Our sprawling city is filled with some of the most beautiful and eclectic neighborhoods of any city in the country. But for families looking to move here, or wanting a larger home for a growing brood, it’s intimidating to know where to start.  Hot neighborhoods means bidding wars and famously family friendly zips come with prohibitive price tags.  For great schools, lots of amenities & eats for small fry and safe streets for walking or biking, these are some of our favorite zips for families in LA.

Kristine Mphoto credit: Kristine M. via Yelp

Montecito Heights (Near Downtown)
Known as the “Wilderness in the City,” the picturesque neighborhood of Montecito Heights is ripe for becoming the next big thing for families. Located in the hills of Northeast LA just 10 minutes from downtown, this small community is filled with rich history. With exquisite and affordable Victorian homes being restored at a lighting-quick pace, some of the best views in LA, and easy access to downtown spots like Olvera Street, MOCA, the Disney Concert Hall and Dodger Stadium, parents are discovering the beauty of a quick commute for family outings. But pint-sized nature lovers gain the real advantage here with all the incredible wildlife Montecito Heights has to offer. Ernest E. Debs Regional Park features hilltop lakes, hiking trails, grassy fields and beautiful picnic areas overlooking downtown and the San Gabriel Mountains. Not to mention the Audubon Society’s first urban nature reserve which offers a children’s area with play-house, water and sand features.

o-1photo credit: Richard L. via Yelp

Cheviot Hills (Westside)
Located near Century City and Beverlywood, the up and coming “it” neighborhood of Cheviot Hills is uber family-friendly, especially for broods with very young kiddos. With lovely houses, many of which look like they’ve been plucked straight off a movie studio lot, it’s fitting this neighborhood is just a hop, skip and a jump away from both the FOX and Sony Studios (read: speedy work commute for parents in the biz). Families also love having award-winning local public schools like Castle Heights Elementary and Overland Elementary within walking distance. What’s even better? Many homes in area are just steps away from what will be the future light rail system linking Santa Monica to downtown. And with Cheviot Hills Park, Rancho Park Golf Course and Hillcrest Country Club anchoring the area, active families never lack for things to do after school and on weekends.

10387547_10153256082699407_1594849390138525138_nphoto credit: California Heights Neighborhood Association via Facebook

California Heights (Long Beach)
California Heights is a cozy neighborhood in Long Beach’s largest historical district filled with adorable family homes, most of which are designed in the Spanish Colonial, Period Revival and and craftsman styles. Residents take great pride in their area’s small-town feel and enthusiastically participate in the famous Home & Garden Tour, frequent block parties and community gardens with neighbors. Since Long Beach is also striving to become the most bike-friendly city in the U.S., California Heights helps host fantastic programs like Beach Streets and Kidical Mass to educate families on bicycle safety and encourage the joy of riding together. And the biggest bonus of all? You don’t have to pillage your piggy bank to live here as most homes start at a much lower price than their LA brethren.

268611_2061028878936_6123408_nphoto credit: Friends of Brookside via Facebook

Brookside (Hancock Park Area)
Hancock Park is all movie stars, mansions and old money, right?  Well, there’s certainly some of that, but there are some smaller HP adjacent neighborhoods that are booming, and actually great for young families. The quaint neighborhood of Brookside is named after the Arroyo de los Jardines, a beautiful brook filled with koi, crawfish and goldfish that flows from the Hollywood Hills through several backyards in the neighborhood all the way to Ballona Creek. The Brookside area is made up of only eight streets and offers the 1920’s charm of Hancock Park with more affordable price tag (key for those saving for college!). Brookside spans from Wilshire to Olympic and Highland to Muirfield. Residents love the community’s close-knit, small-town vibe as evidenced by Brookside’s annual block party—a local tradition for over 35 years. Every summer, neighbors gather for a fun-filled day of face painting, pony rides, bounce houses, dessert eating contests, petting zoos and music. The only issue with this lovely hood is inventory. Because of its precious size and fantastic appeal, homes here can be extremely hard to come by, so make friends with a local realtor if you’ve got your eyes on a home here.

Carpenter Community Charter Schoolphoto credit: Carpenter Community Charter via Facebook

The Doñas (Studio City Area)
Lately lots of Westsiders are moving to the Studio City area because of everything it offers families—more space, award-winning public and private schools, a plethora of creative classes for kiddos, the same dining and boutiques and farmers markets that they’re used to, and it’s still close to civilization for those shuddering at the thought of living over the hill. One specific hood that’s really thriving when it comes to an influx of families is The Doñas. Most homes in this community were built in the 1960’s and have retained their impressive Mid-Century architecture, as well offer sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley. The Doñas are nestled in the hills south of Ventura Boulevard and are located on either side of Laurel Canyon. This superb location is close to great hiking trails at Fryman Canyon, is only a 3-minute drive to the popular Carpenter Community Charter and is an easy peasy commute to WeHo and Mid-City.

What makes your family’s neighborhood special? We’d love to hear more about the best little communities in this big town and why you love them!

–Jennifer O’Brien