Culver City has been an epicenter of filmmaking from the silent era through the present, with Sony Studios a major resident of the area, but in recent years a vibrant redevelopment has turned this area into a star attraction of galleries, theaters, shops and many of L.A.'s hottest restaurants.
Ford's Filling Station (9531 Culver Blvd.,  202-1470, www.fordsfillingstation.net) began the Culver restaurant renaissance with its inspired gastropub fare. Local and organic ingredients constitute the healthful cuisine at Akasha (9543 Culver Blvd.,  845-1700, www.akasharestaurant.com), while lines out the door attest to the freshness and flavor of the salads prepared at Tender Greens (9523 Culver Blvd.,  842- 8300, www.tendergreensfood.com). The lively two-story Rush Street (9546 Washington Blvd.,  837-9546, www.rushstreetculvercity.com) brings a Chi-town vibe with its hearty grub and welcoming bar. The newly opened Saint Amour (9725 Culver Blvd.,  842-8155, www.lesaintamour.com) dishes authentic Parisian brasserie food while K-Zo (9240 Culver Blvd.,  202-8890, www.k-zo.com), with its great sushi and inspired Japanese-French small plates, is where the chefs love to dine.
Helms Bakery District
The former historic bakery houses lifestyle stores and destination restaurants. H.D. Buttercup (3225 Helms Ave.,  558-8900, www.hdbuttercup.com) is a sprawling space featuring furniture and home accessories. Beacon (3280 Helms Ave.,  838-7500, www.beacon-la.com) serves Asian fusion small plates like its tasty Kaki Fry (crispy oysters) and its own twist on fish 'n' chips. Line up early for a table at Father's Office (3229 Helms Ave.,  815-9820, www.fathersoffice.com) and its craft beers on tap and signature burgers. You can find L.A.'s best hot dogs made with grass-fed beef at Let's Be Frank ( www.letsbefrankdogs.com), the bright red trailer regularly parked on Helms Avenue.
A touch of the unusual
The category-defying Museum of Jurassic Technology (9341 Venice Blvd.,  836-6131, www.mjt.org) is a wondrous catacomb of strange artifacts and oddities including a sculpture of Pope John Paul II carved from a single human hair. Star Eco Station (10101 W. Jefferson Blvd.,  842-8060, www.ecostation.org) is a haven for exotic wildlife that have been victims of illegal trade. You can visit or volunteer for hands-on experience with the many rescued residents, which include rare reptiles, wild cats, tropical birds and fish.
Sip cocktails in the cozy lobby of the historic Culver Hotel (9400 Culver Blvd.,  558-9400, www.culverhotel.com) and wonder that its former residents included the Munchkins from "The Wizard of Oz." The culinary supply superstore Surfas (8777 Washington Blvd.,  559-4770, www.surfasonline.com) is a marvel of gleaming kitchen equipment and gourmet food ingredients. There are also cooking demonstrations and an in-store cafe.