Three great adventures in Los Angeles near UCLA!
“Can you recommend a 5-hour round trip from LA to see the most sites? My husband and I will be visiting our son and his wife at UCLA in October from Alabama. While they are busy during the day, we would like to venture either north or south, preferably on the PCH to see some of California. In addition, we would love to find an interesting boutique or historic hotel to stay in near the UCLA campus.” ~ Nancy M. from Birmingham, Alabama
UCLA is in Westwood. Stay at the W Hotel Los Angeles in Westwood!
Five hours (round trip) is not a lot of time and Los Angeles is a very big place. Here are three great adventures near UCLA:
1. Santa Monica and Venice Beach
I recommend you head to Santa Monica (you can take a drive down Wilshire to San Vicente through Brentwood and do some shopping on Montana Avenue). Walk the Third Street Promenade, Palisades Park, and the Santa Monica Pier. Do some shopping at Santa Monica Place and have lunch at one of the many restaurants down by Santa Monica State Beach or head south on Pacific Coast Hwy to Venice Beach. Have lunch at one of the many restaurants there and visit the Venice Beach Boardwalk, Main Street and Abbot Kinney Blvd. If you have time drive into Marina Del Rey and have a drink at the The Ritz-Carlton.
Take the 10 freeway or the Marina freeway back to the 405 freeway north, exit Wilshire Blvd east and you’ll be back in Westwood.
*One more quick note: You can also visit the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades-Malibu as a great side trip from Santa Monica. The Getty Villa houses a fantastic collection of ancient Greco-Roman art and sculpture! It’s FREE but you need to make reservations. http://www.getty.edu/visit/villa/ ___________________________________________________________________
2. Century City and Beverly Hills
Park at the Westfield Century City Mall in Century City, CA. There’s lots of shopping (including Bloomingdale’s), restaurants and the AMC Century City 15 movie theater. Take a walk into Century City (follow the people in suits going back to work) and visit the CAA building (aka “The Deathstar”), the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza (also a great place to stay), and the Century Towers and Plaza.
There’s more shopping and even better restaurants there (Craft is Tom Colicchio’s steak place). Be sure to visit the shops underground at the Twin Towers! Century City also has the The Annenberg Space for Photography (FREE!) and a few other art galleries. There are fantastic buildings and lots of hidden things to see if you just walk around during the day. Here’s a link to a list of museums and other info for the area (Westwood-Century City): http://centurycity.patch.com/directory/art-galleries
You can also drive to Beverly Hills and visit Rodeo Drive, there’s mega-shopping and wide variety of some of LA’s finest restaurants: Nate ‘n Al Delicatessen, Mastro’s Steakhouse, Spago Beverly Hills, Il Pastaio, Il Cielo, Fogo de Chao, Matsuhisa, Lawry’s the Prime Rib, The Farm of Beverly Hills, and many others! in addition to the The W Hotel Los Angeles – Westwood, the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills is a great boutique hotel and they have a wonderful restaurant, where you can dine indoors or outdoors in a poolside cabana at Oliverio at Avalon Beverly Hills restaurant.
and The InterContinental Los Angeles Century City Hotel, the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire Hotel, the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, the Montage Beverly Hills, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills Hotel, Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive, Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, London West Hollywood Hotel, Mondrian Hotel- Hollywood and Chateau Marmont are a few of the finest luxury hotels in the city.
Each hotel has at least one amazing restaurant and/or bar: 24/7 Diner and the Cactus Lounge/Pool at the Standard, Scarpetta and the Scarpetta Bar (and the hidden whiskey lounge Ten Pound by The Macallan), On Sunset @ Luxe Hotel (amazing Sunday Brunch!), LIVELLO, Culina, Modern Italian @CulinaLA, Tres by José Andrés, Saam at The Bazaar by José Andrés, On Rodeo Bistro Lounge, The Rooftop Grill, the Parq Bar, and Cut (Wolfgang Puck’s steak house) to name just a few.
You must try Stan’s Donuts and Diddy Riese ice cream in Westwood Village And for a quick and tasty Chinese lunch or takeout try Jin Jiang at Santa Monica and Sepulveda. ___________________________________________________________________
3. The Getty Center
One more great 5 hour trip from UCLA is a trip to the The Getty Center and it’s FREE! http://www.getty.edu/visit/center/plan/
From the Getty Center website: “The collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center includes pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs; contemporary and modern sculpture; and Robert Irwin’s Central Garden, designed specifically for the Getty Center….Contemporary and modern sculpture is featured throughout the grounds, including 28 modern and contemporary outdoor sculptures installed at the Getty Center, donated by Fran and Ray Stark.” In addition to the absolutely incredible Permanent Collection, they also have changing exhibitions. Here is the exhibition schedule: http://www.getty.edu/visit/exhibitions/
You won’t be able to see everything in five hours!*
So, take your time and explore two of the four art pavilions, walk the gardens and enjoy the amazing view from above.
There is food available (but it’s not inexpensive), so you might want to bring a picnic lunch from one of the hotel restaurant I mentioned in my previous post, or from Whole Foods Market in Westwood, or if it’s Thursday the Westwood Village Farmer’s Market. There’s also the lovely Bel-Air Bar & Grill on Sepulveda or On Sunset @ Luxe Hotel for fine dining, either before or after. The Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel is a beautiful property, and I recommend an upstairs room by the pool with a balcony if available.
“Josh, these suggestions are fantastic—-can’t wait to show them to our kids before they move—-they will love them! I especially appreciate your recommending the Avalon Hotel. We love boutique hotels and this one is very reasonable! We may have to extend the trip and leave the kids behind! Thanks so much!” ~ Nancy M. from Birmingham, Alabama