This sprawling megalopolis is one of the most enigmatic places in America. At once a gaudy spectacle and a sublime patchwork of intimate neighborhoods, L.A. can be tamed-if you know where to look.
Author Tricia Romano Photography Amanda Friedman
JAZZ AGE RACONTEUR Dorothy Parker once said, “Los Angeles is seventy-two suburbs in search of a city.” When she lived there in the 1930s, it was still practically the Wild West compared to the more settled cities of Chicago and New York. Today, L.A. is a megacity, the second-largest in the U.S., spread over nearly 500 square miles of beaches, foothills, bike paths and winding, tree-lined roads. All those suburbs—closer to 100 these days—are now connected by a latticework of some 23 freeways, with top-flight restaurants, bars, parks and hotels popping up like daisies. They’re also connected by a proud, sun-dappled plurality: L.A. is a quilt of neighborhoods, each with its own unique identity—from the beach culture burgs of Venice and Santa Monica, to the arty hillside hoods of Los Feliz and Silver Lake, to the hubs of celebrity such as Bel Air and Beverly Hills, to the woodsy enclaves of Topanga and Laurel Canyon.
If you try to see it all at once, you’re going to spend most of your time en route. So plan carefully—that way, you can hit the beaches, the hills and the shopping strips, and experience one of the most diverse, beguiling and, yes, laid-back cities in America.