside, Hollywood, and beach communities are all far more popular.

Easily recognized by the tight cluster of high-rise offices — skyscrapers bolstered by earthquake-proof technology — the business center of the city is eerily vacant on weekends and evenings, but the outlying residential communities, such as Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and Los Feliz, are enticingly ethnic and vibrant. If you want a tan, head to Santa Monica, but if you want a refreshing dose of non-90210 culture, come here.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic District, a 44-acre ode to the city’s early years, is worth a visit. Chinatown is small and touristy, but can be plenty of fun for souvenir hunting or traditional dim sum. Little Tokyo, on the other hand, is a genuine gathering place for the Southland’s Japanese population, with a wide array of shops and restaurants with an authentic flair.

Silver Lake, a residential neighborhood just north of Downtown and adjacent to Los Feliz (home to the Los Angeles Zoo and Griffith Park), just to the west, has arty areas with unique cafes, theaters, graffiti, and art galleries — all in equally plentiful proportions. The local music scene has been burgeoning of late.

Exposition Park, south and west of Downtown, is home to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the L.A. Sports Arena, as well as the Natural History Museum, the African-American Museum, and the California Science Center. The University of Southern California (USC) is next door.

East and South Central L.A., just east and south of Downtown, are home to the city’s large barrios. This is where the 1992 L.A. riots were centered. It was here, at Florence and Normandie avenues, that a news station’s reporter, hovering above in a helicopter, videotaped Reginald Denny being pulled from the cab of his truck and beaten. These neighborhoods are, without question, quite unique, though they contain few tourist sites (the Watts Towers being a notable exception). This can be a rough part of town, so avoid looking like a tourist if you decide to visit, particularly at night.



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