Travel Destination: Hollywood, CA and Los Angeles
Country: United States
Free Things to Do:
Old Hollywood is all around you in downtown Hollywood. Avoid the tours and take a walking tour down Hollywood Blvd. from Sunset and Vine to Hollywood and Highland and then take in Grauman's Chinese Theater and the footprints. There are now signs which give you a self-guided tour down the street.
Low Cost Things to Do:
Pick up a guide on the Blvd. from the Hollywood Arts Council which has maps and will clue you into concerts/events/festivals. We have lots of them. Also pick up the L.A. WEEKLY, a free paper (out every Thurs.) at 7-11s, newsboxes and the like. There are also up-to-date listings of music and of the lively small theater scene. Hang around the atrium of the Hollywood/Highland complex and see where the stars go up the stairs to the Oscars. Follow around the magic carpet of stardom and have a drink in the elephant court. Take pictures at the "casting couch." Watch the street performers. You can also drive up Mulholland Drive to get a spectacular view of the City. Another spectacular view is from the Hollywood Reservoir up in the Hollywood Hills - where you might find someone you recognize from TV or film jogging around.
Expensive But Worth It:
There are lots of wonderful restaurants. Check out the Zagat Guide. Some historical ones are Musso-Frank's - the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, and the majestic Yamashiro. with its great view over Hollywood. There are also lots of trendy clubs for nightlife. It's not IN Hollywood, but OF Hollywood - Drive down Sunset through Beverly Hills past UCLA to Bel-Air and find the reclusive Bel-Air Hotel, with its swans and gardens - which has been a movie set itself.
There are lots of trendy bars and nightclubs in downtown Hollywood. But some of them have exclusive entry policies and only let in the young, trendy and gorgeous. Look in the L.A. WEEKLY for tips. You can also do internet research for the latest lowdown.
Just for Kids:
Kids love Universal Studios - try to get discount tickets before you go. There are also more authentic studio tours at NBC, Warner Brothers (in Studio City), and Paramount. You can get tickets to tapings of TV shows within season. Check out the networks. There is a Hollywood Studio Museum near the Hollywood Bowl with old equipment and a museum on the site of Max Factor's old make up studio on Highland and Hollywood.
There is also the Hollywood Wax Museum on the Blvd. You can get inexpensive t-shirts and the like in the shops there, too.
During the summer when the weather is nice, the Hollywood Bowl is open. The classical concerts with the L.A. Philharmonic during the week are the best buy, and the seats way up at the top are less then $5 and the sound is quite good, and you can either picnic on the grounds, or eat at your seats. Bring a jacket, though, it gets cold in the evenings. (Ditto any evening concerts/events.) It RAINS heavily during the winter - so check the weather report and be prepared if you are visiting then.
There are lots of inexpensive motels in and around Hollywood. Check on line for deals - or pick up one of the many coupon books you will find in gas stations in and around Hollywood for deals. There is a motel - I think a Best Western now, on Franklin Ave, which I recommend to my family. Best to drive by and check out the neighborhood, there are still some iffy areas in the neighborhood.
Interesting Facts or History:
Hollywood was founded more than 100 years ago by Midwesterners who were looking for sunshine. Some of them were even Temperance, and were shocked by the advent of the raucous movie folk around the First World War. Until the 40's, Hollywood was still covered by groves of lemon, orange and avocado trees, many of which can still be seen in the backyards. Go to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Santa Monica, which was founded in the early says and then was the final home of many famed movies stars, including Rudolph Valentino. They now have events in the summer, like showing silent Valentino movies on his mausoleum in the evenings. You can also see the history of the 30's Hollywood, by going over the hill to Forest Lawn Hollywood, with its period reproductions of famous churches with literary ties. Many books have been written on the subject - so if you are interested, bone up a bit. There are even tours of where famous movie folk died, which includes my old apartment building, where Bela Lugosi died! You will find a lot of it curiously recognizable from all the old movies you have seen over a lifetime.
Chamber of Commerce Contact Information:
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce can be found on the net at http://www.hollywoodchamber.net/
There is a lot of info on the site about Hollywood, its restaurants and nightlife and attractions. The Chamber maintains the Hollywood sign, which you can see very well from Sunset just near the freeway. And they, of course, also maintain the Walk of Fame down Hollywood Blvd., with all the stars, something else to see on you Hollywood walks.
You really do need a car to get around L.A. - but just in Hollywood you can get by with public transportation. There is a subway underneath Hollywood Blvd. with stops at Western, Vine and Highland. And also many buses. Call the MTA to find out schedules, etc. You might want to buy an Entertainment book for Central Los Angeles for the many coupons - What with the attractions, you could save more than the $15 cost.
Pamphyila from Los Angeles, CA