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3. The Walk, Beverly and Vivian.

To sidestep the $10-$20 cost of parking, arrive using the Metro Red Line's Universal City station or sleep just down the hill and walk. Besides the Sheraton Universal and Hilton Universal (the two closest hotels to Universal), there's also Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn (a.k.a. the Beverly Garland), which is almost as close and offers free shuttle rides to the park. The 7-acre Garland complex offers a pool, a restaurant (Tula's), two illuminated tennis courts — not your typical Holiday Inn and not a typical back story either. Beverly Garland, a TV and film actress from the '50s to the '90s, built the hotel with her husband, Fillmore Crank, in 1972. He died in 1999, and she died in 2008, but a great collection of stills from her spectacularly varied career ("The Alligator People," "My Three Sons," "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman") remains on the lobby walls. From that lobby, you can walk two blocks to a breakfast haunt where few tourists turn up: the ultracasual Vivian's Millennium Café at 10968 Ventura Blvd. Head for the patio in back, settle in among the locals and order the pancakes. Pictured: Universal CityWalk
Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times
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