Beverly Hills and environs have plenty of famous hotels, including the luxury-laden Peninsula Beverly Hills (9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.peninsula.com/BeverlyHills) and L'Ermitage (9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills; www.lermitagebh.com), the celebrity-heavy Four Seasons Hotel (just outside Beverly Hills at 300 S. Doheny Drive, Los Angeles; www.fourseasons.com/losangeles) and the massive Beverly Hilton (9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.beverlyhilton.com). But the elder statesman is the 210-room Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills; www.beverlyhillshotel.com), which opened in 1912. Just a glimpse of the lobby's golden glow and artful palm fronds hints that fame and fortune are concentrated here, and the rack rates confirm it: about $500 a night and up. So maybe you'll settle for breakfast in its Polo Lounge instead. Or perhaps, like Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe before you, you can pay just about anything but prefer a place to hide. In that case, the Beverly Hills Hotel's slightly pricier sibling, Hotel Bel Air (701 Stone Canyon Road, Beverly Hills; www.hotelbelair.com), reopened in late 2011 after a two-year-closure for additions and improvements. In case you've lost track of who owns both of these lodgings, they are part of Dorchester Collection, a subsidiary of the Brunei Investment Agency -- in other words, the sultan of Brunei.
8. SoBev and beyond
Museum of Tolerance (Ken Hively)
First, fuel up in SoBev (Beverly Drive south of Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills) with breakfast or lunch at the affordable, busy Urth Caffe (267 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; www.urthcaffe.com). Now, slowly drive past Heath Avenue and Olympic Boulevard, where you'll spy the backside of Beverly Hills High School (241 Moreno Drive; www.bhhs.bhusd.org) and the campus oil well, wrapped in what looks like an enormous floral-patterned oven mitt. Three blocks east of the oil well, on Olympic, pause at Roxbury Memorial Park (471 S. Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills; www.beverlyhills.org/services/rec/parks/roxbury.asp), where there are tennis, soccer, baseball and play structures. Now ready yourself for a sobering look at multiculturalism, history and the Holocaust, tailored for children and adults. That's the mission of the Museum of Tolerance (9786 W. Pico Blvd.; adult admission $15.50). After all that, surely you'll be wrung out, so consider the 49-room Mosaic Hotel (125 S. Spalding Drive, Beverly Hills; www.mosaichotel.com), which sometimes has discount rates as low as $199 nightly.
9. The Bruins' Den
UCLA (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Maybe it will help you feel young to see those UCLA (405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles; www.ucla.edu) freshmen kicking a ball around on the lawn between Royce Hall and Powell Library. Or maybe, recalling that these kids were born in the 1990s, you'll feel otherwise. Either way, with its 420 acres and nearly 40,000 students, the UCLA campus in Westwood will stretch your legs and brain. Wander on your own, or join one of the free student-led tours for prospective students and their parents most weekdays and Saturdays (www.admissions.ucla.edu/tours.htm). At Royce Hall, the 2011-12 season's 36 gigs included violinist Itzhak Perlman, author David Sedaris and banjo master Earl Scruggs. In neighboring Westwood Village, you have the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; www.hammer.ucla.edu), which spotlights cutting-edge contemporary art; and later, there’s the Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles; www.geffenplayhouse.com), which often features big names.
10. The stars at rest and a Persian dessert
Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)
Just south of Wilshire Boulevard, hidden behind a clutch of tall buildings, you'll find the Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary (1218 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles; www.pbwvmortuary.com), a grassy territory covering about 2 1/2 acres, open 8 a.m.-dusk. Marilyn Monroe rests in a crypt, her name often surrounded by lipstick kisses. (The people at Pierce Bros. wipe them away regularly, but they keep coming back.) near the northern corner of the property. The graves of Jack Lemmon, Karl Malden and Walter Matthau are nearby, along with others who couldn't resist one more punch line. Rodney Dangerfield's headstone: "There goes the neighborhood." You'll also notice a lot of Persian names and writing in the neighborhood; thousands of Persians, many of them Jewish, arrived when Islamic fundamentalists took over Iran in the late 1970s. About five blocks south of the cemetery, step into modest Saffron & Rose Ice Cream (1387 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles; www.golobolbol.org), a family business that specializes in Persian flavors. The top seller is an explosion of sweetness known as saffron-pistachio.
11. Brentwood's Barn and Ark
Skirball Cultural Center (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)