Staff in livery standing over rows of Rolls-Royces, Tom Cruise disembarking from a stretch limo, cellphone-addicted fat-cat producers cutting poolside deals in pleasure-palace hotels – this is Beverly Hills, where the smell of money pervades. Adjacent Westwood is home to UCLA, one of the finest universities in the country. Bel Air mansions have routinely passed from Fairbanks and Bogart to Streisand and Diaz. The nearby Getty Center serenely lords above it all in its white majesty.
9641 Sunset Blvd • 310-276-2251 • www.beverlyhillshotel.com
LA’s most famous hotel (see Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills) has been part of Hollywood history since its 1912 opening. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Will Rogers got drunk in the bar, Howard Hughes rented Bungalow 3 for 30 years, and Marilyn Monroe reportedly romanced both JFK and RFK here. Political leaders, royals, and film stars have all stayed, partied, and cavorted at the legendary Pink Palace.
Rodeo Drive is one of the world’s most famous – and expensive – shopping streets, synonymous with a lifestyle of luxury and fame. Only three blocks long, it is essentially a haute couture runway, with all the major international players represented here (see Temptations on Rodeo Drive). You’ll often spot nicely groomed shoppers, although actual star sightings are rare. Rodeo’s southern end is punctuated by the Beverly Wilshire, one of LA’s grandest hotels. Architecture fans should check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Anderton Court.
East of Crescent Dr between Santa Monica Blvd & Burton Dr
The wealth of a city is often reflected in its public buildings, so it should come as no surprise that Beverly Hills’ civic center is the envy of other towns. The elegant City Hall was built in 1932 in Spanish Renaissance style and harmoniously incorporated into a contemporary Spanish-style complex with palm-lined walkways and curved colonnades. It houses a beautiful library.
2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Brentwood/Bel-Air • 310-440-4500 • Open noon–5pm Tue–Fri, 10am–5pm Sat & Sun • Adm (free for under 2s, free Thu) • www.skirball.org
This modern Jewish cultural center was named after benefactor Jack Skirball (1896–1985), a rabbi and producer of Hitchcock films. The complex hosts live events and has a multimedia museum. Exhibits explore the parallels between the Jewish experience and the principles of American democracy. The ongoing exhibition, Visions and Values, looks at Jewish life from Antiquity to America.
465 N Beverly Dr • 310-786-1000 • Open noon–5pm Wed–Sun • Donation • www.paleycenter.org
Most people alive today have grown up watching television, one of the defining media of the 20th century. This center, housed in a striking building by Getty Center architect Richard Meier, was originally built to collect, preserve, and share nearly 80 years of radio and TV history. About 120,000 programs – from news to musicals and sports to sitcoms – have been cataloged and are available for viewing and listening. Today it has expanded to include resources for digital media and offers a wide schedule of classes and events.
10899 Wilshire Blvd • 310-443-7000 • Open 11am–8pm Tue–Fri, 11am–5pm Sat & Sun • Adm (free: for under 17s, for students with ID, Thu) • www.hammer.ucla.edu
This museum, run by UCLA, is the legacy of Armand Hammer, an oil tycoon who discovered a passion for collecting art in the 1920s. Hammer was especially fond of 19th-century French Impressionists such as Monet. Rotating exhibitions are complemented by traveling shows with a more contemporary angle. Free readings, film screenings, and lectures are quite popular. Phone ahead or check the website for the latest events and exhibits.
310-825-4321 • www.ucla.edu
One of the nation’s top research universities, UCLA (founded in 1919) counts many luminaries among its alumni, including Francis Ford Coppola. It has around 150 buildings, with architectural gems such as Royce Hall. The Fowler Museum has a marvellous collection of non-Western art. To the north is the lovely Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden.
Although best known for its collection of European art, the Getty offers much more – a hilltop setting with sweeping views from the ocean to the mountains, architecture as exquisite as “frozen music” (to quote Goethe), and landscaped gardens that are nothing less than the finest art.
9786 W Pico Blvd • 310-772-2505 • Open 10am–5pm Sun–Fri (Nov–Mar: until 3pm Fri) • Closed Jewish holidays • Reservations advised • Adm • www.museumoftolerance.com
This high-tech museum, the only museum of its kind in the world, confronts visitors with issues of extreme intolerance to make them realize the need for greater acceptance in today’s world. The experience begins at the “Tolerancenter,” whose exhibits address issues such as human-rights violations and the Civil Rights movement. The Holocaust section, at the core, chronicles Nazi atrocities. An interesting multimedia exhibit follows the lives of well-known Americans from different ethnic backgrounds.
1218 Glendon Ave • 310-474-1579 • Open 8am–sunset
This small cemetery beneath Westwood’s office high-rises has more stars per square yard than any other in LA. Marilyn Monroe’s remains rest in an above-ground crypt that is always decorated with flowers (Hugh Hefner had allegedly reserved the adjacent space). Other celebs buried here are Natalie Wood, Burt Lancaster, and Frank Zappa.
Out of the nation's largest metro areas, Los Angeles ranks seventh in income inequality. A study infers that this high rate of inequality threatens the region's long-term economic well-being. Both middle-wage and low-wage jobs have declined at a high rate, and the city's neighborhoods are becoming increasingly segregated by race and income.
Begin your tour of stars’ homes by driving north on Walden Drive, just off Santa Monica Boulevard, for a glimpse of the “Witch’s House”, located at the corner of Carmelita Avenue and famous for its Hansel-and-Gretel looks. Go right on Lomitas Avenue, then left on Linden Drive, where mobster Bugsy Siegel was gunned down at No. 810 in 1947. Follow Linden north to Sunset Boulevard, turn right, then left on Roxbury Drive for two star-packed blocks. As well as Jimmy Stewart's former home at No. 918, you’ll see the erstwhile homes of song lyricist Ira Gershwin (No. 1021), Diane Keaton (No. 1025), singer Rosemary Clooney (aunt of George, at No. 1019), Peter Falk (No. 1004), comedian Jack Benny (No. 1002), and Lucille Ball (No. 1000).
Turn right on Canyon Drive, then right again on Bedford Drive, where the house at No. 904 was at different times the home of stars such as Frank Sinatra, Rex Harrison, Anthony Quinn, Greta Garbo and Ava Gardner. Steve Martin used to live at No. 721 and Lana Turner at No. 730. It was here in 1958 that Lana’s daughter Cheryl Crane is believed to have killed her mother’s mobster-lover Johnny Stompanato. No. 512 is the former home of silent screen siren Clara Bow – where, in 1927, she was rumored to have “entertained” the entire USC football team, including Marion Morrison, better known by his screen name of John Wayne.
Rodeo Dr at Wilshire Blvd
This cobbled lane resembles an idealized European shopping avenue with fountains and a piazza. When it opened in 1990, it was the first new street in Beverly Hills since 1914.
210 N Rodeo Dr • 310-273-8880
The meticulously crafted jewelry is as exquisite as Audrey Hepburn was in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on the store in New York.
238 N Rodeo Dr • 310-271-7892
Best known for its exquisite crystal pieces, this boutique also stocks jewelry, watches, and perfume.
295 N Rodeo Dr • 310-859-0457
Known for its luxury signature leather goods, it also stocks fragrances, fine watches, jewelry and made-to-order shoes.
333 N Rodeo Dr
One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s later buildings (1953), the zigzagging ramp around a well of light is reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
420 N Rodeo Dr • 310-273-6544 • By appointment only
This boutique stocks quality menswear which is said to be the world’s most expensive. Famous client names are etched into the window.
347 N Rodeo Dr • 310-278-3451
The store is a sure-fire winner in the looks department, but most customers have eyes only for the trademark shoes and handbags.
310 N Rodeo Dr • 310-271-8554
On Oscar night, when the stars come out in their diamonds, they’re most likely on loan from here, one of the world’s most exclusive jewelers.
421 N Rodeo Dr
A white marble outdoor shopping mall with five floors of boutiques orbiting a sunken atrium courtyard with a fancy eatery.
507 N Rodeo Dr • Not open to the public
This 1988 complex sports whimsical Art Nouveau design elements borrowed from architect Gaudí.
176 N Canon Dr • 310-385-0880 • $$$$
Stargazers are likely to report sightings when dining at Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant (see Spago Beverly Hills).
9646 S Santa Monica Blvd • 310-205-8990 • $$$
A Beverly Hills hot spot, this serves refined Vietnamese cuisine. Try anything made with owner/chef’s “secret spices.”
267 N Canon Dr • 310-550-8811 • $$$$
This classic steakhouse is noted for its excellent service and caricatures of the stars that line the walls. Start out with the crab cakes, but save room for the generous deserts.
9641 Sunset Blvd • 310-276-2251 • $$$$
This restaurant mixes signature dishes such as McCarthy salad with Asian and Californian cuisine. Vegetarian options available on request.
9882 Santa Monica Blvd • 310-788-2306 • $$$
Hollywood power brokers love the gold and peach dining room and impeccable service here. The menu changes with the seasons to make the most of local produce.
MAP • 212 S Beverly Dr • 310-859-3418 • $$$$
A new tasting menu every three months highlights seasonal specialties inspired by the world’s leading wine regions. Reservations are a must for this cozy restaurant.
129 N La Cienega Blvd • 310-659-9639 • $$$
This is the original of Nobu Matsuhisa’s small but growing empire of Japanese-Peruvian seafood restaurants. Ignore the menu and surrender to the chef’s formidable imagination.
414 N Beverly Dr • 310-274-0101 • $
This modest kosher deli has been catering to the stars since 1943. Regulars swear by the huge sandwiches served on chunky rye bread.
362 N Canon Dr • 310-275-3345 • $$
For a light and tasty take on classic Chinese dishes, head to this stylish place with an outdoor patio. Try the marvelous black bean sauce and the Peking duck.
9018 Burton Way • 310-276-9990 • Closed Sun • $$$
Book a romantic table beneath a starlit sky in the enchanting garden and enjoy the classic Italian fare.