Where to stay in Los Angeles for first time: 7 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote an article about staying in Los Angeles without a car and for families (I will put the links to it at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the best places to stay in Los Angeles for first-time visitors and tourists.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Los Angeles for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and areas to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Los Angeles and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Before get into the detail of the main topic, let’s look at some facts about Los Angeles:

Los Angeles, often abbreviated as L.A., is the largest city in California and the second-largest city in the United States, after New York City. It is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World home to the epicenter of the global film and television industry.  

Hollywood is a neighborhood within Los Angeles known for its iconic Hollywood Sign, Walk of Fame, and numerous movie theaters. It’s where many celebrities live and work.

LA has several beautiful beaches, including Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Malibu Beach. These coastal areas are popular for surfing, sunbathing, and recreational activities.

The city has a thriving arts and culture scene, with world-class museums like the Getty Center, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Broad. It is also known for its street art and mural culture.

In addition to Hollywood, LA has many famous landmarks, such as Griffith Observatory, the County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, and Hollywood Bowl, a famous outdoor amphitheater.

Is Los Angeles safe to visit?

Yes, Los Angeles is generally a safe city to visit, but like any major city, it’s essential to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Many areas, especially popular tourist spots like Hollywood and Santa Monica, are generally safe during the day. 

But, it’s wise to avoid certain neighborhoods, especially at night, and stay vigilant in crowded places. Take care of your belongings, lock your car, and be cautious in unfamiliar areas. While LA has its share of crime, most visitors have a trouble-free experience by staying alert and using common sense.

Where to stay in Los Angeles for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Los Angeles for first-timers and tourists are Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Venice Beach, Silver Lake, Downtown, and Pasadena. Like any large city, it’s essential to take typical safety precautions wherever you decide to stay.

Santa Monica is a popular choice for first-time visitors due to its beautiful beach, Santa Monica Pier, and the Third Street Promenade, a pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining area. It’s a safe and vibrant area with plenty of hotels, restaurants, and easy access to the beach.

West Hollywood, often referred to as WeHo, is known for its nightlife, shopping, and dining scene along the famous Sunset Strip. It’s a trendy and lively area with a variety of hotels, but it can be on the expensive side.

Hollywood is famous for its entertainment history, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre, and the Hollywood Sign. While it has its iconic attractions, some parts of Hollywood can be less desirable in terms of safety. It’s essential to choose your accommodation carefully.

Venice Beach is known for its bohemian atmosphere, street performers, and the iconic Venice Beach Boardwalk. It’s a unique and vibrant area, but it can be quite eclectic.

Silver Lake is a hip and trendy neighborhood with artistic vibe, a great selection of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. It’s generally considered safe and is a more offbeat alternative to the more touristy areas.

Downtown LA has seen significant revitalization in recent years, with attractions like The Broad Museum, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the historic Olvera Street. While it has improved, some parts of Downtown may still be sketchy, so be mindful of your choice of accommodation.

Pasadena is a charming and picturesque city with a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s known for the Rose Bowl and the Huntington Library. It’s generally considered safe and is a great option for those looking for a quieter experience.

When visiting LA, it’s advisable to avoid certain areas to ensure an enjoyable experience. Skid Row, located in Downtown LA, is known for its high homeless population and can be unsafe. While Hollywood is a popular tourist destination, some parts, like parts of Hollywood Boulevard, can be seedy at night.

South Central Los Angeles has a history of higher crime rates, so exercise caution there. Compton and Inglewood have seen improvements but may still have some rough neighborhoods. Using common sense can help you make the most of your LA visit while avoiding potentially risky areas.

During my trip to LA, I stayed at the 2-star Hollywood Celebrity Hotel. It was a great hotel in a central location, within walking distance to the museums, restaurants, and short Uber/ Lyft ride away from the Universal, Warner Bros studios, Griffith observatory. My room was clean and spacious.

Below is a map of the popular areas in Los Angeles for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Los Angeles first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Los Angeles first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Los Angeles, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Los Angeles have been carefully selected by me, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

7 Safe areas to stay in Los Angeles for first-timers and tourists:

1. Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a popular choice for first-time visitors to Los Angeles. It is best suited for those who want a beachfront experience and easy access to entertainment and dining options. 

Santa Monica is known for its beautiful beach, and staying in this area allows you easy access to the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Monica Pier and its iconic Ferris wheel are popular attractions. The beach is a great place for relaxation, sunbathing, or enjoying oceanfront activities.

The city offers a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops, especially along the Third Street Promenade, a bustling pedestrian shopping and entertainment district. 

In addition to the beach and pier, Santa Monica offers a range of outdoor activities and attractions, including biking along the beachside paths, and exploring Palisades Park for great views of the ocean.

Santa Monica is a good base for exploring other parts of Los Angeles. It’s relatively close to attractions like Venice Beach, Malibu, and even some parts of West LA. You can also access other areas of Los Angeles via public transportation or by renting a car.

Best places to stay in LA in Santa Monica for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Santa Monica Proper Hotel, a Member of Design Hotels, great 5-star hotel located 15 mins walk from the Beach. It has free bikes, an outdoor swimming pool, private parking, and 24-hour front desk. Easy access to Third Street Promenade, the Pier and Pacific Park.
  • Mid-range ($$): Huntley Santa Monica Beach, 4-star hotel conveniently located on the 2nd Street, an easy walk from the 3rd Street Promenade and the Santa Monica State Beach path. It has a rooftop terrace with views of the ocean. 
  • Budget ($): HI Los Angeles – Santa Monica Hostel, popular backpacker hostel in Santa Monica, offering affordable dormitory accommodations. Easy access to bus lines for attractions such as Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Universal Studios, Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Getty Villa Museum, and Getty Center Museum.

2. West Hollywood

West Hollywood is one of the best areas to stay in LA, especially if you’re looking for a lively and trendy atmosphere with a focus on entertainment, dining, and nightlife.

West Hollywood is famous for its nightlife and entertainment, particularly along the Sunset Strip. You’ll find numerous bars, clubs, and music venues, making it a prime location for parties.

The area boasts a diverse and high-quality restaurant scene. You can find everything from upscale dining to casual eateries. West Hollywood is a great place to explore different cuisines.

The neighborhood offers excellent shopping opportunities, including trendy boutiques and designer stores. The Melrose Avenue shopping district is particularly popular for fashion enthusiasts.

West Hollywood has a variety of accommodation options, including boutique hotels, luxury hotels, and more budget-friendly choices. Keep in mind that it can be relatively expensive to stay in this area.

West Hollywood is known for its LGBTQ+ friendly atmosphere and has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community. You’ll find rainbow crosswalks and various LGBTQ+-friendly businesses and events.

WeHo is centrally located and offers relatively easy access to other parts of Los Angeles. It’s not far from the Hollywood attractions, Beverly Hills, and downtown LA.

Keep in mind that the area can get quite busy and loud, especially on weekends, so be prepared for a vibrant urban experience during your stay.

Best places to stay in LA in West Hollywood for first-time visitors:

  • Luxury ($$$): The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, 5-star boutique  hotel, located close to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive shopping. Great base for nightlife, restaurants, and clothes shopping. It has an outdoor swimming pool, private parking, and Good Breakfast.
  • Mid-range ($$): Chamberlain West Hollywood, great 4-star hotel located just steps away from the famous Sunset Boulevard, featuring a rooftop pool with beautiful views of West Hollywood. Easy access to popular areas such as Pacific Design Center,  the Beverly Center, West Hollywood Design District, and The Grove.
  • Budget ($): Short Stories Hotel, 3-star hotel located in Fairfax District, easy access to Great access to farmer’s market and Grove shopping area.

3. Hollywood

Hollywood is one of the most popular areas in LA for first-timers. It is one of the most iconic neighborhoods in Los Angeles, known worldwide for its association with the entertainment industry. 

Hollywood is home to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and the Dolby Theatre (home to the Oscars). It’s an exciting place to explore the history and glamor of the entertainment world.

Hollywood offers a wide range of nightlife options, with numerous bars, clubs, and live music venues. It’s a great place for those who want to experience the nightlife scene in Los Angeles.

The area has a variety of restaurants and eateries, including those with a celebrity-chef touch. You can find everything from upscale dining to casual spots serving diverse cuisines.

Hollywood has a range of accommodations, from historic and upscale hotels to more budget-friendly choices. When choosing a place to stay, read reviews to ensure a comfortable and safe experience.

Hollywood is relatively centrally located in Los Angeles, making it a good base for exploring the city. You can easily reach Universal Studios Hollywood, Griffith Observatory, and Downtown LA from Hollywood.

Hollywood is a popular tourist destination, so you can expect crowds, especially around the Walk of Fame and other major attractions. It’s important to be patient and prepared for some hustle and bustle.

Best places to stay in Los Angeles in Hollywood for first-time tourists:

  • Mid-range ($$): Loews Hollywood Hotel, popular 4-star hotel, located on North Highland Avenue, adjacent to the famous Dolby Theater and TCL Chinese Theater. Easy access to public transportation and famous sights such as the Walk of fame.
  • Mid-range ($$): Thompson Hollywood, part of Hyatt, great 4-star accommodation located central to all main Hollywood attractions, around 10 mins walk from Capitol Records Building. They have a nice swimming pool and comfortable guest rooms.
  • Budget ($): Dunes Inn – Sunset, 3-star hotel, located on Sunset Boulevard, short drive from Universal Studios, Los Angeles Zoo, Dolby Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Close to shops, supermarkets and restaurants. It has Free parking and spacious family rooms.

4. Venice Beach

Venice Beach is a great base for those who appreciate a laid-back, artistic, and unique atmosphere. It offers a beachfront location with a touch of bohemian culture.

Venice Beach is famous for its wide sandy beach and the Venice Beach Boardwalk, a lively and colorful stretch lined with street performers, vendors, and shops. The beach is a great place for sunbathing, swimming, and people-watching.

The neighborhood is known for its artistic scene. You’ll find murals, graffiti art, and various street performers showcasing their talents. The Venice Beach Art Walls provide a designated space for street art and murals.

Muscle Beach is an outdoor fitness area known for its bodybuilders and gymnasts. It’s a popular spot for those interested in fitness and strength training.

A short walk from the beach, Abbot Kinney Boulevard is known for its upscale boutiques, galleries, and dining. It’s a hip and trendy area to explore.

While Venice Beach is generally a safe area, like any urban neighborhood, it has its share of homeless individuals, especially around the boardwalk. Exercise the same safety precautions you would in any urban area and be mindful of your belongings.

Venice Beach is not far from other Los Angeles attractions like Santa Monica, Marina del Rey, and Playa del Rey. You can explore these neighboring areas easily.

Best places to stay in LA in Venice Beach for first-timers:

  • Luxury ($$$): Shutters On The Beach, 5-star beachfront accommodation located close to both Santa Monica Beach and Venice Beach. It has an outdoor swimming pool, oceanfront restaurants, and private parking for those who drive. 
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Erwin, 4-star hotel located on Pacific Avenue, close to the Venice Beach boardwalk, bicycle paths and rollerblading areas. It features an open-air rooftop lounge  with the views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Budget ($): Venice Breeze Suites, 3-star seafront accommodation, located on Venice Beach, a few minutes walk away from Ocean Front Walk shops, street performers and shops.

5. Silver Lake

Silver Lake is a great choice for those who appreciate a more offbeat, artistic atmosphere, and a vibrant local culture.

Silver Lake has a reputation for being home to a thriving arts and music scene. You’ll find numerous art galleries, music venues, and street art throughout the neighborhood.

Silver Lake is known for its diverse dining options. The neighborhood is particularly famous for its coffee shops and brunch spots. Sunset Junction is a popular area for dining and shopping.

The neighborhood has many independent boutiques and stores selling unique and trendy clothing, vintage items, and eclectic home goods.

The Silver Lake Reservoir offers a scenic place to walk or jog with views of the surrounding hills. It’s a great spot to relax and enjoy some outdoor time.

While not as vibrant as some other neighborhoods like West Hollywood, Silver Lake has its own nightlife scene, with bars, music venues, and clubs that cater to a younger, creative crowd.

Silver Lake is centrally located, making it relatively easy to access other parts of Los Angeles, including Downtown LA, Hollywood, and Koreatown.

Best places to stay in LA in  Silver Lake for visitors:


6. Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles, often referred to as DTLA, is a great area for travelers interested in culture, history, and the urban lifestyle. It’s especially convenient if you plan to use public transportation to explore the city. 

DTLA is the central business district of the city and is home to several cultural landmarks, including The Broad Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and the historic Olvera Street. 

DTLA offers a diverse range of dining options, from food trucks to upscale restaurants. The area has a thriving nightlife scene, with bars, clubs, and live music venues.

The Staples Center hosts sports events and concerts, making it a hub for sports fans and music lovers. Nearby, you’ll also find the LA Live entertainment complex.

The neighborhood features several shopping destinations, including The Bloc, FIGat7th, and the Fashion District. The Arts District is known for its boutique shops and galleries.

DTLA boasts historic architectural gems, such as the Bradbury Building and the Los Angeles City Hall. You can explore the architectural heritage of the city.

Downtown LA is a transportation hub, with access to Metro lines and bus routes, making it easy to explore other parts of Los Angeles without a car.

Downtown LA has improved in terms of safety in recent years, but like any urban area, it has both safe and less safe pockets. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and choose your accommodation wisely.

Downtown LA is centrally located and offers convenient access to various Los Angeles neighborhoods, including Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and the Arts District.

Best places to stay in Downtown Los Angeles for first-timers:


7. Pasadena

Pasadena is a charming and picturesque city located northeast of Los Angeles. It’s known for its relaxed atmosphere, historic architecture, and a variety of cultural attractions.   

Old Town Pasadena is the heart of the city and offers a blend of historic charm and modern amenities. It’s known for its pedestrian-friendly streets, boutique shops, art galleries, and a wide range of dining options.

Pasadena is home to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Gamble House. These institutions offer art, history, and beautiful gardens to explore.

The Rose Bowl Stadium is famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl Game and various events, including concerts and flea markets. It’s a must-visit for sports fans and event enthusiasts.

The city is surrounded by natural beauty, with nearby hiking opportunities in the San Gabriel Mountains and access to the Angeles National Forest. The city’s own Arroyo Seco offers a beautiful natural setting.

While Pasadena is located slightly away from the central areas of Los Angeles, it’s still relatively accessible. You can reach Downtown Los Angeles and other parts of the city via the Gold Line Metro.

Best places to stay in Los Angeles in Pasadena:


In conclusion, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Venice Beach, Silver Lake, Downtown, and Pasadena are the best places to stay in Los Angeles for first-timers and tourists. These are general safe areas that also offer a variety of accommodations and amenities for visitors.

You can continue reading about Los Angeles and other popular cities in California in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Los Angeles. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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