58 37.75 N, 118
24 23.39 W


Great ideas rarely spring to life from the confines of a cubicle. You find them in the wild: on a solitary ocean-side stroll, amidst the cacophony of friendly gatherings, while experiencing art, or even waiting at the glacial-speed In-N-Out drive thru. As you explore the area beyond Hercules Campus, you'll discover everything from molecular gastronomy to the old-school magic of cotton candy. Thrift shop steals to mortgage-the-second-home couture. Plus, miles of beaches, each with its own unique flavor - from hippie to hipster to hoi polloi. And for those times when your journey takes you to areas farther beyond, you're just minutes from the 405 freeway and LAX.

Culver City

Many of the films attributed to Hollywood - from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Citizen Kane" to "Grease" and "E.T." - were actually made in Culver City, the former home of MGM Studios. These days, major players in the entertainment industry, including Sony Pictures and National Public Radio West, have headquarters here.

In the last decade, Culver City caught the revitalization fever that's been going around LA. You'll find now find a designated art district with a growing population of galleries, theatres, and restaurants not far from Otis College of Art and Design. Coincidence?

Playa Vista

Once known as the base for Howard Hughes' aerospace empire, Playa Vista has become the headquarters for a new generation of innovators in filmmaking, game developing, and other creative industries. With more than 70% of the city designated as parks or open spaces, Playa Vista provides room for contemplation, whether you're biking to the beach or bird watching at the Ballona Wetlands.

Playa Vista's mix of residential, retail, and commercial space was designed in consideration of today's lifestyles and sustainability issues. Which means you get all the benefits of a planned community without the Stepford overtones.

Santa Monica

Inspired by a free-flowing natural spring, early Franciscan settlers named the area after Saint Monica, who wept countless tears for her wayward son. Apparently, the city's name had already stuck by the time he cleaned up his act and became Saint Augustine.

Visiting Santa Monica is a bit like exploring Epcot Center: walk a few blocks and you're in a whole new world. Unlike Epcot, there are rides. Where else will you find ferris wheels, fishing spots, and farmer's markets? Museums, pedestrian malls, and movie studios? Haute couture, hip restaurants, and hiking trails? Perhaps it would be easier to list what you won't find in Santa Monica: crop circles, dairy farms, and polar bears.


In 1905, Abbot Kinney set out to establish Venice of America, a cultural mecca worthy of its namesake. Unfortunately, beach-goers and vacationers didn't share his vision, and his arts and lectures assembly lost $16,000 the first summer. Refusing to accept failure, he gave the people what they wanted: freak shows, amusement park rides, and greasy food. However, the miles of canals and gondolas were all his idea.

Today's Venice caters to the urban bohemian with an eclectic mix of art galleries, clothing boutiques, salons, and innovative restaurants. You'll still find an abundant supply of testosterone at the legendary Muscle Beach. And if you care to take in a freak show, take a stroll down Ocean Park where you'll encounter chainsaw jugglers, roller-skating buskers and the world's greatest concentration of tattooed, pierced, and/or bikini-clad locals.