Right off the bat, I should admit something as kind of a disclaimer, if you will: I’ve lived in Silver Lake for six months, and I’ve barely scratched the surface.
But it’s not for a lack of trying.
In fact, I’ve made an effort to discover much of what Silver Lake has to offer. The variety of food, the wealth of happy hours, the twice-weekly farmers market and the amazing vintage shops have not disappointed.
The great thing about Silver Lake is that there are so many things to do here that it takes quite some time to experience it all, unless you can afford to shop and eat out multiple times a week :-).
That said, I’ve learned a few things about my new neighborhood since moving all the way from Baltimore (where it’s oh-so-cold right now), so I’m sharing them today with you.
The Convenience of Silver Lake
If you’re new to LA and still don’t have the lay of the land (which can take a while), it’s important to understand that Silver Lake is not close to the beach.
On a decent day traffic-wise, it can easily take a half an hour to get there. That said, Silver Lake is convenient to a lot of other great areas. Nestled in between Los Feliz and Echo Park (both very vibrant, desirable neighborhoods), it’s only a few miles away from downtown, which is burgeoning right now.
It’s also very close to Hollywood, but far enough from it that you’re not living in a tourist trap. Also other nearby neighborhoods are Atwater Village—”where hipsters move to raise their children,” as some say—and Glendale, a suburbanite’s West Coast dream with wide, clean streets and lots of big box store shopping. So when you need to furnish your new Silver Lake apartment, you can head there for the Ikea or Target.
It’s an ideal location for anyone who commutes to or visits those areas often, as you can avoid the freeways all together.
Because you’re in close proximity to so many other neighborhoods, getting to those neighborhoods is relatively easy, whether you’re taking the Metro bus via one of the dozens of nearby stops or driving. Speaking of cars, parking around Silver Lake isn’t bad during the week. Even on the weekends when Sunset Boulevard is bustling, it isn’t a hassle to find street parking. But with the bike lanes and so much within walking distance, you’re better off hitting the pavement. Silver Lake is the kind of neighborhood you want to walk around. As someone who originally hails from the suburbs, it’s so exciting to have two grocery stores, a couple of gyms and yoga studios and half a dozen restaurants and bars within walking distance.
Eating & Drinking
I can’t emphasize enough just how much I love having so many great places to eat and drink nearby. LA Weekly and Alissa Walker have great roundups of Silver Lake’s top bars and restaurants.
Cafe Stella is up there, and that’s based on the drinks alone. The cocktails aren’t cheap, but the bartenders really know what they’re doing, and the ambiance is perfect.
Gobi Mongolian BBQ & Beer House has the best all-you-can-eat buffet where you can choose all your ingredients and watch the chefs cook on a huge round-topped grill in front of you.
Hyperion Public is another favorite that’s great for an intimate dinner in the front room or rowdy sports-watching in the back.
Heywood In the mood for grilled cheese at 2am? Heywood has you covered.
Casita del Campo Looking for good, strong margaritas after work? Casita del Campo is your best bet. (It’s been around for more than 50 years.)
One more thing: If you’re a sushi lover, there are a handful of sushi bars to choose from, and for anyone who loves a good happy hour, there’s no shortage of them here. It’s also worth noting that anyone looking for vegetarian and vegan dining has a lot of options to choose from as well.
Free (or Cheap) Things to Do
Chances are, even if you’ve saved up enough money to move to LA, you’re going to be on a budget after shelling out a lot of cash on a deposit and moving expenses. When I first moved here, I couldn’t really justify spending money on dinners out for the first couple of months. Luckily, there were plenty of free and cheap things to do instead. I went to the twice-weekly farmers market on Sunset, discovered the secret stairs in the hills, went for runs around the Silver Lake Reservoir, window shopped in all of the amazing vintage and antique stores, and drove up to the top of the highest hills for gorgeous views of the city (and all the fancy homes).
Mention Silver Lake to anyone in LA, and they’re bound to make a joke about the hipster culture.
And it’s true—walk around the Sunset Junction long enough, and you might think you’ve gone back in time to 1974 based on some of the fashion and hairstyles. Forbes didn’t name Silver Lake the hippest neighborhood in America for nothing.
Honestly, it makes for fun people-watching, and the style totally adds to the overall feel of the neighborhood. And no, you don’t have to be a hipster to live in—and love—Silver Lake. (I’m living proof of that.)
So What’s it Like Moving to Silver Lake?
So far for me, moving here was the best decision I could’ve made.
I looked at a ton of apartments in a variety of neighborhoods when I first came here last summer, but Silver Lake had everything I was looking for.
If you want to live somewhere that truly feels like a community, safe, buzzing with artistic energy, dog-friendly, cyclist-friendly and has a strong cultural appeal with a residential landscape, Silver Lake is probably a good fit for you.
As for me, I can’t wait to explore more!
Are you thinking of moving to Silver Lake? Or have you already? (If so, what do you love about it?)