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West Side (Los Angeles County)

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The West Side of Los Angeles County in Southern California is much of what the rest of the world thinks of when they think "California". Beautiful beaches, fancy homes, movie stars: it's all there.

The Westside comprises the neighborhoods of Los Angeles City and other cities (municipalities) running west of La Cienega Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean. To the east is Hollywood and Mid-Wilshire. The northern boundary is the Santa Monica Mountains. The southern boundary is less obvious - often LAX or the 105 freeway serve as a good marker, separating the Westside from the South Bay.

Among the core neighborhoods are Los Angeles/West (Westwood, Brentwood, West LA), Century City, Pacific Palisades, Palms, Rancho Park, and Mar Vista. Communities further from the core include Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Bel Air, Culver City, Venice, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Westchester and a sub-section of Westchester, Playa Vista.

Cities[edit]

Understand[edit]

The Westside is among the most prosperous, trendy, glamorous, and interesting locations in the world. Derided by social critics as life within the "Pleasure-Dome" for the opportunities to "live large", the Westside boasts fabulous food, homes, scenery, shopping, and people.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The closest airport to this area of Los Angeles is through (IATA: LAX) [1]. From here you can either catch a cab, shuttle or bus. The four main bus systems that stop at LAX are the MTA [2] or the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus [3], Culver City Bus [4] and the Torrance Transit [5]. The cabs and shuttles can be accessed immediately outside of the arrival terminals and all of the bus systems can be accessed from the LAX Transit Center. The LAX Transit Center is located adjacent to Parking Lot 'C' and accessed by taking the 'C' Shuttle. Bus information is available in the baggage claim area of each terminal. It is not recommended or convenient to attempt to walk to most destinations as a general rule in Los Angeles

The west side lies under the flight path of general aviation Santa Monica Airport (ICAO: KSMO), southwest of the 405/10 interchange; on clear days the view of the city on approach is amazing.

Get around[edit]

The LA Metrobus system is pretty good; check out their website [6] and download maps [7] and route schedules [8]. With the addition of the Santa Monica Blue Bus and the Culver City Bus, the Westside is fairly well covered.

In the West Los Angeles area the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus [9] is a very reliable and well-maintained bus service. Additionally, their website has a great flash based interactive map [10] along with a standard map [11]. The Culver City Bus system is accessable via their web site [12]for maps and schedules.

During the summer months, there are various beach shuttle services available during the weekends; there is also the Park Link [13] service for the Santa Monica Mountain parks and beaches which carries both passengers and up to 3 bikes per shuttle.

For ultimate convenience it is best to rent a vehicle. Most of the majors are available at LAX airport.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Getty Museum Center and Villa, [14]. Each with their unusual architecture which houses an exceptional collection of art, sculptures, gardens and featuring innovative spaces that encourages interaction with some of the exhibits, the Center and the Villa are a "must sees" for your visit to the west side. The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Drive, off the 405 Freeway. Admission is always free. It is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10:00AM to 6:00PM, with later hours on Friday and Saturday (open until 9:00PM); parking on-site is $8 and is subject to availability. The Getty Villa, is in beautiful Malibu at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and admission is always free; advance, timed tickets are required for each individual and can be obtained online or by call 310/440-7300. On site parking is available for all ticket holder for $8. No walk-ins are permitted except by showing a bus receipt or transfer, along with a Villa ticket. Hours are Thursday through Monday 10:00AM to 5:00PM.
  • The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City has weird displays of fiction and fact.
  • The Piers of Santa Monica, end of Colorado Blvd. and Venice, end of Washington Blvd. Santa Monica Pier offers restaurants, the famous merry-go-round, and Pacific Park rides and amusements, an aquarium and exciting events. Open daily year-round [15]. The Venice Pier offers fishing and of course, the famouse waterfront Boardwalk.
  • Westwood Village, an area southwest of UCLA (405 Freeway at Wilshire Blvd.) is known for it's eclectic shopping, theater premiers and of course, the UCLA Bruins. The Los Angeles National Cemetery and Veterans Administration Center is also located in Westwood.
  • Rodeo Drive and Beverly Drive, famous streets in Beverly Hills, very pleasant to walk through

Do[edit][add listing]

  • The Strand. A bike and skate path on the beach stretches from upper Santa Monica in the north all the way to Redondo Beach in the South Bay and ends at Torrance Beach. It passes by many interesting places, such as the Marina del Rey waterfront area with it's boats and numerous restaurants, the Venice Beach shops, and Santa Monica pier. [16]
  • Marina del Rey's Fisherman's Village. Take a trip to New England without ever leaving the Westside! This replica of a New England seaport and fishing town is the place to go to get out on the water. There are several companies to rent boats -- both sail and motor, kayaks, wind-surfboards and more. Charter a harbor cruise or reserve your place on one of the public dinner cruises or Sunday Champagne Brunch cruises. Or join one of the exciting fishing adventures with Marina del Rey Sportfishing's open party trips. Both 1/2 day and 3/4 day trips are available with rod rentals, tackle, bait and fishing licenses available. Enjoy waterfront dining, shop for souvenirs, or stroll along the cobblestone paths to enjoy views of the Marina. On the weekends (weather permitting) there are free outdoor concerts in the Lighthouse Plaza area. [17]
  • Go to the Beach, from Malibu north to Playa del Rey south, these are some of the most filmed beaches in the world.
  • Visit Muscle Beach and the Venice part of the boardwalk to see the most eclectic and culturally diverse part of the Westside beaches.
  • Walk the Venice Canals (park on Dell near Washington Blvd.) and see some of the most interesting architecture and local gardens that the Westside has to offer.
  • Get out on the water in Marina del Rey's Fisherman's Village. Rent a boat -- sail or motor, kayak or wind surfboard. Join an open party sport fishing excursion for 1/2 or 3/4 day, with rod rentals, tackle, bait and fishing licenses available. Or book a weekend dinner cruise or Sunday Champagne Brunch cruise. Or charter your own adventure with one of the many private charter companies.
  • Bike the Los Angeles Beaches Bike Trail; over 22 miles of a paved bike path streching from Will Rogers State Beach north, to Torrance Beach south. With numerous outlets for renting bikes, rest stops and food concessions this gentle, fairly flat path is an easy ride for the entire family.
  • Bird watch at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh at Playa Vista. This 51-arce marsh system is at the base of the Westchester Bluffs, just south of Marina del Rey. Home to more than 73 native bird species it is an urban oasis for people and wildlife alike. There are trails bordering the marsh, with a profusion of native trees and shrubs where you can see mallard ducks, snowy egret and great blue herons. Located at the southwest corner of Lincoln and Jefferson Boulevards.

Buy[edit][add listing]

The Westside of LA is home to that most famous of shopping streets Rodeo Dr [18] (pronounced ro-DAY-o), it is home to a who's-who of high end shops and exclusive retailers. Alternately there are major retail centers located in Santa Monica on the "Third Street Promenade" [19], in Century City at the Westfield shopping center [20], and for a more local and honest feel in downtown Culver City [21]. For one-of-a-kind designer clothing and accessories there is no place like Abott Kinney in Venice[22]. With its artist collection of hand-made jewelry, natural fiber clothing and wearable art, shopping here is not only fun but also an adventure.

Eat[edit][add listing]

A wonderful by-product of all the ethnic diversity in this area is the multitude of authentic restaurants. Many of these restaurants are located in the ethnic neighborhoods they serve.

Thai[edit]

As in most of Los Angeles, Thai restaurants are ubiquitous throughout the area and vary greatly in price and quality.

  • Tuk Tuk on Pico Boulevard near Robertson, on the border between Beverlywood and Beverly Hills.

Indian[edit]

  • India's Oven, 11645 Wilshire Boulevard (2nd Floor) 310-207-5522 or 7231 Beverly Blvd 323-936-1000. The original location on Pico near Fairfax was burned down in the Los Angeles riots in the '90s.
  • There are also a number of Indian and Pakistani restaurants along Venice Boulevard in Palms and adjacent streets in Palms and Culver City. Most of these restaurants offer North Indian cuisine.

Japanese[edit]

  • Sushi House, 12013 W Pico Blvd 310-479-1507,
  • There is a small cluster of (mostly) Japanese restaurants at the corner of Olympic and Sawtelle (just west of 405). These include the Blue Marlin which does Japanified western food, Yakitoria which serves skewers of grilled chicken, Hurry Curry and the Curry House which serve Japanese curry, as well as several ramen and sushi restaurants, also Furiabo a restaurant chain from Japan.

Mexican[edit]

Common in this area as in the rest of Los Angeles County, albeit less so in some of the more affluent parts of the area. Mi Ranchito on Washington Boulevard in Culver City is the best in this area, although Lares in Santa Monica also has its admirers.This area tends to have a greater proportion of Oaxacan restaurants than other parts of greater Los Angeles, such as Guelaguetza in Palms and West Los Angeles and El Texate in Santa Monica.

  • Garden of Taxco in West Hollywood offers an unforgettable experience, with the "menu" recited by colorful waiters.

Cuban[edit]

  • Versailles, 10319 Venice Blvd, 310-558-3168; 1415 S. La Cienega, 310-289-0392 and other locations. [23]

Greek[edit]

  • Mama Voula's on Santa Monica Boulevard between Barrington and Bundy.

Jewish[edit]

There is a large cluster of delicatessens and restaurants on Pico Boulevard in Beverlywood, just south of Beverly Hills. Both Ashkenazic and Middle Eastern Jewish cuisines are represented here. Haifa is great for lunchtime mediterranian food.

There are also a number of "jewish delis" which may or may not be kosher, including Canter's and Jerry's Famous Deli.

  • Junior's on Westwood Boulevard just north of Pico is deservedly renowned.

Ethiopian[edit]

"Little Ethiopia" is on Fairfax south of Olympic, with a number of excellent places. A second "Little Ethiopia" has developed along Washington Boulevard between National and La Cienega in Culver City.

British[edit]

Santa Monica and Venice have a huge population of British expats, and fish and chips are common.

  • Ye Olde King's Head, a pub and notable hangout for tourists, celebrities, and locals on Santa Monica Boulevard and 2nd Street, arguably has the best fish and chips in the world. Most of Los Angeles' pubs are located west of the 405, in this area.

Chinese[edit]

As in the rest of Los Angeles County, ubiquitous and common.

  • Mao's Kitchen in Venice, on Pacific and Windward, serves Hunan cuisine.

Persian[edit]

Westwood Boulevard between Pico and Wilshire is filled with Persian restaurants, serving the largest Iranian population outside of Iran (concentrated in Westwood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica)


Weekend Brunch[edit]

When you want to do something particularly special, there is nothing like the Weekend Brunch and choices are numerous in the Marina del Rey area on the Westside.

Shanghai Red's Has an award-winning champagne brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Offering over 100 specialty items including hot breakfast items, brunch items and International faire. Enjoy the waterfront ambiance, inside or out, with a Polynesian/Victorian flair. Valet parking or validated for 2 hours in Fisherman's Village.

Jer-Ne Restaurant + Bar In the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, on Sundays, offers a champagne brunch buffet with artfully prepared California regional cuisine created with fresh local ingredients at the peak of season. The waterfront ambiance is open and airy with rich woods. Valet parking

Hornblower Cruises On any Sunday, take in the sights of the harbor from the water, linger in the sun and visit with the Captain all while enjoying a lavish brunch buffet, which includes complimentary champange. Leaves from Fisherman's Village; validated parking for 2 hours.

Drink[edit][add listing]

This area offers the full gamut of watering holes from pretentious to dives.

  • Father's Office: 1018 Montana. Excellent selection of import beers, microbrews, and wines. Also check out the award winning burger, the tapas and the sweet potato fries served in toy shopping carts [24]
  • Library Alehouse: another place with a good beer selection, [25]
  • Toppers: top floor of the Santa Monica Radisson, decent selection of margaritas, decent view of the beach, good Mexican seafood

Stay safe[edit]

Much of Venice demands some caution. The long-troubled Oakwood neighborhood of Venice (south of Rose Avenue, east of Abbot Kinney Blvd, north of California Avenue, and west of Lincoln Boulevard) has a long history of gang and drug activity and racial tensions and is best avoided except for major streets. However, there is very little of interest for tourists in this area.

Venice Beach, at night, demands caution; do not go on the sand at night as when the sun goes down, the beach becomes a giant swapmeet for drugs: it is often nicknamed "the meth capital of Los Angeles," complete with the violence that often accompanies open drug dealing. Such violence occasionally spills onto Ocean Front Walk, along with some prostitution activity involving both sexes so avoid walking the boardwalk at night.

In Santa Monica, the section of Pico Boulevard immediately to the east of Santa Monica College and extending to Cloverfield Avenue demands caution; residential side streets in this area are best avoided. The Del Rey neighborhood between Culver City and Marina Del Rey has some areas that should be avoided at night; however, it is unlikely that tourists would find anything of interest there. The South Robertson/Crestview neighborhood has a small gang-ridden pocket known alternately as Cadillac-Corning and La Cienega Heights but this tiny area is almost completely residential and tourists are unlikely to go there anyway.

As with Los Angeles in general and other California cities, the Westside has a large homeless problem. This is most noticeable in Santa Monica, Venice, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood. Most of these individuals are harmless but some are dangerous. Exercise some caution in dealing with them.

Get out[edit]

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