TUCKED away in the Hollywood Hills between Griffith Park and Lake Hollywood is the scenic enclave of Beachwood Canyon. Home to more than 22,000 residents, it was first developed in the 1920s by a syndicate composed of Gen. M. H. Sherman, the founder of West Hollywood; Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler; and real estate mogul Sidney Woodruff. Its architecture and landscaping drew inspiration from the southern regions of France, Italy and Spain.
Offering privacy within minutes of the studios, the canyon and its quaint Hollywoodland development has seen its share of celebrity denizens, including Humphrey Bogart, Doris Day, Bela Lugosi and Madonna. Beachwood's most famous fixture is, of course, the Hollywood sign, originally installed atop Mt. Lee to advertise the real estate tract. Though once the site of a starlet's notorious suicide, nowadays the iconic letters are guarded by motion detectors and closed-circuit cameras -- anyone who gets closer than 50 yards risks arrest and a fine.
But the area has plenty of hidden treasures as well, such as the "Garden of Oz," a private mosaic wonderland open to the children of the canyon; the six sets of 1920s-era stone staircases (one featuring cascading ponds) that zigzag between hillside streets; and the local landmarks below.
The neighborhood hub is the Village Coffee Shop (2695 N. Beachwood Drive;  467-5398), where you'll find breakfast served all day and a bulletin board with postings of local activities, rooms for rent and various services offered.
About 20 Dominican nuns are cloistered at the Monastery of the Angels (1977 Carmen Ave.;  466-2186). Although their primary occupation is prayer, the sisters also operate a modest gift shop, where they sell their own confections, including hand-dipped chocolates and pumpkin bread.
Fittingly, Hollywoodland Antiques (2699 1/2 Beachwood Drive;  962-2438), below, is brimming with rare memorabilia, props from early motion picture sets, along with vintage pinball machines, furniture and jewelry.
Open since 1933, the Beachwood Market (2701 Belden Drive,  464-7154) was redesigned in 1952 by architect John Lautner (subject of an exhibition opening at the Hammer Museum this weekend), who added its distinctive glass front.
Sunset Ranch (3400 N. Beachwood Drive;  469-5450) offers horseback riding and boarding at the top of Beachwood Canyon. The Friday night moonlight ride takes participants through Griffith Park to the Mexican restaurant Viva Cantina in Burbank for dinner and drinks, then back again in four hours.
ON THE WEB
For more about Beachwood Canyon and other neighborhoods through Southern California, go to theguide.latimes.com/neighborhoods.