31 of the Best Things to Do in Los Angeles

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This post has information on the best things to do in Los Angeles. Below you can find links to information on LA’s top attractions, museums, points of interest, kid-friendly activities, food, self-guided tours of various neighborhoods, and suggestions for things to do at night.  Each link leads to a much more comprehensive page on that particular topic. 

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The 20 Absolute Best Things to do in LA in March [2018]

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March is a lovely time of year to visit Los Angeles! The crowds aren’t as thick as they are in summer months (though various school spring break vacations can yield a high volume of people) and the weather is quite mild. Be prepared for cooler nights, as things really chill out once the sun goes down. Tinseltown will be in full glam mode as preparations for the Academy Awards get underway–perhaps you will even spot a celebrity on your visit! If you’re visiting at the beginning of the month, check out our Things to Do in LA in February. Here is a list of the top ten things to do in LA in the month of March.

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Things to Do in February in Los Angeles (Top 10 and then some!)

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Feb in Los AngelesFebruary is a lovely time of year to visit LA, as Tinseltown gets busy preparing for the Academy Awards. The weather is mildly warm and it’s much less crowded than busy summer months. You’ll want to pack layers, however, as the temperature takes a dip once the sun sets into the ocean. Look at things to do in January, as well. And if you’re visiting at the end of February, check out what you must do in March while you’re here.

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What to Do in January in Los Angeles

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This post lists top things to do in Los Angeles in the month of January as well as things to do at night, free activities and family friendly events. LA is busy every month of the year but January is an excellent time to visit and crowds seem to be lighter and the weather is still very pleasant and mostly sunny. Prepare for warm days but nights can be cool to downright cold depending on where you are so plan to dress in layers! You may want to check out what February in LA is like as well.

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Should I Take a Beverly Hills Celebrity Homes Tour?

Posted by & filed under Los Angeles.

This post will focus on celebrity home tours in Beverly Hills. As you may know, several notable stars live in the Beverly Hills area. Unfortunately, celebrities don’t always live right next to each other, so it’s not always easy to find their homes. As a result, several tour companies have made a name for themselves by providing tours of celebrity houses and residences. Even though there are several services that will drive you around to see these locations, you are free to see them on your own as well.

Celebrity Home Tours

TV Show Tickets

Most celebrity homes are spread far enough apart that you will need to use a car to get around. In many cases, the places you visit will no longer be occupied by the famous people who once lived there, but they are still historically significant. Several notable properties in Hollywood are difficult to see from the street, but it’s important that you DO NOT stop and hold up traffic while driving through these neighborhoods. Not only is that illegal, it can also be very dangerous. If you do decide to take a self-guided journey, make sure to drive safely and avoid distractions. Read more »

Which Hollywood Studio Tours Are the Best?

Posted by & filed under Los Angeles.

This post covers the most enjoyable movie studio tours in Hollywood. With so many historic studios in the area, it might be difficult to pick just one to visit. Interestingly enough, there are quite a few differences between the tours offered at each studio, and that should make it easier to figure out which tour best fits your expectations. Unfortunately, affordability will definitely come into play for most audiences as prices vary from $62 per person to literally thousands of dollars. It’s also worth noting that the length of these tours can run from roughly an hour to almost a week. With all of that said, let’s start talking about what each movie studio offers with their tours.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Paramount Pictures Studio Tour

Adventures by Disney: Disney Backstage

Celebrity Homes Tours


WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR

If you’re in the market for a somewhat normal tour on the back lot, this might be one of your best bets. In addition to seeing movie sets and sound stages from some of the most notable movies in film history, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a few specific activities. While on this movie studio tour, you’ll be able to re-create a famous scene from the hit television show Friends, climb aboard Harry Potter‘s broomstick, and even create your own Batmobile. Warner Bros. even offers an interactive sound stage which explores the entire process of making a film from start to finish. At three hours in length, this tour is actually a bit longer than some of the other options in Hollywood.

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Which Hollywood Walking Tour is Best?

Posted by & filed under Los Angeles.

This post covers a variety of popular walking tours that you can take in Hollywood. While some of these outings will include a hike to the Hollywood Sign, others focus on the incredible landmarks found near Hollywood Boulevard. There are so many different options that it can be difficult to pick the right tour without doing a lot of research. With that in mind, we’ve gathered the information you’ll need to make a more informed decision.

Hollywood Boulevard Tours

Hollywood Urban Adventures

Directions to Hollywood

Depending on which Hollywood walking tour you choose, each outing could take anywhere from 1 – 4 hours to complete. Some of these treks will have you hiking through the Hollywood hills, so it may be important to wear appropriate shoes and prepare for a lot of physical activity. The average ticket price ranges from $20-$40, but some of the longer trips can cost up to $100 per person.


Hollywood Boulevard Walking Tours

Several Hollywood walking tours are designed to reveal all of the historic sites surrounding Hollywood Boulevard. These outings typically include an exploration of the Walk of Fame and visits to popular locations such as the TCL Chinese Theatre and Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. These tours typically run for 1-2 hours and carry a ticket price of between $20-$30 on average. Although it is advised to wear comfy shoes, shorter walks should be possible in just about any attire.


Red Line Tours

This tour starts right in front of Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre and covers a lot of ground. See notable stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as you discover some of the most historic movie palaces in the area. In addition to seeing beautiful and luxurious theatres, you’ll also discover some of the most significant landmarks in Tinseltown. At only 75 minutes in length, this trek should be fairly easy for almost any audience to complete.

  • Ticket Prices: $27 for Adults | $15 for Children
  • Availability: Daily @ 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM & 4 PM
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Live guides use personal audio system to help you hear the tour
  • Click here for more information

With an average score of 4.8 out of 5 stars, it’s safe to say that ratings for this service are very positive (read reviews here). Some guests suggested that this was the highlight of their day, indicating that the tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful. A few customers felt that it would be a mistake to avoid this tour, as you might walk right past some pretty significant sites without the proper guidance. Most visitors appreciated all of the historical details they learned about on their trek through Hollywood.


Hollywood Blvd. Walking Tour

Much like their competitors, this company also provides a relatively short and in-depth walking tour of Hollywood Boulevard. That being said, this trek also includes a behind-the-scenes look at the El Capitan Theatre, a fully restored movie palace from the golden age of cinema. In addition to visiting this notable venue, you’ll also see important sites such as the Capitol Records building and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  • Ticket Prices: $25 per person
  • Availability: Sun-Fri @ 9:45 AM
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Inside look at El Capitan Theatre includes
  • Click here for more information

Although there aren’t any reviews for this walking tour yet, visitors who experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the El Capitan Theatre indicate that it is definitely worth the price of admission. Some guests even felt that the backstage tour was a must, suggesting that everyone should take the chance to see a side of this movie palace that few get to experience. If this one element of the Hollywood walking tour is so highly rated, chances are that the entire trip is excellent.


LA Tour 1

If you want to see more than just Hollywood, this walking tour might be the perfect option. Utilizing the subway, LA Tour 1 will take you from Hollywood Boulevard to Downtown Los Angeles in order to visit as many significant landmarks as possible. Learn all about the history of Hollywood, then travel south to discover the roots of this entertainment industry. Clocking in at 3 hours in length, we suggest wearing comfortable shoes and being physically prepared for the journey.

Ratings for this tour are very positive (read reviews here), and customers on TripAdvisor have given the company 5 out of 5 stars. Guests appreciate the opportunity to experience several different landmarks and learn a lot about Los Angeles history during one interesting trip through the city. Some visitors also enjoyed the smaller group sizes, allowing them to avoid large crowds. Couples and families were the most likely to leave a positive review.

 


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Hollywood Hills Hiking Tours

The Hollywood Sign draws a lot of tourists each year, but it’s not always easy to see from Hollywood Boulevard. If you want a good look at the landmark, it’ll be important to make your way up the Hollywood hills. Although most people prefer to drive closer to the sign, there are actually a few Hollywood hiking tours that will take you to one of the best viewing locations. Each hike will take around 2-3 hours, so prepare to get a good workout.

The Hollywood Hills from behind the Hollywood Sign. Image Source: Wikimedia user Blake Everett on July 21st, 2014.

Bikes and Hikes LA

With the help of an expert hiking guide, you’ll learn a lot about the history of Los Angeles while walking through the hills to find one of the best views of the Hollywood Sign. In addition to informative narration, your tour guide will also provide interactive videos revealing the significance of specific locations. Once you reach the highest point in the Hollywood hills, you’ll also have the opportunity to look down and see the magnificent skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles off in the distance. Make sure to bring a camera for excellent photo opportunities!

  • Ticket Prices: $39 per person (normally $52)
  • Availability: Daily @ 10 AM & 3 PM
  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Reusable water bottle included
  • Click here for more information

Customers have enjoyed their experience enough to give this company 4.9 out of 5 stars (read reviews here). A majority of guests felt that their tour guide did a very good job of providing useful and interesting information during the hike. Other visitors were impressed with the incredible views from the Hollywood hills, indicating that this trip was the highlight of their vacation in Los Angeles. This outing is recommended to people who like to hike, have fun and enjoy wonderful scenery.


LA Tour 1

In addition to other services in the area, LA Tour 1 also provides a hike through the Hollywood hills. During this trek, you’ll ascend the equivalent of 12 flights of stairs, taking frequent breaks to enjoy the incredible views. Your final destination will be Griffith Observatory, one of the best locations to see the Hollywood Sign. After the trip, you can either stay and enter the Observatory or walk back down with your tour guide.

  • Ticket Prices: $35 for Adults | $30 for Children
  • Availability: Daily @ 9:30 AM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Griffith Observatory Entry Included
  • Click here for more information

This outing has received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars (read reviews here). Most guests enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and see the sights, while others were also quite pleased to learn a little about Hollywood. The tour guides were described as both informative and friendly, providing a lot of interesting details along the way. Some visitors warn that the inclines can be quite steep, indicating that this hike isn’t necessarily going to be easy for everyone.


Hollywood Tourz

If you’re looking for a more extensive tour through Hollywood, this may be your best bet. In addition to providing a traditional trek down Hollywood Boulevard, this service also includes a hike to the Griffith Observatory for incredible photo opportunities. Discover the history behind Tinseltown with the help of a professional tour guide and finish your journey at one of the best viewing locations for the Hollywood Sign.

  • Ticket Prices: $49 for Adults | $35 for Children
  • Availability: Daily @ 4 PM (Winter), 5 PM (Spring/Fall), 6 PM (Summer)
  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Includes both walking and hiking tour
  • Click here for more information

Although there aren’t many reviews for this specific trip, it’s worth noting that Hollywood Tourz has received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Ratings for this walking/hiking tour are pretty good, with some guests describing it as a wonderful experience. Reviewers also indicate that their tour guides were very helpful and informative, even going so far as to personalize the experience of visitors based upon their interests.

 


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Hollywood Urban Adventures

From scavenger hunts to bar crawls, there are several alternative Hollywood walking tours to consider. Most of these urban adventures will give you the opportunity to learn about Tinseltown while competing with other teams to find notable landmarks. Each outing is about 3 hours in length, giving visitors a lot of time to explore the area and see some of the most historic sites in Hollywood. A smartphone may be required for some of these trips.


Urban Adventure Quests

This company offers groups the opportunity to compete in a Hollywood scavenger hunt. Using your smartphone and the clues provided, you’ll be tasked with finding some of the most significant locations in the area. Along the way, you’ll cover a lot of ground while seeing sites such as the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame and the Capitol Records Building. If you’re more interested in grabbing a few drinks, they also provide a “Sips of Old Hollywood” food tour as well.

Urban Adventure Quests currently enjoys a 5 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Guests were typically very impressed with their tour guides, suggesting that they were friendly and knowledgeable. The Sips of Old Hollywood tour is particularly well rated, because it gives visitors a taste of the bars and restaurants in the area. Most customers enjoyed the opportunity to experience some of the drinks that you’ll only find in Hollywood.


Viator

If their competitors are a little too expensive for you, it’s worth noting that Viator offers a similar Hollywood scavenger hunt for a much lower price. With a duration of 3 hours and small group sizes, this is very similar to some of the other services in Tinseltown. Learn about the history of Hollywood by using a variety of clues to find each destination on your journey. A smartphone will be required to solve puzzles and figure out which location to visit next.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any reviews for this Hollywood walking tour as of yet. That being said, the ticket prices are so cheap that it might be worth a shot. Viator provides a lot of excellent tours in association with very well rated companies. If you want to explore Hollywood at your own pace while competing to find landmarks, this is probably going to be the most affordable option.

 


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Self-Guided Hollywood Walking Tour

In the early 1900s, a group of independent movie producers wishing to escape the eastern movie establishment made their way west to California. These producers called themselves the Untied Artists, and by 1910 they found themselves in the tiny village of Hollywood. It was then only known for its marvelous fruit trees, but it quickly grew into the center of the entertainment universe.  Although Hollywood today doesn’t resemble anything of its glamorous past, revitalization projects are now bringing Hollywood’s famed boulevard back to life. This self-guided tour will take you through some the legendary spots of Hollywood and past some of the new and exciting revitalized buildings along Hollywood Boulevard.


Directions to Hollywood

How to get there: take the Metro red line to the Hollywood/Vine exit. If using GPS, plug in 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 to get to the starting point.

Parking: your least expensive option is the Hollywood and Highland lot, which can be found at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028. The cost is only $2 for 2 hours with validation from participating shops and $2 for four hours with validation from the TCL Chinese Theater and TCL Chinese 6 Theaters. It is $1.00 for every 15 minutes thereafter. Both The Dolby Theatre and the Ray Dolby Ballroom do not validate. If you park here you can take the train over one stop to Hollywood/Vine or take the tour in reverse.

 

 


The Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd)

Across the street from the Hollywood/Vine metro stop, you’ll find the last movie palace built in Hollywood; the Pantages Theater, designed by architect Marcus Priteca and completed in 1930. Alexander Pantages originally built the theater to host Vaudeville performances. Eventually, performances of this type became too expensive as the depression wore on and it was converted to an all movie venue. Howard Hughes purchased the building in 1941, and under his ownership, it began hosting the Academy Awards from 1950-1960.The first-ever telecast of the Academy Awards took place here in 1953.

In 1977, the Pantages converted exclusively to live stage productions. In 2000, it underwent a massive rehabilitation uncovering all of its original Art Deco features. The Pantages is now one of the most popular spots in LA to see Broadway-style productions. Great hits such as The Lion King, Wicked and The Book of Mormon have all staged productions here.

 


The Capitol Records Building (1750 Vine St)

The Capitol Records building was the world’s first circular office building when Welton Becket’s design was completed in 1956. Inside the building, unforgettable acts such as The Beach Boys, Nat “King” Cole, Sir Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra have recorded some of the world’s greatest musical gems.

Thirty feet below the building is an underground concrete bunker designed by guitarist Les Paul. In the quiet of this chamber, musicians can record with a reverb that lasts up to five seconds, an effect that was most famously heard on the Beach Boy’s ‘Good Vibrations.’

If you pass the building at night, you’ll see a red flashing light on top of the needle. Most assume it’s a signal for a passing plane, but it was created to blink the word “Hollywood” in Morse code. In 1956, Leila Morse, daughter of Samuel Morse, was invited to flip the switch for the very first time. In November 2016, the signal was changed momentarily to blink “Capitol 75” in honor of Capitol Records 75 year anniversary.

On the south side of the Capitol Records building, you will find an impressive mural titled Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972. Painted in 1990 by Richard Wyatt, the mural depicts Jazz greats Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The mural was originally funded by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, but its restoration was made possible by Capitol records in 2011.

 


The Hollywood Walk of Fame

It’s roughly a 10-minute walk till your next stop so take time to enjoy and appreciate the Hollywood Walk of Fame underneath your feet. The Walk of Fame extends 1.3 miles east to west on Hollywood Blvd, with some stars on Gower Street, Marshfield Way, and Vine Street.

 

 

The idea for the walk of fame originated inside the original Hollywood Hotel, where gold stars with the names of celebrities used to grace the ceiling. When the hotel was torn down, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decided to create a permanent installation along Hollywood Blvd by continuously awarding stars to celebrities of great achievement. Today, celebrities are chosen through a nominating process that is usually initiated by a fan club, studio or record company. Roughly 200 people are nominated every year and only 10% of those nominated ever receive a star. The 2017 honorees include Rita Wilson, Goldie Hawn, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eva Longoria, Sarah Silverman, John Legend and Selena Quintanilla. You will find the stars for all four Beatles and Neil Diamond outside the Capitol Record Building.

 


Dolores Del Rio Mural (Hollywood & Hudson Street)

Just off Hollywood Blvd is a Mural celebrating the life and career of one of Hollywood’s most legendary ladies, Dolores Del Rio. She was one of the first Latina stars in Hollywood, making her break into the silent films in the 1920s and then the talkies of the 1930s. She starred in over 30 movies in the United States, after which she returned to her native Mexico, where she launched a career in Mexican cinema. She has appeared in films with the likes of Fred Astaire and Elvis Presley. George Bernard Shaw once said of her: “The two most beautiful things in the world are the Taj Mahal and Dolores del Río.”

 

 

This mural was painted by Alfredo de Batuc in 1990 and can be found on the east side of Hudson Street near Hollywood Blvd.

 


Janes House (6541 Hollywood Blvd)

The oldest home on Hollywood Blvd is the Janes House, built in 1902 as part of a parcel of fine Victorian homes. Herman and Mary Jane of Aurora, IL bought the home for $10,000 in 1903 and lived there with their four children. In 1911, the women of the household opened a kindergarten on site entitled Misses Janes School of Hollywood; later, the school would expand to K-8 services. The school folded up in 1926, and for a time the front yard took on many uses – including a gas pump, parking lot, and a tourist business.

The last of the Janes children died in 1982, and despite it being declared a landmark, the land was sold to developers in 1984. They moved the house to the back lot and built a 14,000-sq. ft. mini-mall in front. It has served many purposes through the years and today it is the home of the 20’s themed speakeasy, “No Vacancy at Hotel Juniper.”

The house and the Janes sisters were said to be an inspiration for the famous novel Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell. The book was later adapted into a movie with Bette Davis playing a character named Jane Hudson. This may be a nod to the fact that the Janes House is adjacent to Hudson Street.

 


Musso and Frank’s Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd)

Frank Musso’s grill is the oldest in Hollywood and the last of the famed celebrity dining establishments of old Hollywood. The restaurant opened its doors in 1919 with some of their earliest customers arriving on horseback. Legend has it that Charlie Chaplin and John Barrymore challenged one another to a horse race down Hollywood Boulevard right in front of the restaurant.

Not only is the restaurant ancient, but so are the menu options. Charlie Chaplin loved to sit in the front window eating his grilled lamb kidney and Irish stew, Rudolph Valentino preferred a plate of spaghetti, and Ginger Rogers ordered steak followed by a rum cake for dessert. The management has thought to modernize the menu, but whenever the customers are asked the response is “don’t change anything.” In addition to their old-time menu, you’ll also get old-time service from Bartenders and waiters who have worked at Frank Musso’s for up to 50 years. Celebrities are still regulars here and the waitstaff is superb at keeping the paparazzi away.

 


The Egyptian Theater/American Cinematheque (6712 Hollywood Blvd)

The Egyptian theater originally boasted beautiful murals of hieroglyphics, a sunburst ceiling, and a forecourt with middle eastern shops lined with guards in Egyptian costumes. King Tut’s tomb had just been discovered and showman Sid Grauman thought to capitalize on its popularity by building the elaborate movie palace in 1922.

That same year, the first movie premiere in Hollywood’s history took place here with the showing of Robin Hood starring Douglass Fairbanks. The theater would then serve as the perfect backdrop for the 1923 premiere of Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments.

 

 

By the 1980s, the theater was in terrible shape and fell victim to remodeling. Its salvation came about when a local non-profit organization called American Cinematheque purchased the theater in 1998. There is the main theater inside which holds up to 650 people along with a smaller theater which was financed by Steven Spielberg.

In addition to its regular classic film showings, there are various film festivals that often headline celebrities. The festivals are held on various topics that range from the showing of movies with a specific director or actor to themes such as the developing world or LGBT productions.

Tours of the theater are also available, and they include the showing of a 55-minute documentary called Forever Hollywood.

To find out more about the American Cinematique’s events, check out their calendar.

 


Hollywood Wax Museum (6767 Hollywood Blvd)

The Hollywood Wax Museum was the first in Hollywood, founded by Indian-Canadian lumber worker Spoony Singh. Mr. Singh was a man full of ideas and always wanted to tap into the next big thing. While working in Canada, the idea struck him that everyone travels to Los Angeles to see all the stars, but they can never find them. Why not create wax figures of them and allow people to see them all under one roof? Mr. Singh opened his museum in 1965 with a half-mile long line of people excited to see his work.

To attract the attention of the average passerby, he had his employees dress as characters such as London bobbies or gorillas riding on skateboards. In addition to these efforts, visitors sometimes found that the most exciting experience was inside the museum, as live actors would stand among the wax figures and start to move/speak to intentionally spook the guests.

Inside the museum, you’ll find a plethora of wax figures including John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo Di Caprio and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The museum has transitioned somewhat from highlighting individual stars to depicting entire movie scenes. Later, Mr. Singh opened the Hollywood Guinness Museum, another mainstay attraction on Hollywood Blvd.

 


The Hollywood Museum/Former Max Factor Headquarters (660 N Highland Ave)

Among the various museums lined up along Hollywood Boulevard, this is a must-see. The Hollywood Museum has the largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the entire world. You will find movie scripts, props, posters, costumes, photographs and more. You will also get a closer look at the history of Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Inside you’ll see Marilyn Monroe’s million-dollar dress, items from Michael Jackson, I Love Lucy, Harry Potter, and Miley Cyrus just to name a few. As the museum is in the historic Max Factor Building, you can also visit the makeup rooms where Judy Garland and Bettie Davis got their look and the location where Marilyn Monroe became blond.

 


The Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd)

Designed by David Rockwell, the Dolby Theater has been the home of the Academy Awards since 2002. This state of the art theater is perfect for televised theatrical performances and is also the home of America’s Got Talent. The stage is one of the largest in the United States at 113 feet wide and 60 feet deep. It can showcase a large variety of acts and was once the home of Cirque du Soleil.

The entrance leads to a grand stairway and is flanked by Art Deco columns with the names of past recipients of the Academy Award for Best Picture. The theater also showcases the great musical talent and past performances include Adele, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Elvis Costello and much more.

 


TCL Chinese Theater/Grauman’s (6925 Hollywood Boulevard)

Built by Sid Grauman, the Chinese Theater has undergone a few name changes since it was constructed. Grauman was also responsible for creating the Egyptian Theater down the street. The theater opened in 1927 with the premiere of Cecil B. De Mille’s The King of Kings, the grandest opening Hollywood has ever seen. Since then, it has hosted more premiers than any other theater in Hollywood history and was the site of the 1977 premiere of Star Wars.

 

 

The exterior is meant to resemble a Chinese pagoda with a Chinese dragon across the façade and two guard lions at the entrance. The interior is equally impressive, and for those who don’t have time to catch a movie, the theater offers daily tours.

The Chinese Theater is also famous for the celebrity handprints and footprints in the concrete out front. Handprints of Hollywood stars include those of Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. In addition to hand and footprints, you’ll also find an imprint of the cigar of Groucho Marx and the wands used by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in Harry Potter.

 


El Capitan Theater (6838 Hollywood Blvd)

Across from Grauman’s Chinese theater sits another gem of Hollywood’s glory days, the El Capitan Theater. In 1926, the El Capitan fulfilled Hollywood’s need for its first spoken drama theater with a capacity of 1550 seats. It brought some of the top names of the day to grace the stage including Clark Gable, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Joan Fontaine, Henry Fonda and Will Rogers.
The El Capitan was designed in the Spanish Colonial Style by Architectural firm Morgan Walls, with a contrasting East-Indian interior which was designed by Albert Lansburgh.

In 1941, the El Capitan converted to a movie theater. That same year, the theater was rented by Orson Wells to premiere his first feature film, Citizen Kane. It was also the location of the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s Reap the Wild Wind.

In the following decades, the El Capitan changed ownership (and its name along with it) many times, and in the process suffered a series of unfortunate changes to its decor. Thankfully, Disney (in Partnership with Pacific Theaters) bought the venue in 1989 and conducted a full restoration back to its 1920’s grandeur. Today the theater often showcases premiers of Disney Films as well as exclusive first runs, stage shows, and other special events.

Movie viewings are usually preceded by exhibits and entertainment which may include a performance of old Disney tunes on a grand 1926 Wurlitzer organ. Visit the El Capitan website for showtimes.

 


The Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd)

Built in 1926, the Roosevelt Hotel was named after President Theodore Roosevelt and known for its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival Interior. Famous rooms in the hotel include the Gable-Lombard penthouse where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard used to stay and the Marilyn Monroe suite where the actress lived for the first two years of her acting career.

The first Academy Awards ceremony ever held took place here on May 16, 1929. The ceremony, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, was not televised and had only 270 persons in attendance. Winners were already announced three months prior and the award would not be called the “Oscar” for another four years.

The pool at the Roosevelt was featured in a 1955 episode of I Love Lucy when the Ricardos and Mertzes came to Hollywood. Inside the hotel’s nightclub called the Cinegrill, a scene from The Fabulous Baker Boys was filmed featuring Jeff Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer. Other films shot on this location include Beverly Hills Cop II, Catch Me If You Can and The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

 


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Downtown Los Angeles Self-Guided Tour

Posted by & filed under Los Angeles.

This post covers some of the more significant sites in Downtown Los Angeles. Communities such as Hollywood and Beverly Hills often get a lot of attention from tourists, but some of the oldest and most historic buildings in the city can actually be found in the Downtown area. Unfortunately, many of these important landmarks are spread out, which can make it a little difficult to see everything. Taking that into account, this self-guided walking tour seeks to give you a reasonable path through DTLA.

Directions

TV Show Tickets

 

This Downtown Los Angeles Self-Guided Tour is about 3 miles in length, so you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes for the walk. Alternatively, you can also use public transportation for most of the stops on our trek. Although it will likely take about 1 ½ hours to see each of the sites on this list, fully exploring everything they have to offer could take another 3-4 hours or more. Several of the locations you will see are free to enter and enjoy, so take your time and soak up the culture of Los Angeles at your own pace.


Where to Start Our Downtown Los Angeles Self-Guided Tour

This self-guided tour will begin at Union Station in Los Angeles. There are a variety of methods for reaching this destination, so it’s best to use something like Google Maps for directions. Thankfully, the Union Station website actually has a map that provides specific directions for driving, walking, biking and transit. If you don’t feel like visiting their site, use the map below to find the quickest route to our first stop.


Union Station (800 North Alameda Street)

Whether or not you choose to take a train directly to our first stop, Union Station is a notable and important landmark in Los Angeles. This train station was built in the heart of the original Chinatown during the early 1930s. Designed by John and Donald B. Parkinson, the building was influenced by a plethora of different architectural styles. If you look around, you’ll find signs of Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, Mission Revival and even Dutch Colonial Revival architecture.

The station restaurant was designed by Mary Colter, a Southwestern architect. You can see her influence in the cement tile floor which reproduces the pattern of a Navajo blanket. In addition to serving thousands of passengers every day, Union Station has also been featured in several notable films such as Blade Runner, Pearl Harbor and Muppets Most Wanted.

Once you are done here, walk outside and take a stroll across the street to Los Angeles Plaza Park.


El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument (125 Paseo De La Plaza)

This plaza is known as the oldest location in all of Los Angeles. In 1781, eleven families established the pueblo (town) which would eventually become known as the City of Angels. The full original title was El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles sobre El Rio Porciúncula (The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River). Unfortunately, the original location of this pueblo was lost when a flood washed it away in 1815. Afterward, the town would be rebuilt in this exact spot.

For the first 70 years or so, this plaza was the commercial and social center of town. That all changed when Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1850, shortly after California became a state. By the year 1900, the center of activity in this new city had moved south onto Spring Street and Main Street. Some of the oldest structures in the city remain clustered around the plaza.

We recommend visiting the nearby Olvera Street Market. Here you’ll find the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles, Avila Adobe. Across the street from this landmark, you’ll also see the Sepúlveda House Museum, which is now a visitors center that provides tours of the historic district.


The Italian American Museum (125 Paseo de la Plaza Suite 406)

If you’re looking for a free cultural museum in the area, the IAMLA is an excellent option. Although they do accept donations, you are not required to pay for admission. With only seven permanent exhibitions, it shouldn’t take too long to experience the history on display.

That being said, they also offer a lot of temporary exhibits and educational programming. Although this isn’t a required stop on your self-guided tour of Downtown Los Angeles, some visitors may want to consider the option. You’ll find this museum located at the end of Olvera Street.


Chinese American Museum (425 N Los Angeles St)

You’ll find this cultural museum on the south side of the Los Angeles Plaza. Considering that the area has a lot of ties to Chinatown, you might want to consider visiting. As with the IAMLA, donations are accepted, but you are not required to pay for admission.

The Chinese American Museum has three on-going exhibitions. From time to time, they may also include additional, temporary exhibits. Once again, you don’t have to make a stop here, but it could be an interesting experience if you want to learn more about the history of this city.


The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels (535 N Main St)

Whether or not you chose to visit either the IAMLA or Chinese American Museum, you’ll want to head west of the Los Angeles Plaza and cross Main Street to visit La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles (The Church of Our Lady Queen of Angels).

Built in 1814, this church remains one of the oldest structures in the city. The name “Queen of the Angels” is a reference to Mary, mother of Jesus. For years, this was the only Roman Catholic church in the area. Over the years, this location has been renovated to bring the building up to code so that it can withstand the potential of frequent earthquakes.

Our next stop will take us southwest down Spring Street. You’ll find this location just a few blocks away.


Los Angeles City Hall (200 N Spring St)

Even if you don’t think City Hall would be very interesting, we still recommend making a trip to this notable landmark. Constructed in 1928, the architectural design of this building is based upon the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus – once known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The tower has since been retrofitted to help it withstand up to an 8.2 magnitude earthquake. This renovation makes Los Angeles City Hall the tallest base-isolated structure in the entire world.

In addition to the magnificent architecture on display, you’ll also find a free observation deck at the top. This is an excellent way to get an aerial view of Los Angeles without having to pay a dime. You can access the observation level on the 27th floor any time during business hours Monday-Friday.

The next location on our Downtown Los Angeles self-guided tour is literally right across the street.


Grand Park (200 N Grand Ave)

This state park is known as the civic center of Los Angeles. You’ll find several monuments in the area, including statues of George Washington and Christopher Columbus. There is also a Vietnam memorial near the center of the park, honoring the men and women who faithfully served their nation. If you keep walking west through Grand Park, you’ll eventually reach the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. From time to time, programs coordinated by the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County are held in this plaza.

Although this isn’t yet a historic location, it definitely holds the promise of a great future. After all, Grand Park is currently scheduled to be the venue of at least three events during the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The next two locations on our trek will be found on North Grand Avenue.


Ahmanson Theatre (135 N Grand Ave)

Inaugurated in 1967, the Ahmanson Theatre serves as one of four main venues that make up the Los Angeles Music Center. The first production held at this location was Man of La Mancha, but they have since gone on to produce many notable plays. As a matter of fact, this theatre has been home to the world premiere of 15 musicals.

Actors such as William Shatner, Katharine Hepburn, Matthew Broderick and Jack Lemmon have performed in this venue. You’ll find another hall of the Music Center – The Mark Taper Forum – in the same general vicinity.

Our next stop is actually the home base of the company, and you’ll find it just a few steps south from these locations.


Los Angeles Opera House (135 N Grand Ave)

This building is technically known as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and it is the third hall of four venues owned by the Los Angeles Music Center. The structure was named after a noted cultural leader of Los Angeles who led the effort to create a home for the Philharmonic and other performing arts in the city. Their opening concert was held in 1964, and the hall would go on to house several notable events in the years to come.

Perhaps most notably, the Academy Awards were held at this location from 1969 to 1987. The awards show would also find a home at the Los Angeles Opera House in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1999. In addition to these events, the building has been open to the public for a celebration on Christmas Eve every year since 1964. These yearly performances are broadcast on KCET and PBS.

The next location on our list shouldn’t be too hard to find. You will see this unique structure right across the street!


Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S Grand Ave)

Considering the unique architecture on display, chances are that you’ve already spotted this building out of the corner of your eye. Despite the fact that this performance venue officially opened in 2003, The Walt Disney Concert Hall is already an unmistakable landmark of Downtown Los Angeles. Construction was made possible in part thanks to a $50 million dollar donation from Lillian Disney, who wanted the hall built as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to her husband’s devotion to arts in the city.

Architect Frank Gehry developed the design for this venue, and he has definitely created an eye-catching monument to the work of Walt Disney. This is the fourth and final hall of the Los Angeles Music Center, and it has housed a lot of wonderful performances. This structure is also notable for having been used in films such as Iron Man, Get Smart and Alvin & The Chipmunks.

Our next location can actually be found atop the roof of the Walt Disney Concert Hall! Head to the stairs near 1st & Hope Street to find your way up.


The Blue Ribbon Garden

As if the lavishly designed building wasn’t enough of an interesting sight, you’ll also find a beautiful garden on the rooftop. This garden is free to the public, so feel free to climb the stairs and see it for yourself. Architect Frank Gehry designed the water fountain known as A Rose For Lilly in tribute to Lillian Disney, who contributed $50 million dollars to the construction of the concert hall. This might be a nice place to sit and rest for a while before continuing your journey.

When you’re ready to go, head down the stairs and walk back toward 1st & Grand Avenue. From the front of the hall, walk southwest on Grand until you reach 2nd Street.


The Broad (221 S Grand Ave)

You’ll find our next stop right across the street from our last location. The Broad is a contemporary art museum that actually offers free admission to the public. This means that you are welcome to visit and explore their permanent collection, which currently includes more than 2,000 pieces. There may be some exhibits off limits, but most of the artwork in this museum is free to enjoy.

This museum is named after Eli Broad, the philanthropist who financed the $140 million dollar building. Construction finished in 2015, making this is one of the newest structures in Los Angeles. The architecture was actually designed in contrast to The Walt Disney Concert Hall. While the work of Frank Gehry created many sharp and reflective surfaces, The Broad was designed to appear more porous and capable of soaking up the daylight.

Whether or not you’ve decided to take a break and explore the artistic works on display, you’ll want to head across the street to the east side of Grand Avenue and continue walking south to reach our next destination.


The Museum of Contemporary Art (250 S Grand Ave)

If you haven’t quite had enough contemporary art at The Broad, make a trip to this museum as well. Eli Broad, who financed the last museum on our tour, was actually the founding chairman of The Museum of Contemporary Art. The MOCA is home to almost 5,000 pieces created after 1940. Japanese architect Arata Isozaki was responsible for the design of this building, and it was his first architectural work in the United States. Although you must pay for tickets on most days, Wells Fargo offers free admission every Thursday between 5 PM – 8 PM.

Our next stop is a few blocks south at the corner of 5th Street & Grand Avenue. As you travel down Grand, you’ll see buildings such as the Wells Fargo Museum (admission is free) on the right and the WilmerHale building on the left.


Los Angeles Central Library (630 West 5th St)

This public library has been serving the people of Los Angeles for almost a century. Construction of this historic building was completed in 1926, but it has seen a lot of improvements over the years. The original architecture on display combines elements of Ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival design. The main tower includes a pyramid at the top which includes Egyptian symbols.

Inside the building, you’ll find a four-part mural by Dean Cornwell which depicts the history of California. Needless to say, this library is open to the public and you are welcome to explore it at your own leisure.

The next location on our trek through the city is right across the street to the southeast.


The Millennium Biltmore Hotel (506 S Grand Ave)

Believe it or not, this hotel has been around for longer than the Los Angeles Public Library across the street. When it was built in 1923, the Millennium Biltmore was known as the largest hotel west of Chicago, Illinois. The architectural design combines elements of Spanish-Italian Renaissance Revival, Mediterranean Revival and Beaux Art styles. If possible, the interior is even more spectacular thanks to various murals, frescos, fountains and chandeliers on display.

Several famous movie stars and dignitaries have stayed at the Millennium Biltmore over the years. The hotel has also been featured in over two dozen different films, including notable projects such as Chinatown, Ghostbusters, and Independence Day. You may have also seen this location used in television programs like Charlie’s Angels, Beverly Hills 90210, and That 70’s Show.

To see our next stop, walk one block southwest on 5th Street until you reach Olive Street.


Pershing Square (532 S Olive Street)

This park has a very rich history spanning back to the 19th century. Initially, Pershing Square was used as a camp for settlers during the 1850s. The site was officially dedicated as a public square in 1866, and it took on several names before eventually being renamed in 1918 to honor General John J. Pershing who faithfully served for the United States during WWI.

Although the name hasn’t changed since then, the park certainly has been altered. In 1952, Pershing Square would be demolished and rebuilt with a parking garage underground. Unfortunately, this park would eventually become somewhat of an eyesore by the 1980’s, prompting yet another redesign. In 1994, a ten-story bell tower and fountains would be added to spruce up the public grounds. They also added a walkway representing one of the fault lines in the area, an ice rink for seasonal events, and small plazas with seating.

As you can probably tell, there isn’t a lot of greenery remaining in this park. That being said, the changes they have made over the years are pretty nice, and there’s plenty to see and do at Pershing Square.

Our next destination will take you through the square and southwest on 6th Street. Once you reach Broadway, turn right and look for the following location.


The Los Angeles Theatre (615 S Broadway)

With a tale stretching back to the 1930s, it’s fair to say that this is one of the most historic theatres in Downtown Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, none other than Charlie Chaplin actually helped to fund the construction so that it would be open in time for the release of his film City Lights. In an effort to speed up construction, the theatre was actually built off-site in sections and slotted in-between existing buildings.

Attendance was strong at first, but began to dwindle as people moved further out into the suburbs after WWII. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Theatre has been closed since 1994 and remains vacant to this very day. That being said, the venue is sometimes used as a filming location for various movies, television programs and commercials. You may have seen it in films such as Man on the Moon and Charlie’s Angels.

Our next stop is right across the street and relatively easy to spot.


The Palace Theatre (630 S Broadway)

Unlike the movie palace next door, this location actually has its roots in Vaudeville. Originally entitled The Orpheum Theatre, this venue was originally constructed in 1911 with Vaudeville in mind. At the time, film hadn’t caught on quite yet, but the theatre would eventually be converted into a movie palace in 1929. Over the years, they would present second-run films, news reels, documentaries, Spanish language films and various stage shows. You may also recognize this as the shooting location for Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video.

Following a renovation in 2011, The Palace Theatre is now used as a venue for various concerts, live performances and film screenings.

TIP: The Palace and Los Angeles Theatre are only the tip of the iceberg on Broadway. If you want to see even more theatres, we recommend continuing south past 8th Street. On your way there, you’ll spot the Globe, The Tower and the Orpheum Theatre (not to be mistaken with the original name for the Palace Theatre). This is an optional side-trip, but it is not required for our tour.

If you want to continue on this self-guided tour, head northeast on Broadway until you reach 6th Street. From there, travel southeast and turn left at historic Spring Street. You’ll see our next destination on the right.


The Los Angeles Theatre Center (514 S Spring St)

Surprisingly, the building that this theatre was built upon actually began its life as a bank. The Security Bank Building has been standing on Spring Street since 1916, and it was the tallest structure in the city for at least a few years. The architectural design was based on the Greek-Revival style featuring Ionic columns. Although a majority of the Security Building remains intact, it has since been refurbished more than once and turned into a theatre.

In 2006, the Latino Theater Company won a bid to become the owner and operator of The Los Angeles Theatre Center. Today, the venue houses a variety of performances ranging from concerts to plays.

Our next stop is right across the street at the corner of Spring and 5th.


Hotel Alexandria (501 S Spring St)

Built in 1906, this century old hotel has a long and interesting history. Although the main building began as an 8-story structure, it became so popular that they eventually built a 12-story addition. Until The Biltmore was constructed in 1923, this was widely considered the most luxurious hotel in Los Angeles. Its popularity would eventually wane until Phil Goldstone purchased the property in 1937. He would go on to renovate and re-open the business, which would change hands several times over the next 30-40 years.

In 1971, the building was officially declared a historic-cultural landmark by the city. Unfortunately, the next few decades would see the heart of Los Angeles drifting westward, leaving businesses in the area to flounder. The Alexandria slowly began to provide long-term housing for low-income residents, and this attracted a lot of drug crime which made the area somewhat unsafe. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, as the hotel was recently renovated in 2005 and transformed into an apartment building.

Several notable films have been shot on location at this site, including titles such as Se7en and Dreamgirls.

Walk north and cross 5th Street in order to reach our next destination.


The Rowan Building (460 S Spring St)

Constructed in 1910, this structure was originally known as The Chester Building. Various businesses in the area would rent out office space in the building, but these offices were eventually converted into condominiums. The architectural design was a combination of Beaux Arts and Classical styles. Construction actually drew crowds as developers chose to use giant steel beams that were described by the Los Angeles Times as “the most massive… ever used on the west coast.”

Today, The Rowan Building has been renovated and now provides lofts to various clients. The latest renovation was completed in 2009, taking special care to preserve some of the historic interior details from the original construction.

Continue northeast on Spring Street to find the next stop on this tour.


Spring Street Park (428 S Spring St)

Although it’s a fairly small park, this might be another nice location to stop and take a break. Spring Street Park actually used to be a parking lot, but thanks to an initiative from the city to create more public spaces, you can now take advantage of this beautiful new location. There is an open lawn, plenty of seating, a few different walking paths and even a playground for kids. This stop isn’t necessary, but we do recommend taking a short rest before continuing your journey.

Heck, you can even enjoy the next location on our tour from this park!


El Dorado Hotel (416 S Spring St)

Built in 1913, the El Dorado was once known as the Hotel Stowell. The architectural design had a lot in common with Art Deco styles (an interesting note considering that the construction predates this artistic style), using enameled bricks and terra cotta to create a fairly distinctive look.

Charlie Chaplin was once a tenant at this hotel, and he relayed a story of an interesting experience at the Stowell. Apparently he was in the middle of an important phone call, but the connection was bad and he tried to yell his response instead. Having left the window open, a patron from the room above shouted back and told him to go to sleep.

Needless to say, this location would eventually become known as the El Dorado Hotel. In 2008, the building was renovated and converted into lofts.

Our next stop is yet another optional destination. If you’d like to visit another museum, walk around the corner and head southeast on 4th Street.


The Main Museum of Los Angeles (114 W 4th St)

Although you don’t have to visit this museum, it might be worth a look. Admission is entirely free and they house a lot of interesting pieces. The Main is currently housed in the renovated remains of the Hellman Building, which was constructed in 1903. Even before that, owner Herman W. Hellman originally had a small wooden cottage built on the same land in 1875. In other words, there have been people living and working in this exact location for almost 150 years.

This building hasn’t fully completed its transformation into a museum, but you are still free to visit and take a look around. As the years go by, The Main will no doubt house even more interesting works of art.

To find our next stop, head northwest on 4th until you reach Spring Street. From here, walk northeast on Spring until you hit 3rd street. Walk northwest down 3rd street and your destination will be on the left.


The Bradbury Building (304 S Broadway)

It might be hard to believe, but this building is actually one of the most important locations in film history. Starting in the 1940s, this structure became the backdrop for several noir films such as M, DOA and Shockproof. In more modern times, this notable site was used as a shooting location for films like Blade Runner, Chinatown and 500 Days of Summer.

Built in 1893, the Bradbury Building used a very modern style of architecture which became quite appealing to filmmakers. Although it may not look like much from outside, one look at the interior will likely flood you with memories, as there’s very little chance that you haven’t seen its structure before. This location was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and it is one of the most photographed structures in Downtown Los Angeles.

In addition to being used as a filming location, the Bradbury Building has also been used as an office building for the majority of its existence. Ironically, the building has housed the Internal Affairs division of the Los Angeles Police Department since 1996. Considering that many people remember the structure for its ties to hard-boiled detective stories, it’s almost fitting that law enforcement should have a home inside these walls.

You’ll see our next location right across the street on Broadway.


The Million Dollar Theatre (307 S Broadway)

Located directly across from the historic Bradbury Building, the Million Dollar Theatre is one of the oldest and most historic theatres in Los Angeles. Constructed in 1918, this was actually the first movie palace built by Sid Grauman. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Sid would eventually go on to create two more venues in Hollywood – The Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre.

The Million Dollar Theatre has been used for a variety of purposes since it was built, but it is most well known as a Spanish theatre. In the 1950s, the owner decided to use this location to promote predominantly Spanish language films. His efforts were lauded by the Mexican government, and the venue would eventually be used to premiere most major Mexican films. To this very day, they continue to focus heavily on Spanish movies and entertainment.

We’re right next door to the last stop on our trip, so continue walking southwest on Broadway to finish this self-guided tour of Downtown Los Angeles.


Grand Central Market (317 S Broadway)

After walking around Downtown Los Angeles for a while, there’s no better place to stop and rest than Grand Central Market. Not only is this location historic, but it also houses plenty of delicious restaurants.

Built in 1896, this structure was once known as the Homer Laughlin Building. Although the architecture was originally designed in the Beaux Arts style, it has since been so drastically altered that the original influence might not be easy to spot. Ever since 1917, the Grand Central Market has housed the ground floor of this building. Various other tenants have had offices here, including Frank Lloyd Wright during the 1920s.

This is a great place to get a bite to eat, but it’s also a wonderful location for fresh produce. You don’t have to buy anything in order to visit the market, but nobody will blame you if the sights and smells prove too tempting.

This is the last stop on our self-guided tour, but there’s still plenty to see in Los Angeles. Keep your eyes peeled for additional self-guided tours in Hollywood and other popular neighborhoods found in the City of Angels!


Free Museums On This Route

There are a handful free museums along the path of this Downtown Los Angeles self-guided tour. Unfortunately, the walking tour itself is fairly extensive, so it might be a better idea to visit these locations at another time. With that said, here is a list of the museums you’ll find on this journey. Keep in mind that some of these sites only provide free admission on certain days of the week.

  • Italian American Museum
  • Chinese American Museum
  • The Broad
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Wells Fargo Museum
  • The Main Museum

Which Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour Should You Take?

Posted by & filed under Los Angeles.

This post covers some of the best walking tours you can take in Downtown Los Angeles. As you can probably imagine, there is a lot to experience in this historic location. Thankfully, there are quite a few tour companies offering services in this area. If you don’t feel like going on a self-guided tour, you might want to consider one of the following options instead. Whether you’d rather enjoy a focused trip around the city or a more general overview, you’ll definitely find an outing that fits both your needs and interests.

Walking Tours

Scavenger Hunt

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Things to do in Hollywood

Posted by & filed under Los Angeles.

This post covers a variety of popular walking tours that you can take in Hollywood. While some of these outings will include a hike to the Hollywood Sign, others focus on the incredible landmarks found near Hollywood Boulevard. There are so many different options that it can be difficult to pick the right tour without doing a lot of research. With that in mind, we’ve gathered the information you’ll need to make a more informed decision.

Hollywood Boulevard Tours

Hollywood Urban Adventures

Directions to Hollywood

Depending on which Hollywood walking tour you choose, each outing could take anywhere from 1 – 4 hours to complete. Some of these treks will have you hiking through the Hollywood hills, so it may be important to wear appropriate shoes and prepare for a lot of physical activity. The average ticket price ranges from $20-$40, but some of the longer trips can cost up to $100 per person.


Hollywood Boulevard Walking Tours

Several Hollywood walking tours are designed to reveal all of the historic sites surrounding Hollywood Boulevard. These outings typically include an exploration of the Walk of Fame and visits to popular locations such as the TCL Chinese Theatre and Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. These tours typically run for 1-2 hours and carry a ticket price of between $20-$30 on average. Although it is advised to wear comfy shoes, shorter walks should be possible in just about any attire.


Red Line Tours

This tour starts right in front of Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre and covers a lot of ground. See notable stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as you discover some of the most historic movie palaces in the area. In addition to seeing beautiful and luxurious theatres, you’ll also discover some of the most significant landmarks in Tinseltown. At only 75 minutes in length, this trek should be fairly easy for almost any audience to complete.

  • Ticket Prices: $27 for Adults | $15 for Children
  • Availability: Daily @ 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM & 4 PM
  • Duration: 75 minutes
  • Live guides use personal audio system to help you hear the tour
  • Click here for more information

With an average score of 4.8 out of 5 stars, it’s safe to say that ratings for this service are very positive (read reviews here). Some guests suggested that this was the highlight of their day, indicating that the tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful. A few customers felt that it would be a mistake to avoid this tour, as you might walk right past some pretty significant sites without the proper guidance. Most visitors appreciated all of the historical details they learned about on their trek through Hollywood.


Hollywood Blvd. Walking Tour

Much like their competitors, this company also provides a relatively short and in-depth walking tour of Hollywood Boulevard. That being said, this trek also includes a behind-the-scenes look at the El Capitan Theatre, a fully restored movie palace from the golden age of cinema. In addition to visiting this notable venue, you’ll also see important sites such as the Capitol Records building and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  • Ticket Prices: $25 per person
  • Availability: Sun-Fri @ 9:45 AM
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Inside look at El Capitan Theatre includes
  • Click here for more information

Although there aren’t any reviews for this walking tour yet, visitors who experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the El Capitan Theatre indicate that it is definitely worth the price of admission. Some guests even felt that the backstage tour was a must, suggesting that everyone should take the chance to see a side of this movie palace that few get to experience. If this one element of the Hollywood walking tour is so highly rated, chances are that the entire trip is excellent.


LA Tour 1

If you want to see more than just Hollywood, this walking tour might be the perfect option. Utilizing the subway, LA Tour 1 will take you from Hollywood Boulevard to Downtown Los Angeles in order to visit as many significant landmarks as possible. Learn all about the history of Hollywood, then travel south to discover the roots of this entertainment industry. Clocking in at 3 hours in length, we suggest wearing comfortable shoes and being physically prepared for the journey.

Ratings for this tour are very positive (read reviews here), and customers on TripAdvisor have given the company 5 out of 5 stars. Guests appreciate the opportunity to experience several different landmarks and learn a lot about Los Angeles history during one interesting trip through the city. Some visitors also enjoyed the smaller group sizes, allowing them to avoid large crowds. Couples and families were the most likely to leave a positive review.

 


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Hollywood Hills Hiking Tours

The Hollywood Sign draws a lot of tourists each year, but it’s not always easy to see from Hollywood Boulevard. If you want a good look at the landmark, it’ll be important to make your way up the Hollywood hills. Although most people prefer to drive closer to the sign, there are actually a few Hollywood hiking tours that will take you to one of the best viewing locations. Each hike will take around 2-3 hours, so prepare to get a good workout.

The Hollywood Hills from behind the Hollywood Sign. Image Source: Wikimedia user Blake Everett on July 21st, 2014.

Bikes and Hikes LA

With the help of an expert hiking guide, you’ll learn a lot about the history of Los Angeles while walking through the hills to find one of the best views of the Hollywood Sign. In addition to informative narration, your tour guide will also provide interactive videos revealing the significance of specific locations. Once you reach the highest point in the Hollywood hills, you’ll also have the opportunity to look down and see the magnificent skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles off in the distance. Make sure to bring a camera for excellent photo opportunities!

  • Ticket Prices: $39 per person (normally $52)
  • Availability: Daily @ 10 AM & 3 PM
  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Reusable water bottle included
  • Click here for more information

Customers have enjoyed their experience enough to give this company 4.9 out of 5 stars (read reviews here). A majority of guests felt that their tour guide did a very good job of providing useful and interesting information during the hike. Other visitors were impressed with the incredible views from the Hollywood hills, indicating that this trip was the highlight of their vacation in Los Angeles. This outing is recommended to people who like to hike, have fun and enjoy wonderful scenery.


LA Tour 1

In addition to other services in the area, LA Tour 1 also provides a hike through the Hollywood hills. During this trek, you’ll ascend the equivalent of 12 flights of stairs, taking frequent breaks to enjoy the incredible views. Your final destination will be Griffith Observatory, one of the best locations to see the Hollywood Sign. After the trip, you can either stay and enter the Observatory or walk back down with your tour guide.

  • Ticket Prices: $35 for Adults | $30 for Children
  • Availability: Daily @ 9:30 AM
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Griffith Observatory Entry Included
  • Click here for more information

This outing has received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars (read reviews here). Most guests enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and see the sights, while others were also quite pleased to learn a little about Hollywood. The tour guides were described as both informative and friendly, providing a lot of interesting details along the way. Some visitors warn that the inclines can be quite steep, indicating that this hike isn’t necessarily going to be easy for everyone.


Hollywood Tourz

If you’re looking for a more extensive tour through Hollywood, this may be your best bet. In addition to providing a traditional trek down Hollywood Boulevard, this service also includes a hike to the Griffith Observatory for incredible photo opportunities. Discover the history behind Tinseltown with the help of a professional tour guide and finish your journey at one of the best viewing locations for the Hollywood Sign.

  • Ticket Prices: $49 for Adults | $35 for Children
  • Availability: Daily @ 4 PM (Winter), 5 PM (Spring/Fall), 6 PM (Summer)
  • Duration: 2 ½ hours
  • Includes both walking and hiking tour
  • Click here for more information

Although there aren’t many reviews for this specific trip, it’s worth noting that Hollywood Tourz has received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Ratings for this walking/hiking tour are pretty good, with some guests describing it as a wonderful experience. Reviewers also indicate that their tour guides were very helpful and informative, even going so far as to personalize the experience of visitors based upon their interests.

 


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Hollywood Urban Adventures

From scavenger hunts to bar crawls, there are several alternative Hollywood walking tours to consider. Most of these urban adventures will give you the opportunity to learn about Tinseltown while competing with other teams to find notable landmarks. Each outing is about 3 hours in length, giving visitors a lot of time to explore the area and see some of the most historic sites in Hollywood. A smartphone may be required for some of these trips.


Urban Adventure Quests

This company offers groups the opportunity to compete in a Hollywood scavenger hunt. Using your smartphone and the clues provided, you’ll be tasked with finding some of the most significant locations in the area. Along the way, you’ll cover a lot of ground while seeing sites such as the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame and the Capitol Records Building. If you’re more interested in grabbing a few drinks, they also provide a “Sips of Old Hollywood” food tour as well.

Urban Adventure Quests currently enjoys a 5 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Guests were typically very impressed with their tour guides, suggesting that they were friendly and knowledgeable. The Sips of Old Hollywood tour is particularly well rated, because it gives visitors a taste of the bars and restaurants in the area. Most customers enjoyed the opportunity to experience some of the drinks that you’ll only find in Hollywood.


Viator

If their competitors are a little too expensive for you, it’s worth noting that Viator offers a similar Hollywood scavenger hunt for a much lower price. With a duration of 3 hours and small group sizes, this is very similar to some of the other services in Tinseltown. Learn about the history of Hollywood by using a variety of clues to find each destination on your journey. A smartphone will be required to solve puzzles and figure out which location to visit next.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any reviews for this Hollywood walking tour as of yet. That being said, the ticket prices are so cheap that it might be worth a shot. Viator provides a lot of excellent tours in association with very well rated companies. If you want to explore Hollywood at your own pace while competing to find landmarks, this is probably going to be the most affordable option.

 


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Self-Guided Hollywood Walking Tour

In the early 1900s, a group of independent movie producers wishing to escape the eastern movie establishment made their way west to California. These producers called themselves the Untied Artists, and by 1910 they found themselves in the tiny village of Hollywood. It was then only known for its marvelous fruit trees, but it quickly grew into the center of the entertainment universe.  Although Hollywood today doesn’t resemble anything of its glamorous past, revitalization projects are now bringing Hollywood’s famed boulevard back to life. This self-guided tour will take you through some the legendary spots of Hollywood and past some of the new and exciting revitalized buildings along Hollywood Boulevard.


Directions to Hollywood

How to get there: take the Metro red line to the Hollywood/Vine exit. If using GPS, plug in 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 to get to the starting point.

Parking: your least expensive option is the Hollywood and Highland lot, which can be found at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028. The cost is only $2 for 2 hours with validation from participating shops and $2 for four hours with validation from the TCL Chinese Theater and TCL Chinese 6 Theaters. It is $1.00 for every 15 minutes thereafter. Both The Dolby Theatre and the Ray Dolby Ballroom do not validate. If you park here you can take the train over one stop to Hollywood/Vine or take the tour in reverse.

 

 


The Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd)

Across the street from the Hollywood/Vine metro stop, you’ll find the last movie palace built in Hollywood; the Pantages Theater, designed by architect Marcus Priteca and completed in 1930. Alexander Pantages originally built the theater to host Vaudeville performances. Eventually, performances of this type became too expensive as the depression wore on and it was converted to an all movie venue. Howard Hughes purchased the building in 1941, and under his ownership, it began hosting the Academy Awards from 1950-1960.The first-ever telecast of the Academy Awards took place here in 1953.

In 1977, the Pantages converted exclusively to live stage productions. In 2000, it underwent a massive rehabilitation uncovering all of its original Art Deco features. The Pantages is now one of the most popular spots in LA to see Broadway-style productions. Great hits such as The Lion King, Wicked and The Book of Mormon have all staged productions here.

 


The Capitol Records Building (1750 Vine St)

The Capitol Records building was the world’s first circular office building when Welton Becket’s design was completed in 1956. Inside the building, unforgettable acts such as The Beach Boys, Nat “King” Cole, Sir Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra have recorded some of the world’s greatest musical gems.

Thirty feet below the building is an underground concrete bunker designed by guitarist Les Paul. In the quiet of this chamber, musicians can record with a reverb that lasts up to five seconds, an effect that was most famously heard on the Beach Boy’s ‘Good Vibrations.’

If you pass the building at night, you’ll see a red flashing light on top of the needle. Most assume it’s a signal for a passing plane, but it was created to blink the word “Hollywood” in Morse code. In 1956, Leila Morse, daughter of Samuel Morse, was invited to flip the switch for the very first time. In November 2016, the signal was changed momentarily to blink “Capitol 75” in honor of Capitol Records 75 year anniversary.

On the south side of the Capitol Records building, you will find an impressive mural titled Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972. Painted in 1990 by Richard Wyatt, the mural depicts Jazz greats Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The mural was originally funded by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, but its restoration was made possible by Capitol records in 2011.

 


The Hollywood Walk of Fame

It’s roughly a 10-minute walk till your next stop so take time to enjoy and appreciate the Hollywood Walk of Fame underneath your feet. The Walk of Fame extends 1.3 miles east to west on Hollywood Blvd, with some stars on Gower Street, Marshfield Way, and Vine Street.

 

 

The idea for the walk of fame originated inside the original Hollywood Hotel, where gold stars with the names of celebrities used to grace the ceiling. When the hotel was torn down, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decided to create a permanent installation along Hollywood Blvd by continuously awarding stars to celebrities of great achievement. Today, celebrities are chosen through a nominating process that is usually initiated by a fan club, studio or record company. Roughly 200 people are nominated every year and only 10% of those nominated ever receive a star. The 2017 honorees include Rita Wilson, Goldie Hawn, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eva Longoria, Sarah Silverman, John Legend and Selena Quintanilla. You will find the stars for all four Beatles and Neil Diamond outside the Capitol Record Building.

 


Dolores Del Rio Mural (Hollywood & Hudson Street)

Just off Hollywood Blvd is a Mural celebrating the life and career of one of Hollywood’s most legendary ladies, Dolores Del Rio. She was one of the first Latina stars in Hollywood, making her break into the silent films in the 1920s and then the talkies of the 1930s. She starred in over 30 movies in the United States, after which she returned to her native Mexico, where she launched a career in Mexican cinema. She has appeared in films with the likes of Fred Astaire and Elvis Presley. George Bernard Shaw once said of her: “The two most beautiful things in the world are the Taj Mahal and Dolores del Río.”

 

 

This mural was painted by Alfredo de Batuc in 1990 and can be found on the east side of Hudson Street near Hollywood Blvd.

 


Janes House (6541 Hollywood Blvd)

The oldest home on Hollywood Blvd is the Janes House, built in 1902 as part of a parcel of fine Victorian homes. Herman and Mary Jane of Aurora, IL bought the home for $10,000 in 1903 and lived there with their four children. In 1911, the women of the household opened a kindergarten on site entitled Misses Janes School of Hollywood; later, the school would expand to K-8 services. The school folded up in 1926, and for a time the front yard took on many uses – including a gas pump, parking lot, and a tourist business.

The last of the Janes children died in 1982, and despite it being declared a landmark, the land was sold to developers in 1984. They moved the house to the back lot and built a 14,000-sq. ft. mini-mall in front. It has served many purposes through the years and today it is the home of the 20’s themed speakeasy, “No Vacancy at Hotel Juniper.”

The house and the Janes sisters were said to be an inspiration for the famous novel Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell. The book was later adapted into a movie with Bette Davis playing a character named Jane Hudson. This may be a nod to the fact that the Janes House is adjacent to Hudson Street.

 


Musso and Frank’s Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd)

Frank Musso’s grill is the oldest in Hollywood and the last of the famed celebrity dining establishments of old Hollywood. The restaurant opened its doors in 1919 with some of their earliest customers arriving on horseback. Legend has it that Charlie Chaplin and John Barrymore challenged one another to a horse race down Hollywood Boulevard right in front of the restaurant.

Not only is the restaurant ancient, but so are the menu options. Charlie Chaplin loved to sit in the front window eating his grilled lamb kidney and Irish stew, Rudolph Valentino preferred a plate of spaghetti, and Ginger Rogers ordered steak followed by a rum cake for dessert. The management has thought to modernize the menu, but whenever the customers are asked the response is “don’t change anything.” In addition to their old-time menu, you’ll also get old-time service from Bartenders and waiters who have worked at Frank Musso’s for up to 50 years. Celebrities are still regulars here and the waitstaff is superb at keeping the paparazzi away.

 


The Egyptian Theater/American Cinematheque (6712 Hollywood Blvd)

The Egyptian theater originally boasted beautiful murals of hieroglyphics, a sunburst ceiling, and a forecourt with middle eastern shops lined with guards in Egyptian costumes. King Tut’s tomb had just been discovered and showman Sid Grauman thought to capitalize on its popularity by building the elaborate movie palace in 1922.

That same year, the first movie premiere in Hollywood’s history took place here with the showing of Robin Hood starring Douglass Fairbanks. The theater would then serve as the perfect backdrop for the 1923 premiere of Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments.

 

 

By the 1980s, the theater was in terrible shape and fell victim to remodeling. Its salvation came about when a local non-profit organization called American Cinematheque purchased the theater in 1998. There is the main theater inside which holds up to 650 people along with a smaller theater which was financed by Steven Spielberg.

In addition to its regular classic film showings, there are various film festivals that often headline celebrities. The festivals are held on various topics that range from the showing of movies with a specific director or actor to themes such as the developing world or LGBT productions.

Tours of the theater are also available, and they include the showing of a 55-minute documentary called Forever Hollywood.

To find out more about the American Cinematique’s events, check out their calendar.

 


Hollywood Wax Museum (6767 Hollywood Blvd)

The Hollywood Wax Museum was the first in Hollywood, founded by Indian-Canadian lumber worker Spoony Singh. Mr. Singh was a man full of ideas and always wanted to tap into the next big thing. While working in Canada, the idea struck him that everyone travels to Los Angeles to see all the stars, but they can never find them. Why not create wax figures of them and allow people to see them all under one roof? Mr. Singh opened his museum in 1965 with a half-mile long line of people excited to see his work.

To attract the attention of the average passerby, he had his employees dress as characters such as London bobbies or gorillas riding on skateboards. In addition to these efforts, visitors sometimes found that the most exciting experience was inside the museum, as live actors would stand among the wax figures and start to move/speak to intentionally spook the guests.

Inside the museum, you’ll find a plethora of wax figures including John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo Di Caprio and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The museum has transitioned somewhat from highlighting individual stars to depicting entire movie scenes. Later, Mr. Singh opened the Hollywood Guinness Museum, another mainstay attraction on Hollywood Blvd.

 


The Hollywood Museum/Former Max Factor Headquarters (660 N Highland Ave)

Among the various museums lined up along Hollywood Boulevard, this is a must-see. The Hollywood Museum has the largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the entire world. You will find movie scripts, props, posters, costumes, photographs and more. You will also get a closer look at the history of Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Inside you’ll see Marilyn Monroe’s million-dollar dress, items from Michael Jackson, I Love Lucy, Harry Potter, and Miley Cyrus just to name a few. As the museum is in the historic Max Factor Building, you can also visit the makeup rooms where Judy Garland and Bettie Davis got their look and the location where Marilyn Monroe became blond.

 


The Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd)

Designed by David Rockwell, the Dolby Theater has been the home of the Academy Awards since 2002. This state of the art theater is perfect for televised theatrical performances and is also the home of America’s Got Talent. The stage is one of the largest in the United States at 113 feet wide and 60 feet deep. It can showcase a large variety of acts and was once the home of Cirque du Soleil.

The entrance leads to a grand stairway and is flanked by Art Deco columns with the names of past recipients of the Academy Award for Best Picture. The theater also showcases the great musical talent and past performances include Adele, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Elvis Costello and much more.

 


TCL Chinese Theater/Grauman’s (6925 Hollywood Boulevard)

Built by Sid Grauman, the Chinese Theater has undergone a few name changes since it was constructed. Grauman was also responsible for creating the Egyptian Theater down the street. The theater opened in 1927 with the premiere of Cecil B. De Mille’s The King of Kings, the grandest opening Hollywood has ever seen. Since then, it has hosted more premiers than any other theater in Hollywood history and was the site of the 1977 premiere of Star Wars.

 

 

The exterior is meant to resemble a Chinese pagoda with a Chinese dragon across the façade and two guard lions at the entrance. The interior is equally impressive, and for those who don’t have time to catch a movie, the theater offers daily tours.

The Chinese Theater is also famous for the celebrity handprints and footprints in the concrete out front. Handprints of Hollywood stars include those of Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. In addition to hand and footprints, you’ll also find an imprint of the cigar of Groucho Marx and the wands used by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in Harry Potter.

 


El Capitan Theater (6838 Hollywood Blvd)

Across from Grauman’s Chinese theater sits another gem of Hollywood’s glory days, the El Capitan Theater. In 1926, the El Capitan fulfilled Hollywood’s need for its first spoken drama theater with a capacity of 1550 seats. It brought some of the top names of the day to grace the stage including Clark Gable, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Joan Fontaine, Henry Fonda and Will Rogers.
The El Capitan was designed in the Spanish Colonial Style by Architectural firm Morgan Walls, with a contrasting East-Indian interior which was designed by Albert Lansburgh.

In 1941, the El Capitan converted to a movie theater. That same year, the theater was rented by Orson Wells to premiere his first feature film, Citizen Kane. It was also the location of the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s Reap the Wild Wind.

In the following decades, the El Capitan changed ownership (and its name along with it) many times, and in the process suffered a series of unfortunate changes to its decor. Thankfully, Disney (in Partnership with Pacific Theaters) bought the venue in 1989 and conducted a full restoration back to its 1920’s grandeur. Today the theater often showcases premiers of Disney Films as well as exclusive first runs, stage shows, and other special events.

Movie viewings are usually preceded by exhibits and entertainment which may include a performance of old Disney tunes on a grand 1926 Wurlitzer organ. Visit the El Capitan website for showtimes.

 


The Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd)

Built in 1926, the Roosevelt Hotel was named after President Theodore Roosevelt and known for its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival Interior. Famous rooms in the hotel include the Gable-Lombard penthouse where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard used to stay and the Marilyn Monroe suite where the actress lived for the first two years of her acting career.

The first Academy Awards ceremony ever held took place here on May 16, 1929. The ceremony, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, was not televised and had only 270 persons in attendance. Winners were already announced three months prior and the award would not be called the “Oscar” for another four years.

The pool at the Roosevelt was featured in a 1955 episode of I Love Lucy when the Ricardos and Mertzes came to Hollywood. Inside the hotel’s nightclub called the Cinegrill, a scene from The Fabulous Baker Boys was filmed featuring Jeff Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer. Other films shot on this location include Beverly Hills Cop II, Catch Me If You Can and The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.


The Magic Castle (7001 Franklin Avenue)

This beautiful 1909 Châteauesque building was once the residence of two Hollywood notables: Rollin and Katherine Lane. Rollin was a banker and real estate investor and Katherine an author, teacher and philanthropist. Both played vital roles in the development of Los Angeles by promoting agriculture in the region and launching vital programs for the betterment of its citizens. The couple named their home “Holly Chateau” and it became a meeting point for the local elite and philanthropic events. After the couple passed away in the 1940s, the building fell into disrepair and took on multiple uses.

In the 1950s, Milt Larsen – an NBC writer for the show Truth or Consequences – had a great view of the Lane mansion from his office window. Milt’s father Bill was an accomplished magician and he taught these skills to his family. Milt’s father even founded the Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences and Milt dreamed of turning the Lane Mansion into its headquarters. Milt’s dream came true in 1961 when he, his brother and a group of volunteers began restoring the mansion to its Victorian grandeur. The Magic Castle opened its doors in 1963 and has been entertaining audiences ever since.

The Magic Castle in Hollywood. Image Source: Wikimedia user The Conmunity on October 13th, 2011.  

Today, visitors to the Magic Castle are delighted to enter the building, which is shrouded in mystique as only members or their guests can enter. Visitors wishing to get in on short notice have the option of booking a hotel room for the night which is one way to be granted entry.

Once you enter the Magic Castle’s doors and make it through the secret, you’ll be greeted by a wonderful musician named Irma the ghost. Irma will delight you by playing any song you request. There are a variety of bars, a dining area, magicians doing table tricks, and a major headlining show where audience members are volunteered to become part of the magic. Guests also have the option to spend time in the lower level lounge where wonderful artifacts from the history of magic can be found, including some of Houdini’s original instruments.

The Magic Castle was designated as a world heritage site in 1989.


The Four Ladies of Hollywood Monument in Hollywood. Image Source: Wikimedia user A. Ranguelov on April 3rd, 2008.The Four Ladies of Hollywood (7083 Hollywood Blvd)

This stainless-steel monument by artist Catherine Hardwick depicts four leading ladies who broke barriers and represented diversity in the movie industry.

First is Mae West, who not only made her mark as an actress, writer and comedian, but even went to jail for her defiance of censorship. She is known as one of the top 15 movie actresses of all time. Next to her is Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie actress who made her break in the silent movie era. Wong was often cast in stereotypical supporting roles which she reluctantly played. As a result, Wong sought work in Europe and was cast in the notable feature movie Picadilly in 1929. Breakthrough Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio is also featured on the monument, as is Dorothy Dandridge, the first African American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award.

The monument is topped with a weather vane statue of Marilyn Monroe.


Charlie Chaplin Studios/ Jim Henson Company (1416 N La Brea Ave)

From the Four Ladies of Hollywood monument, it’s an 8-minute walk to your next stop: the Jim Henson Company Studios. The studio was originally built by Charlie Chaplin in 1917 in the English Village style, blending in well with the early Hollywood rural scenery. The grounds were a little world unto itself, complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts and even a home where Charlie Chaplin was meant to live. It was here that Chaplin produced films such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator. Such notables as Winston Churchill and Hellen Keller were also filmed here.

When Chaplin left the US in 1952, the studio was sold to Webb and Knapp and became the 1955 filming location for the television series Adventures of Superman.

The Jim Henson Company, formerly Charlie Chaplin Studios. Image Source: Wikimedia user Gary Minnaert on December 16th, 2006.  

From 1966 it 1999 it became the headquarters for A&M records and was the location for the filming of Soul Train from 1981 to 1985. The list of those who have recorded at the studios includes The Carpenters, The Moody Blues, The Offspring, Oingo Boingo, The Police, Soundgarden, Styx, Van Morrison and Van Halen. The studio was also the location for the recording of the famous 1985 single “We are the World.”

In 2000, the studio was bought by the Jim Henson Company, who thought the quirky layout from the silent movie era would be a perfect location for its puppet empire. After it was purchased, the studio unveiled a 12-foot statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp. Today, the studio a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.

Unfortunately, the studio does not offer tours, but the grounds are rented out to the public on weekends for special events.


Hollywood High School Mural (521 N Highland Ave)

The Hollywood Highschool Mural. Image Source: Wikimedia user Bahn Mi of the Schoolwatch Programme.It’s about a ten minute walk to your next stop, where you’ll find a mural painted on the side of the Holllywood High School auditorium which is well worth seeing. The Mural is titled “Portrait of Hollywood” and it depicts a diversity of popular entertainers.

Shown are Dorothy Dandridge, Dolores del Río, Brandy Norwood, Selena, Lana Turner, Laurence Fishburne, Cantinflas, Carol Burnett, Cher, Ricky Nelson, Bruce Lee, Rudolph Valentino, and Judy Garland.

All of these stars attended Hollywood High School with the exception of Cantinflas, Bruce Lee, Selena and Rudy Valentino. The mural was completed in 2002 by artist Eloy Torrez and in 2007 he added a thirty foot mural of another Hollywood High Alumni: comedian John Ritter.


The Crossroads of the World (6671 Sunset Blvd)

This set of buildings on Sunset Boulevard has been capturing the imagination of visitors for decades and was even replicated at Disney’s MGM studios Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. The Crossroads of the World was built in 1936 by Architect Robert V. Derrah, and it would be the first outdoor shopping mall in Los Angeles. What made the design so unique is how various architectural styles were used for each individual building, giving locals a glimpse of various locations around the world. Styles include California Mediterranean, Cape Cod, French, Italian, Moorish and Spanish. The original shopping center was said to be glamorous, with an Oriental Art shop, a French parfumerie, a Spanish Cigar maker and a high fashion woman’s dress shop.

The Crossroads of the World. Image Source: Wikimedia user Carol M. Highsmith in 2005.  

Crossroads of the World was eventually phased out and turned into office space which has served the entertainment industry for decades. It has been the home base for casting agencies, script writers, costume designers, producers, publicists and much more. Films such as L.A. Confidential, Dragnet and Remington Steele have all been shot on location here. In addition, musicians such as Jackson Brown, Crosby Stills and Nash, and the band America have enjoyed the quiet peace of The Crossroads. Even now, visitors are welcome to walk through the Crossroads of the World to enjoy the lovely architecture and quiet space.


The Hollywood Athletic Club (6525 Sunset Blvd)

The Hollywood Athletic Club opened its doors on New Year’s Eve in 1924, and it would become the premiere meeting place for the stars of early Hollywood. In addition to the grand parties thrown there, the H.A.C. served as a hotel, a gymnasium, restaurant, sauna, library and cigar lounge alongside an Olympic sized swimming pool.

Its founding members were Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Cecil B. DeMille. Other original members included John Wayne, Mary Pickford, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Walt Disney, Mae West, John Barrymore and Groucho Marx. A number of top notch events have been hosted here over the years, including the first Emmy Awards in 1949.

The Hollywood Athletic Club. Image Source: Wikimedia user Gary Minnaert on December 16th, 2006.  

As time went on, the H.A.C. went into decline and was bought by the University of Judaism. In the seventies, the building was put back on the market and was purchased by concert promoter Gary Berwin. The Berwin Entertainment Complex brought in a long list of celebrities who partied there, including members of the Michael Jackson family, Steven Spielberg, Muhammad Ali, Dudley Moore, Michael J. Fox, Madonna, Melanie Griffith, George Lucas, Jane Fonda, Stevie Wonder, Alice Cooper, Billy Crystal and many others.

In 1986, the club was acquired by the Nourmand family and now serves as an event venue and night club called Boulevard 3.


Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd)

Amoeba Music opened its first location in Berkeley, CA in 1990. This is especially interesting to note because independent records stores were being eaten up by corporate chain stores at the time.

Amoeba records had a mission to bring customers more music outside of what the giant retailers wanted them to hear. Eventually, a store was added in San Francisco, and in 2001 Amoeba opened its doors in Los Angeles anticipating a stock of 250,000 titles, which makes it one of the largest independent music stores in the world.

Amoeba Records in Hollywood. Image Source: Wikimedia user Gary Minnaert on January 21st, 2007.  

Today, Amoeba Music is a Hollywood landmark and meeting place for creative minds. The store stocks music from both the top 40 and the best underground rock, hip-hop, electronica, jazz, world and experimental music. In addition to its retail operation both in store and online, Amoeba is also a popular music venue for live performance. In June 2007, Amoeba Music hosted an unannounced live performance by Paul McCartney at their Hollywood location. The performance was recorded and released as an EP titled Amoeba’s Secret.

If you look around inside, you might even spot a few celebrities. As a matter of fact, the documentary Lemmy shows the late rock musician Lemmy Kilmister (of the band Motörhead) visiting this store.


Arc Light Hollywood/ Cinerama (6360 Sunset Blvd)

Included in Pacific Theater’s Arc Light Theater complex is the prominent Cinerama dome. The structure was completed in 1963 by Welton Becket & Associates and it is based on Buckminster Fuller’s patented geodesic dome design. This architectural style made it easier to build for half the cost of standard theaters and in half the time.

The Hollywood Cinerama Dome. Image Source: Wikimedia user Andreas Praefcke in October of 2008.  

In the 1960s, Cinerama Inc. had its sights on building 600 of the same geodesic dome theaters within two years, although only a few were ever completed. Since its construction, Cinerama has been a frequent location for movie premiers with the first being It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in November of 1963.

In Ron Howard’s 2008 film Frost/Nixon, a scene was shot on location outside the Cinerama dome, recreating the 1976 premiere of The Slipper and the Rose.

Today, the Cinerama dome is an icon of modern architecture and a Los Angeles Historic/Cultural monument.


Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd)

When the Palladium opened in 1940, it became a top destination for WWII generation youth who danced the jitterbug to the tunes of top big bands. The working folks lined up for the $1 cover charge, and stars such as Rita Hayworth and Tyrone Power were drawn to its dance floors. The first performance featured Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra with Frank Sinatra on vocals.

The Palladium didn’t just host dance events, it was also the location of several notable political rallies including a political luncheon hosted by president John F. Kennedy in 1961 and a speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964.

The Hollywood Palladium. Image Source: Wikimedia user Doug Goodwin on June 23rd, 2012.  

In the 70s and 80s, The Palladium brought in popular rock acts which could still be enjoyed under the roof of a Moderne style building. In 1980, it was the filming location for the final scene of The Blues Brothers. Artists such as Richard Pryor, Keith Richards, Bad Religion and Megadeth have all recorded live performances here.

Even to this day, The Palladium still serves as an active music venue. It is also currently the largest and oldest dance venue in the city.

 


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