Los Feliz is a Great Place to Live. Here's Why.
If you drove through Los Feliz without knowing its history, you’d hardly be able to tell the significant role the neighborhood and its residents played in the early days of the motion picture industry. There are no shrines, statues or tacky symbols to memorialize the birthplace of Mickey Mouse. If you pay close attention, you might spot a few modest historic landmark signs denoting the small parcels of land where humble workshops once stood. As the story goes, those early outfits moved across town and morphed into much larger studios.
Los Feliz has cozy vibe; it feels like a small town that just happens to be nestled within the borders of the second largest city in the United States. There are no tall, sun-blocking buildings here. Instead, you’ll find charming homes, tree-lined streets and a walker-friendly business district with many delightful (and locally-owned) restaurants and shops.
This low-key hamlet is rich in history. From its humble beginnings to today, the Los Feliz neighborhood is a hip place where artists, musicians and actors settle before they make it big. If you live in Los Feliz, you never know, you might share a yoga class with someone who will someday walk a red carpet.
Los Feliz is Centrally-Located
Los Feliz, CA rests just below the southern slopes of Griffith Park, centrally-located in Los Angeles. The area is easily accessible via major thoroughfare streets and Interstate 5 to the east. Yep, getting in and out of Los Feliz is easy. You can enjoy living in a relaxed neighborhood but still have quick access to Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), Hollywood, the Valleys (San Fernando and San Gabriel) - and with a little extra drive time - L.A.’s iconic beaches.
Los Feliz Weather
The weather here is as sunny as you’d expect for Southern California. Winters are mild. Summers are hot, but not too hot. The air is dry. In fact, this is one of the few places in the world with a Mediterranean climate – warm during the day and cool at night from the marine layer that flows inward from the ocean, slowly filling the interior of the L.A. Basin.
Broadly speaking, temperatures in L.A. County are higher or lower depending upon how close one is to the ocean. For example, beach areas (Venice, Santa Monica) may hover near 70 degrees while Los Feliz simmers at 80 degrees. At the same time, valley cities (Burbank, Pasadena) approach 90 degrees.
Things to Do in Los Feliz
Los Feliz is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Los Angeles and you’re never too far from shopping, dining, hiking or your favorite yoga class.
One of the best aspects of Los Feliz is its proximity to Griffith Park where one can hike, golf, run, play tennis, stargaze, or catch a concert.
For hikers looking to burn a few calories or take in panoramic views, Griffith Park offers a 53-mile network of trails. Who knows, you may even spot a coyote, rabbit, rattlesnake or deer. Yes, even deer! That’s pretty impressive given Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States. Hikers who reach the highest peak, Mt. Hollywood, are rewarded with 360-view of Downtown, the Los Angeles Basin, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Mountains.
Main roads, fire roads and bridle paths (some paved, some dirt) extend the parks usability to road cycling and running. The park also offers 3 municipal golf courses. Two of them have names you’ll recognize like Harding and Wilson; those are the 18-holers. The Roosevelt course is a 9-holer, convenient for shorter golf outings.
The coup de grace of the park is the Griffith Observatory with its spectacular views of the surrounding area and the cosmos above. Visitors can look through historic and operational telescopes each evening. Once a month, the Observatory hosts a “star party” put on by various astronomy societies. Admission to the exhibits, telescopes and some live events are free. Parking is cheap. Public transportation from Los Feliz is another alternative to driving to the always-busy parking lot. Griffith Observatory’s white exterior gleams in the daytime sun. Perched high above Los Feliz, the observatory serves as a good beacon if you ever want to know which way is north, day or night.
Griffith Park is also home to the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park Pool, Travel Town Museum, Autry Museum of the American West, horseback rides and picnic areas. There’s something for everyone, no kidding.
If you prefer staying inside, but still want to break a sweat, visit one of several local Los Feliz Yoga or Pilates studios.
Is exercise of the mind more your speed? The Los Feliz Library, a small branch of the Los Angeles Public Library system, is an invaluable local resource from which you may rent DVDs, search the large library information network from internet-enabled workstations, and of course, find books to check out. Regular events include toddler and kids story hours, literary book clubs and used book sales. Even in the Internet Age, this library is always busy. In fact, sometimes you’ll have a hard to find parking. It’s a cherished community resource.
Los Feliz Entertainment
The biggest (and local favorite) entertainment venue in the Los Feliz area is the Greek Theatre. Angelinos simply refer to it as “The Greek.” The Greek is a city-owned, 5,870-set outdoor amphitheater nestled within Griffith Park, surrounded by nature on all sides.
Here’s what else makes it special. The venue is small enough to create an intimate show (every seat is a good one), but big enough to attract national and international artists. If you live here long enough, you’ll create life-long memories of warm summer night concerts watching your favorite band. The Greek routinely wins Pollstar’s “Best Small Outdoor Venue” award (9 years in a row)! The Greek opened in 1929.
For even more Hollywood nostalgia, check out the Vista Theatre, and indoor single-screen movie theater, constructed in 1923 and designed with classic “Egyptian” flair - a popular architectural style for the era in which it was built.
Shopping in Los Feliz
Los Feliz is self-sufficient, offering everything you need for daily living, from mainstream grocery stores like Albertson’s and Gelson’s to a longtime neighborhood favorite, Trader Joe’s. If you’re hunting for organic produce, or like to buy in bulk, you can make a quick drive to nearby 365 Market (a division of Whole Foods) or the always-busy Costco.
Los Feliz is home to specialty stores, locally-owned shops with a more refined, artisanal flair such as McCall’s Meat & Fish Co. (butcher) or Lou Wine Shop. For an eclectic array of gifts and pop culture knick-knacks, check out Soap Plant/Wacko’s, purveyor of pop culture, books, candles and funky home décor.
Restaurants and Bars
Places to dine and shop in Los Feliz are primarily consolidated up and down Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues, the commercial core known as Los Feliz Village.
Restaurants in Los Feliz
Cafés and casual, affordable restaurants dominate the food scene. Many establishments are family-owned and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any of the national chain variety. This is one of the main reasons Los Feliz remains a charming urban oasis.
Some businesses have their own Hollywood claim to fame. For example, The Dresden (a venerable favorite for dinner and drinks, founded in 1954) is famous for being a filming location for Swingers and That Thing That You Do.
Dining al fresco is popular here. Many neighborhood haunts have patios or sidewalk tables where one can enjoy both eating and “people watching.” A few notable places to check out include Home, Desert Rose and Alcove Café and Bakery.
Looking for comfort food? Check out Fred62, a diner with a modern twist that’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Ye Rustic Inn is another long-time local favorite, known for excellent, spicy chicken wings and beer (and/or cocktails, depending on your mood).
Vegetarians and vegans also get their fair share of fare, as there are many restaurants in the area that accommodate these dietary preferences. What’s more, you’ll never be more than a block or two from good coffee, ice cream or frozen yogurt. In fact, one could hazard a guess that the number of yogurt, ice cream and coffee shops in Los Feliz – on a per capita basis – might be the densest in Los Angeles.
You won’t find velvet ropes to get into your favorite bars in Los Feliz as you might in nearby Hollywood. Socializing with friends and enjoying local bands are the main attractions to the nightlife in Los Feliz.
If you like Tiki bars, Los Feliz is home to one of L.A.’s best, Tiki-Ti. The small room is densely decorated with Tiki paraphernalia, transporting its patrons to a tropical dimension. The family-owned-and-operated drinking hole is pretty small with just enough room for a couple tables and bar stools. Roughly a third of its visitors stand while sipping their potent yet delightful tropical drinks. Tiki-Ti is a convivial atmosphere and a local favorite since 1961.
Notable Los Feliz Historic Architecture and Landmarks
The neighborhood offers a mix of affordable apartment buildings and duplexes, commingled with beautiful, slightly expensive homes (above median prices for Los Angeles), producing an eclectic vibe and a population that straddles both well-established and up-and-coming residents.
Homes here are well-maintained, most of them built from the 1920s onward. Architectural gems dot the neighborhood, including a variety of styles like classic Mediterranean, Mid-Century, Spanish Riviera, Norman French and Country English. You’ll also see homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Raphael Soriano or J.R. Davidson. Here are some widely-recognized architectural gems.
- Ennis House - designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built by his son, Lloyd. The style is “textile block” using pre-cast concrete blocks. You may have seen it in film and television, notably in Blade Runner (1982). The home is included in the national registry of historic places.
- Shakespeare Bridge - small gothic-style bridge on Franklin Avenue.
- Barnsdall Art Park - eleven-acre public park and home to Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s first project in Los Angeles. The campus included the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Gallery Theatre and Art Center.
- John Marshall High School - iconic public school and filming location of many movies and television shows, not the least of which are Grease, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Wonder Years.
Fun Facts about Living in Los Feliz
Rancho Los Feliz was an original Spanish land concession granted in 1741 to Jose Vicente Feliz while California was still under Spanish rule. Rancho Los Feliz included now-Griffith Park, a large hillside area donated to the City of Los Angeles by (successive owner) Colonel J. Griffith.
Los Feliz Pronunciation
To fit in, you must know the colloquial pronunciation of Los Feliz. You might think Feliz is pronounced “FEY-LEASE” as one would hear in the song “Feliz Navidad.” Strangely, Angelinos pronounce it “FEE-LUSS”. In other words, the proper pronunciation you picked up in high school Spanish class, or learned at home, doesn’t apply.
Early Hollywood Pioneers
Young Walt Disney started his cartoon studio in his uncle’s Los Feliz garage and continued living here from 1932-1950. Los Feliz was the home of the original Walt Disney Studios (1926-1940), where Mickey Mouse and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs came to life.
Los Feliz was the mecca for the “silent era” of film but few original studios remain. It was the stomping ground to many early actors and production heads like Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille. Even in the early 1900s, people didn’t want to make a heavy commute to work. Some things never change!
44.5% of Los Feliz residents are foreign-born, a high ratio compared to the rest of Los Angeles. The most common countries of origin are Armenia (25.3%) and Mexico (9.4%). In fact, the Western Los Feliz boundary abuts Little Armenia. The ethnic composition of Los Feliz is:
- 57.6% White
- 18.7% Latino
- 13.5% Asian
- 3.6% Black
- 6.6% Other
If you move to Los Feliz, nearby Hollywood Burbank Airport (formerly Bob Hope Airport and uses the airport code BUR) will be your new “home airport,” which is a far better traveling experience than using any of the other airports in and around Los Angeles County. BUR has far shorter security lines and fewer vehicles dropping off or picking up friends and family. BUR offers much less hassle than LAX. Here are some nearby communities, each with its own exploration-worthy characteristics:
- Hollywood - nightlife, Walk of Fame, restaurants
- Beachwood Canyon - an original Hollywood Hills neighborhood with spectacular views
- Thai Town - specialty Thai grocery stores and restaurants
- Silver Lake - the hippest of the hip areas, music venues and retail stores
- Little Armenia - small retail strip, home of Barnsdall Art Park and local favorite Zankou Chicken
- Glendale - third-largest city in Los Angeles, big shopping malls, suburban living
- Koreatown - amazing Korean BBQ restaurants, culture and retail shopping
- Burbank - charming downtown, easy-to-use airport and the location of a very massive and popular IKEA store
Final Thoughts on Los Feliz, California
Los Feliz is an eclectic, comfortable community with a relaxed vibe. This place is rich in history and historic architecture; there’s plenty to catch your eye if you keep your radar attenuated for all things aged and significant. Whether you prefer to get outside for golf or hiking, or prefer to stay indoors, there’s plenty here to keep you busy. While you don’t need to leave this cozy urban oasis to find fun, there’s plenty more to explore (history, food, recreation) within walking distance or a short drive.