An overview of GREATER L.A.

People mean different things when they say "Los Angeles." Understanding what YOU mean when you say “Los Angeles” will help you figure out how to sightsee in this big region.

The narrowest definition of Los Angeles is the CITY of Los Angeles (excluding all neighboring areas).  The city is 462 square miles of land mass and has 3.8 million people living in dozens of neighborhoods. The northernmost portion of the CITY of Los Angeles is contained in the massive San Fernando Valley.  This is, largely, a suburban area of homes and local shopping but there are hotels here, as well, that might be less expensive than in more central areas.  Staying in the San Fernando Valley, of course, will mean longer drives (or rides) to most attractions.

Some of the more centrally-located neighborhoods (south of the San Fernando Valley) which have varying tourist appeal are listed below in alphabetical order.  The most popular areas are in Bold:

  • BEVERLY GROVE -- Just to the east of Beverly Hills (referred to on Trip Advisor as "Central Los Angeles")
  • Brentwood -- on the westside of Los Angeles
  • Chinatown -- on the northern edge of downtown Los Angeles
  • East LA -- east of downtown Los Angeles
  • Eagle Rock -- northwest of downtown Los Angeles
  • DOWNTOWN L.A. (often abbreviated as 'DTLA') -- transportation and financial hub, home to sports teams, museums and 'LA Live'. Unlike most downtown areas, DTLA is not in the center of the city but is, instead, near the eastern edge of it.
  • Echo Park -- northwest of downtown Los Angeles
  • Miracle Mile -- west of downtown Los Angeles.  This is central Los Angeles
  • HOLLYWOOD -- on the northeastern edge of central Los Angeles with good public transit and some popular tourist sites.
  • Koreatown -- west of downtown Los Angeles
  • Little Armenia -- east of Hollywood
  • Little Tokyo --eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles
  • Los Feliz -- east of Hollywood
  • Silver Lake -- east of Hollywood (and west of downtown Los Angeles)
  • Thai Town -- east of Hollywood
  • Venice -- Los Angeles's "city beach" community
  • WESTWOOD -- on the west side of Los Angeles, home of UCLA (the University)
  • Wilshire Center -- west of downtown
  • San Pedro --  considerably south of the rest of the city and constitutes the ‘harbor area’ and along with the neighboring city of Long Beach -- both have popular cruise ports.

But, for tourists, “Los Angeles” can mean an area that includes neighborhoods outside of the city proper. These adjacent areas (the most popular ones are in bold) fall into 2 categories:

a. Cities or unincorporated areas that are literally surrounded by the city of Los Angeles on all sides (they fill a ‘hole’ in the city’s territory):

  1. BEVERLY HILLS  -- virtually in the CENTER of the city of Los Angeles
  2. MARINA DEL REY -- Just west and north of LAX
  3. UNIVERSAL CITY -- between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley
  4. WEST HOLLYWOOD -- just east of Beverly Hills and west of Hollywood, so very central to the city of Los Angeles

b. Cities that are adjacent to the city of Los Angeles (adjacent to the city or not far from it):

  1. BURBANK -- north of DTLA, with a good alternative airport (BUR -- no international flights) to LAX, home of ABC, NBC, Warner Bros & Disney studios
  2. CULVER CITY -- west of DTLA, home of Sony Pictures (MGM), linked by light rail to DTLA
  3. LONG BEACH -- south of DTLA, home to the Queen Mary, Long Beach Cruise Port and LB Grand Prix
  4. MALIBU -- just north and extending west of Santa Monica
  5. Monterey Park -- east of DTLA, home of LA's large Chinese population with LA's best Chinese restaurants
  6. PASADENA -- northeast of DTLA, home of the Rose Parade and Bowl, linked to DTLA by light rail
  7. SANTA CLARITA -- just north of LA's San Fernando Valley, home of Six Flags Magic Mountain
  8. SANTA MONICA -- Very popular tourist destination on the Pacific Ocean with many ocean front hotels soon to be linked to DTLA by the EXPO Metro Rail line.
  9. San Gabriel -- east of DTLA, another city with many good Chinese and Asian restaurants
  10. SouthBay Beaches:
  •     a. Manhattan Beach -- just south of LAX, famous for its pier and beaches, but also shopping and dining 
  •     b. Hermosa Beach -- south of Manhattan Beach, small beach community with a nice pier area
  •     c. Redondo Beach -- south of Hermosa Beach, home to Kings Harbor with shops, hotels and dining

    Tripadvisor has a ‘hotel finder’ section that will assist you in locating a hotel in a particular neighborhood.  Instructions on using the ‘hotel finder’ can be found here:

    Then, there's a bigger governmental unit-- Los Angeles COUNTY, the most populous county in the United States, with about 11 million people.  The COUNTY of Los Angeles includes the CITY of Los Angeles, the adjoining cities listed above, and about 74 more cities (many of them quite small and rarely of interest to most visitors) and all unincorporated areas of the county.  Eighty eight incorporated cities are in Los Angeles County in all.

    Finally, there's the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan area -- a gigantic place, almost 34,000 square miles of area, where people live, work, and shop, covering 5 counties and almost 18 million people.

    Orange County is one of these 5 counties and the one of most interest to tourists.  The professional baseball team known as the Los Angeles Angels plays in the city of Anaheim, in Orange County. Note: L.A’s Dodgers (baseball team) play in downtown Los Angeles.

    Also in Anaheim are two theme parks: Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure.  In the adjacent Orange County city of Buena Park, is another theme park, Knott's Berry Farm.

    Popular Orange County Beach communities include:  Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.  For specific questions about Orange County, it’s best to make your inquiries in the Orange County Forum or in one of the specific 'city forums' like the Huntington Beach Forum.  (For questions about Los Angeles, post in the Los Angeles Forum).

    Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties are the remaining counties in the region.  Post your questions about these areas in the forum of the specific city that interests you.