It’s hard to imagine Los Angeles as a quiet village, but it was actually that way not long ago. Prior to the 1920s, Westwood in West LA was mostly ranchland owned by English immigrant and businessman, Arthur Letts. In 1925, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) got so many enrollees it needed a new campus site. Since then, Westwood was transformed into a modern and student-friendly neighborhood and the rest, as they say, is history. Planning a visit or considering the place as your next home? Here are some of the best things to do in Westwood.
Outdoor Activities in Westwood
1. Go hiking.
California State Parks receives over 6.5 million visitors on average each year, and more so amid the pandemic. Take a short drive and enjoy hiking trails that stretch for miles. Check out the Getty View Park, Westridge Trailhead, or Sullivan Canyon Park, for starters. Definitely one of the best things to do in Westwood.
2. Enjoy a moment of calm.
UCLA is home to some 3,000 plant species, making its campus grounds lush and relaxing. If you want a moment of calm outdoors, visit UCLA’s Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, which spans over five acres. The garden features more than 70 sculptures nestled underneath a canopy of beautiful Brazilian Jacaranda and South African coral trees. Oh, and there’s Wi-Fi, too.
Sports in Westwood
3. Join a basketball sports league.
You don’t need to be a UCLA student to enjoy the facilities at the Westwood Recreation Center. Through the establishment, parents can enroll their kids to learn aerobics, basketball, soccer, swimming, or tennis. Adults, meanwhile, can join the basketball sports leagues offered in spring and summertime. One of the best things to do in Westwood for some fun physical activity.
4. Cheer for the UCLA Bruins.
The Bruins refer to all of UCLA’s athletic teams playing football, basketball, beach volleyball, or golf, among others. The Bruins’ football team, in particular, competes in the NCAA Division’s Pac-12 Conference. Interestingly enough, the Bruins have had an intense rivalry with the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans for years. Want to show LA pride? Watching a Bruins game is one of the best things to do in Westwood when you want to feel like a local.
Museums in Westwood
5. Pore over non-Western art and archaeological artifacts.
One of the fascinating Westwood attractions within UCLA is the Fowler Museum, housing thousands of art pieces and archaeological materials. The artifacts include both ancient and modern objects from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific. Among the museums in Westwood, this is undeniably a piece of UCLA history that has been around since 1963.
- Timings: Thursday to Sunday: 11am–5pm
- Admission is free
6. Geek out over space debris.
Museums in Westwood aren’t just about art, culture and some people from the past. If you find anything space-related cool, then head on over to UCLA to check out its meteorite collection. They have over 2,500 samples from 1,500 various meteorites – one of the biggest collections available in the US. Fun fact: the rocks were donated by California residents who found them in dry lakes throughout the Mojave Dessert. One of the best things to do in Westwood if you’re into astronomy.
- Timings: Monday – Friday: 9am-4pm
- Admission is free
7. Go on an art appreciation spree.
UCLA’s Hammer Museum might have only opened in 1990, but it’s arguably one of the most important of Westwood attractions. That’s because it features both rising contemporary artists as well as paintings from the 16th to 20th century. Apart from exhibitions, the Hammer Museum also holds lectures, film screenings, and concerts. Hands down one of the best things to do in Westwood in terms of art and culture.
- Timings: Tuesday-Sunday: 11am-6pm
- Admission is free
Cultural Locations in Westwood
8. Visit Marilyn Monroe’s crypt.
It’s hard to not think about the golden age of Hollywood when you talk about Los Angeles. One of Westwood’s most popular tourist spots is Marilyn Monroe’s grave in Westwood Memorial Park. Aside from the customary flowers, visitors even leave lipstick marks on her granite vault to honor her memory. So sought-after were Marilyn’s neighboring vaults that Playboy’s Hugh Hefner asked to be buried in the one beside hers. One of the best things to do in Westwood, if you love anything that has to do with celebrities.
9. Fox Theater
Since we’re talking about Hollywood, we have to talk about Fox Theater, one of the most popular Westwood attractions. Built in 1930, the Fox Theater was and still remains a popular venue for Hollywood premieres. The structure is best known for its iconic 170-foot Spanish Revival/Moderne tower with the art deco “Fox” sign. At night, the tower is illuminated and serves as a beacon of Westwood village for both residents and visitors. Add visiting the landmark to your list of best things to do in Westwood.
Shopping Centers, Bars, & Restaurants in Westwood
10. Find treasure at Westwood Boulevard
Weaving through UCLA’s Sunset Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood Boulevard is a busy street filled with unique shops and restaurants. From gift stores to shops selling tobacco, jewelry, clothing, and UCLA merch, you’ll find everything you need along Westwood Boulevard. Definitely one of the best places to visit in Westwood.
11. Watch a Dodgers game over a mojito.
Nothing like a refreshing drink with friends to say hello to the weekend. Westwood’s Rocco Tavern along Gayley Avenue hits the spot when it comes to Italian comfort food, specialty cocktails, and warm service. Diners love the Rocco’s burger, which features a chargrilled patty with lettuce, tomato, red onions, and thousand island dressing. Perfect for happy hour. Roccos’ Tavern is definitely one of the most recommended bars in Westwood.
- Monday–Saturday: 12pm-2am (the next day)
- Sunday: 9am-2am (the next day)
12. Try “ketchup leather.”
If we’re exploring Westwood’s restaurants, then it only makes sense to ask where UCLA students eat. Famous alumni and NFL quarterback Brett Hundley swears by Plan Check Kitchen + Bar’s burgers made with “ketchup leather.” Basically, it’s dehydrated homemade ketchup that’s sliced like cheese. Plan Kitchen’s burgers feature mouthwatering ingredients, from smash patties, Americanized dashi cheese, to honey sriracha fried chicken. Yum.
We hope this virtual tour gives you plenty of great ideas for museums, outdoor activities, cultural locations, and amazing restaurants in Westwood. Have fun!
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