The wonderful thing about Los Angeles is that there is always a new part of town to explore. Drive in any direction and you’re bound to cross into a bustling, diverse neighborhood full of restaurants, shops and sights you never could've imagined existed just 30 minutes from your dingbat apartment. But even if you consider yourself a master explorer of LA’s lesser-known neighborhood treasures, you’ll probably have difficult picking out which of these LA neighborhoods are real and which are fake.
You might know of Covina, and if you live in it or watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, you definitely know West Covina. But did you know just a nudge south of these San Gabriel Valley cities is the smaller but energetic Southwest Covina? With a population of just over 15,000, Southwest Covina organized into their own neighborhood in the latter half of the 20th century during West Covina’s expansion. They have one elementary and one high school, and even their own small but dedicated city council, mostly filled with concerned, politically-active neighbors, who, on average, are in their 50s. The city still shares most of their municipal services with Covina and West Covina, although Southwest Covina's manufacturing industry has served as a trusted place to find steady work in the region.
REAL OR FAKE?: Southwest Covina sadly does not exist (yet!). For now, you’ll have to stick to regular West Covina for your pretzel and Rachel Bloom fix.
Hundreds of LA locals dine at top-rated Indian restaurants scattered across the city on a daily basis, but unless they live in or regularly pass through South LA, they might not have set foot in Little India. The neighborhood is similar to Little Armenia or Little Ethiopia in the sense that it packs in a massive amount of its namesake’s culture into just a few streets in Artesia. Indian immigrants began to settle in large numbers in the area in the 1970s, and now Little India is home to plenty of Indian shops, restaurants, groceries and even two movie theaters that screen Bollywood movies on a regular basis.
REAL OR FAKE?: Little India is not only is real, but is the largest Indian enclave in Southern California.
Hollywood Hills West
Are you a golden age Hollywood star whose getting sick of all the rambunctious, new Hollywood youth moving into your neck of the hills? Consider moving just a tad west to Hollywood Hills West, where as of 2008, the median resident age was four years older and the median income was $38,000 than those living in the Hollywood Hills, according to the Los Angeles Times. This neighborhood is just a stone’s throw away from Studio City, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood, if you ever wanted to walk, drive or take you chopper for a quick jaunt.
REAL OR FAKE?: Tinseltown may be draped in luxurious smoke and mirrors, but Hollywood Hills West is the real deal. The area is pretty low in population density, with only 3,048 people per square mile as of 2008, which is low for LA's standards.
If you’re looking to soak up the sand and sun in a new beach neighborhood without emptying your wallet on Santa Monica, Venice or Marina Del Ray rent prices, consider Playa Verdes. Sandwiched in-between between Playa Del Rey and El Segundo, this 4,300-person neighborhood was given its name in the 1920s to reflect the then lush greenery that was adjacent to the ocean, before, you know, that whole drought thing happened. It doesn’t quite have the nightlife appeal of the Westside or South Bay, but with one bedroom rents hovering around $1,300, many real estate developers have already been hedging their bets on Playa Verdes evolving into LA’s favorite sun-glistened hot spot in the coming years.
REAL OR FAKE?: Fake, obviously—you’re crazy if you thought you could get a nice $1,300 one bedroom apartment near the beach.
You may not consider Santa Clarita to be part of Los Angeles, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting it’s nearby Northwest County neighbor Santa Marina. With a population more than 10,000, Santa Marina started off in the 1980s as a main street or downtown of sorts to serve those living in Ridge Route, the Castaic Canyons and the Santa Susana Mountains. But because of the rural nature of the area, residents of Northwest County could only make the drive to Santa Marina once every so often, meaning that when people congregated, it was an all out celebration. Live concerts and food festivals happened regularly in the late 1960s, and even once-a-month outdoor movie screening series served as a precursor of sorts to the Rooftop Film Club, Eat See Hear, Cinespia and Street Food Cinema programs we enjoy today.
REAL OR FAKE?: Santa Maria in Santa Barbara county is lovely, but sadly there is no Santa Marina neighborhood or city in Los Angeles.
With just over 2,500 people living here as of 2000, this neighborhood is home to Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School and has quite the interesting history. The area originally started off as part of a small land grant from the King of Spain in 1784. But throughout the 1800s, most of Rancho Dominguez was acquired by the railroad industry. Much of Rancho Dominguez is serviced by police officers either from nearby Compton or Carson. The neighborhood is still home to restaurants and stores and the area serves as a great source of tax revenue for Los Angeles at large thanks to its warehousing and transportation industry. Since Rancho Dominguez is so small, chances are you’ll find yourself more often in nearby Compton, Carson or Long Beach.
REAL OR FAKE?: Rancho Dominguez is real. If you do manage to go here, check out the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum near the area.
Want more? Sign up here to stay in the know.