Drive up a short mile from the speedway known as Sunset Boulevard in West Los Angeles toward Will Rogers State Historic Park, and you'll instantly leave the rat race behind. This secluded spot on the rim of the city is perfect for getting some exercise and taking advantage of fantastic views of Santa Monica, Century City, the Wilshire corridor -- and all the way to downtown L.A. if atmospheric clarity allows it. Will Rogers Park is open daily, except certain holidays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A parking fee is charged.
Newspaperman, radio commentator, movie star, and pop-philosopher Will Rogers purchased this 182-acre property in 1922 and lived with his family here from 1928 until his death in 1935. Historic only by Southern California standards, his 31-room mansion is nevertheless interesting to tour.
The main goal for the exercise-minded, though, is to reach Inspiration Point, a flat-topped bump on a ridge overlooking the entire Will Rogers spread. Follow the main, wide riding-and-hiking trail that makes a two-mile loop, starting at the north end of the big lawn adjoining the Rogers home. Or use any of several shorter, more direct paths. You may want to obtain a copy of a detailed hikers' map, available at the gift shop in a wing of the home. Printed on the map is one of Will's memorable aphorisms: "...If your time is worth anything, travel by air. If not, you might just as well walk."
Relaxing on the benches at the top on a clear day, you can admire true-as-advertised, inspiring vistas stretching east to the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains and southeast to the Santa Ana Mountains. South past the swelling Palos Verdes peninsula you can sometimes spot Santa Catalina Island, rising in ethereal majesty from the shining surface of the sea.