What to See and Do in Hollywood
Check Out the Hollywood Sign - It is Visible From Many Parts of LA.
Hollywood has Attractions for the Entire Family
As residents of Southern California, we frequently receive guests from other parts of the country. In fact, we have even hosted an exchange student from France. It doesn't seem to matter whether the guests are from the US or another nation, everyone wants to see Hollywood.
In truth, we love to take our guests to see Hollywood. It is a treat for us, too. When our French exchange student was visiting, we took her to some of the famous Los Angeles museums. Impatient, she finally told us that her country has lots of museums. She wanted to see some of the famous sites she had seen in movies! We were happy to oblige.
In addition, our entire family enjoys eating out in the area or just strolling down the street, looking at the names on the stars. It is an fun and inexpensive way to spend an evening!
In addition to the information you will find below, you may want to start with a good guidebook with detailed information about all the interesting spots, admission prices, hours, etc. If this appeals to you, make sure you bring along some Hollywood guidebooks from Amazon.
Brief History of Hollywood
Hollywood began as a small, rural community near the city of Los Angeles in 1870, and was incorporated as a separate town in 1903. Eventually it merged with the growing metropolis of Los Angeles in 1910. The name Hollywood was created by H.J. Whitley, who is also known as the Father of Hollywood. He was a real estate developer who purchased a 500 acre ranch in 1887 with the intent of creating a new home community on it. At the time, the tiny town of Hollywood was located about 10 miles from the city of L.A., and was surrounded by barley fields, citrus groves and vineyards. It is hard to imagine the original rural atmosphere when you visit it today!
Major motion-picture companies became interested in Hollywood by 1912. The first motion picture made in Hollywood was a 17 minute short film called "In Old California." Among the film companies that built studios in Hollywood were the Nestor Motion Picture Company, Paramount Movies, Warner Brothers, RKO and Columbia.
The famously round Capitol Records Building on Vine Street, near Hollywood Boulevard, was finished in 1956; the Hollywood Walk of Fame opened in 1960.
One of the more fascinating free activities in Hollywood is to simply walk along the blocks of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, looking for the stars of your favorite actors and actresses of the past. However, as you read through this article, you will see that there are plenty of other fun things to do in this historic Los Angeles community, as well.
This guidebook has it all ... the tourist sites as well as information about famous and infamous events that have taken play in Hollywood over the past 100 years. I highly recommend it for anyone who is planning a visit here.
Be Sure To Look for the Stars in the Sidewalk in Front of This Iconic Theater
The Best Way to See the Hollywood Area
Hollywood Sightseeing Tours
One of the most popular things to do in Hollywood is take a sightseeing tour. Without the stress of trying to navigate through traffic, find parking places and locate the attractions that most interest you, a tour bus can make your visit much more enjoyable. Here is the contact information for two tour companies that have been recommended to me by people in the area:
Open Bus Tours - in open top buses
(866) 398-TOUR or (323) 336-5580
They offer several different tours and, depending on which one you choose, you can see the homes of the movie stars, the Hollywood sign, Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Mulholland Drive, Melrose, Rodeo Drive, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and the Capital Records building. I highly recommend that visitors take one of these open top buses if you won't be bothered by the bright Southern California sun.
Have Fun Tours - in air-conditioned vans
For those who want a more intimate tour in a smaller group, you may want to take a tour in an air-conditioned van. These tours include spectacular views, Hollywood historical sites, movie star homes, a movie studio and you can even choose a tour that includes an opportunity to watch the live taping of a TV show. This is a great option for those who seek smaller, more comfortable tour groups.
Below you'll see some souvenir ideas, followed by descriptions of more sites you will want to see in Hollywood, whether you take a tour or not.
There is some interesting architecture in and around Hollywood. This book will help you find and recognize some of the more interesting buildings.
If You Visit Hollywood, Bring Along a Good Guide Book
Before I list more of the fun things to do in the Hollywood area, here are a few examples of the types of guidebooks that you may want to bring along. However, you don't need a guidebook if you just need a few great ideas. Further on in this article, you'll find some specific suggestions for fun things to do.
Los Angeles is a densely populated, busy city with fast moving, large freeways and crowded boulevards. Those of us who live in the area eventually become used to all the traffic congestion and activity. Visitors from other locations, however, are sometimes confused and overwhelmed.
Do It Yourself Tours of the Hollywood Scandals!
Do you love to read about the scandals of the past? This guidebook has sixteen different driving tours you can take on your own and see the locations for yourself. For the price of a guidebook, you can take a self-directed tour!
Have Fun Looking for Your Favorite Stars!
More Things to See and Do in Hollywood
You Don't Have to Take a Tour
Since our family lives in Southern California, we go to Hollywood once or twice a year to see different attractions. There's no need to take a tour if you have limited time or you don't want to see everything on the tour operator's list. There are lots of fun and interesting attractions, and there is almost sure to be something to interest everyone in your family. Some of them are free; others have an entry fee. Here is a list of our personal favorites:
The Hollywood Walk of Fame - These are the famous stars embedded in the sidewalks along Hollywood Boulevard and some of the side streets. You will also want to spend some time in front of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre where you can see the handprints of many famous stars. It's all free, too!
The Hollywood sign - Even residents of Southern California get a little thrill when we see this sign, and it is visible from many spots in the area.
Universal Studios Hollywood - One place that has fabulous views of the Hollywood sign is the nearby Universal Studios theme park. I highly recommend the tram ride. Get in line to do it as soon as you arrive, because the lines get longer as the day goes on. On the tram ride, you will get to see sound stages and the actual settings for many movies and television shows. Other attractions include fun rides, performances by stunt men, and a special effects show. Our family loves to go there, although it is not an ideal location for very young children because they cannot go on many of the rides.
Madame Tussauds Hollywood - an amazing wax museum featuring many famous stars. It's right next door to Grauman's Chinese Theatre, too, so you can easily see both in one day.
The Hollywood Wax Museum - another popular wax museum, right down the street. Both have their fans who think their choice is the best.
The Hollywood Museum in the Max Factor Building - learn more about the history of this fascinating town. It holds a fabulous collection of movie memorabilia, going all the way back to silent movies.
Hollywood and Highland Shopping Center - with a wide variety of shops, department stores and restaurants. There is also a fun mosaic-tiled walkway that features some delightful quotes by Hollywood "royalty." This is also a great location to see the Hollywood sign.
Pantages Theatre - My husband and I attended a performance of "Wicked" at this amazing performing arts center. Contact them to see what will be showing during your vacation. This is live entertainment at its most elegant!
El Capitan Theatre - frequently holds family friendly performances to enjoy with your children. You'll want to check out their current theatrical presentations, too.
Warner Brothers Studio tours and tours of other studios - The concierge at your hotel can help you make the arrangements, or you can make them in advance. It is always fun for visitors to see a studio in action!
Be in the studio audience for a TV show - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In most cases, you have to plan this long before your trip, which is where your guidebook will come in handy. You also need to allow at least two hours of time, even for a short show. In addition, only adults can participate. However, it can be a lot of fun!
Hollywood Bowl - if you are going to be in Hollywood in the summer, you may want to get advance tickets to a performance in this beautiful outdoor venue.
How would you like to see Hollywood?
Would you rather take a tour or visit the sites on your own?