You have probably visited a number of popular spots in Los Angeles. How about visiting one of the top universities in the nation? In addition to sharing the space of some educated folks, you can explore a museum, check out sculptural and botanical gardens, peer into an inverted fountain, and see some neat architecture.
Start with this campus map. You can drop your car off at parking lot 4. The first stop is the Fowler museum. The museum contains four exhibit rooms (1 permanent, 3 rotating) and a central courtyard. The permanent display “Collection of Silver” was impressive. The rotating display “Arts of the Benue River Valley”, and “Arts of Africa and the Americas” were also impressive. The “Jam Session: Jazz” exhibit was a bust. All in all it was a pretty neat museum. Plan on spending 45 minutes inside and rejoice in not spending cash to enter (read: its free!).
When you exit the museum hang a left until you see the Janss stairs leading up to the four buildings that started it all. This is the architecture part of the day. When you get to the top of the stairs check out Royce Hall on your left and the Powell library on your right. These are two of the original four buildings. The Humanities Building, and Haines Hall (coming up next) complete the collection.
In the mood for a walk? At this point you can head north (left) to check out the Murphy sculpture garden or south (right) on your way to the inverted fountain and the Mathias Botanical Garden. These three spots are highlights of the UCLA campus, but beware that they are relatively quick stops on the tour. The sculpture garden and the inverted fountain are “walk-by’s” but you can spend about twenty minutes or so at the Botanical garden. Be forewarned though, the website for the Botanical garden features turtles and I didn’t see any turtles (insert angry-face emoticon here)!
Hungry for food and some more art? Take your car or walk away from the UCLA campus to the Westwood neighborhood. Here you can find the Hammer museum. The museum is free on Thursdays and discounted or free for a non-trivial proportion of society (see the specifics on their website). The museum is similar in scope to the Fowler museum. I was not too enthralled by the exhibitions on display (Ed Ruscha: on the road and Paul Thek: Diver, A retrospective), but my overall experience was nice.
You will probably need some food at some point during the day. Two popular spots for UCLA students (who probably know Westood the best) are
Damon & Pythias* (1061 Broxton Ave) and Falafel King (about 1 block north). Damon & Pythias seems to be more popular on Yelp. If you go make sure you try the garlic fries. If you go to Falafel King grab a shwarma (pictured on the right) and be prepared to use all the napkins they provide.
Cost: $11 visitor (all-day) parking + $10 per ticket to the Hammer museum
* Damon & Pythias has now closed.