Culver City is on the West Side of Los Angeles County. The city is best known for film and TV production, including MGM studios, which is now part of Sony Pictures. Some of the most famous films of all time were shot here, including Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, and Gone With the Wind, as well as the television series I Love Lucy, at Desilu Studios.
Ignored entirely or dismissed as "suburbia" by travel guides, Culver City is generally regarded as the most boring of the cities surrounding Los Angeles.
Culver City was founded in 1913 by Harry Culver, a brilliant real estate developer from Nebraska who sold tract homes to "immigrants" from the Midwest. For a monthly mortgage payment, the homes included furniture, dishes, a record player, and sometimes even a Model T. In the 1920s, silent film comedy producer Hal Roach and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) built studios. By the 1930s, Culver City boasted three major film studios, including MGM, and was publicized as the "Heart of Screenland." During the 1930s through the 1940s Culver City was home to half of America's motion picture production.
Hundreds of movies have been produced on the lots of Culver City's studios, including the Tarzan series and the original King Kong. The yellow brick road from The Wizard of Oz is still inside the lot on Stage 27 of Sony Studios. More recent films include Grease, Raging Bull, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, City Slickers, Wag the Dog and Contact. Television shows made on Culver City sets include Lassie, I Love Lucy, Batman, The Andy Griffith Show and Jeopardy!.
Outside of the studios, Culver City is mostly comprised of middle class homes that were originally built to house studio workers, with street names reflecting this heritage, such as (Mary) Pickford and (Douglas) Fairbanks. The downtown area has been undergoing a rejuvenation since the late 1990s with new restaurants, art galleries, theaters and shops that attract a large number of visitors from the local area.
CityBus Line 6 connects directly to the Los Angeles Airport (LAX) Transit Center. There are services every 15 minutes peak, 30-60 min off-peak.
Culver CityBus operates buses in and around Culver City.
Be aware that Culver City has placed red-light cameras throughout the city, and at $446 the fine for running a red light is one of the highest in the country. Be very aware at intersections, and when the light turns yellow, STOP!
Museum of Jurassic Technology, 9341 Venice Blvd. (four blocks west of Robertson Boulevard), ☎ +1-310-836-6131 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Th 2PM-8PM, F-Su 12PM-6PM. This museum is an artistic mixture of fact and fiction, featuring weird and wonderful displays of things that never happened, next to strange but true practices of bygone years. It can be hard to distinguish between the two, and it's best not to try. An enjoyable afternoon's visit and a tribute to the weirdness of the world. An upstairs tea room serves complimentary tea and cookies. Free movie screenings hourly. This attraction is actually in the Palms district of Los Angeles, although it has a Culver City address.$5 suggested donation.
Star Eco Station, 10101 West Jefferson Blvd. (near the intersection of Jefferson & Overland), ☎ +1-310-842-8060, . Fri. 1-5PM, Sat. & sun. 10AM - 4PM. An exotic environmental science & wildlife rescue center that is in a nondescript building, the Eco Station is a hidden attraction offering hands-on experiences with rescued tropical birds, mammals, reptiles and other critters. Most of the facility's animals are illegal shipments seized by US customs that needed a home. Hands-on tours lasting from forty-five minutes to one and a half hours (depending on crowd size and the enthusiasm of the group) leave every half hour from 10:00AM to 3:00PM on weekends and seven days a week in the summer. Hands-on opportunities as part of the tour. Special community events throughout the year. Appropriate for all age learners. Infants IN strollers - FREE.$8 for adults, $6 for children.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, 6300 Hetzler Rd (off of Jefferson past Duquesne), . 8AM - Sunset. Over three hundred feet above the surrounding neighborhoods, this overlook provides tremendous views of the LA basin, as well as some short nature trails for those interested in native plants and animals. A self-pay parking lot is available at the top of the hill, but hearty souls can park for free along Jefferson and then walk up 315 vertical feet of switchbacks and steps. The visitor's center is open Thursday - Su 10AM - 5PM (subject to the latest budget crisis), and special events including twilight walks and bird-watching are scheduled regularly.$6 for self-parking.
Culver City Farmer's Market, Main Street and Bagley Avenue (downtown between Venice and Culver Boulevards), . Held every Tuesday from 3:00 to 7:00PM. The market offers fresh foods, flowers, crafts, and other fare. Two hours of free parking are available in downtown garages. When you walk across the alley, you are actually moving from Los Angeles to Culver City (or vice versa).
Sony Pictures Studio Tour, ☎ +1-310-244-8687, . Formerly the MGM studios, the tour leads through stages that have seen the filming of such productions as the Wizard of Oz, Men in Black, and Spider-Man. Tours are offered M-F at 9:30AM, 10:30AM, 1:30PM and 2:30PM. Reservations are recommended.$28 per person.
Culver City offers a bit of everything when it comes to shopping. The Westfield Malls, located just off of I-405 at Sepulveda, is a 200 store mega-mall. The district near the intersection of Washington Blvd. and La Cienaga Blvd. is a major art destination, featuring dozens of galleries. The downtown area is home to several smaller and more upscale shops, as well as the old Helms Bakery complex, now home to a variety of upscale furniture stores. And for those looking for familiar shopping establishments, major chain stores such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy and Toys 'R Us are also represented within the city limits.
Westfield Fox Hills Shopping Center, 294 Fox Hills Mall (at the intersection of Slauson and Sepulveda), ☎ +1-310-390-5073 (email@example.com), . 10AM to 9PM Monday - Friday, 10AM to 8PM Saturday, 11AM to 6PM Sunday. With nearly 200 stores, Westfield is a major shopping center located close to the 405 and 90 freeways. The complex has recently undergone a major expansion and now features a Target, Best Buy, Gold's Gym and BJ's Restaurant in addition to the many smaller stores.
Sorrento Italian Market, 5518 Sepulveda Blvd., ☎ +1-310-391-7654. Owned by the former mayor (and current councilman) of Culver City, this market has a reputation as the place to go for authentic Italian grocery items on the West Side. The deli offers amazing sandwiches and the friendly family owners are more than willing to help with everything from selecting a wine to choosing a dessert.
Surfas Restaurant Supply & Gourmet Food, 8824 National Blvd. (corner of Washington & National), ☎ +1-310-559-4770 (fax: 1-310-559-4983), . M-Sa 8:30AM-6:30PM, Su 10AM-6:30PM. While a restaurant supply store is usually nothing to get excited about, Surfas is worth a visit for its variety of imported foods, specialty kitchen items, cooking demonstrations, and other in-store events. The shelves are stocked with any odd ingredient that a chef might need, from buffalo sausage to seaweed wraps for sushi to dozens of varieties of olive oil. The attached cafe offers a variety of sandwiches and snacks.
C Vault, 8590 National Blvd., ☎ +1-310-559-2435 (fax: 1-310-559-2436). M-F 10AM-5PM. Owned by the 'godfather of design' Joel Chen, C Vault is a new loft store carrying a significant and extensive collection of design, art and collectables from every era and by every designer imagineable from early 20th century via the Bauhaus to new emerging design talent. The loft has a strong spatial narrative with a series of vintage and modern room sets in which different pieces are juxtaposed so that they work and interact together. C Vault is a design lover's dream resource.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
$10 - $20
During the past several years the downtown Culver City area has become a hotspot for restaurants; around twenty non-chain restaurants now offer everything from sushi to barbecue to Korean to organic fare. Other restaurants are spread throughout the city and include chains such as Denny's, Coco's, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Chipotle, and others.
Annapurna Cuisine, 10200 Venice Blvd, ☎ +1 (310) 204-5500 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, closed Mondays. This Indian vegetarian restaurant serves up tasty South Indian dishes including a large selection of masala dosas. It's usually full of Indian families.Mains $6-10.
Grand Casino Bakery, 3820 Main St., ☎ +1-310-202-6969. This is a simple, quaint little Argentine bakery. The "Empanadas" are delicious, and you can always find the big screen in the dining area tuned to a soccer match.
S&W Country Diner, 9748 Washington Blvd. (at Hughes Ave.), ☎ +1-310-204-5136. Affordable, home-cooked style breakfast and lunch in a cozy, neighborhood diner. Food is good and portions are reasonably large, but be prepared for long lines in the mornings, especially on weekends. Cash only.$5-$10.
Tito's Tacos, 11222 Washington Place (west of Sepulveda), ☎ +1-310- 391-5780. 9AM to 11:30PM daily. Cheap (a full meal for under $5) and authentic Mexican food, individually prepared while you watch. You stand in line to order, then move aside to wait. Delicious and unusual. Noisy; you hear Spanish and English spoken here in equal amounts. Family-friendly. Park in the lot or under the freeway (feed the meters with dimes or quarters), not in the red cul-de-sac.
Tokyo 7-7 Coffee Shop, 3839-B Main St. (downtown, not accessible from the street). Open M-Sa, this hidden diner offers what may be the lowest food prices in Los Angeles. Breakfast specials (until 11AM) are $2.10 and include eggs, bacon, and toast. A full breakfast including drink is unlikely to cost more than $4.50. The diner is not accessible from the street, but can be reached by exiting the rear of the downtown parking garage or by searching the alley behind the "Hidden Treasures" thrift shop.$3-5.
Bluebird Cafe, 8572 National Blvd., ☎ +1-310- 841-0939, . M–F 8AM-5PM; Sa 8AM-3PM. Quaint café draws the hungry masses from nearby media companies with a superb menu that has tasty salads, hamburgers, BLTs with avocado, pressed sandwiches of cold cuts and cheeses, paninis and sandwiches. Enjoy addictive cupcakes and cookies as well.
Cafe Surfas, 8824 National Blvd. (corner of Washington & National), ☎ +1-310-558-1548 (fax: 1-310-558-1549), . M-Sa 8:30AM-3PM, Su 10AM-3PM. Located within Surfas Restaurant Supply, the cafe offers absolutely amazing (although small) Italian sandwiches for $6-8. In addition, Italian drinks, pastries, cheeses, and salads are available for those looking for top-quality food to go.
Gaby's Mediterranean Grill, 10445 Venice Blvd. (at the intersection with Motor Ave), ☎ +1-310-559-1808. Open until 1:00AM on weekdays and 2:00AM on weekends. Reasonably priced and very tasty Lebanese restaurant. Seating is in an outdoor patio complete with hookahs, heat lamps, candles, and a bustling crowd that mixes young hipsters with Lebanese locals. Service is friendly and the place stays busy until closing.Meals are between $8 and $13.
Giovanni's Trattoria and Pizzeria, 10026 Venice Blvd. (at the intersection with Clarington Ave), ☎ +1-310-839-1757, . Open until 11:30AM - 3:00PM weekday lunches and 5:30PM - 10:00PM every night for dinner. Neighborhood Italian restaurant.Meals are between $8 and $17.
J R's Bar-B-Que, 3055 La Cienega Blvd., ☎ +1-310-837-6838, . The industrial location is appropriate for a barbeque place that's "Tender as Mother's Love." Real pit barbecue beef ribs, pork ribs, "rib tips", great sides, and if you have room left, peach cobbler or 7-up cake! Three choices of sauce - they're serious when they say it's hot. The proprietor, "Robert Johnson", may or may not be the famous bluesman.
Kay & Dave's, 9341 Culver Blvd (downtown Culver City in the location formerly occupied by Pacifico's), ☎ +1 310-558-8100, . Tasty fresh Mex food made without lard or trans fats. The vibe is easy-going with plenty of outdoor seating (including a firepit) and a friendly, slightly quirky staff. Happy hour specials include 2-for-one margaritas and appetizer specials.$10-$20 per person.
K-Zo, 9240 Culver Blvd. (downtown), ☎ +1-310-202-8890, . Another restaurant born of Culver City's downtown renaissance, K-Zo is a sushi bar and "Japanese tapas" restaurant, offering various hot and cold bites in addition to the more standard Japanese fare. Prices are a bit higher than some other restaurants, but the food is generally excellent, service is friendly, and the atmosphere is great. For those seeking to maximize their eating dollar, the popcorn shrimp nuggets ($8.50) and eel avocado roll ($6) are particularly tasty and filling.$6 - $15 for most sushi rolls and tapas items.
La Dijonnaise, 8703 Washington Blvd. (in the Helms Bakery complex), ☎ +1-310-287-2770, . Worth a visit if only to be served by waiters with authentic French accents, the cafe also offers excellent French cafe fare at reasonable prices. A few blocks from downtown on a corner of the old Helms Bakery complex; expect large crowds, with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Mi Ranchito, 12223 Washington Blvd. (near Centinela), ☎ +1-310-398-6106. Authentic cuisine from Veracruz, Mexico.
Novecento Pasta & Grill, 3837 Main St. (between Venice Blvd. and Culver Blvd.), ☎ +1-310-842-3838, . M-Th 11:30AM - 2:30PM, 5PM - 9PM, F 11:30AM - 2:30PM, 5PM - 10PM, Sa 5PM - 10PM, closed Su. Northern Italian cuisine on Main St. Try the homemade gnocchi.
Tender Greens, 9523 Culver Blvd (downtown), ☎ +1-310-842-8300, . Sunday Thursday 11:30AM to 9:00PM, Friday & Saturday 11:30AM to 10:00PM. As you might guess, the emphasis here is on the fresh salads of all types, but you can get them small, meal-sized or pair them with steak, chicken or fish. This popular eatery uses local, organic produce to assemble fresh and healthy salads and soups, as well as delectable hot dishes from the grill, such as free-range chicken, Angus flatiron steak, and line-caught tuna. This eco-conscious restaurant also uses biodegradable to-go containers, reclaimed timber, and non-toxic cleaners. The atmosphere is relaxed and beautiful, with a spacious patio for outdoor dining. Portions are large, and a wide array of boutique wines and microbrews will please any palate. Friendly service.$5 and up.
Ugo, 3685 Cardiff Ave (downtown Culver City across the street from the theatre), ☎ +1 310-204-1222 (email@example.com, fax: +1 310-204-1992), . A cozy Italian cafe with extensive outdoor seating and a reasonably-authentic Italian menu. This establishment specializes in Italian cafe food, so expect sandwiches, carpacchio, insalata, pasta, and gelato rather than the standard "spaghetti and steaks" fare common at most Italian restaurants.$10-$30.
Akasha Restaurant, 9543 Culver Blvd (Corner of Culver and Watseka), ☎ 310.845.1700, . Easily the best New American food in West Los Angeles. Everything is delicious, organic, and local. You'll never feel trendier but welcomed. If you're looking for a place to take a date, or business meeting, go here. Check out out in awesome bar, too.$15-$35.
Beacon, 3280 Helms Ave. (at Washington Blvd. in the Helms Bakery complex), ☎ +1-310-838-7500, . Chef Kazuto Matsusaka serves up Asian fusion with a mix of small plates and entrees. Crispy oysters w/ lettuce cups and a miso-marinated black cod are two menu standouts. Sparse, modern space blends well with the cuisine and vibe. Rice Krispies sundae and green tea and white chocolate cheesecake are desert highlights.
Ford's Filling Station, 9531 Culver Blvd. (downtown), ☎ +1-310-202-1470, . Run by the son of actor Harrison Ford, this relatively new (February 2006) and somewhat trendy restaurant strives for a pub atmosphere while still keeping the quality of a high-end restaurant. The drinks are good if slightly pricey ($6 for a beer) and the food is excellent. Half of the menu consists of excellent home-cured deli meats for about $10 a tray, while the flatbreads and other dishes are slightly more expensive ($15 - $30) but very tasty.
Gyenari Korean Barbecue, 9540 Washington Boulevard (downtown Culver City), ☎ +1 310-838-3131 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Standard Korean barbecue in an upscale setting - diners can either order prepared meals off of the menu or grill meats at their table. A bar at the front of the restaurant offers a good spot to grab drinks and watch the game, and weekday happy hour with inexpensive appetizers helps take some of the burden off of the wallet.$20-$50.
Most of the downtown restaurants also have a lively bar scene. Other bars located throughout the city include:
Backstage, 10400 Culver Blvd. (near Culver and Overland at the intersection with Motor), ☎ +1-310-839-3892, . Proudly advertising itself as "the best dive bar in the world" Backstage offers a high-energy atmosphere with a really fun crowd. Expect a packed house on weekends and call ahead to reserve a table if you don't want to be standing. Drinks are reasonably priced ($4 for a draft beer), the staff is extraordinarily friendly, and there is karaoke (Thursday - Saturday), pool, darts, and decent bar food to help keep the evening entertaining.
Bottlerock, 3847 Main Street (downtown Culver City), ☎ +1-310-836-WINE (9463), . Su-Th 12PM - 11PM, Fr-Sa 12PM - 12AM. Located downtown, this unique establishment is a combination wine bar, wine retailer, and cafe. Over 800 wines are sold, with prices ranging from $5 to over $600 per bottle, but most people come either for wine tasting or simply to enjoy a glass of wine with an appetizer. Happy hour is Monday - Thursday from 4PM to 6PM.
Duke's Hideaway, 9400 Culver Blvd. (in the Culver Hotel downtown), ☎ +1-310-838-7963, . Named after John Wayne (the hotel's former owner and resident), Duke's Hideaway attracts mainly local residents and employees from the nearby Sony and Culver Studios looking for a laid-back spot to enjoy a few drinks. Chairs are comfortable and plentiful, prices are reasonable, the bartenders tend to be chatty, it's usually not overly crowded, and the close proximity to the rest of downtown makes it a good spot to begin or end an evening. Happy hour 5 to 7:00PM M-Th.
Father's Office 2.0, 3229 Helms Ave. (in the Helm's Bakery complex), . This upscale pub is famous for its burger, just don't try to make any substitutions. There are also over 70 beers on tap.
Tattle Tale Room, 5401 Sepulveda Blvd. (at the intersection of Sepulveda and Sawtelle). The crowd at this bar combines students from Loyola Marymount with middle-aged regulars. Karaoke every night but Thursday, pool tables, and an atmosphere that borders on dive-bar without actually crossing the line.
Coffee & Teas
Conservatory for Coffee, Tea and Cocoa, 10117 Washington Blvd. (across from Sony Studios), ☎ +1-310-558-0436, . Family-run coffee shop that roasts their own beans daily and makes one of the best macchiato's this side of the Big Pond. They are known for their "latte art" - you have to order one in a china cup to appreciate it. A local favorite, they also have a huge variety of teas from around the world and make a wonderful Mexican hot chocolate.
Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Westside, 6333 Bristol Parkway. (Visible from the 405), ☎ 310-484-7000 or +1-800-321-2211 (email@example.com, fax: 310-590-2593), . Opened April 2008, this hotel features 260 spacious rooms and suites in addition to 10,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and a full catering department. It is 3 miles north of LAX; a short drive to Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, and El Segundo.Rates range from $139 for a room with two queen beds to $299 for a one-bedroom suite.
Culver Hotel, 9400 Culver Blvd. (downtown), ☎ +1-888-328-5837 or +1-310-838-7963, . Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located in the heart of downtown Culver City, this hotel opened in 1924 and offers a unique lodging option with rooms featuring antique furniture. The hotel was once owned by John Wayne and served as accommodation for most of the cast of the Wizard of Oz during its filming.$89 for a room with queen beds to $299 for the John Wayne Suite.
Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Westside, 6161 West Centinela Avenue, ☎ +1-888-201-1718 or +1-310-649-1776 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1-310-649-4411), . This chain hotel is located close to the 405 freeway and is a ten-minute drive from the LAX airport. Amenities include free high-speed internet access, pool, fitness center, free airport shuttle, meeting spaces and dining. Those expecting a five-star experience will be disappointed by the relatively basic rooms and somewhat dated elevators and floorplans, but despite a bit of age this hotel offers an upgrade over many of the area's other motels.Rates start around $130 per night.
Culver City offers free internet access in several areas.
Culver City WiFi, (downtown), . Free wireless internet access is provided in downtown Culver City, but connectivity varies greatly depending on your location. Login is required using any web browser to activate access.
Culver City Library, 4975 Overland Ave. (near Overland and Culver), ☎ +1-310-559-1676, . 10AM - 8PM Monday thru Friday, 10AM to 5PM Saturday, closed Sunday. The Culver City library offers free internet connections (no wireless) as well as an extensive book collection.
Venice. The neighboring beach town offers miles of sand, an eclectic nightlife, and the infamous Muscle Beach.
Santa Monica. Best known for its famous pier, Santa Monica is a must-see destination for most tourists, and home to many restaurants and bars frequented by locals.
Marina del Rey. The "marina of the king" is home to a vast number of restaurants and hotels, and while not as touristy as some of the neighboring beach cities is nonetheless a fun spot to spend an evening.
West LA. The west side of the sprawling city of LA surrounds Culver City to the north and east.