Explore L.A. through the places that bring it to life

Know where to find a soothing café de olla? Or where to sing karaoke all night? How about the best spot for DTLA skyline views? Our neighborhood guides are here to show you it all.

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Los Angeles is — depending on who you ask — glitzy, rugged, meditative, frenzied, lonely, connected, old and brand-new.

But we all can agree it’s vast.

So we’re helping break it down for you. “This must be the place” is a series of guides to the many cities, neighborhoods and communities that make L.A., L.A.

These are by no means comprehensive lists but rather highlight reels — the spots are all handpicked by L.A. Times writers who spent months talking to residents, walking the streets and diving into the history of each place. The guides may shift or expand over time, just like the neighborhoods themselves. And some locales may linger outside of technical parameters. Rather than lean into stark definitions, we wanted to celebrate all of the gems — the restaurants, shops, theaters, outdoor spaces, landmarks and more — that make us love where we live.

While this is a small slice of Los Angeles County, we will be adding more guides regularly, so bookmark this page and return often for even more places to discover.


Spend time in this Norman Rockwell-esque town by the sea and you’ll understand its appeal — and maybe even its price tag.

There’s more to this city than its fabled pier that attracts an estimated 10 million tourists a year. Much, much more.

There’s an unofficial saying: “So goes WeHo, so goes California, so goes the nation.”

Convenient and uncomplicated, this neighborhood tugs at your heart with its Main Street, Anytown, USA, feel.

Make your way to the fabled mountain community that’s full of whimsy, beauty and neighborly love.

Surviving multiple eras of ups and downs, DTLA remains a neighborhood in constant transformation — and a place that never stops dreaming.

Enter Downtown L.A.’s vortex of creative energy.

There’s nothing mid about the centrally located, diverse and walkable L.A. neighborhood, where — shhh — parking is actually plentiful.

An artistic community hub where the L.A. River serves as a sidewalk.

The heart of screenland has been able to maintain a bit of a small-town feel.

South Bay’s maritime city where creativity and community seem to emerge in the most unexpected spaces.

Along the breezy streets, you’ll find a tale of two eras: the town’s surf bum past and its glitzy present.


You could plan an entire day of eating here — and you should.

Whether you pronounce it “Los FEE-lus” or “Los Fey-LEASE,” the walkable hub is one you’ll never want to leave.

Streetwear shops, iconic art and the Original Farmers Market. Welcome to L.A.’s vibrant center of gravity.

Ask any local to define the neighborhood and they’ll tell you it’s the ‘real Eastside.’

The hillside hub with a renegade spirit

It’s not called the City of Champions for nothing.

With karaoke, late-night comfort food and the best body scrub treatments around, there’s no better post-work playground.

Which neighborhood should we feature next?


Editors: Michelle Woo, Jessica Perez, Brittany Levine Beckman
Creative director: Amy King
Design direction: Faith Stafford, Jessica de Jesus
Lead art direction, design and animation: Brandon Ly
Photo editing: Taylor Arthur, Rachel Hulin
Assistant to photo editors, coordinator: Sonja Stott
Writers: Ada Tseng, Jeong Park, Christopher Reynolds, Julia Carmel, Danielle Dorsey, Astrid Kayembe, Andrea Flores, Kailyn Brown, Jenn Harris, Rachel Kraus, Jessica Roy, Michelle Woo
Photography: Jason Armond, Dania Maxwell, Allen J. Schaben, Mariah Tauger, Kayla James/For the Times, Angella Choe/For the Times, Ricardo DeAratanha, Betty Hallock, Christina House, Jay L. Clendenin, Brian van der Brug, Wally Skalij, Luis Sinco, Stephanie Breijo, Carter Hiyama/For the Times, Shelby Moore/For The Times, Damon Casarez/For the Times, Silvia Razgova/For the Times
Copy editing: Lisa Horowitz, Doug Norwood, Alison Dingeldein, Lynn Meersman
Audience engagement: Amy Wong
Data reporting: Sandhya Kambhampati