New York vs Los Angeles

New York vs Los Angeles

Films tend to treat New York and Los Angeles like they’re next-door neighbours. Characters will seamlessly jump between the two like they’re adjoining hopscotch squares, bouncing between brownstones in Brooklyn and Hidden Hills mansions like they’re just popping to the bodega. But there’s more than just movie magic to these flagship US cities. And (spoiler alert) it turns out they’re nothing alike. While Los Angeles sprawls over 469 square miles with countless golden beaches to its name, New York sits up tall with over 7,000 high rises packed into its 300 square miles. It’s not just its geography either. You’ll be able to spot a New Yorker from an Angeleno a mile off – just try sitting in the bleachers of a Yankees versus Dodgers game. So, let’s settle, once and for all, the New York vs Los Angeles debate. Read on to discover more. 


The Vibe

With its achingly beautiful coastline, sunny skies and boho boulevards (here’s looking at you Abbot Kinney), it’s impossible for Los Angeles to be anything but a bolt hole for the rich and famous. But beyond the Hollywood Hills and Sunset Strip (Los Angeles’ resident party hangout), you’ll find that this is also a city of substance. A place where the mantra is ‘work hard, play hard and live well’, you’ll find yourself easily influenced into buying a green juice and marching up Runyon Canyon at dawn, catching waves with Santa Monica locals before lunch and eating at Malibu’s Nobu restaurant just in time for sunset. New York, on the other hand, isn’t quite as laid back – it is the city that never sleeps after all. Here, it’s all about the city-slick, sidewalk-pounding hustle. Whether that be in the city’s Financial District or in the West Village where you’ll find artists rubbing shoulders with haute restaurateurs, this is a city of kaleidoscopic culture. And while that in itself can be overwhelming, its intensity is in fact all part of its impressive appeal.

Comparing the vibe of Los Angeles to that of New York is like comparing chalk to cheese so we’re going to end this first round at one all.


NYC building
Image by Faustine Poidevin


The Food

In the battle between New York vs Los Angeles, deciding which has the better menu was always going to be a tough call. In LA, the USA’s health food capital, you’ll find cafes and restaurants brimming with kale salads, sushi and juices at almost every stop light. But that’s not to say LA isn’t without its guilty pleasures. Thanks to the city’s proximity to the Mexican border, Los Angeles is by far the best place to find authentic tacos. Whether it be the newest pop up on Melrose or one of the many taco trucks lining Olympic Boulevard, you’ll be talking about their birria de chivo (shredded stewed goat) and taco de camaron (shrimp tacos) long after you leave the City of Angels.

There’s a reason that New York is known globally for its food though. As one of the world’s premium cultural melting pots, there doesn’t seem to be a cuisine it hasn’t been able to put its own twist on from pizza, bagels and pretzels, to cheesecake and hot dogs. Stop by Joe’s Pizza for a signature slice, Kossar’s in Manhattan’s Lower East Side for a lox bagel (the only way to have a bagel in NYC) and, if you still have room, Eileen’s Special Cheesecake for one of the lightest and creamiest slices of cheesecake you’ll ever taste.

For its ability to make every country’s cuisine its own, we’re giving this one to New York. That being said, LA is no loser when it comes to the USA’s food scene. A quick swing by one of the city’s many In-N-Outs and you’ll understand how hard this decision was.   


Central Park
Image by Arnaud Montagard


The Views 

We’re a sucker for a good view; partly because a holiday camera roll is incomplete without a few shots of them and because there is no better way to get the lowdown of a city than from up high. In Los Angeles, epic panoramas come with sides of art, architecture and movie magic – of course. At the Griffith Observatory, which hovers over LA like a spacecraft, you’ll be treated to views of the entire LA Basin and the city’s most famous sign as well as planetarium shows and exhibitions around its 1935 telescope. The Getty Center is also a must-visit view if you like your scenic shots with a dose of art.

New York does skyline views the way you’d expect it to – loud, proud and just a smidge over the top. If you’re after the wow factor, we recommend heading straight to the Empire State Building and its marble-clad Art Deco lobby. If, however, you’d prefer to admire the city’s most recognisable building from a distance, the views from Top of the Rock and the Edge Observation Deck, will be sure to satisfy. But you don’t necessarily have to head into the sky to see New York’s best views. A walk across the High Line, stroll through Domino Park or amble over the Brooklyn Bridge will leave you with plenty to talk about.

This was a hard one but we’re going to give this one to New York. With its instantly recognisable skyline and concrete jungle pockmarked by neon yellow taxis, steam vents and larger than life billboards, no view beats New York’s.


The Activities

There’s a reason 40% of Californians don’t have passports – they don’t need them. And in Los Angeles, the need is even less. For this isn’t just a city of sidewalks and skyscrapers, it’s one of beaches, mountains, canals and desert – the list of things to do is pretty endless. Aside from the usual march down Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and mosey at The Broad and LACMA, you can go surfing in Malibu, get lost (but not too lost) in the San Gabriel Mountains (just an hour and a half away from West Hollywood), take a tour of some of your favourite films’ sets and even visit The Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland. In New York’s concrete jungle, you won’t quite find the same breadth of geological features. But you’ll hardly notice. In between ferry rides round the Statue of Liberty, strolls round Central Park and dinners at some of the hottest restaurants in town, you’ll be anything but bored. And let’s not forget Broadway, Chinatown, Grand Central and the city’s four other boroughs, which all offer a tantalising array of things to do – hello Coney Island.

Los Angeles is our clear winner in this round of the New York vs Los Angeles battle. Where else can you swim in the Pacific Ocean, shop ‘til you drop, celebrity spot, watch live TV tapings, ski and hike all in a 100-mile radius?


Believe us when we say this was a hard fight to umpire. But ultimately there has to be a winner and New York, it’s you. With its swoon-worthy skyline, drool-inducing food scene and reputation as one of the world’s leading art, architecture and fashion epicentres, it’s a hard city to beat.

Written by Naomi Pike
Header image by Isaac Marley Morgan