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Los Angeles is geographically blessed and offers enough activities for an entire vacation! We are surrounded by snow-capped mountains, deserts, beaches, national parks, and big cities. Our food alone is a whirlwind of flavors. We have a global cuisine of delightful eats. You get quality, quantity, and value.
If you’re visiting the city of Los Angeles, California, we’ve got the scoop on the popular neighborhoods so you can fit right in with the cool SoCal vibe. Keep reading to find out what to wear in Los Angeles!
What to Wear in Los Angeles
Written by: Sebrin Elms
I’ve met countless travelers who aren’t impressed with what Los Angeles has to offer. The reality is that they only spent three days in LA and visited Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Hollywood Boulevard. Is that a fair assessment of any city around the world?
Los Angeles is an incredible city with so much to offer the willing traveler. You just have to know where to look, and the best place to start is outside of a theme park!
Yes, it’s massive. Yes, there’s a lot of cement and traffic. But look past all that, give it a chance, and truly get to the know the city – this does not mean visiting Mickey, Minnie, or the Universal crew.
The weather can vary greatly throughout Los Angeles and even more as you travel around California.
- In January, the average high in Los Angeles is a sunny 68°F, but it’s a crisp 58°F in San Francisco.
- In July, the average high in Los Angeles is a steamy 83°F but it’s a comfortable 72°F in San Francisco.
It also varies drastically within Los Angeles itself. On any given day in the summer, the Valley may be 95°F, downtown could be 85°F, and then the beaches could be 65°F.
At night, expect temperatures to drop. The only time it’s hot at night is in a heat wave. Expect temps to drop anywhere from 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit between the day and night, even in summer.
In the summer, Los Angeles is 82°F during the day and 63°F at night; in Venice by the beach it’s 77°F during the day and 64°F at night.
Remember to check the weather before you go! And, always wear sunblock even if it’s overcast; you’re almost guaranteed to get sunburned.
Los Angeles Style
Generally speaking, anything goes in California. You can dress however you want, practically wherever you want. Each area has its own personality and each city is filled with a variety of characters, but one thing’s for sure: Californians are pretty easy-going.
Just like our attitude, our clothing is also casual and laid-back. Denim is an everyday staple, sneakers and flip flops are normal, and the way these items are worn will vary from person to person.
Knowing what to pack for Los Angeles can be complicated. The city is spread out, with plenty to see, do, and experience.
With each neighborhood comes its own way of life–including a dress code–so we’ve broken down our tips on what to wear in Los Angeles by neighborhood. Each section also includes suggestions on what to see and do in each area!
Planning a trip around the state? Learn more about what to pack for California!
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Silver Lake, Echo Park, Los Feliz
For the sake of this post, I combined these neighborhoods. Head over to this area for brunch or once-in-a-lifetime vintage finds.
These three areas are more than just your typical artsy districts. They’re home to alternative shops, latin culture, a bustling foodie scene, and lots of art. It’s known as the original hipster corner of the city.
And as someone who likes to play dress up, it’s a great place to go outside your fashion norm! This is also where a lot of Old Hollywood first started, so many ritzy places are tucked in between a random coffee shop and secondhand clothing shop.
When heading to these neighborhoods, think vintage sunnies, a band tee, a trendy skirt or ripped denim, and a retro hat. Because if you didn’t wear an ironic T-shirt and boater hat, did you even go to Silver Lake?
We also have some awesome tips on creating outfits for SoCal style!
Editor’s Tip: Los Feliz is also home to one of my all-time favorite LA attractions: the Observatory.
Hike up to the Observatory in the afternoon and catch the sunset from the top or drive here in the evening to get a glistening view of LA with city lights stretching past Downtown all the way to the beach.
It’s also a part of Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. It’s a great place for a picnic. If you’re traveling with kids, check out my favorite childhood spots: Griffith Park Train Ride and Pony Rides as well as the LA Zoo. Pasadena Kid Space is also a worthwhile trip for families with young kids.
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Eagle Rock and Highland Park
If the the Silver Lake/Echo Park area is too mainstream for you, check out Eagle Rock’s York Blvd or Highland Park’s Figueroa Blvd with endless new shops and restaurants. This is the hottest neighborhood scene in LA and personally, one of my favorites.
This area is considered to be Northeast LA and is also close to lovely Old Town Pasadena, where you can shop and dine on Colorado Blvd. Pasadena is one of the oldest LA neighborhoods and home of the New Year Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl.
What to Wear in Los Angeles: West Hollywood & Hollywood
This is the part of town where people come to see and be seen. You definitely don’t want to miss the Walk of Fame or Mann’s Chinese Theatre but it’s best to do this in the evening and then hit the local bar and club scene in the area after dinner.
True, there’s plenty of mis-dressed tourists wearing visors, fanny packs, and sandals along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But by night, this area becomes one of the hottest party areas in LA.
And if you’re heading to West Hollywood (known for its gay club scene and epic Halloween Parade), you’re going to want to dress to the nines!
If your travels call for some comfy heels, here are practical styles to choose from!
If you’re coming here to dance the night away or sip on martinis at the old rock n’ roll clubs, wear a stunning cocktail dress. Pair it with nude stilettos and loose beach curls and you’ll blend in perfectly!
Don’t forget some oversized sunglasses and an adorable sundress for your hangover brunch the next day.
Take a look at these sundress outfits that transform an everyday summer dress!
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Beverly Hills and the West Side
If you’re familiar with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, then you probably have an idea of what to expect in this part of town including the “West Side”, which is anything west of the 405 freeway (in between the 105 and the 101).
Beverly Hills is a lot more residential than you might think. Odds are you’re coming here to shop, visit a spa, or spend a lot of money on a salad. Either way, it’s time to get a little fancy!
A sharp blouse with manicured, distressed jeans, trendy shoes, and a cute crossbody bag is the perfect shopping outfit. It comes across as trendy, yet effortless.
Of course it’s perfectly acceptable to shop in almost any attire as long as your nails are done, you’ve got a fresh face of makeup, and there isn’t a hair out of place.
Since this part of town can tend to be one big staring contest, you’ll want to look your best. Don’t be afraid to pull out the designer labels for your outfit here, after all–everyone else will!
Here are some tips on how to make nail polish last longer!
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Santa Monica & Venice
There are two sides to the West Side beach areas: you’re either a young entrepreneur enjoying the new “silicon beach” scene, you’ve just moved here from somewhere else, you’re a surfer, or you’re a tourist. No matter which group you’re in, you’ll find this to be a very cheerful part of town.
Pack sundresses, rompers, cute sandals, and cocktail dresses for the awesome nightlife and outdoor bars. This part of LA is also a younger spot for fun singles, couples, and families alike, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If there’s a hat trend or outfit you’ve been wanting to try out, this is where you’re safe to do it!
While Venice Beach and Santa Monica are right next to each other they do have two very different personalities. Venice has a more laid-back vibe that’s a blend between surfer and boho chic (think forever festival attire) and it can even feel a bit grungy in some areas. Make sure to check out Abbot Kinney for shopping and dining.
Santa Monica, on the other hand, is a bit more “preppy” and high end. You’ll find even more opportunities to shop here on Main St. and the Third Street Promenade.
Always bring layers for the beach areas, especially at night when the temperatures get even lower. (See Weather information at the beginning of this post.)
Take a look at the best beach sandals our readers rave about!
To the south of Venice you’ll also find a few more awesome beach neighborhoods including Manhattan Beach (preppy, young, and fun), Hermosa Beach (college type town), and Redondo Beach (chilled out, “affordable” beach town).
Editor’s Tip: Go to Redondo Beach Pier and indulge on fresh seafood for a fraction of the market price. Take a cheap glass-bottom boat tour and check out the kelp forests that California scuba divers love.
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Downtown (DTLA)
DTLA is a cross between an underground art scene, a cultural mecca, and business center. Downtown is almost like its own little city where you can dress for whatever part you feel like!
It’s been a long time coming and this is the place to be right now. For daytime, take a walking tour and marvel at our newly renovated historic buildings or visit one of our rooftop bars like The Standard. At night, check out the bars, clubs, and delicious dining options.
If you’re after nightlife, there’s always a new spot to check out in DTLA. An Uber is your best bet for this option as you don’t want to drink and drive in LA. Check out Thrillist.com for the latest and greatest in LA nightlife, dining, and bars.
Take a look at the latest trends with these cute summer dresses!
In this single neighborhood, there’s the Arts District, Fashion District, Financial District, the Historic Core, Little Tokyo, South Park, and Bunker Hill. Each little district has its own beat and its own way of dressing.
But aside from making sure to dress incredibly sharp, this is the neighborhood where you can be anyone you want to be! Feel like Mia from La La Land? Wear a cute, vintage style dress while wandering Bunker Hill!
Feeling inspired like the old beatniks and artists? Get your old-school kimono and fisherman cap and head down to the Arts District. Off to see a show in your Lakers gear? Time to go to South Park!
Since there are so many looks for Downtown, make sure you have these staples: a flirty blouse, a pair of nice jeans, nice flats or stilettos, and a super chic bag!
Check out our latest selection of stylish espadrilles shoes this season!
Editor’s Tip: Make time for a basketball or baseball game especially if you’re an international visitor. No only are they incredibly fun places to hang out with the locals, but they’re great for celebrity spotting, too!
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Malibu
Malibu is a lot more relaxed compared to the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice. Sure, the locals who can afford to live here are posh and put together, but most people in Malibu are just looking for some sun, sand, and surf.
Wear your favorite shorts, a casual (yet trendy) top, and some cute sandals–something that can perfectly cross over from a day at the beach to sushi at the famous Nobu restaurant. The less effort you put into it, the better.
Things to do include visiting Zuma beach, driving down PCH, eating at Duke’s, and having a drink at Moonshadows.
Here are comfortable walking sandals that are stylish, too!
Editor’s Tip: There are endless hiking trails around LA including a local favorite: Temescal Canyon trail in Pacific Palisades near Malibu.
The view at the top is astounding and worth every drop of sweat to get up there (especially in the summer). Start early, around 6-7 in the morning, to avoid the sun’s rays.
What to Wear in Los Angeles: The Valley
Outside of central LA lies the infamous valley, where the heat is practically unbearable. But with the distance from central LA comes a less pretentious air. Lots of celebrities looking to “get away from it all” usually reside in Sherman Oaks or Studio City, and further up the valley (like Encino and Woodland Hills) you start to get into suburb territory.
This area is incredibly casual. Yes, there are fancy dinner spots and nightclubs, but odds are, you’re enjoying the foodie scene on Ventura Blvd which requires a super cool T-shirt, jeans, and a top knot bun. If you’re feeling a bit fancier, go for a flirty romper or maxi dress.
Take a look at our top picks for summer rompers for women!
What to Wear in Los Angeles: Amusement Parks
Because so many people do visit amusement parks when visiting Los Angeles we’ve got tips on what to wear there, too. The weather should be your first consideration when planning your outfits for an amusement park visit as well as comfort.
For comfortable and stylish shoes it seems that many travelers recommend include Toms, Birkenstocks, and the new Crocs styles. Read this post for a full list of the most comfortable walking shoes.
Because Southern California temps can be very hot in the day and drop at night, make sure to take a hoodie or jacket and pack it away or store it in a locker or backpack until the evening. You can also use a button-up shirt or denim long sleeve to act as layers, shields from the sun, and as a light jacket if needed.
If you plan on getting on water rides when it’s not summer time, then you may want to bring a change of clothing as well such as leggings and a long sleeve top for the evening.
Read this post on what to pack for Disneyland for more information!
Travel Tips for Los Angeles
Visiting Los Angeles may seem like a nightmare to some, but do you realize what an excellent home base the city makes for the trip of your dreams?
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
We suggest booking hotels with Travelocity and private home rentals with Airbnb. For the most diverse visit, stay in Santa Monica, Downtown, or Hollywood. Depending on your plans, you may want to spend a few nights in each region. If you could only choose one location, I’d go with Santa Monica.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Private house rental through Airbnb.com or VRBO.com starting at $100/night
- Channel Road Inn, Santa Monica Rooms starting at $205/night
- Venice Breeze Suites, Venice Rooms starting at $200/night
- Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Rooms starting at $225/night
- O Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles Rooms starting at $179/night
Airbnb.com is the most cost effective accommodation option and is a terrific value for money.
The options listed above feature hotels that are located centrally to the main areas, offer comfortable amenities for a holiday stay, and are a moderate price point. Prices are per room and can generally accommodate up to 4 people.
Transportation in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a huge city with poor public transport. While our transportation system may not be the best, recent improvements offer you easy access to the major points of interest in LA.
You can see Hollywood, Downtown LA, and Santa Monica by subway or train but for other areas it’s essential to hire a car. It’s budget friendly and can take you almost anywhere including the beach and Disneyland.
Uber is also a popular option for both locals and visitors to easily travel around the city if you don’t have a car.
You’d probably want to rent a car for some or all of your time in LA, especially if you want to cruise the beach towns on PCH, stopping for a drink at Duke’s or Moonshadows in Malibu, visiting the historic Santa Monica Pier, and exploring the funky scene at Venice Beach.
These are not tourist attractions–locals like them, too.
In fact, the only major tourist trap in LA is Hollywood and Highland. If you can get off that beaten path, then you’ll see the charm the locals love about the city of angels.
I love renting a car with Alamo, especially because they have a super easy self check-in and free shuttle at the airport. I’ve used them to book rentals in LA on three different occasions now for a total of six weeks. I can’t recommend them enough. Book here!
Parking and Driving Tips for International Visitors:
It seems we have a few differences in parking and driving, so I thought I’d share a few of our rules:
- Don’t park where there is red painted on the curb.
- ALWAYS read parking signs, especially in Venice. There are certain hours and days when you can’t park on a street due to street cleaning.
- Do not park your car against traffic. You can only park on the side of the street facing the same way traffic is going, not against.
- At stop signs (since we don’t have roundabouts), the car to arrive first has the right of way, then you proceed in the order of arrival.
- Brake fully for three seconds at stop signs. If a cop doesn’t see your brake lights it means you didn’t stop properly and he can ticket you.
- Pedestrians always have the right of way.
- We drive on the right side of the road.
More LA Travel Tips
All within a five-hour drive you’ll find mountains, national parks, deserts, small quaint towns, and buzzing big international cities. We have oceans, lakes, rivers, and the weather to enjoy them.
With San Francisco to the north, Las Vegas to the east, and San Diego to the south, we’re surrounded by three major international cities. Just a four hour drive south and you’re in an entirely different country.
With so many attractions and natural beauty to take in, local weekend getaways are frequent and you can even plan an entire vacation based only on the destinations close to Los Angeles.
Read these articles for destinations close to LA:
- What to Wear in San Diego
- What to Wear in Las Vegas
- What to Wear in California National Parks
- What to Wear in San Francisco
What are your tips on what to wear in Los Angeles? Please comment below!
For more USA packing lists, please read:
- What to Wear in California: Outfits for SoCal Style
- What to Pack for USA in Summer: California, Oregon, Nevada
- How to Pack for a USA Southwest Road Trip with a Complicated Itinerary
- Cross Country Road Trip Essentials
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Author Bio: Sebrin is a newlywed, flower child, and travel-obsessed blogger. When she isn’t traipsing the globe with her husband, you can find her curled up with a book, snuggling with her kitty babies, or binge-watching Netflix. Follow along her travels on Instagram @theclumsytraveler or her blog!