6. Nate, Al, Ali and Vanessa
Taschen store (Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
Nate 'n Al (414 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; www.natenal.com) is a deli that dates to the 1940s. You can count on ample supplies of matzo ball soup and perhaps some schmoozing by talk-show icon Larry King, who's been a breakfast regular for years. When you're full, stroll down the block and boldly step into the Taschen store (354 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; www.taschen.com). But leave the young ones at home. This elegantly arranged shop, which feels more like a gallery, is full of pricey, arty, lavish and often naughty books. It might be $70 for a copy of "Linda McCartney: Life in Photographs," $15,000 for a "champ's edition" of the Muhammad Ali tribute volume "GOAT" (Greatest of All Time) or $700 for an appreciation of porn star Vanessa del Rio, promiscuously illustrated.
7. Hotel haven
A Marilyn Monroe statue at the Four Seasons hotel (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Beverly Hills and environs have plenty of famous hotels, including the luxury-laden Peninsula Beverly Hills (9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.peninsula.com/BeverlyHills) and L'Ermitage (9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills; www.lermitagebh.com), the celebrity-heavy Four Seasons Hotel (just outside Beverly Hills at 300 S. Doheny Drive, Los Angeles; www.fourseasons.com/losangeles) and the massive Beverly Hilton (9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.beverlyhilton.com). But the elder statesman is the 210-room Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.beverlyhillshotel.com), which opened in 1912. Just a glimpse of the lobby's golden glow and artful palm fronds hints that fame and fortune are concentrated here, and the rack rates confirm it: about $500 a night and up. So maybe you'll settle for breakfast in its Polo Lounge instead. Or perhaps, like Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe before you, you can pay just about anything but prefer a place to hide. In that case, the Beverly Hills Hotel's slightly pricier sibling, Hotel Bel Air (701 Stone Canyon Road, Beverly Hills; www.hotelbelair.com), reopened in late 2011 after a two-year-closure for additions and improvements. In case you've lost track of who owns both of these lodgings, they are part of Dorchester Collection, a subsidiary of the Brunei Investment Agency -- in other words, the sultan of Brunei.
8. SoBev and beyond
Museum of Tolerance (Ken Hively)
First, fuel up in SoBev (Beverly Drive south of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills) with breakfast or lunch at the affordable, busy Urth Caffe (267 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; www.urthcaffe.com). Now, slowly drive past Heath Avenue and Olympic Boulevard, where you'll spy the backside of Beverly Hills High School (241 Moreno Drive; www.bhhs.bhusd.org) and the campus oil well, wrapped in what looks like an enormous floral-patterned oven mitt. Three blocks east of the oil well, on Olympic, pause at Roxbury Memorial Park (471 S. Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills; www.beverlyhills.org/services/rec/parks/roxbury.asp), where there are tennis, soccer, baseball and play structures. Now ready yourself for a sobering look at multiculturalism, history and the Holocaust, tailored for children and adults. That's the mission of the Museum of Tolerance (9786 W. Pico Blvd.; adult admission $15.50). After all that, surely you'll be wrung out, so consider the 49-room Mosaic Hotel (125 S. Spalding Drive, Beverly Hills; www.mosaichotel.com), which sometimes has discount rates as low as $199 nightly.
9. The Bruins' Den
UCLA (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Maybe it will help you feel young to see those UCLA (405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles; www.ucla.edu) freshmen kicking a ball around on the lawn between Royce Hall and Powell Library. Or maybe, recalling that these kids were born in the 1990s, you'll feel otherwise. Either way, with its 420 acres and nearly 40,000 students, the UCLA campus in Westwood will stretch your legs and brain. Wander on your own, or join one of the free student-led tours for prospective students and their parents most weekdays and Saturdays (www.admissions.ucla.edu/tours.htm). At Royce Hall, the 2011-12 season's 36 gigs included violinist Itzhak Perlman, author David Sedaris and banjo master Earl Scruggs. In neighboring Westwood Village, you have the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; www.hammer.ucla.edu), which spotlights cutting-edge contemporary art; and later, there’s the Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles; www.geffenplayhouse.com), which often features big names.
10. The stars at rest and a Persian dessert
Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Just south of Wilshire Boulevard, hidden behind a clutch of tall buildings, you'll find the Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary (1218 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles; www.pbwvmortuary.com), a grassy territory covering about 2 1/2 acres, open 8 a.m.-dusk. Marilyn Monroe rests in a crypt, her name often surrounded by lipstick kisses. (The people at Pierce Bros. wipe them away regularly, but they keep coming back.) near the northern corner of the property. The graves of Jack Lemmon, Karl Malden and Walter Matthau are nearby, along with others who couldn't resist one more punch line. Rodney Dangerfield's headstone: "There goes the neighborhood." You'll also notice a lot of Persian names and writing in the neighborhood; thousands of Persians, many of them Jewish, arrived when Islamic fundamentalists took over Iran in the late 1970s. About five blocks south of the cemetery, step into modest Saffron & Rose Ice Cream (1387 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles; www.golobolbol.org), a family business that specializes in Persian flavors. The top seller is an explosion of sweetness known as saffron-pistachio.
11. Brentwood's Barn and Ark
Skirball Cultural Center (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
The Brentwood Country Mart (225 26th St., Santa Monica; www.brentwoodcountrymart.com) looks like a bad idea. In one of California's elite neighborhoods, a low-rise fake barn? Really? Yet locals love it. The Country Mart, which opened in 1948 as a smaller version of the Farmers Market in the Fairfax area, has more than 25 boutiques and stalls, a handful of casual eateries, one stylish bookshop (Diesel, Suite 33; www.dieselbookstore.com) and two little courtyards. Next, hop on Interstate 405 and head north to the Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles; www.skirball.org), whose exhibits and performances aim to connect Jewish culture with American history. If you're younger than 10, the highlight is Noah's Ark, an 8,000-square-foot interactive Old Testament playground. You'll want time-certain reservations ($5 a kid ages 2-12, $10 per adult, $7 per senior (65 and older) for visits on weekends, Thursdays or holidays. Crowds are lighter on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
12. Culture castle
Getty Center (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
When Southern California devolves into feudalism, the sensible place for the new king will be atop Brentwood in the gleaming, sprawling Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles; www.getty.edu). This museum, backed by billions from late oil man J. Paul Getty, opened in 1997, its campus covering 110 acres. Park underground. (The museum is free, but parking costs $15.) Take the monorail up the hill and head for the West Pavilion, which houses photography below and Impressionists above, including Van Gogh's vibrant "Irises," the museum's biggest star. Before long you'll want to snack at one of the center's two cafes, or maybe a fancy lunch farther upstairs at the Restaurant, which has a mountain view. Then, like one of David Hockney's figures disappearing into a deep blue pool, you dive back into the art.