Southern California, and Los Angeles in particular, is known for its sprawling geography and infamous car culture. In fact, SoCal didn’t rank on Walk Score’s annual list of the most walkable cities in the nation in 2014 or 2015, but finally earned a spot this year with Long Beach breaking back into the top 10.
As it turns out, there are many highly walkable areas in SoCal—but most of them are better known as tourist destinations, like Central Hollywood where you can stroll the Walk of Fame, and the Gaslamp district in San Diego. We wanted to find out the most walkable neighborhoods in SoCal that aren’t just great places to visit, but also great places to live. So, we scoured SoCal from San Diego to Santa Barbara and limited our list to neighborhoods in cities with a population under 300,000 people, and neighborhoods with a population of at least 1,000.
There are some real surprises here that many veteran SoCal residents might be shocked by. Looks like it’s time to check out Downtown Lancaster!
1.West Downtown, Santa Barbara — Walk Score 92
Santa Barbara is the last stop in Southern California before beginning an extremely scenic, but not very walkable journey all the way up to San Francisco. But those lucky enough to reside in this idyllic beach community need not travel far to have access to incredible restaurants, art galleries, shopping and more. “Downtown Santa Barbara’s westside is truly a walker’s paradise,” said Redfin real estate agent in Santa Barbara John Venti. “It’s rare to find a community in Southern California that is highly walkable and also has beautiful single-family homes. Step outside your Spanish bungalow and walk to Stearns Wharf to grab some fish and chips or stroll to State St. for one of the best shopping experiences all of California has to offer.”
2.City Center, Glendale — Walk Score 91
Just northeast of Downtown L.A., many SoCal residents aren’t aware of the bustling little city of Glendale. Living in Glendale’s City Center neighborhood is a great option for people who want amazing walkability and proximity to jobs in the Valley or Downtown L.A. “City Center in Glendale is probably best known for the upscale shopping center, The Americana at Brand,” said Redfin real estate agent in L.A. Seta Chorbajian. “The Americana has it all, from a state of the art movie theater, big box chain stores and high-end boutiques. But I think the best part of living in this neighborhood is that you can walk to In-N-Out—it doesn’t get any more SoCal than that!”
3. Ocean Park, Santa Monica — Walk Score 90
Steps from the world-famous Santa Monica pier and the Promenade, Ocean Park is the epitome of walkable coastal living in the L.A. area. “If you live in anywhere in SoCal, or even if you’ve visited from distant locales around the world, chances are you’ve enjoyed the many sights and attractions of Ocean Park in Santa Monica,” said Redfin real estate agent in Santa Monica Alec Traub. “But the locals know the best part about Ocean Park’s walkability is the Santa Monica farmer’s market. Open year-round, rain or shine, if you live in Ocean Park you’re in walking distance to some of the freshest produce and seafood available anywhere in the world. You’ll probably rub elbows with the many celebrities that are known for shopping there, too.”
4. Uptown Whittier, Whittier — Walk Score 90
Whittier is one of Southern California’s best kept secrets when it comes to affordable living in a vibrant, walkable community. “Whittier is a charming, historic community just 12 miles southeast of L.A., but it feels like it’s a world away from the metropolis,” said Redfin real estate agent in Whittier. Miriam Kirk. “Uptown is unique because the majority of the restaurants, shops and services that span about four blocks between Hadley and Penn streets are locally owned and operated. The neighborhood is surrounded by traditional, ranch and craftsman homes, some of which you can still nab for just over half a million dollars—a rarity in the Los Angeles area today.”
5. Downtown Oxnard, Oxnard — Walk Score 90
Oxnard is sometimes thought of by Southern Californians as the place you pass on the 101 on your way to Santa Barbara—but it is so much more. “Downtown Oxnard has been enjoying a renaissance for the past several years,” said Redfin agent John Venti. “Aside from all of the amenities downtown has to offer, they host wonderful events for the community year-round, such as the Oxnard salsa festival in the summer and the Annual tree lighting and holiday parade in the winter. The coolest new addition to downtown is Thursdays Food Trucks, which is a real foodie’s delight.”
6. South Lake, Pasadena — Walk Score 87
“When people think of walkability in Pasadena, they usually think of Old Town,” said Redfin agent Sylva Khayalian. “But the South Lake neighborhood is teeming with things to do. Yes, it’s got great shopping and restaurants, but it’s also near the Huntington Library, which has breathtaking botanical gardens. Plus, if you live in South Lake that means you can walk up the street on New Year’s Day and watch the Rose Parade go down Colorado Boulevard.”
7. Downtown, El Monte — Walk Score 81
The city of El Monte has been working hard to revitalize what was once a thriving downtown shopping and dining destination. In 2007, The California Community Foundation pledged 10 million dollars over 10 years to the area in order to improve its infrastructure. In 2012 the city invested $850,000 into the downtown shopping district. “El Monte has tons of history and boasts charming single-family homes within walking distance to some great shops and restaurants at the Valley Mall just south of Valley Boulevard,” said Redfin agent Sylva Khayalian. “The area isn’t considered hot yet, so prices are reasonable—it’s a good place to find a starter home if you’re looking for affordability and walkability in one neighborhood.”
8. Downtown, Ontario — Walk Score 80
Ontario is one of the easternmost cities in San Bernardino, County and is bordered by the city of Upland to the north and Montclaire to the west. “Ontario has been growing rapidly for the past decade at least,” said Redfin agent Val Sarno. “Not only does it boast the mega shopping center, The Ontario Mills, but it is also home to a major international airport. You can snag a really cute single-family home here for under $400,000, all while being able to walk your kids to school. It’s also got easy access to the Metrolink, which is a great option for those who need to commute to L.A. for work.”
9. Downtown, Hemet — Walk Score 78
“Downtown Hemet is in the midst of significant revitalization,” said Redfin agent Jennifer Williams. “The city’s planning process began just about a year ago and is set to be finalized by the end of 2016. There is already a great deal of historic infrastructure in the downtown area and the city is working on updating the historical buildings to bring in more local businesses, shopping and transportation options for the residents. Check out the Restoring Downtown Hemet facebook page to stay updated on all of the amazing progress this little city in the Inland Empire is making.”
10. South Downtown, Lancaster — Walk Score 77
“Lancaster is a far-flung city in northern L.A. County that is typically thought of as a place for the outdoorsy-type, given its proximity to the mountains, the Mojave desert and many scenic lakes,” said Redfin agent Lindsay Katz. “But the downtown area of Lancaster is a bustling and beautiful spot that offers all of the amenities your heart desires. It underwent a revitalization project in 2010 and there is always something going on downtown. The BLVD Lancaster website is a great place to keep up with local events and to check out all the area has to offer.”