When you think of Hollywood, you automatically think of the glitz and glamour of walking down the red carpet at Dolby Theater, home of the Academy Awards. While the Hollywood & Highland area certainly boasts some of the attractions in the area, there’s much more to the town than this major tourist hub.
Mingle with the stars
Ditch the car because Hollywood & Highland is a great area to walk around. Pose with Jennifer Lopez’s wax figure at Madame Tussauds Hollywood, touch Michael Jackson’s famous handprint at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX (home to film premieres) or Walt Disney’s star on the nearby Hollywood Walk of Fame, and check out one of the latter’s famous first-run movies at the El Capitan Theatre (below).
If celebrities are your thing, the nearby Hollywood Museum is worth a visit. You can find Rocky’s boxing gloves, Hannibal Lecter’s prison cell, that Marilyn Monroe dress, plus around 10,000 other pieces of Hollywood history.
As well as some great retail therapy options inside the Hollywood & Highland Center, stop by at celebrity-favourite hangout, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, to enjoy one of their six dining and nightlife options, or a splash in the pool.
See some stunning outdoor spaces
Speaking of splashes, who says Hollywood is too built-up to enjoy a peaceful setting and some fresh air? Lake Hollywood Reservoir (above) certainly quashes the idea with its calm waters enjoyed by ducks, excellent view of the Hollywood sign and all-round ideal setting for a stroll or bike ride.
The 160-acre Runyon Canyon is also a good spot to enjoy the great outdoors, with the likes of Anne Hathaway and Tyrese Gibson being celebrity fans of the hiking hangout. At the top, you’ll find seriously stunning views of LA. Two blocks from the world-famous Hollywood sign, there are several entrances and hiking routes, plus an off-leash dog policy.
By night, head to Hollywood Cemetery if you dare; notable burials include Mickey Rooney and Rudolph Valentino, and the summer is a great time to attend a Cinespia film screening surrounded by tombstones.
The Hollywood Bowl (below) is another outdoor venue which makes a great entertainment space. Home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic (and only a 15-minute walk from Hollywood & Highland), book a ticket to see a performance or simply pop into the free Hollywood Bowl Museum.
Dine and dance
Named after the intersection it’s situated on, Wood and Vine is a great place for dinner with friends, serving up small plates both indoors and on their patio, plus catering for the nightlife crowd with a bar on the second storey. Head here after seeing a show at the Pantages Theater opposite.
Families may prefer some Italian fare at Osteria Mozza (above); think pasta, cheese and some of the best pastries around. Mama Shelter is also a trendy option, hailing from Paris and opening in LA in 2015. It boasts great rooftop views and a strong cocktail menu.
For the full-on nightlife experience, Avalon is your best bet – it’s hugely popular with the electronic music crowd.
Be wowed with awesome entertainment
You can channel your inner Harry Potter on the various rides at Universal Studios Hollywood (below), such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, where you’ll go through the classrooms and halls of Hogwarts plus see views of the castle grounds. You can also go behind the scenes to see what happens on the set of your favourite movies and TV shows. King Kong 360 3-D and Fast & Furious – Supercharged are just two of the experiences where you’ll get to see how movies are made. But you don’t even have to go inside when there’s the famous Universal globe, which makes a great picture opportunity in itself, and so much on offer at Universal CityWalk Hollywood. It’s home to a Hard Rock Cafe, Bowling at Jillian’s Highlife Lanes and indoor skydiving at iFly Hollywood.
Get a good night’s sleep
The West Coast’s first Dream Hotel (below) is situated in the heart of Hollywood on Selma and Cahuenga and opened in April 2017. The 10-storey boutique space features 179 hyper-chic rooms and an 11,000 sq ft rooftop lounge. The James West Hollywood hotel joined the scene in May 2017, and is located in the heart of the iconic Sunset Strip. It’s the first new ground-up hotel in the area in approximately three decades and has 286 rooms, two restaurants, a rooftop bar, plus a 190-unit residential building and 40,000 square feet of retail space.
See all the sites in one go
There are plenty of options when it comes to boarding a tour bus to take in all of Hollywood’s attractions at once. Starline Tours has the biggest offering with celebrity homes and movie locations being their popular options. If you’d prefer a more tailor-made approach, try the hop-on-hop-off bus, where you can take your time and hit the big locations with 24-, 48-, or-72-hour tickets.
If you’re particularly celebrity-obsessed, try the TMZ Tour. The tour is not only in the know about where stars hang out, but it also regularly attracts famous faces who want to thrill passengers when they see the bus going by. Guests on the bus have been known to end up being featured on TMZ’s TV shows should they bump into a celebrity, so if you’re planning your small screen debut, this might be your chance.
Don’t forget West Hollywood
From the bars of Santa Monica Boulevard to the fancy restaurants and hotels of the billboard-lined Sunset Strip, WeHo (West Hollywood) is just as hot as the main Hollywood, if not better. With a sleeker appearance than its gritty neighbour, it’s no wonder celebrities love hanging out here.
Prepare to bump into TV star Lisa Vanderpump (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) at one of her many food and beverage outlets in the area, such as Pump (above) or Villa Blanca. Alternatively, head to Italian restaurant Cecconi’s or Urth Caffe on Melrose Ave, which was used as a filming location for TV series Entourage.
The Grove is also a good place for spotting famous faces in between hitting the shops. The part-outdoor, part-indoor mall is an ideal place for family fun, and where book signings from big personalities often take place.
Actor David Arquette’s nightclub, Bootsy Bellows is also in WeHo as well as celebrities’ favourite clubbing brand, 1OAK. If you’re looking for something more old-school, visiting the famous Whisky a Go Go bar (above) or Saddle Ranch.
Failing that, take a walk along the Strip at night; based on top of a steep hill, it gives gorgeous views of the twinkling city lights at night and is the perfect way to end a day in Hollywood. Don’t forget to grab a hot dog from Pink’s on the way home.
– TEXT BY LEAH SIMPSON
PHOTOS: EL CAPTAIN THEATRE, INSTAGRAM, DREAM DOWNTOWN FACEBOOK, HOLLYWOOD BOWL FACEBOOK, STARLINE TOURS FACEBOOK, PUMP RESTAURANT FACEBOOK
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.