Rodeo Dr, Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd
Ideally tucked between Southern California’s cooling ocean beaches and sunny mountain foothills, Beverly Hills lies along the northwestern edge of Los Angeles (which borders it to the south and west), abutting West Hollywood immediately to the east and grading up into the canyons of the spectacular Santa Monica Mountains to the north.
Beverly Hills is extremely convenient to downtown Los Angeles, the L.A. Convention Center, Los Angeles International Airport, Century City, and most other major corporate and business sites in the region. But Beverly Hills also lies only a few minutes’ drive from the Pacific Ocean and less than an hour from virtually every visitor attraction in Southern California, including Hollywood, UCLA, the Getty Center, Disneyland, and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Beverly Hills: Rodeo Drive
A place that attracts as many different kinds of visitors and boasts as many available activities as Beverly Hills does, offers countless ways to enjoy a visit. Here are just a few of the innumerable possibilities.
(Rodeo Dr. at Wilshire Blvd.) is a retail center without peer. The Spanish Steps ascend from Wilshire to Via Rodeo, a cobbled pedestrian street (and the first new street built in Beverly Hills since the city’s incorporation in 1914) lined with eateries, shops, and boutiques, including Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Gianni Versace, and more.
The Regent Beverly Wilshire
(9500 Wilshire Blvd.) is generally considered one of the grandest hotels in all of greater Los Angeles. The spectacular 1927 structure received a new wing in 1970 and a superb interior refurbishment in 1990. Its lobby is recognizable from a number of movies (including Pretty Woman). One of the hotel’s many unique features is a private cobblestone street, El Camino Real, which connects the two wings and is illuminated by lanterns from a Scottish castle.
Artists and Writers Building
(9507 Santa Monica Blvd.), its name echoing the famous Writers’ Building on the nearby 20th Century Fox lot, was built in 1924 as a four-story office building of considerable Spanish Colonial charm. The building’s multitude of talented tenants over the decades have included Charlie Chaplin, Ray Bradbury, Jack Nicholson, and Billy Wilder. Today, the ground floor is given over to shops and stores, but the upper floors still house many writers and artists.
Union 76 Station
(Rexford Dr. at Little Santa Monica Blvd.) is a genuine classic of its period (1965), with its soaring canopy giving it the dated-futuristic look of an old Tomorrowland exhibit.
Global Crossing Ltd.
(360 N. Crescent Dr.) is a striking three-building complex surrounding a plaza centered on an imported Florentine fountain and Greek columns.
Beverly Hills Civic Center
(Santa Monica Blvd. at Rexford Dr.) is home to the city’s superb Spanish Renaissance City Hall (1932), police and fire departments, and the breathtaking Public Library. Public art abounds with sculpture and paintings in the library and City Hall (both of which have free maps of public art citywide), and more.
Merv Griffin’s Beverly Hilton Hotel
(Santa Monica Blvd. at Wilshire Blvd.), built in 1953 on the former site of the Beverly Hills Nursery, plays host every year to the Golden Globe Awards, the Academy Award nominees’ luncheon, and occasionally to contestants on Griffin’s creations Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
(8949 Wilshire Blvd.) is the body behind the film industry’s greatest annual fête, the Oscars. The academy itself is a longish walk (12 blocks beyond Beverly Dr.), but the gallery in the lobby is catnip for film fans.
Department Store Row
(Wilshire Blvd., between Roxbury and Beverly Drives) comprises Neiman Marcus (at Roxbury Dr.), Saks Fifth Avenue (at Peck Dr.), and Barneys New York (between Camden and Rodeo Drives). Also here is the spectacularly theatrical Niketown (between Camden and Rodeo Drives), selling the full line of Nike sportswear.
Even a city proud of its parks has to reserve a special place of honor for a greenspace as beautiful as Beverly Gardens, a 14-block assemblage of plants, trees, and flowers established in 1911.
The O’Neill House
(507 N. Rodeo Dr.), built from 1978 to 1988 (including the guest and main houses), is a unique example of the unique architectural and design influences of Antoni Gaudi. Six tile craftsmen contributed to the project, each signing it by spelling his name in tile.
The Cactus Garden
(Santa Monica Blvd. at Camden Dr.) fills a full city block with one of the largest collections of cacti in the world.
Clara Bow’s House
(Bedford Dr., one-half block north of Santa Monica Blvd.), a charming Spanish-style bungalow, was home for some 20 years to the “It” Girl of the 1920s and ‘30s, one of cinema’s first genuine sex symbols.
The Electric Fountain
(Santa Monica Blvd. at Wilshire Blvd.) was built in 1930 with $1,000 raised by Elizabeth Frazier Lloyd, mother of Harold Lloyd, through the Beverly Hills Women’s Club.
(322 N. Rodeo Dr.), a genuine Frank Lloyd Wright design right in Beverly Hills, went up in 1953. One of Wright’s later works, it shows the architect in a playful (or just odd) mood, with its spire and its zig-zagging ramp around a well of light.