Friday, February 18, 2011

Will Rogers State Historic Park: An Oklahoma Connection in Los Angeles

Will Rogers' home, tucked into the Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades.

Most of you know that I'm originally from Oklahoma. It's been a looooong time since I lived there, but it's still where most of my family is and where my roots are. And I still find it fascinating to find Oklahoma connections in Los Angeles.

That's why I was happy to accompany my mom, who's in town from Oklahoma, on a tour of Will Rogers' home -- now a state historic park -- in the Palisades.

An Oklahoma boy, Rogers was a talented roper and beloved entertainer, performing all over the world in shows including the "Ziegfeld Follies" during the 1920s and '30s. Unfortunately, he passed away in a plane crash in 1935, when he was 55 years old.

His wife, Betty, deeded their Palisades home to the State of California in 1944, and it's a gorgeous and peaceful place to visit with the family. There are even deer that nibble on grass so close to the road, you almost expect them to push their nose up to the car window. Almost.

The 31-room ranch house itself is decorated in a Western style, with Navajo rugs and cowboy art in almost every room. Far from ostentatious, the home is comfortable and sits on a vast stretch of land that offers lovely views all the way to the ocean.

In addition to the home tour, visitors can picnic and hike on trails, one of which leads to Inspiration Point. (Is that where "Happy Days" got the name?) The former horse stables are open to the public, and the Will Rogers Polo Club plays every weekend from April to October on the adjacent polo field.

It was a nice getaway that was also so close to home -- in more ways than one.

Will Rogers State Historic Park
1501 Will Rogers Park Rd.
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Parking: $12 per car

(Photo credit: Will Rogers head shot courtesy of Will Rogers State Historic Park)

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