Luskin Center

The Luskin Conference Center on the southern entrance to the UCLA campus is a four-star hotel in a great location.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, and for our family it was a time to take a walking tour of the UCLA campus in the Westwood area of Los Angeles.

Granddaughter Jackie had enrolled there last year and her mother Laurie, sister Carolina and granddad Sam were taking their first close up look of the campus.

We were impressed. The 467-acre campus was virtually deserted on a Sunday during the year of Covid-19 and online learning, so we were able to take an unhurried, close-up view.

The original buildings at the center of the campus, constructed beginning in 1927, looked familiar. I’d seen the Moorish-like structures with layered concrete and brick exteriors on television, but they were more impressive with up-close on a balmy spring day.

Ample, well-maintained landscaping creates the right mix of buildings, greenery and shade trees.

The Pauley Pavilion, home of the often-champion basketball Bruins, had a different, “more-modern” look than most of the campus buildings. It was closed Sunday, but through a window in one of the entrances, we could see photo displays featuring Bruin basketball heroes, including coach John Wooden and all-American centers Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton.

Nearby is a monument for Jackie Robinson, the first four-sport letterman at UCLA in the early 1940s before breaking the race barrier of professional baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. A building next to it is named for tennis champion Arthur Ashe.

The highly regarded UCLA Medical Center is located right next to the main campus in a number of multi-story buildings bunched closely together in order to accommodate the various treatment, education and research divisions of the medical center.

We ended our walking tour where we started — at the southern entrance to the main campus where a handsome hotel building that blends into the campus architectural style houses the Luskin Conference Center. We spent two nights there. For the money — rooms range between $167 and $272 — it is a great value for a four-star hotel, and you can’t beat its location.

Granddaughter Jackie’s room in an apartment just up the hill from the main campus was the final stop of the tour. The apartment building was one of a number purchased by the university for student housing.

Later Sunday afternoon, we made our way westward to Santa Monica. And on one of the first days many Angelinos could get outdoors en-mass, the town, especially at the beach, was packed.

The three-day trip to the Southland was well worth the journey back and forth on Interstates 5 and 405, known in Los Angeles lingo as “The 5” and “The 405.”

Television commercials have been urging Californians to travel within the Golden State to help revive the California tourist economy. We did our part, and had a good time doing it.

Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

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