Why Do You Love Los Angeles?


Hi, all. I am about to relocate from my beloved hometown of Nashville, Tennessee to Los Angeles. I’m jittery about the move, particularly because I don’t have a particularly positive perception of the city. I visited a year ago for a short while, and I was saddened by some of the consumption, vapidity, and wealth disparities that I saw. While I loved the diversity of the city and its art scene, I’m still a little apprehensive.

So, Angelinos and other L.A. lovers of AO… what do you love most about Los Angeles? What are the things, neighborhoods, places, histories, activities, foods, and cultures that make it unlike any other city? What’s your advice on how to best get “plugged-into” L.A.?
Any insight is appreciated, and I promise to share any insights that I discover myself!


Oh man, LA might just be the best city for Obscura stuff in the US! I love Bob Baker’s Marionette theater, and a visit to the Holyland Exhibition which is genuinely one of the weirder collections I’ve seen. Museum of Jurassic Technology is an AO must see! Griffith park is packed full of great weirdness… too many places to list here! As far as finding your place in it all, it’s really a city of cities. So it depends on where you are planning on living! Hollywood is such a small part of that town, it’s a culturally super diverse, down to earth place. We of course have an Obscura Society chapter there which is filled with cool, smart, easy going people, so they might just be the best place to start! They know the good parts of that city better than anyone! Scroll down for upcoming events! https://www.atlasobscura.com/things-to-do/los-angeles-california#events


@allisonkc I lived in LA for a bit and different neighborhoods obviously have different vibes. I lived in Hollywood and our Hidden Hollywood guide revealed some things that were even a surprise to me! I love all the aspects of Old Hollywood around LA. For Example: Culver City is an ever-changing neighborhood and recently had a bunch of Brooklyn-based institutions move in, but it’s also where several classic films like Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz were filmed. As Dylan said the Obscura Society will be a great way to begin your exploration of the city.


I’m not a native Los Angeleno either by any means but thirding @Dylan’s suggestion about the Obscura Society. The folks out there, both the chapter head/field agents and also the group members, are such fun people and are always game to go exploring or talk at length about the things they love. We have a Facebook group here where you can tap into that community!

Feel free to ask this question there, too. There’s bound to be lots of replies :slight_smile:


As someone who has lived in NYC for a decade and a half, I’m still very much in the “maybe I’ll do a year or two in LA” camp. This instinct is almost always brought about by reading books about the area (check out a thread on the subject I started below)
Books about Los Angeles.

It’s a place where magic and reality are constantly in negotiation.

We also wrote a few guides last year in partnership with the Discover LA, and they remain a tried and true resource for me when I’m visiting:


And finally! Make sure to go to the observation deck on top of City Hall. It feels like you shouldn’t be allowed to visit, and it’s hidden right on top of one of LA’s most iconic buildings!


Expect traffic, smog in summer, crowds, hard 2 find parking.
IE Disneyland, Knotts berry Farm, Univ Studioes, etc.
Long commutes, 101 Frwy has worst traffic E/W,
Best communities: Pasadena, Calabasas, 1K Oaks, Camarillo, San Dimas, Malibu, Marina del Rey.
Much good dining in West LA, Pasadena, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Los Olivos,
Hope U can use.
get Map app, Maps, any FREE Info for area, Use.

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I moved here when I was 15. 42 now. At different points in my life, I wanted to live in different places, but I realize I now love and appreciate LA more than ever. The vapidity and consumerism is really only a small portion. It’s just the one you see in tabloids.

You want to eat Ethiopian, Peruvian, or Thai tonight? All that and more is readily available. Into true crime? We’re the home base of the Black Dahlia murder and the Manson Family. Southern California is the birthplace of most of the movies and TV you’ve ever seen, a strong portion of the music you’ve ever heard, fast food, Googie architecture, and the friggin’ internet. Art galleries, rock clubs, and museums litter the city. You can readily find yourself standing in an alley and recognize it from a Charlie Chaplin film. Want to visit snow? The beach? The desert? They’re all within 1-3 hours away. Eat a bucket of kale or a bacon wrapped hot dog grilled on the sidewalk.

As far as getting plugged in goes, it depends on what you’re coming here for? Why are you moving? If you’ve got a purpose in mind, you’ll probably fall in with your tribe in no time.

I’ll say one other thing. My friend and old bandmate (I’m a musician) moved to Colorado a couple years ago. And he likes it. But I asked him during a visit if he was experiencing any culture shock. The one thing he said he missed most about LA is that everyone is up to something. In Colorado, the people he works with just work and go home. In LA, every last person you meet is a writer, an entrepreneur, an artist, a computer scientist, etc. etc. etc. It makes for a very exciting place to live because nobody grows moss here.


Thanks so much for all of your insights, @tralfamadore! I so appreciate it. You’ve made me more excited!
I’m definitely looking forward to the food-- I know the cuisine diversity is just amazing, and I can’t wait to eat my way through LA.
(Speaking of the Black Dahlia Murder, are you looking forward to the limited series “I Am the Night?”)
I’m moving out there with my fiance, who is an aspiring screenwriter. I’ve just finished my degree, so I’m a free agent! I’ll be looking around for all sorts of jobs. My undergraduate degrees were in Anthropology and International Studies, so I’m looking forward to all of the arts and cultural activities of LA!

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Hey, everyone! Thank you so much for all of your recommendations-- I’ll be checking everything out, especially the Obscura Society Chapter! I’m excited to try it all.
@Dylan @alexaharrison @samanthachong @Rose_Annis @stephenrusell @tralfamadore


I’m not much of a TV watcher, but when I do flip it on, stuff like I Am the Night is exactly what I would watch. I’ve read articles of the story behind it, so I’ll be interested to see how they dramatize it. Plus, it’ll make for some cool footage of the John Sowden House.
Well, your husband will find no lack of film nerds here. His people are everywhere. If he’s starting totally anew, I might suggest getting involved in the 48-Hour Film Project https://www.48hourfilm.com/la. I scored a movie for this event once and it’s full of some very talented people. AFI will also bring on new people for special events, etc. There are a ton of screenwriter meet-ups. If he’s got any interest in live theater, feel free to PM me. I’m deeply plugged into that scene through music directing live events.
As far as someone with your zone of studies go…Sheesh! The whole world comes here. Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Ethiopia, Little Tehran, Little Armenia. You can scoot through town and take a tour of the world. If research is where you’re aiming, UCLA, USC, and Occidental are great schools and pleasant institutions to work within. But even if that’s not your aim, the city makes for a great home base for a globally-oriented person.


See you there! :slight_smile:


I love Los Angeles because of the Diverse Culture. I love that there is so much to do here. I love that you can go surfing in the morning and snowboarding in the afternoon. We have some of the best food around as well.


My husband & I are natives of the outskirts of LA, Santa Barbara & Simi Valley. We love that we can go to any sporting event (college or pro), theatre, concert, museum, hiking, besides the beach or snow within a couple of hours of home. That includes consideration for traffic. Besides culture & food there really is too much to do during our down time, mostly because we have favorites so we don’t get to experience as much new stuff. AO is great about offering enough of the new stuff though & introducing us to new favorites! Although the west is relatively new compared to the east coast & especially compared to Europe, we still have some fascinating history that you will enjoy with your background.
We love that LA is so dog friendly. We can plan specific days where we can take our dogs with us everywhere we plan for that day.
Mostly, what we have found helps us with our love of LA is that we now work close to home. Our experience showed that commuting has a way of ruining the time that you aren’t working or sitting in traffic. So, my advice is, even if you need to sacrifice a little, find a way to live as close as possible to your work.
Welcome to LA & hope to see you at an AO event!


I live in middle America, but I love to travel. A couple of summer’s ago I attended the Costume College in LA and part of the experience was a trip to LA’s Fashion District. It was like entering another world! My favorite shop was the California Millinery Supply Co. It’s been around since 1939. Even if you are not interested in making hats this is a perfect Atlas Obscura type of place to explore. My favorite ironic experience there was seeing a totally nude woman walk down the street in the middle of the FASHION district. LA is a wonderful, vibrant place.


This sounds like a great place for our (not really) upcoming expansion, Hatlas Obscura.

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Welcome to L.A. @allisonkc! I hope you’ll find that the best way to fight the consumption and vapidity (which, I’m loathe to admit as an Angeleno, does exist in various degrees) is to really get to know the part of town where you end up settling – at least start there, and then just keep going. There’s so much more to do and see here than any one post can do justice to, and you can literally find something new to experience (and even more important, something new to eat! :slightly_smiling_face:) close by every day, where-ever you are. Find yourself a local go-to taco stand, dim sum joint, public library, dive bar, coffee roaster, art gallery, pocket park, what have you. If you don’t find something that fits right away, just keep looking – I guarantee you’ll find it here eventually, whatever “it” happens to be. Then get to know the people there looking for the same “it” and they’ll be more than willing to guide you to whatever else you’re looking for (…we’re friendlier than we look like on TV, but it’s true that we never shut up about the traffic…).

The wealth disparity doesn’t have an easy answer, and you’ll probably get a front row view of some aspect of that every day as well, but maybe we can all combat that to some small degree with the same strategy – be where we are, experience and appreciate what’s around us – I find that’s the best way of pushing back against the bad kind of gentrification.

OK, I should stop talking now, but I’ll leave with this: Just keep your eyes open, and you’ll find lots to love about this place (which I suppose is true of any place, not just L.A.). But you’re an AO reader, and you probably already do that, so I have faith that you’ll get your footing here soon enough. Also, really do keep your eyes open because there are a lot of cars out here… :grimacing:

Happy hunting!


@ArkyTrojan Thanks so much for your response and kind words! You have some wonderful advice. You’ve made me more psyched to live in LA.


Just found this site. I’ve been in LA since the early 90s. While there is a lot about LA that I don’t like, especially these days with how overpriced it has become and all of the developers that are tearing down all of the beautiful old buildings to build hideous, modern boxes, it is still a pretty cool place.

You can find almost any type of cuisine here. We have amazing concert venues like the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek theater and we get so many top-rated artists here (as well as small music venues for the undiscovered artists). The art scene these days rivals that of New York. We are very tolerant of pretty much anyone (except Trump). You can be anyone you want to be here. You can dress up or down and no one will bat an eyelash. You can be swanky and hang with the celebs and the it crowd or go hiking and surfing and wear yoga pants and a baseball cap and just be a normal person. I work in Culver City. There are a lot of cool restaurants and shops there but it’s still pretty low key. I live in Mid City West in a very eclectic neighborhood where I hear mariachi bands on the weekends and have neighbors of all races and ages.

The traffic sucks here and the commute can be horrendous but it also depends on where you live. My co-workers live in the Valley and Simi Valley because they can afford to buy a place in those communities but they have to commute an hour or more to work. I choose to rent and my commute is 10 to 15 minutes. It depends on your budget and what is important to you.

LA is not so much of a city as it is a bunch of different communities that all have a completely different vibe. I’ve lived in many parts of LA County, from the Westside, to Koreatown to the South Bay to the Valley, and they’re all totally different. Even people like myself, who have lived here for decades, have not explored all that there is to offer in LA. That’s the fun of it, I guess. You can either just stay in your little neighborhood bubble or venture off into places unknown. We just discovered a new hiking place this past weekend in Altadena and then had lunch in South Pasadena. We felt like tourists, because we never venture into that area. You’re always discovering new places in LA.