This weekend, Westwood is the place to be. In the space a few walkable miles, you can catch the #1 ranked NCAA soccer team in action, sample tastes from a bevy of the nation’s top chefs assembled to raise money for kids’ cancer, and stand next to contemporary LA artists as they teach kids to create something new. You’ll still have time to grab dinner and a movie, if you play your cards right, too.
Living in Westwood, right on the western border of UCLA’s gorgeous Westwood campus and a few miles from the Village, we have an easy time leaving the car at home and exploring our local culture. With 419 acres of gorgeous architecture and tree-lined pathways, UCLA is a great neighbor. And, it turns out that the US News and World Report’s annual rankings were released last night – Angelenos can take heart that USC and UCLA are tied for #23 on the national Universities list for 2016.
Students have just begun to arrive for the fall semester. On my daily loop through campus yesterday, I found the lawn in front of Royce Hall filled with freshly scrubbed, nervous freshman. My walking companion actually called out “Enjoy yourselves, you lucky kids!” which was a bit embarrassing… but dead on. And brought giggles from all those cute kids who are already missing their own goofy moms. What a great place to find yourself for four years.
I’m going to stroll over to campus twice over the weekend. First, to participate in one of my favorite charity events, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade. Organized by Susanne Goin and Caroline Styne (proprietresses of many of our city’s finest restaurants including Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern) and benefitting a childhood cancer organization, the event wrangles top chefs from around the nation for one delicious afternoon. LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade is unique to food events because it is small and manageable – you can actually talk to the chefs, rub elbows with celebrities who are sprinkled around, and it’s possible taste nearly everything without feeling too stuffed. Tickets are still on sale for the event, which takes place on Saturday, September 12 from 12:00-4:00 on the copious lawn in front of Royce Hall. Click here for tickets.
The Hammer Museum is another excellent neighbor. If you have smaller kids (and don’t want to spring for the pricey Alex’s Lemonade ticket of $195), you’ll be happy to take part in the FREE once-a-year Family Day: Community Studio taking place on Saturday, September 12 from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Families are invited to feel their way around a real art studio environment. Under the guidance of talented artists each with their own specialties, they can spend the afternoon experimenting and enjoying performance workshops and storytelling.
On Sunday September 13, we’ll head back to campus to watch the #1 ranked UCLA Men’s Soccer team in a game against UC Riverside. UCLA had a terrific season last year, missing the NCAA title in a heartbreaking shoot out against UVA. These boys are really fun to watch. Bleachers are set up inside the track at the UCLA stadium along Sunset Boulevard, and fans get up close and personal with the team. It’s a great outing for anyone that loves soccer, but is a particularly fun bonding outing for an AYSO team. Click here for their schedule -home games come in clumps, so look ahead and plan for the fall.
Finally, we’ll walk into Westwood Village to see a film – Straight Outta Compton is still playing and delivers on all the thrills of a rags-to-riches biopic. Not at all for anyone under 17, according to Common Sense Media, because of it’s “incendiary” topic, and relentless depiction of profanity, drugs and violence. By no means a perfect film, Compton none-the-less portrays a potent slice of LA history and adults will have plenty to discuss after the credits roll.