Friday, May 03 2013 11:34 AM

Journey: Beverly Hills; a sophisticated way to spend a day

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Photo courtesy of Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive - USA - California Travel and Tourism Commission

While the majority of southern Californians cannot afford the items that shimmer from storefront displays along the Spanish-style cobblestone streets of Rodeo Drive, a trip to Beverly Hills will give travelers a chance to experience how the other half lives.

With its stylish, gourmet bistros, cradled by upscale boutiques and haute couture fashion stores that are neatly condensed in a two-block area lined with sun-dappled palm trees, Rodeo Drive is the perfect playground for hardcore shoppers.

Perusing some of the world's most coveted brands from Hermes, Versace, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, buyers will erupt with envy and delight as the stroll the "Walk of Style."

With bags in hand and credit cards maxed, a perfect day of shopping would not be complete without a happy ending, and a visit to one of Beverly Hills' many luxurious spas to relax the mind and body is the ideal end, as guests leave feeling like a movie star.

For those more interested in seeing movie stars than being treated like one, a 40-minute open-air Beverly Hills trolley ride that takes riders inside some of the area's most expensive neighborhoods is one of the best ways to get a glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Not star struck, but want to learn more about the history television and motion pictures? A visit to the Paley Center for Media, 465 North Beverly Drive, provides media buff with a unique experience where guests can search and watch television shows dating back to the early days of live broadcasting.

And while Hollywood runs its veins, Beverly Hills offers plenty of things for the non-star gazer to do, and is home to three historic landmarks.

The first is Robinson Gardens, a magnificent six-acre estate previously owned and occupied by Virginia Robinson of the Robinson-May department store family. Known as, the "First Lady of Beverly Hills," Robinson was famous for her lavish parties, which were frequented by Fred Astaire and Maurice Chevalier among others.

The estate is listed on the National List of Historic Places, and is open to the public daily.

The second is Greystone Mansion, a gift from oil tycoon Edward Doheny to his son Edward and his family.

The 46,000 square-feet Tudor-style mansion is open to the daily with free parking and offers sweeping panoramic views of nearby downtown Los Angeles.

Next is the spooky Spadena House.

Initially built in 1921 as a back lot set at a Culver City production company, the "Witches House," as it is also known, was used in several silent films before eventually being moved to 516 N. Walden Street in 1926. And although the famous landmark is not open to the public except for special events, it's still a cool spot to take a picture or two.

Beverly Hills is located in the heart of Los Angeles, approximately 115 miles from Tehachapi. The trip is easily made in a day. The weather is usually sunny year-round, so anytime is a good time to visit.

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