Hollywood is at once a town, an industry, and an illusion, and you’ll experience all of these along the famed Hollywood Boulevard. Its history encompasses the birth of the movies, the Golden Age of film, and a crushing decline as the studios moved elsewhere. Hollywood has since seen a renaissance along the boulevard – the Hollywood & Highland complex is a major development, and many of the grand movie palaces once again host film openings. At its core, Hollywood is a museum – the huge sign in the hills, the Walk of Fame, the bars that hosted greats such as Ernest Hemingway – this is still the place to rekindle childhood dreams about the “stars.”
From the very beginning, the shiny white Hollywood Sign atop Mount Lee was meant to attract attention, originally for the real estate developer and publisher Harry Chandler. Built in 1923 at a cost of $21,000, the sign was once illuminated by 4,000 bulbs and had its own caretaker. Each letter is 50-ft (15-m) tall and is made of sheet metal. In 1932, unemployed actress Peggy Entwistle immortalized herself by leaping to her death off the H. It’s illegal to hike to the sign, but the top of Beachwood Drive gets you fairly close.
2100 N Highland Ave • 323-874-2276 • Open noon–4pm Sat & Sun • Adm
This museum is housed in the barn where Jesse Lasky and Cecil B. DeMille set up Hollywood’s first major film studio in 1913. It was originally located at Selma Avenue and Vine Street, and DeMille shot the first full-length feature The Squaw Man here in 1913–14. Exhibits include a re-created studio, photographs, props, and memorabilia from the silent movie era.
5555 Melrose Ave • 323-956-1777 (reservations required) • Adm
The only major movie studio still located in Hollywood, Paramount began making movies with the Paramount logo in 1916. The studio has always turned out classics and, in 1929 its feature Wings took home the first ever Best Picture Oscar. Its most successful movies include Psycho, The Godfather, Forrest Gump, and Titanic. Two-hour tours of the studio run Monday to Friday.
Hollywood’s main artery (see Historic Hollywood Boulevard), one of the district’s most glamorous streets during its pre-World War II heyday, has been revitalized in recent years. The rejuvenation project has focussed on the Hollywood & Highland complex, but old favorites such as TCL Chinese Theatre and the Walk of Fame have also received a fresh sheen.
6000 Santa Monica Blvd • 323-469-1181 • Open seasonal hours • www.hollywoodforever.com
Founded in 1899, this cemetery is where the famous are buried. The list of those interred here includes Rudolph Valentino, Jane Mansfield, and Cecil B. DeMille. The grandest memorial belongs to Douglas Fairbanks Sr. who, since 2000, has shared his marble tomb with his son, Douglas Jr. A map is available from the nearby flower shop.
2301 N Highland Ave • 323-850-2000 • Concerts Tue–Sun late Jun–mid-Sep (tickets required) • www.hollywoodbowl.com
A night at the world’s largest natural amphitheater is as much part of Los Angeles summer tradition as backyard barbecues and fun at the beach. The world’s finest artists – from Sinatra to Pavarotti – have performed here since 1922. In 1924, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the first concert shell, improving acoustics.
Ennis House, 2655 Glendower Ave, closed to the public • Lovell House, 4616 Dundee Dr, closed to the public • Take Red Line to Loz Feliz (Vermont Station)
The twin neighborhoods of Los Feliz and Silver Lake, with their bohemian-chic dining, shopping, and nightlife, constitute one of Los Angeles’s oldest movie colonies. The hills are studded with architectural Modernist masterpieces such as Lloyd Wright’s 1924 Ennis House and the Lovell House built by Richard Neutra.
323-464-4226 • www.arclightcinemas.com
A Hollywood landmark, this white dome of interlocked triangles is LA’s most unusual movie theater. The concrete geodesic dome was built by Welton Beckett in 1963 to show Cinerama movies, a wide-screen technique requiring three 35 mm projectors. The ArcLight theaters are also part of the complex.
4800 Hollywood Blvd • 323-644-6269 • Tours: 11am–4pm Tue–Sun • Adm (free for under 13s)
The Mayan-style mansion, designed by Lloyd Wright in 1921 for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, is a community arts center. Depictions of the hollyhock, her favorite flower, appear everywhere on facades and furniture.
6671 Sunset Blvd • Open for strolling
The centerpiece of this unique architectural metaphor is a ship-like Art Deco building that “sails” into a courtyard flanked by cottages in styles ranging from Spanish Colonial to German gingerbread. A quiet office complex, it was built in 1936 by Robert Derrah, who designed the Coca-Coca Bottling Plant.
Over time the Hollywood Sign lost not only its last four letters (it was originally “Hollywoodland”) but also its luster, along with the rest of Hollywood. A “save-the-sign” campaign in 1978 received the help of celebrities such as Hugh Hefner, who held a fundraiser, and Alice Cooper, who bought the second O in honor of Groucho Marx.
Begin at La Brea Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, heading east to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home of the first Academy Awards. In the TCL Chinese Theatre you can stand on the footprints of your favorite stars. An escalator will whisk you into the vast Hollywood & Highland complex with great shopping and views of the Hollywood Sign and the dazzling El Capitan. Stop by the Hollywood Museum (1660 N Highland) to see props, costumes, and sets from film favorites before taking a two-block detour south on Highland Avenue to Hollywood High School (1521 N Highland), alma mater of Lawrence Fishburne. Have your picture taken with the stars (almost) at Madame Tussauds Hollywood (7024 Hollywood Boulevard). From there, head east for a delicious lunch at Pig ’n’ Whistle.
Back on Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll come across the exotic Egyptian Theatre and, at No. 6667, Musso & Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, once the haunt of Chaplin, Hemingway, and other famous people. Wrap up the day with drinks and sunset views at Yamashiro Restaurant, followed by a burger and a Guinness milkshake at the popular and trendy 25 Degrees at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd).
1652 N Cherokee Ave • 323-462-9621 • www.boardners.com
This historical bar has a large dance floor and live entertainment.
1626 N Cahuenga Blvd • 866-687-4499 • www.theroomhollywood.com
Dance to hip hop, R&B, and occasional old rock at this stylish club with a no-attitude vibe.
1533 N La Brea Ave • 323-876-6612 • www.vintagebargroup.com
Hidden in a nondescript mini-mall, this tiki lounge features live bands.
6377 Hollywood Blvd • 323-464-5689 • www.loadedhollywood.com
A raucous, gritty dive bar that draws hipsters and fashionistas with its strong drinks and loud dance music.
1611 N El Centro Ave • 323-962-3804 • www.goodtimesatdaveywaynes.com
Tiki drinks and alcohol-infused snow cones are served at this retro bar.
1999 N Sycamore Ave • 323-466-5125 • www.yamashirorestaurant.com
A spot for sunset drinks with gorgeous city views. Follow with dinner in the Japanese restaurant.
6021 Hollywood Blvd • 323-463-3331 • www.createnightclub.com
Top DJs and live electronic music attract large crowds. Tickets sell out early, so call ahead.
6245 Hollywood Blvd • 323-462-5890
Bartenders wearing bow ties and vests pour the drinks here, while the jukebox entertains.
7156 Santa Monica Blvd • 323-850-9050
Where Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe once hung out. Enjoy the signature Mai Tais and tasty California-Asian treats.
1514 Hillhurst Ave • 323-666-3524
A cool crowd gathers around the oval bar at this fashionable Chinese-style Silver Lake watering hole.
7205 Santa Monica Blvd • 323-850-1726 • Closed lunch Sat & Sun • $$$
Popular with the locals, this little spot serves classic thin-crust pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and for many, the best apple pie in town.
6919 Melrose Ave • 323-934-3390 • Closed Sun • $$
Enjoy home-made pasta, lamb, linguine with clams, and carciofi (raw artichoke salad) in the romantic outside courtyard setting. BYOB.
5955 Melrose Ave • 323-460-4170 • $$$
Fresh seafood, tasting menus and an extensive wine list are the draw at this elegant, romantic spot.
6714 Hollywood Blvd • 323-463-0000 • $$
This 1927 landmark has faithfully retained its gorgeous dark wood interior. The menu features a number of famous pork dishes and has limited options for vegetarians.
1247 Vine St • 323-957-1111 • $
A good place for Mexican specialties such as fried plantain with beans and cream, and yucca with chicharrón (fried pork rinds).
6667 Hollywood Blvd • 323-467-7788 • $$
Steaks and chops dominate the menu of Hollywood’s oldest restaurant (open since 1919). It was a major hangout for celebrities such as Hemingway.
3932 W Sunset Blvd • 323-666-0265 • Closed Sun & Mon • $$
This romantic French-style eatery offers mostly outdoor seating in a lovely courtyard with hanging amber lights and olive and lavender plants.
1360 Vine St • 323-871-9600 • $$
This is a casual spot for delicious Peruvian food. Wash it all down with Argentinian wine or Peruvian beer.
5233 W Sunset Blvd • 323-667-9809 • Closed Mon • $$
Considered by many to be the best Thai in LA, Jitlada serves up exotic curries and delightful papaya salads.
2056 Hillhurst Ave, Los Feliz • 323-662-1214 • Closed Sun • No credit cards • $
Head this way for yummy Mexican food. Try the cochinita pibil tacos. Only non-vegetarian food is served here.