It’s a warm summer evening and the two of you decide to catch a movie. You head out the door, leaving the car parked in the garage and stroll down the hill to the local theater.
The sidewalk cafes are bustling. Small crowds are milling about the street. You buy the tickets and have some time to kill so you stop in to browse at Skyline Books next door. After the movie, you drop into a nearby bistro for a late supper and a glass of wine. On the way home, you run into some friends and you join them for a coffee and a little late night dessert.
That’s life in Los Feliz.
Ask anyone who lives here what she most likes about Los Feliz and you’ll likely hear it’s the village ambience. Los Feliz is one of those rare spots in Los Angeles where you will find a true old-fashioned neighborhood, yet with all the modern conveniences. What Greenwich Village is to New York, Los Feliz is to Los Angeles. Artsy and sophisticated, yet friendly and accessible.
For many, one of the main draws of Los Feliz is the simple pleasure of going places without the frustrations of traffic and parking. Whether it’s strolling among the shops of Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues, getting a great outdoor workout on the stair streets of Franklin Hills or hiking to the Griffith Park Observatory to catch a brilliant sunset, living in Los Feliz means you can often leave your car behind.
Walt Disney and The Happiest Village in Los Angeles
Los Feliz sits at the eastern edge of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills. It’s bordered by the surrounding neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Silver Lake and Hollywood. Like much of southern California, Los Feliz began as a Spanish land grant named Rancho Los Feliz. Later, it became known as simply Los Feliz, or literally, The Happy.
Before there was Hollywood there was Edendale, an area now known as Silver Lake and Echo Park. Mack Sennet, Tom Mix, Charlie Chaplin and the other silent moviemakers of the day set up their studios in Edendale. As the movie business took off, the newly-minted stars looked for proper celebrity digs nearby. They found them in the Los Feliz Hills, an area locals refer to as “above the boulevard.”
Walt Disney started his empire here. He began creating his beloved characters in the garage of his uncle’s modest bungalow just off Hillhurst Avenue. Later he built his first animation studio on Hyperion Avenue and the Disney family lived in the Los Feliz Hills for many years.
The legendary Cecil B. DeMille also built a spectacular mansion in Los Feliz rivaling any of his epic movie sets. The sprawling estate features six bedrooms and ten bathrooms with over two acres of land. The property is now the centerpiece of a private gated community called Laughlin Park.
Celebrities continue to flock to Los Feliz. Over the years, pop music gods, movie stars and the merely famous have called Los Feliz home.
Los Feliz Architecture: Old World Refinement with a Modern Flair
Many of the grand estates of the Jazz Era still stand today and make the homes “above the boulevard” some of the most coveted property in Los Angeles. Behind the private-gated drives are stately Mediterranean villas side-by-side with moody Tudors and Normandys.
Two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s west coast masterpieces are located in Los Feliz: the Ennis House and the Hollyhock House. His son Lloyd Wright, also designed several notable Los Feliz homes including the infamous Sowden House. Los Feliz also features it’s share of modern architecture such as Richard Neutra’s Lovell House.
But Los Feliz is not just for the rich and famous.
Within blocks of the central district, you’ll find tree-lined streets with numerous charming and affordable Craftsmans and California bungalows. For the more modern palette, Los Feliz also has its share of classic ranch and mid-century homes.
Why So Many Parents Love Los Feliz
One of the many attractions of this special neighborhoods for parents is the number of well regarded schools. Franklin Elementary School is one of the highest-ranked public schools in Los Angeles. Nearby John Marshall High School is known for its solid performances in academic competitions and regularly sends students to Ivy League universities Movie buffs will recognize the campus’ Collegiate Gothic style from countless movies and television shows. Both *Grease* and *Pretty in Pink* were shot there.
And when school’s out, this east side neighborhood also offers plenty of outdoor fun for kids. Try the bike path along the Los Angeles River for a great afternoon on your bikes traffic free. Griffith Park has summer swim programs, museums, a zoo, picnic areas, pony rides and a merry-go-round. A monster hit with kids are the miniature train rides at Travel Town.
And Why Foodies are Flocking to Los Feliz
There was a time when many Angelenos couldn’t quite place Los Feliz on the map. That’s changed. The Happy is now a true culinary destination.
You could eat dinner out every night for a month without going to the same restaurant twice and still not visited all the eateries here. Some of the most creative chefs in town have opened kitchens here. Messhall, Little Dom’s, Stamp and Lucifers have joined longtime village favorites il Capriccio, Farfalla, En Sushi, Figaro Bistro and a host of others.
Los Feliz also offers a growing night life scene as well.
At the Dresden Room on Vermont Avenue, Marty and Elaine have been entertaining crowds with their retro-lounge act for more than thirty years. More recently, Rockwell’s has brought neighborhood a true night club atmosphere with their modern cabaret shows.
Looking for that special and unique gift?
Try one of the local boutiques along Hillhurst, Vermont or Hollywood Boulevard. Spitfire Girl stocks hipster tchotchkes, housewares and handmade jewelry. Right next door, pick up super fashion bargains from the Steve Alan outlet store.
Griffith Park: Wilderness Park Land Right in Your Backyard
Like Beachwood Canyon, Griffith Park is one of the most cherished neighborhood resources, and for many, reason enough to live here.
Main entrances to the park are located at the end of Vermont Avenue and at the corner of Los Feliz Boulevard and Riverside Drive. Much of the over 4,000 square acres of Griffith Park is native wilderness and home to local wildlife such as deer, hawks, owls and foxes. Throughout the park are miles of hiking and equestrian trails to explore. You’ll also find a wide array of recreational facilities in the park grounds including golf courses, picnic areas, baseball diamonds and soccer fields. Griffith Park is also home to the Los Angeles Zoo, the National Autry Museum, the legendary Greek Theater and one of the most well-known Los Angeles landmarks, the Griffith Observatory.