Hail to the hills of Westwood, the land of the Bruins. With the charm of a college town, this west LA neighborhood is a haven that UCLA students have claimed as their own. ‘The Village’ boasts historical landmarks and Mediterranean-inspired architecture, as well as charming streets lined with shops and food joints. Here, The Culture Trip brings you the best museums, theaters, and hidden gems to enhance your cultural experience of West LA.
Perhaps the most iconic image of Westwood since its construction in the 1930s, the Fox Theater reminds onlookers of a different era of cinema culture in Los Angeles. The crisp white tower can be seen from miles away, a glistening art deco ‘Fox’ sign displayed atop. The Fox Theater has hosted countless movie premieres throughout the years and continues to do so. On any given weekend, the intersection at Broxton and Weyburn will be covered by a red carpet and flooded with glamorous Hollywood elites. When Fox Theater isn’t being used for a premiere, there are several showtimes a day for you to experience all that this theater has to offer.
Clarissa Tossin. Brasília, Cars, Pools & Other Modernities, 2009–13 (detail). Made in L.A. 2014. Installation view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. June 15-September 7, 2014. | Photo by Brian Forrest
Westwood is home to one of LA’s best art museums, The Hammer. Offering a variety of exhibits, films, and talks, the Hammer Museum has something for every art lover. The majority of the featured artwork is modern, but you will also find pieces from Monet and Degas in their well-curated permanent collection. There are also several interactive exhibits, allowing visitors of varying interests to truly enjoy a relaxing afternoon of art. As a bonus, the museum offers free admission for the public, making a trip to the Hammer all the more tempting.
The Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles | Photo Courtesy of the High Museum of Art
Located at the heart of UCLA’s campus, this internationally recognized museum primarily features works of art from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Featuring several exhibits at any given time, there is also a lecture hall plus spaces for art workshops and musical performances. The Fowler is the perfect spot for those who love the global arts or for those who are interested in the intersection of art and culture. Admission to the museum is free of charge.
While most UCLA students appreciate Murphy Sculpture Garden for its rolling hills and great study spots, it is also home to one of the finest outdoor sculpture installations, with over 70 sculptures featured. Featured artists include Auguste Rodin and Hans Arp, contributing to the diversity of styles present. The Hammer Museum offers tours of the sculpture garden for groups, or you may choose to explore this serene space on your own.
Profeta is Westwood’s quaint, welcoming coffee shop for those who consider themselves to be coffee aficionados. Profeta strives to perfect their beverages by offering a simple menu of classics, as well as an assortment of fresh pastries. The interior of the coffee shop is furnished with modern furniture and artwork, creating a pleasant juxtaposition with the red brick walls. Coffee can also be enjoyed in a small courtyard outside. Whether you’re stopping for a quick caffeine fix or looking for a great study environment, Profeta is the answer.
Housed in one of the first structures in the Westwood Village, The Geffen is a not-for-profit theater named after entertainment mogul David Geffen. The Geffen is dedicated to cultivating an appreciation for the arts and giving back to the community, and has cultivated programs with high school students and community education campaigns. With two stages, there are three to five plays offered each season.
If you happen to be in Westwood on a Thursday, be sure to stop by the Farmers’ Market on Broxton. Whether you are interested in picking up some local produce or simply browsing the handmade products, a stroll through the market will always be worthwhile. Several food stands are also available, including highly praised Elote (Mexican street corn) and Afghan Bolani. Be sure to visit this lively market and get a taste of the local flair of Westwood Village.
Located in the southeast corner of UCLA’s campus, the Mildred E. Mathias BotanicalGardens are, quite literally, an oasis in Westwood. It is built around a creek bed and has been supplemented with thousands of plant species. If you are interested in getting away from the bustling city or have an affinity for biodiversity, you will enjoy the variety of exotic plants throughout the gardens. Docent led tours are available, as well as garden maps to facilitate individual walking tours.
Diddy Riese stands as yet another iconic symbol of Westwood, with its popularity evident from the eternally present line streaming from the door. College students and visitors alike line up to enjoy one of the famous cookies or an ice cream sandwich. As a bonus, this shop is perfect for a college student’s budget, with each cookie costing only 50 cents. Whether you are in need of a sugar fix or a dozen cookies to share with friends, Diddy Riese should not be missed.
If you’re not satisfied with the spattering of stars that you can see on any given night in LA, look no further than the Planetarium at UCLA. Located in the university’s South Campus region, the Planetarium offers free lectures on Wednesday evenings, as well as planetarium shows and telescope viewing. Located on the roof of the Mathematical Sciences building, the Planetarium offers great views of UCLA’s campus and the lights of Westwood Village. The Planetarium welcomes astronomers of all ages.