The Westside of Los Angeles in Southern California is much of what the rest of the world thinks of when they think "California". Beautiful beaches, fancy homes, movie stars: it's all there.
The Westside comprises the neighborhoods of Los Angeles City and other cities (municipalities) running west of La Cienega Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean. To the east is Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire. The northern boundary is the Santa Monica Mountains. The southern boundary is less obvious - often LAX or the 105 freeway serve as a good marker, separating the Westside from the South Bay.
- 1 Beverly Hills - Home of the rich and famous, and renowned for the high-end shopping of Rodeo Drive.
- 2 Culver City - Best known for film and TV production, including the old MGM studios, which is now part of Sony Pictures. Also noted for its excellent dining scene, local shops, and a couple of intriguing museums, including the quirky Museum of Jurassic Technology.
- 3 Malibu - Wedged between the ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains, with gorgeous scenery and many beautiful mansions.
- 4 Marina del Rey - A large yacht and sailboat marina and a popular dining and shopping destination.
- 5 Pacific Palisades - A residential neighborhood in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains with splendid views of the ocean and the Roman art and architecture of the Getty Villa.
- 6 Playa del Rey - A pleasant and relatively quiet beach area.
- 7 Santa Monica - A popular seaside community famous for its beach and amusement park pier, with a bustling shopping promenade.
- 8 Topanga - A small community settled in the Santa Monica Mountains.
- 9 Venice - Los Angeles' most famous beach, with its Boardwalk famed for its street performers, body builders, and funky shops and vendors.
- 10 West Hollywood - Home to the famous Sunset Strip and to the largest gay nightlife district in Los Angeles.
- 11 West Los Angeles - A collection of neighborhoods of the city of Los Angeles; here you will find fashionable Bel-Air, the spectacular Getty Center art museum in Brentwood, the film studios of Century City, the UCLA campus and surrounding shopping and entertainment district in Westwood, and an amazing array of cuisines owing to the mix of ethnicities in the area.
- 12 Westchester - A mostly residential neighborhood home to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
- 1 Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area - A lovely recreation area with scenic views, excellent hiking, and various historic sites such as Malibu Creek State Park.
The Westside is among the most prosperous, trendy, glamorous, and interesting locations in the world. Derided by social critics as life within the "Pleasure-Dome" for the opportunities to "live large", the Westside boasts fabulous food, homes, scenery, shopping, and people.
The closest airport to this area of Los Angeles is through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA). From here you can either catch a cab, shuttle or bus. The LAX FlyAway shuttle offers service from the terminals to Westwood. You can also take the Big Blue Bus Roue #3 to Santa Monica or the Culver City Bus Route #6 to Culver City and West LA. The cabs and shuttles can be accessed immediately outside of the arrival terminals and the bus systems can be accessed from the LAX Transit Center, located adjacent to Parking Lot 'C' and accessed by taking the 'C' Shuttle from the terminals. Bus information is available in the baggage claim area of each terminal.
The Westside lies under the flight path of general aviation Santa Monica Airport (SMO IATA), southwest of the 405/10 interchange; on clear days the view of the city on approach is amazing.
The Westside is fairly well covered by bus service, with three different providers in the area: LA Metro is the main bus system in the Los Angeles region, and runs several Metro Rapid routes through the area, as well as the Metro Rail Expo Line from Downtown L.A. to Culver City and Santa Monica. Additionally, the Big Blue Bus is a very reliable and well-maintained bus service, which operates primarily in Santa Monica and West L.A. Lastly, the Culver City Bus has a system of routes radiating out of Culver City.
During the summer months, there are various beach shuttle services available during the weekends.
For convenience purposes it may be best to rent a vehicle. Most of the major rental companies are available at LAX airport.
- The Strand. A bike and skate path on the beach stretches from Will Rogers State Beach in the north all the way to Redondo Beach in the South Bay and ends at Torrance Beach. With numerous outlets for renting bikes, rest stops and food concessions this gentle, fairly flat path is an easy ride for the entire family. It passes by many interesting places, such as the Marina del Rey waterfront area with its boats and numerous restaurants, the Venice Beach shops, and Santa Monica pier.
- Fisherman's Village in Marina del Rey is a replica of a New England seaport and fishing town. There are several companies to rent boats—both sail and motor, kayaks, wind-surfboards and more. You can also charter a harbor cruise or reserve your place on one of the public dinner cruises. Stroll along the cobblestone paths to enjoy views of the Marina. On the weekends (weather permitting) there are free outdoor concerts in the Lighthouse Plaza area.
- Go to the Beach, from Malibu beach in the north to Playa Del Rey in the south, these are some of the most filmed beaches in the world.
- Visit Muscle Beach and the Venice part of the boardwalk to see the most eclectic and culturally diverse part of the Westside beaches.
- Walk the Venice Canals (park on Dell near Washington Blvd.) and see some of the most interesting architecture and local gardens that the Westside has to offer.
- Bird watch at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh at Playa Vista. This 51-arce marsh system is at the base of the Westchester Bluffs, just south of Marina del Rey. Home to more than 73 native bird species it is an urban oasis for people and wildlife alike. There are trails bordering the marsh, with a profusion of native trees and shrubs where you can see mallard ducks, snowy egret and great blue herons. Located at the southwest corner of Lincoln and Jefferson Boulevards.
A wonderful by-product of all the ethnic diversity in this area is the multitude of authentic restaurants. There are also a number of Indian and Pakistani restaurants along Venice Boulevard in Palms and adjacent streets in Palms and Culver City. Most of these restaurants offer North Indian cuisine.
There is a small cluster of Japanese and Korean restaurants colloquially known as Little Osaka in West Los Angeles on Sawtelle Blvd (just west of 405), bounded by Santa Monica Blvd to the north and Olympic Blvd to the south. Culver City also has a collection of Korean restaurants. Thai and Chinese restaurants are ubiquitous throughout the area and vary greatly in price and quality.
Mexican food is common in this area as in the rest of Los Angeles County, albeit less so in some of the more affluent parts of the area. Lares in Santa Monica has its admirers. This area tends to have a greater proportion of Oaxacan restaurants than other parts of greater Los Angeles, such as Madre in Palms and El Texate in Santa Monica. Garden of Taxco in West Hollywood offers an unforgettable experience, with the "menu" recited by colorful waiters.
There is a large cluster of Jewish delicatessens and restaurants on Pico Boulevard in Beverlywood, just south of Beverly Hills. Both Ashkenazic and Middle Eastern Jewish cuisines are represented here. Haifa is great for lunchtime Mediterranean food.
A small "Little Ethiopia" has developed along Washington Boulevard between National and La Cienega in Culver City.
Santa Monica and Venice have a huge population of British expats, and fish and chips is common. Most of Los Angeles' pubs are located west of the 405 in this area.
Westwood Boulevard between Pico and Wilshire is filled with Persian restaurants, serving the largest Iranian population outside of Iran (which is concentrated in Westwood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica).
Much of Venice demands some caution. The long-troubled Oakwood neighborhood of Venice (south of Rose Avenue, west of Abbot Kinney Street, north of California Avenue, and west of Lincoln Boulevard) has a long history of gang and drug activity and racial tensions and is best avoided except for major streets. However, there is very little of interest for tourists in this area.
Venice Beach, at night, demands caution; do not go on the sand at night as when the sun goes down, the beach becomes a giant swapmeet for drugs: it is often nicknamed "the meth capital of Los Angeles," complete with the violence that often accompanies open drug dealing. Such violence occasionally spills onto Ocean Front Walk, along with some prostitution activity involving both sexes so avoid walking the boardwalk at night.
In Santa Monica, the section of Pico Boulevard immediately to the east of Santa Monica College and extending to Cloverfield Avenue demands caution; residential side streets in this area are best avoided. The South Robertson/Crestview neighborhood has a small gang-ridden pocket known alternately as Cadillac-Corning and La Cienega Heights but this tiny area is almost completely residential and tourists are unlikely to go there anyway.
As with Los Angeles in general and other California cities, the Westside has a large and very visible homeless problem (except for Beverly Hills and Culver City). This is most noticeable in Santa Monica, Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood. Most of these individuals are harmless but some are dangerous. Exercise some caution in dealing with them.
- South Bay. The Westside region's lively neighbor to the south, featuring a diverse set of communities, from boisterous Manhattan Beach, to placid Palos Verdes, to hard-working San Pedro.
- Hollywood. Its name has become so synonymous with motion pictures that it is easy to forget it is an actual place. This is where their past is celebrated, their present is premiered, and their future is constantly being created.
- Ventura County. Head west get away from the L.A. grind and to take things a little slower, and perhaps spend some time in Camarillo's oasis of factory outlets.