Technically speaking, Beverly Hills is not L.A. It’s its own city within the city, surrounded by the city, much like the Vatican is surrounded by Rome. But any visitor to L.A. is bound to wander over to Beverly Hills to see the grand and stunning multi-million dollar homes, to have a drink at one of the fancy hotels, to eat good pizza or Chinese food at one of the many restaurants, and to window shop along Beverly, Canon and Rodeo Drives located between Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds. But to make this more of a walking tour than a shopping one, here’s what I suggest: if you can go in mid-May or mid-October, there is an outdoor Art Festival in the park area between the houses and the stores along Santa Monica Blvd. Painters, sculptors, and crafts folk show their wares under white tents. This art fair is a diversion of course because it’s more of a stroll as you wander from tent to tent looking at ceramic bead necklaces, silver and gold rings and bracelets, wooden chopping blocks, and ironic drawings of Howdy Doody hanging in a café with Rembrandt, Picasso and Van Gogh, but since it occupies the length of six city blocks, you do get some exercise as well as visual and mental stimulation.
Start at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on Wilshire and Rodeo Drive for breakfast or lunch (Al Pacino likes the piano playing from 5-8 on Wednesdays at the Boulevard restaurant), then walk the length of Rodeo Drive, looking at all the shops, crossing Santa Monica Blvd. and continuing another mile past the well manicured homes with their lovely trees and expensive cars until you hit Sunset Blvd. and the Beverly Hills Hotel. Go into that hotel and have a drink in the fabled Polo Lounge before the walk back, taking either Beverly or Canon Drive instead of Rodeo, to see more homes and different trees (Maple Drive has Maple trees, Beverly has palm trees) and stores. It’s only about a mile and a half between hotels, making it a three mile walk all together. But if you’re visiting when the art fair is on, that will add at least another mile or two, and if you stop to shop and enter various stores, that too adds some distance. This isn’t a power walk, but you will be entertained. When one of my favorite writers, J.P. Donleavy, author of The Ginger Man, visited some years ago from his home in Ireland this is the walk he wanted to make. And whenever I get letters from him he still mentions it.