Southern California Close-Ups | A vacation guide to the Southland

You're an outsider heading to the Westside of Los Angeles -- not the beach cities, but Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Westwood and the nearby well-heeled neighborhoods south of the Santa Monica Mountains. This means you'll be well-fed, well-rested and perhaps more closely watched by the issuers of your credit cards. And while the dollars fly, you may learn a little about wealth, fame, geography and Persian desserts.


For instance, you'll realize that Beverly Hills, like the "Mona Lisa" and certain leading men, is smaller than you might expect (5.7 square miles). You'll recognize Culver City's connections to Oz and the old Soviet space program. You'll be reminded that there's a big Santa Monica Boulevard and a little one (a.k.a. South Santa Monica Boulevard), which perplex the uninitiated by running parallel for more than a mile. In Westwood, you'll see how death has united Marilyn Monroe and Rodney Dangerfield, among others. Read more...


--Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times staff writer


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Scroll over each image for info on each itinerary
1. Big screen, small wonders. If Judy Garland or Alex Trebek makes you swoon, you'll want to check out Sony Studios (10202 W. Washington Blvd.) in Culver City. Its two-hour guided walking tour costs $33 (no children younger than 12) and includes soundstages where "The Wizard of Oz" was filmed in 1938 and where "Jeopardy!" has been shot since 1984. Click for more...
2. Beloved burgers and newfangled photos. Since 1947 — long before the Westside Pavilion shopping center rose on Pico Boulevard — the Apple Pan (10801 W. Pico Blvd.) has been offering Angelenos burgers and desserts. No reservations, no alcohol, no air conditioning. Click for more...
3. Shopping on Rodeo. The Rodeo Drive shopping experience boils down to about three blocks — enough to enrapture certain shoppers for days, or to amuse a fashion agnostic for an hour or two. Start at South Santa Monica Boulevard and make your way southeast, past Brighton and Dayton ways, to Wilshire Boulevard. Click for more...
4. Cuisine on Canon. You can try La Cienega Boulevard, the official Restaurant Row of Beverly Hills, some other night. For now, scope out the high style and smaller scale of the eateries on Canon Drive between Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. Click for more...
5. A stroll in the park and a cubicle seat. Grab an all-day parking spot at the Beverly Hills Civic Center (455 N. Rexford Drive; first two hours free) and walk or jog on the 1.9-mile greenbelt (a.k.a. Beverly Gardens Park) along Santa Monica Boulevard. At Beverly Drive, if not before, you'll realize you have company: That's where the big, gold BEVERLY HILLS sign is, and tourists arrive day and night to pose by the letters. Click for more...
6. Nate, Al, Muhammad and Vanessa. Nate 'n Al, the deli at 414 N. Beverly Drive, dates to the 1940s. Its furnishings are as glamorous as Chelsea Handler is chaste. 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. Click for more...
7. Hotel haven. Beverly Hills and environs have plenty of famous hotels, including the luxury-laden Peninsula Beverly Hills and L'Ermitage, the celebrity-heavy Four Seasons Hotel (just outside Beverly Hills) and the massive Beverly Hilton. But the elder statesman is the 210-room Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd.), which opened in 1912. Click for more...
8. SoBev and beyond. First, fuel up in SoBev (Beverly Boulevard south of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills) with breakfast or lunch at the affordable, busy Urth Caffe (267 S. Beverly Drive). Now, slowly drive past Heath Avenue and Olympic Boulevard, where you'll spy the backside of Beverly Hills High School (241 Moreno Drive) and the campus oil well, wrapped in what looks like an enormous floral-patterned oven mitt. Click for more...
9. The Bruins' Den. Maybe it will help you feel young to see those UCLA freshmen kicking a ball around on the lawn between Royce Hall and Powell Library. Or maybe, recalling that these kids were born in 1993, 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. Click for more...
10. The stars at rest and a Persian dessert. Just south of Wilshire Boulevard, hidden behind a clutch of tall buildings, you'll find the Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary, a grassy territory covering barely 2 acres. Marilyn Monroe rests in a crypt (her name surrounded by lipstick kisses) near the northern corner of the property. Click for more...
11. Brentwood's Barn and Ark. The Brentwood Country Mart (225 26th St., Santa Monica) looks like a bad idea. In one of California's elite neighborhoods, a low-rise fake barn? Really? Yet locals love it, and it feeds many a trendy mom's retail dreams. Click for more...
12. Culture castle. When Southern California devolves into feudalism, the sensible place for the new king will be atop Brentwood in the gleaming, sprawling Getty Center. This museum, backed by billions from late oil man J. Paul Getty, opened in 1997, its campus covering 110 acres. Click for more...

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Southern California Close-Ups: Westside of Los Angeles

Locals share tips on Beverly Hills, Westwood, Brentwood and L.A.'s Westside....

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