Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, CA

Louise Speaks:  Well once we finished Route 66 and since I have a daughter than lives in Southern California, we decided to finish the list from Patricia’s Book “1000 Places To See Before You Die” and tour the sights of Southern California.  Patricia lists many areas that are just miles apart.  That’s how California is, you cross the street and you’re in another city.  So over the next couple days we went back and forth through out the Los Angeles area.  For blogging purposes, I’m going to lump the attractions in each city together even though we may have seen them on different days.  Mapquest was not my friend in doing this itinerary.

Beverly Hills being it’s own city is surrounded by Los Angeles on three sides and West Hollywood to the East.  Beverly Hills was originally a Spanish ranch where lima beans were grown.  The city of Beverly Hills was incorporated in 1914 by a group of investors who had failed to find oil, but found water instead and eventually decided to develop this area into a town.  By 2013, its population had grown to over 34,000 residents.   Beverly Hills is sometimes referred to as “90210”, one of the primary zip codes in the country and is home to many actors and celebrities.

Rodeo_Drive_&_Via_Rodeo,_Beverly_Hills,_LA,_CA,_The city also includes the famous Rodeo Drive (pronounced Ro-DAY-o) shopping district.  This shopping district consist of only 6 square blocks but will leave you with a bigger than life impression of the rich and famous.  This shopping district is also known as the Golden Triangle as it is framed by Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and Canon Drive…the heart of Beverly Hills.  Here you will find big ticket stores like Tiffany’s, Harry Winstons, and every designer imaginable.  We felt so out of place, we didn’t even want to stop and park as every car was a BMW or Mercedes.  Our Toyota just felt out of place.  The idea of “window shopping” just didn’t seem fun.  The city must know this as they actually have a Trolley Tour to just take you through the shopping district.

100_8138At the end of Beverly Hills and on Sunset Boulevard is the Beverly Hills Hotel.  Affectionately known as the Pink Palace because of it’s outside color.  Construction on The Beverly Hills Hotel began in 1911 and the hotel was finished in 1912.  The Beverly Hills Hotel  was the first substantial building project in what developed into Beverly Hills.  Over the past 100 years, Hollywood stars have enjoyed 100_8139the timeless glamour of this dramatic setting.  Being in the center of a huge city, the relaxed atmosphere and seamless service adds to the perfection of this hotel.  The hotel is surround by 12 acres of lush, tropical gardens and ever exotic flower imaginable.

Remaining faithful to it’s original architecture, the hotel has been renovated to preserve it’s supreme level of comfort and flair.  You can stay in style in a luxurious room, a spacious suite or a secluded private bungalow.  The lowest rate we were told was $555.00 a night.  The outdoors is equally luxurious.  The palm tree lined pool comes with private cabanas, and complimentary poolside ice cream sundaes and mojito pop treats all day long.

1518325-The_Museum_of_Televison_and_Radio_Beverly_HillsThe Museum of Television and Radio is quite a unique place.  It is actually a shrine of how the residents of Beverly Hills made their fortune.  You are actually able to go into the museum and request a favorite show from a collection of more than 120,000  programs covering 85 years and view the program in a private cubicle.

cee19bbce67e8d693c4db7320085fe26In the same neighborhood is an old Deli called Nate & Al’s Deli, which was a favorite hang out of Groucho Marcs and Doris Day.  There are always stories being told by patrons and the staff.  Some of the stories they have just heard themselves and other stories from the old timers, they actually experienced.

100_8039Just outside of the busy section of Beverly Hills is Greystone Park home to the Greystone Mansion.  The mansion is a Tudor style mansion on a landscaped estate with distinctive formal English gardens.  The 55-room,  former residence, is 46,000 sq ft 100_8043and is situated on 16 acres of land.  At the time it was built, it cost over $4 million and was the most expensive home built in California  up to that time.  Originally the estate was a gift from an oil tycoon to his son, and his family. There is a bit of history to the mansion however, as the original owner  died in a guest bedroom in a murder-100_8048suicide with his secretary.  The official story indicated the secretary murdered the owner either because of a “nervous disorder” or inflamed with anger over not receiving a raise.  Others point out that the owners gun was the murder weapon.  The owner was not buried in  a  Catholic  cemetery, with the rest of his family, indicating that he had committed suicide.  Both men are buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in  Glendale, CA within a few hundred yards of each other.

100_8051In 1963, the new owners of the estate planned to subdivide the property and demolish the mansion.  Beverly Hills stopped the demolition by purchasing the mansion.  Following the purchase of the estate by the city of Beverly Hills in 1965,  the property became a city park in 1971 and was subsequently added to the  National Register of Historic Places in 1976.  The house and grounds are often used in film making and television productions. The house’s descending staircase is one of the most famous sets in Hollywood.  In fact while we were here they were filming something on those exact stairs.

100_8044The current use of the Greystone Mansion is abundant.  Many festivals, the Hollywood Ball,  movie premiers, and many other public and private affairs are held in the mansion or on the grounds.  More than 65 movies and television productions have been filmed on the grounds of Greystone Mansion.  There are posters throughout the park listing the scenes of such productions.  Most popular may be “Body Guard”, all 3 “Spider Man” movies, ‘Star Trek” and the  “Muppets Movie”.  TV series like the “Bold and the Beautiful”, “Murder She Wrote”,  “Revenge” and “Remington Steele” were all filmed here.

We walked around the mansion for quite some time and just imagined what it must have been like living here as a small child and as an adult with such grandeur.

Today is a beautiful summer day.  The weather is perfect with a slight breeze and being in Beverly Hills was great.  We visited several other stops on our list but will blog about them separately.  Beverly Hills is a great place to take out of town guests and it is a tourist attraction, but with so much beauty we really didn’t seem to mind.  I would rate Beverly Hills an A.  It’s just a great place to drive around, look at the luxurious homes, the well manicured lawns and the colors of many many flowers and shrubs.

Thelma Speaks:

Santa Monica and Venice, CA

Louise Speaks:  This is the typical California Beach community.  You see it in the movies, and you feel it as you walk the streets.  Everywhere you look you see people dressed in shorts and wearing flip flops.  The sky is almost always blue and you can smell the ocean no matter where you are.

santa monicaSanta Monica is a beachfront city in western LA.  Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the east, and Venice  on the south.  Santa Monica is well known for its affluent single-family neighborhoods but also has many neighborhoods consisting primarily of condominiums and apartments. Over two-thirds of Santa Monica’s residents are renters.

20150930_190724Partly because of its agreeable climate, Santa Monica had become a famed resort town  by the early 20th century. The city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core, significant job growth and increased tourism. LA’s most beachy community is no longer the sleepy, shambling, relaxed resort town it once was.  The flat streets of Santa Monica are still perfect for walking, jogging, biking or taking in the sun once the morning fog lifts.

The third street Promenade that was once a shabby outdoor mall, is now the new urban spaces and one of Southern California’s favorite gathering places.  With it’s quaint shops, cafe’s and movie theaters there is always something to do in Santa Monica.

100_1005The Santa Monica Pier remains a popular and iconic destination.  It boast a collection of classic carnival rides, souvenir shops and best of all a genuine 1930’s wooden merry-go-round.  This is also the end of Route 66 so we were here a few days ago completing that journey.

100_8059A blog from Patricia would not be complete unless you mention a few places to eat and sleep.  One of those spots was Valentinos.    Valentinos brings the spirit of Italian dining to LA with exceptional cuisine and an award winning wine cellar.  The 100,000 plus bottle wine cellar has been named the greatest of them all.  Valentinos actually flies in fresh ingredients from Italy to ensure the most authentic Italian food around.  Valentino is dedicated to providing a true taste of Italy and always strives to capture the charm, warmth, and feeling of the Italian kitchen.

100_8061Back on the beach front and within sight of the pier is the delightful Shutters on the Beach.  This is one of just two hotels in Santa Monica positioned directly on the beach rather than across the street.  One of the most alluring accommodations 100_8068in the area, it manages to combine the casual Cape Cod resort look as all the rooms have balconies that open up to let in the sound of the ocean.  Shutters on the Beach offers the luxurious amenities that guests come to expect including a spa and two eateries, One Pico and Pedals Cafe, both seaside cafe’s attached to the hotel.  We were actually only able to find one cafe and it is named Coast Cafe.  It is attached to the hotel and carries the address that One Pico and Pedals Cafe used to have.  So that being said we toured the cafe, and really don’t know if it’s the same one the Patricia refers to in her book, “1000 Places To See Before You Die.”

100_8082Just south of Santa Monica is the odd ball community of Venice.  Venice is the scene for many movies.  In Monster In Law this is where Jennifer Lopez lived.  The Venice boardwalk keeps you alert because there are roller blades and bikes everywhere.  Venice is a residential, commercial and recreational beachfront neighborhood 14 miles West of LA.  You can’t go any further West, as you are right on the ocean.

Venice was founded in 1905 as a seaside resort town. It was an independent city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles. Venice has always been known as a hangout for the creative and the artistic.  Today, Venice is known for its canals, beaches, and the circus-like Ocean Front Walk, a two-and-a-half-mile pedestrian-only promenade that features performers, mystics, artists and vendors.  Venice is  just north of Santa Monica.

In the beginning, Los Angeles had neglected Venice for so long that,  it had become known as the Slum by the Sea.  Even back in the 70’s when I would come here it was full of Tattoo parlors, and shabby dealers selling goods on the front, but not sure what was being sold in the back.  The Shoreline Crips were founded in the early 1970s, making them one of the first Crip  sets in Los Angeles.  In the early 1990s V-13 and the Shoreline Crips were involved in a bloody, brutal war over crack cocaine sales territories.  While violence has decreased, the Crips continue to remain active in Venice.  By 2002, numbers of gang members in Venice were reduced due to  increased police presence. By 2003, many Los Angeles Westside gang members resettled in the city of Inglewood.  However, it is still said that  gun play of the Shoreline Crips and the V-13 is as much a part of life in Venice as are pit bulls  playing with blond Labs  at the local dog park.

100_1044What makes Venice famous today is the 3 mile long Venice Beach Boardwalk, a wide paved promenade that runs alongside the white sandy beach.  Since the 1960’s Venice was known as the hippie scene and much of the hippie vibe lingers still.  There are many inexpensive cafe’s and vendors selling trendy clothes, sunglasses and real and temporary tattoos.  The streets are full of musicians, rollerblading, bikes, bikinis, bums and your California freaks.  Here is the place you can see just about anything.

100_8075The area is also known as the weight lifting capital of the world.  Muscle Beach is still full of pumping iron men and woman.  There are several areas of different types of weight lifting exhibits and I was even taught how to punch a bag.  I was instructed to just use one hand as to not hurt myself.  It was a joke, but all done in fun.  But most take this area serious as there are bleachers where you can watch and root for your favorite body builder during a competition.  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting career began here after he became a regular body builder on Muscle Beach.

100_8078You will also find handball courts, paddle tennis courts, a skate dancing plaza, and the numerous beach volleyball courts.  The basketball courts in Venice are known across the country for their high level of street ball and numerous NBA players were developed or recruited from these courts.

Venice is also a very popular surfing location.  The Venice breakwater is an acclaimed local surf spot located north of the Venice pier and south of Santa Monica Pier.  This spot has differing breaks depending on the swell intensity, swell direction, tide and time of the day.

Many famous celebrities live or have lived in this ocean front community of Venice.  Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, and Robert Downey are examples, but I don’t think this is the place you would see them walking down the boardwalk…….

I’ve always liked the boardwalk of Venice and love love love the Santa Monica Pier.  Both these Southern California attractions deserve an A rating.  Yet they are tourist attractions, but isn’t that why you go to California?

AM…page 928

Thelma Speaks:

Route 66—San Bernardino, CA to Santa Monica Pier, CA

Louise Speaks:  Day 19:  September 30, 2015.  Well this is it.  We hope to finish Route 66 today.  After staying in Rancho Cucamonga last night, we drove back to San Bernardino, CA.  to begin where we left off last night.  Hopefully we reach the Pier by night fall.

100_7972Before we looked for Route 66 stuff, we had a few quirky things to see.  The first being the grave site of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy’s Guitarist.  Why this is quirky I have no idea, but the grave was pretty unique.  It had guitars and airplanes, probably because he tied in a plane crash.  He was actually in a small plane and was buzzing his tour bus while the band members were sleeping.  He had done it twice with no mishap, but the third time he crashed and was killed.

20150929_184257From the cemetery it was off to find a Little League Statue.  This was actually very hard to find using our directions.  We asked several people but no one seemed to know what we were talking about.  We just starting looking for baseball fields, and waa laa, we found it.  The statue is 12 to 15 feet tall and is painted in detail down to the Angels uniform and cap.  The statue is to honor the annual Western Regional Little League Tournament that the city of San Bernardino puts on.  The statue is very life-like and can be seen from the 215 freeway as he greets motorists speeding by.

100_7977Now that we were on the Route 66 trail, we were told, once again, that the longest map of route 66 is painted on the side of San Bernardino’s City Hall.  Well, how hard can it be to find City Hall?  For us, pretty hard.  We couldn’t tell the difference between City Hall, and the Court House, or the Public Service Building, etc. etc.  It’s actually a large legal complex, so we drove around many times and there it was.  This map also serves as a Hall of Fame Wall.  In fact the wall is titled, “Cruisin’ Hall of Fame”.  Every year since 1995, plaques have been added to honor those who have made a major difference to the uniquely American automotive cruising era.  The map is there as well, and the plaques are just added along the way.

100_0956Our last stop in San Bernardino, CA is the Original McDonald’s.  Now my son-in-law and I had a disagreement as to the first McDonald’s and he claims it is in Illinois, BUT after some research, the first “franchise” McDonald’s is in Illinois, but this was the very first McDonald’s site.  The site is now a museum.  Here you will find everything from the first milkshake machine, the happy meal toys, statues of Ronald 100_0949McDonald, every piece of history that can be found is in this museum.  Some of the artifacts date back to the 1940’s.  The outside of the building has a very artistic wall mural and the original McDonald playground toys are sitting out front.  What we were most interested in was the 11 foot long french fry.  I could not find an explanation for the french fry, but the employee on duty knew the story.  Apparently when the french fry machine was being used for a newspaper story, they peeled off 11 feet of potato, making it the longest french fry.  Over the years the french fry is all shriveled up, and it looks disgusting…but it is on display (we had to ask where it was) in a case, if you ever want to go see it.

100_0961From San Bernardino, if you stay on Foothill Blvd.  that is actually Route 66.  Foothill Blvd. now goes all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, with a few deviations.  Continuing West we weren’t sure if we were still in San Bernardino or in the city of Rialto, CA.  We were looking for the Wigwam Village Motel No. 7.  Apparently along Route 66, at one time there were seven of these wigwam motels.  There are only two left, 100_0966this one in Rialto and the one we visited a few days ago in Holbrook, AZ.  This has got to be the cutest, most unusual motel, you have ever seen.  The rooms have a sleeping area, and a sitting area, and a restroom, all inside an actual wigwam.  The windows and doors are very low as the walls and ceiling peak to the top.  Rates range from $50 to $80 depending on the number of people.  This is definitely a place I’m coming back to stay.

100_7997Continuing West through Fontana, CA is a quirky thing called a Big Orange Stand.  This orange stand once sold Orange Juice along Route 66.  It was more interesting finding it and walking to it than the stand itself.  There was major construction going on so we had to jump over puddles and walk through the mud just to get a picture.  I’m sure once the construction is all gone, the Orange Stand will be open for business and the walk less complicated.  Today it is part of the Bono’s Fruit Company and I’m sure they sell more than oranges.

100_7999We are now back in Rancho Cucamonga, CA where they have a Vintners Walk which explains the history of Wine Making.  My daughter who lives here has no idea what I’m talking about.  The directions, make it sound like it is in a shopping center.  All we knew was it was on a corner.  Turns out I have been here many times and it is a circular tube walkway, that at every few feet is a story of a local winery and how it began.  Rancho Cucamonga is grape country, so many winery’s close by.

100_0989Rancho Cucamonga also has an overpass that pays tribute to the cars that drove on Route 66.  It is very artistic and is three dimensional.  You get a different picture from every angle.  Apparently Thelma’s relative was here for the ribbon country when the overpass was complete.  You really have to stop and look at it instead of just driving under it.  There is a walking park just to the right of the overpass where you can park and really take it all in.

100_0991Continuing on Foothill Blvd, AKA Route 66, you reach the town of Azusa, CA.  Here there is supposed to be another McDonald’s from the 60’s as well as a very old Wells Fargo Bank.  What we really wanted to find was the Foothill Drive In Theater.  For you young folks, you have no idea how popular Drive Ins were back in the 60’s.  I went to high school not to far from here, but I don’t think I was at this drive in, but maybe I was.  At any rate, this drive in is still here, and just looking at the sign it brings back great memories.

100_8017Next is the town of Monrovia, CA.  We’re told that Monrovia is home to the Aztec Hotel, a historical landmark.  This is one of the examples of Mauan Revival architecture still in existence.  The hotel was built-in 1924 and closed for renovations in 2012.  The hotel is supposed to open in 2015 or later.  Looking at it we can’t tell if the renovations are done or not, but the hotel does not look very inviting.  Maybe it’s the color or maybe it is the architecture, but it doesn’t belong on Route 66.

100_8018What we did find a bit interesting in Monrovia, CA was right in the middle of an old neighbor hood is an old gas station…one like what we’ve been seeing on Route 66.  It does not appear to have been restored, but here it sits, literally in the middle of a neighborhood.  Someone could turn this into a general store or an ice cream shop and fit right in.

100_8021We now reach the heart of Route 66, Pasadena, CA. Pasadena is one of those towns like Illinois that has one Route 66 from 1926 to 1940 and another part from 1940 until the freeways took over.  We are trying to follow signs by Route 66 attractions and don’t really know what portion we are on.  We know that Colorado Blvd goes right through the center of town and is also the route of the Rose Parade.  Right on Colorado Blvd is the Saga Motor Hotel.  Walking in the lobby you feel like you are Lucy and Ricky Ricardo walking in to rent a room…it is right out of the 50’s.  The pool is lushly landscaped with swaying palm trees and a clear blue pool.  What a hidden gem.  It is close to everything and easy to get to by using the metro link train.

100_8025Going through the city of Pasadena, we were looking for the Bekins Storage Roof Sign.  The sign was erected in 1926 and it was converted to a neon sign in 1929.  The sign is 60 feet off the ground on the top of the Bekins Storage Company.  The sign was designed and placed here to attract drivers on Route 66 from 1926 until 1940.  This huge sign is the only surviving large roof top sign from before World War II.  It is also one of the few remaining signs of its time from that period.  In 1960 Pasadena passed a law banning signs of this size on roof tops.  However, the city made an exception to allow signs from before 1960 to be exempt.  Therefore, the Bekins Storage Sign was saved.  With a sign of this size you think it would be easy to find.  We drove up and down Fair Oaks Ave many times looking for this sign.  It wasn’t until we stopped and asked about the sign that we were told the Bekins Storage Company is now Public Storage, so the big orange Public Storage sign is what we were looking for.  You think that might have been mentioned in the information I had.  The sign was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

100_8022We then went looking for a Milestone Marker 11.  It is supposed to be in front of a McDonald’s.  How many McDonald’s can the city of Pasadena have?  This was one of the easiest things to find.  This milestone marker was placed all Foothill Blvd (Route 66) as one of the six highways established and marked by Los Angeles County in the 1900’s.  This marker marked 11 miles from the Los Angeles County Courthouse.  Each highway was also marked using a block system.  Every mile, or road would be 10 blocks long.  When the highway system disbanded in 1908 the highway system was forgotten.  Mile Marker 11 is the only remaining milestone of the three placed in Pasadena.  If you 100_8024go hunting for Milestone Marker 11, take a moment to look at the beautiful building across the street…I think it’s a church, but I’m not sure.

100_8035Nightfall is sneaking up on us, as is LA traffic.  We have to go through Beverly Hills and Hollywood, and there are many things to see here, but they are not part of Route 66.  Today was all about finishing Route 66 and getting to Santa Monica Pier.  We did reach the pier, but finding a place to park was another story.  Today is Wednesday, don’t people work?  We parked on Ocean Ave, where the Will Rogers Plaque is supposed to 100_8027be.  This plaque is supposed to mark the 2500 mile journey of Route 66.  There are stories of where it actually ends, but we are going to both locations just to make sure, then we will walk the pier as you can’t go further in a car than the ocean.  Since it is getting dark, the plaque was hard to find, but we did find it.  We also found the Route 66 end on the Pier.



100_8033What a journey this has been. What an adventure.  And what fun.  Today’s adventure took us about 9 hours and we drove 82 miles.  So much to see, and so much traffic.  In total our Route 66 adventure took us 19 days, 8 states and 2648 miles.  So all in all driving 148 miles extra to see all the quirky things really isn’t that bad. This is definitely something you should put on your bucket list.  It was on ours, and now it’s done.  I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did.

Thelma Speaks: