West Side (Los Angeles County)
The Westside comprises the neighborhoods of Los Angeles City and other cities (municipalities) running west of La Cienega Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean. To the east is Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire. The northern boundary is the Santa Monica Mountains. The southern boundary is less obvious - often LAX or the 105 freeway serve as a good marker, separating the Westside from the South Bay.
Among the core neighborhoods are Los Angeles/West (Westwood, Brentwood, West LA), Century City, Pacific Palisades, Palms, Rancho Park, and Mar Vista. Communities further from the core include Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Bel Air, Culver City, Venice, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Westchester and a sub-section of Westchester, Playa Vista.
The Westside is among the most prosperous, trendy, glamorous, and interesting locations in the world. Derided by social critics as life within the "Pleasure-Dome" for the opportunities to "live large", the Westside boasts fabulous food, homes, scenery, shopping, and people.
The closest airport to this area of Los Angeles is through (IATA: LAX) . From here you can either catch a cab, shuttle or bus. The four main bus systems that stop at LAX are the MTA  or the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus , Culver City Bus  and the Torrance Transit . The cabs and shuttles can be accessed immediately outside of the arrival terminals and all of the bus systems can be accessed from the LAX Transit Center. The LAX Transit Center is located adjacent to Parking Lot 'C' and accessed by taking the 'C' Shuttle. Bus information is available in the baggage claim area of each terminal. It is not recommended or convenient to attempt to walk to most destinations as a general rule in Los Angeles
The west side lies under the flight path of general aviation Santa Monica Airport (ICAO: KSMO), southwest of the 405/10 interchange; on clear days the view of the city on approach is amazing.
Metro Rail operates passenger rail service for Los Angeles County, with the light-rail Expo Line connecting the Westside to central LA. There are eight stops within Santa Monica, West LA, and Culver City, and the Expo Line is the easiest way to reach Downtown LA from the Westside without taking a private vehicle.
The LA Metrobus system is pretty good; check out their website  and download maps  and route schedules . With the addition of the Santa Monica Blue Bus and the Culver City Bus, the Westside is fairly well covered.
In the West Los Angeles area the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus  is a very reliable and well-maintained bus service. Additionally, their website has a great flash based interactive map  along with a standard map . The Culver City Bus system is accessable via their web site for maps and schedules.
During the summer months, there are various beach shuttle services available during the weekends; there is also the Park Link  service for the Santa Monica Mountain parks and beaches which carries both passengers and up to 3 bikes per shuttle.
For ultimate convenience it is best to rent a vehicle. Most of the majors are available at LAX airport.
The Westside of LA is home to that most famous of shopping streets Rodeo Dr  (pronounced ro-DAY-o), it is home to a who's-who of high end shops and exclusive retailers. Alternately there are major retail centers located in Santa Monica on the "Third Street Promenade" , in Century City at the Westfield shopping center , and for a more local and honest feel in downtown Culver City . For one-of-a-kind designer clothing and accessories there is no place like Abott Kinney in Venice. With its artist collection of hand-made jewelry, natural fiber clothing and wearable art, shopping here is not only fun but also an adventure.
A wonderful by-product of all the ethnic diversity in this area is the multitude of authentic restaurants. Many of these restaurants are located in the ethnic neighborhoods they serve.
As in most of Los Angeles, Thai restaurants are ubiquitous throughout the area and vary greatly in price and quality.
Common in this area as in the rest of Los Angeles County, albeit less so in some of the more affluent parts of the area. Mi Ranchito on Washington Boulevard in Culver City is the best in this area, although Lares in Santa Monica also has its admirers.This area tends to have a greater proportion of Oaxacan restaurants than other parts of greater Los Angeles, such as Guelaguetza in Palms and West Los Angeles and El Texate in Santa Monica.
There is a large cluster of delicatessens and restaurants on Pico Boulevard in Beverlywood, just south of Beverly Hills. Both Ashkenazic and Middle Eastern Jewish cuisines are represented here. Haifa is great for lunchtime mediterranian food.
There are also a number of "jewish delis" which may or may not be kosher, including Canter's and Jerry's Famous Deli.
"Little Ethiopia" is on Fairfax south of Olympic, with a number of excellent places. A second "Little Ethiopia" has developed along Washington Boulevard between National and La Cienega in Culver City.
Santa Monica and Venice have a huge population of British expats, and fish and chips are common.
As in the rest of Los Angeles County, ubiquitous and common.
Westwood Boulevard between Pico and Wilshire is filled with Persian restaurants, serving the largest Iranian population outside of Iran (concentrated in Westwood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica)
When you want to do something particularly special, there is nothing like the Weekend Brunch and choices are numerous in the Marina del Rey area on the Westside.
Shanghai Red's Has an award-winning champagne brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Offering over 100 specialty items including hot breakfast items, brunch items and International faire. Enjoy the waterfront ambiance, inside or out, with a Polynesian/Victorian flair. Valet parking or validated for 2 hours in Fisherman's Village.
Jer-Ne Restaurant + Bar In the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, on Sundays, offers a champagne brunch buffet with artfully prepared California regional cuisine created with fresh local ingredients at the peak of season. The waterfront ambiance is open and airy with rich woods. Valet parking
Hornblower Cruises On any Sunday, take in the sights of the harbor from the water, linger in the sun and visit with the Captain all while enjoying a lavish brunch buffet, which includes complimentary champange. Leaves from Fisherman's Village; validated parking for 2 hours.
This area offers the full gamut of watering holes from pretentious to dives.
Much of Venice demands some caution. The long-troubled Oakwood neighborhood of Venice (south of Rose Avenue, east of Abbot Kinney Blvd, north of California Avenue, and west of Lincoln Boulevard) has a long history of gang and drug activity and racial tensions and is best avoided except for major streets. However, there is very little of interest for tourists in this area.
Venice Beach, at night, demands caution; do not go on the sand at night as when the sun goes down, the beach becomes a giant swapmeet for drugs: it is often nicknamed "the meth capital of Los Angeles," complete with the violence that often accompanies open drug dealing. Such violence occasionally spills onto Ocean Front Walk, along with some prostitution activity involving both sexes so avoid walking the boardwalk at night.
In Santa Monica, the section of Pico Boulevard immediately to the east of Santa Monica College and extending to Cloverfield Avenue demands caution; residential side streets in this area are best avoided. The Del Rey neighborhood between Culver City and Marina Del Rey has some areas that should be avoided at night; however, it is unlikely that tourists would find anything of interest there. The South Robertson/Crestview neighborhood has a small gang-ridden pocket known alternately as Cadillac-Corning and La Cienega Heights but this tiny area is almost completely residential and tourists are unlikely to go there anyway.
As with Los Angeles in general and other California cities, the Westside has a large homeless problem. This is most noticeable in Santa Monica, Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood. Most of these individuals are harmless but some are dangerous. Exercise some caution in dealing with them.