SoCal So
Cool: 50 Miles of Pure Pleasure


Part one of a
The vibrant City of Angels is a city I have visited
numerous times.  From there I have often
driven directly down the California coast to San Diego.  Little did I know what I was missing in that
strip in-between.

On my last visit to Southern California (SoCal, as it is
known to the locals), I was determined to find out what lies between.  However, before setting out to discover the
nooks and crannies of the coastline, I planned a stop in Los Angeles. 

The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza was the perfect starting
point for this occasion.  Located
adjacent to Beverly Hills, on the fashionable West Side of Los Angeles, the
hotel affords a contemporary style that is luxurious, yet casual and

For those who opt for Regency Club accommodations, the
hotel’s Regency Club Room, was amazing. 
If so desired, you could spend the entire day in this lobby-level room
without opening your wallet.  The Club
Room comes complete with comfy furniture, flat screen TVs, free high-speed
internet, a communal dining table, and complimentary food, food, and more

Breakfasts included lox and bagel, assorted cheeses, fresh
bakery goods, fresh fruit salad, juices, and a refrigerator stocked with an
assortment of beverages that are available throughout the afternoon and evening.
In the afternoon, there were also bowls of Granny Smith apples, trail mix,
cashews, sinful brownies, and freshly baked cookies.  At cocktail hour, out came the complimentary
hot and cold hors-d’oeuvres. 
A fully stocked honor bar was there
for those who opted for alcoholic beverages.

No trip to “LA-LA Land” would be complete without a
window-shopping stroll past the ritzy shops and glitzy restaurants on Rodeo
Drive in Beverly Hills.   Dubbed “The
Province of Beverly Hills”, this idyllic province claims to be “America’s only
European city. It melds the elegance of Paris, the dazzle of Cannes, the
exuberance of Baden-Baden, and the conviviality of Florence.
Ritzy, Glitzy, Rodeo Drive

In 1920,
when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. decided to build their Tudor-style
mansion Pickfair in Beverly Hills, it was nothing more than a bean
glamorous movie stars followed Pickford and Fairbanks and that 5.9 square miles
of farmland soon became a golden ghetto.

Today, this stretch of land-situated between downtown L. A.
and the Pacific Ocean-is the quintessential symbol of the opulent California
life.  It is a place where the streets
are lined with a bevy of Rolls Royces, Bentleys, Mercedes, and Jaguars, 
Amid all of the sybaritic indulgences of Beverly Hills is the
sobering Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance.  This high tech, hands-on museum centers on
the dynamics of racism and prejudice in America and the history of the
Holocaust.  It also focuses on the major
issues of intolerance.          

The Museum’s collection of archives and documents include:
original letters of Anne Frank, artifacts from Auschwitz, art from
Theresienstadt, a bunk bed from the
Majdanek death camp, and a flag
sewn by
Mauthausen inmates for
their American liberators.
LA’s visual arts achieved a new level with the 1990 opening
of architect Richard Meier’s Getty Center. 
From the moment you board the Getty’s tram that transports you
three-quarters of a mile up the hill to the Getty Center, you’ll know the stage
is set for a spectacular performance.
Architect Richard Meier’s Getty

Draped over two hilltop ridges, the Getty Center is a
magical mélange of the fluidity of glass and metal, and the roughhewn look of
travertine marble.
Lots of travertine marble…some 16,000 tons of it.

The Skirball Cultural Center is another cultural attraction
in “LA-LA Land”.  Israeli architect Moshe
Safdie chose to build his Skirball Cultural Center into the bottom of a hillside
in the Sepulveda Pass where Sepulveda, Mulholland and the 405-Freeway come
together.  When asked why he chose this
site, within walking distance of nowhere, Safdie replied:  “The site was chosen for perfect Los Angeles
reasons: the city’s Jews live in the Valley, in Beverly Hills, and in West Los
Angeles.”  The Center’s core museum
exhibition, Visions and Values: Jewish 
Life from Antiquity to America,
been described as “a story told through objects”.

Between cultural arts and fine
arts, one must take a lunch break for the city’s culinary arts.  L, A, has always been a trendsetter when it
comes to the tastes of the nation. The city’s myriad of lunch offerings range
from the ridiculous to the sublime.  On
this recent visit I experienced both.

Pink’s might well be the most
famous hot dog stand in the country. Their renowned all-beef chili-dog, that
comes complete with a large warm bun, oversized hot dog, mustard, onions, and
thick chili, sold for 10 cents in 1939. 
At the time of my visit, it sold for a whopping $3.30.  Unlike any other hot dog stand, Pink’s has
its own parking lot attendant. Located at the same location for 69 years, Pink’s
can be found by following the aroma of fresh meaty chili to a crowd of people
standing in line for an average of 30 minutes. 

The Conservatory Grill, the
bright and airy rooftop bar/grill atop the classically elegant Montage Hotel,
serves breathtaking views of the Hollywood Hills along with fresh, healthy
California cuisine.  Take your choice of
zestfully flavored soups, salads, and sandwiches.   The Heirloom tomato salad is amazing.  However, if you crave a hot dog, and Pink’s
is not your style, the Conservatory’s all-beef, quarter-pound, hot dog is
smothered with sauerkraut and grilled onions and slathered with stone-ground
mustard. .  At the time of my visit, it
sold for $12. 

Culture came to Los Angeles…big time…since the 2003
opening of the $274-million Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Jewish ‘Starchitect’ Frank Gehry’s undulating
stainless steel masterpiece has forever changed the image of Los Angeles just as
his Guggenheim Museum forever changed the image of Bilbao, Spain.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
And what would Los Angeles, that “gaudy shop window of wretched
excess”, be without its Hollywood?  The
hub of the movie business from the 1920s to the 1940s, Hollywood fell into a
state of drugs and disrepair in the 1950s. However, in the last decade
Tinseltown (as it was known in its heyday) began its ascent to the top
Who knows, in Hollywood you may even catch a rising

JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 38 national Travel Writer
Awards and an International Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in
Mariemont, Ohio.