A 16-mile route leads to top-notch museums, trendy shops in Beverly Hills, and the Pacific.
Thick with cars and pedestrians, lined with historic 20th-century architecture, Wilshire Boulevard passes through a colorful range of neighborhoods. From downtown Los Angeles to the ocean the drive is only 16 miles long, but allow most of a day.
- WESTLAKE MacArthur Park, with its gentle grass slopes and placid lake, is the heart of this Latino neighborhood. Take a walk or paddleboat ride, then head over to Mama's Hot Tamales Café (2122 W. Seventh St.), where the changing menu might include Oaxacan tamales—tender corn masa wrapped around black mole chicken and steamed in banana leaves.
- KOREATOWN Soothe your traffic-frayed nerves with a tea ceremony at Hwa Sun Ji (3960 Wilshire Blvd., 213- 382-5302), a body scrub at Aroma Wilshire Center's spa (3680 Wilshire Blvd., www.aromaresort.com), or a tangy mound of frozen yogurt at Pinkberry (3300 W. Sixth St., #4, www.pinkberry.com).
- MIRACLE MILE Find everything from Monet landscapes to the fossilized fang of a saber-toothed cat along Museum Row, home to the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (5801 Wilshire Blvd., www.tarpits.org), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd., www.lacma.org), and Petersen Automotive Museum (6060 Wilshire Blvd., www.petersen.org).
- BEVERLY HILLS Power shopping, anyone? Even if you can't spend $10,000 on a beaded gown, it's worth visiting Prada (343 N. Rodeo Dr., 310- 278-8661) in a sleek building designed by star architect Rem Koolhaas.
- WESTWOOD Escape thronging moviegoers and UCLA students at peaceful Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery (1218 Glendon Ave., 310-474-1579), the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe, Burt Lancaster, Natalie Wood, and Frank Zappa.
- SANTA MONICA Wilshire deadends at Pacific Palisades Park, a ribbon of green along coastal bluffs. In the lounge atop the Huntley Hotel (1111 Second St., www.thehuntleyhotel.com), install yourself in one of the diaphanous cabanas for a kumquat cooler and a view of an orange sun melting into the Pacific.
Photography courtesy of Carol M. Highsmith Collection at the Library of Congress
This article was first published in March 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.