The freedom to move around the world and experiences cultures is a prized possession. Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting on a plane for hours on end to experience another country. Fortunately, you can travel the world just within a single city in some parts of the United States. A number of California’s cities are no different in that respect. Everyone knows about the Chinatowns of the United States, and they enjoy an interesting place in American culture as a whole. OROGOLD would like to highlight some lesser known ethnic neighborhoods that you can visit when you’re in California though. Chinatown may not be making this list, but these neighborhoods remain dedicated and vibrant examples at fostering a more international flair in some of California’s cities.
Little Arabia, Anaheim
Little Arabia offers a distinct slice of the Middle East to visitors in a variety of ways. Some buildings offer a visual flair in keeping with the theme of the area, but the real treats are in the stores and restaurants in the area. They focus on providing authentic ethnic cuisine and goods. You can stroll along the street browsing a jewelry store and than pop into a bakery for a snack while you discuss what particular style of Middle Eastern good you’d like to eat with any friends you’re traveling with. Of note to would-be visitors, the area is particularly known for its hookah establishments and the internal variety of them within the area. This kind of flexibility generates a distinctly regional flare even though Little Arabia is ultimately part of the general Los Angeles area.
Belden Place, San Francisco
Europe has an old world charm that is hard to beat and capture without wandering the ancient, narrow streets of some of Europe’s longest standing cities. Belden Place does its best to try to bottle the experience of France into a small area. The focus of the area is on food. Multiple restaurants all compete to offer French cuisine in its many forms from the high cuisine to the simpler fare of the average French person. Restaurants use both their food and their space to create the atmosphere. Many make extensive use of their street facing sidewalks to set up outdoor eating areas to draw on the air of French cafes and the time honored past time of people watching. There may be no ancient buildings around you here, but the spirit of France certainly has a home away from home in the area.
Thai Town, Los Angeles
Thai Town has the distinction of being the only ethnic neighborhood of its kind in the United States, and it isn’t afraid to let everyone know how proud it is of its heritage. Decorative elements are scattered through the area that bring a bit of the visual of Thailand to Los Angeles without entirely overriding the nature of the city itself. Plenty of restaurants exist in the area to satisfy anyone looking to sample the cuisine of the country. The area truly shines in its other venues though. Various stores exist importing authentic clothing and materials from Thailand as well as traditional Thai spas for people who need a bit of relaxation in their day.
Not only does California enjoy a diverse landscape geographically, but it also enjoys it ethnically. The history of the state combined with its many port towns have given the opportunity for various enclaves to spring up and stake their own claim in America. Each area integrates into the cities, but, like every American, they also remain proud of all of their heritage rather than just one part. OROGOLD believes any of these areas will make an interesting step into another culture without ever needing to even leave California.