What you need to know!
Did a full day walking tour of LA. Our tour guide Damien was very knowledgeable & passionate about giving us all the information in a clear & concise way. The tour was very well planned & organised & was not tiring.
We did The Real Hollywood tour & loved it! The tour was at a great pace & the guide (Vicky) was very knowledgeable & made the tour fun. Thank you!
Stuart was so knowledgeable & was worth the day with him. I had been to LA multiple times before but this is the first time I had taken a tour - so thrilled to have this experience with my mom & sister. I would recommend this tour again & again.
We had an amazing DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Damien & Dante... thank you very much from the Italian girls... very interesting & funny… absolutely recommended!
This tour was awesome! Stuart is very knowledgeable, likeable & fun. The stops on the tour were very interesting & I learned a lot. I’ve been on quite a few tours of this nature & this was one of my favorites - highly recommend!
Did a walking tour of LA (LA in a Day). Vicky started us off with the Hollywood tour & Damien (who is also the owner) was our guide for the rest of the day. The entire day was awesome, I suggest this tour. There isn't that much walking, to be honest. It's very fun!
My boyfriend & I took the DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Stuart as our guide & had the most amazing time! We had experiences we will never forget! We were able to see parts & people of Los Angeles that we never would have without Stuart. I give this 10/10. If we visit again, this will be at the top of our to do list!
Absolutely amazing! Highly recommend taking both The Real Hollywood Tour & the Central Downtown LA tour! Our time in LA wouldn't have been the same. Great way to learn about the city, see it from a different angle, explore the local life & learn about its history & filming industry. Damien our guide was fantastic!
Sylvie was our host & was fantastic. She had a lot of local knowledge & gave her unique perspective as someone who had moved to the area many years ago, so she had an outsider's as well as an insider's perspective. The tour gave us a great overview of Santa Monica & Venice & set us up for a great rest of the day.
We took 2 tours, the Santa Monica & Venice Bike tour (with Sylvie) & the Real Hollywood tour (with Damien). Both were great & highly recommended. Sylvie & Damien were informative, knowledgeable & easy to talk to. They were like you were with friends. We were traveling as a family of 4 with 2 boys (15 & 12). We all enjoyed the tours.
10 Things To Do In Hollywood
For tourists coming to Los Angeles visiting Hollywood is the must-do activity, like going to Times Square when visiting New York, or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Most people wander along the Walk of Fame, hoping that will give them some insight on this most storied of places. So, taking into account that pretty much everyone who comes here is aware of the Walk of Fame, what are 10 other things to do in Hollywood that will really create a memorable experience for you and allow you to connect with the area.
Back in the 1920’s and 1930’s many of the big studios were based here, but gradually they all moved out of Hollywood, leaving Paramount as the only old-time Hollywood studio still based in the area. Visiting the studio must be somewhere on your list of things to see in Hollywood. Way too many famous movies have been shot on the lot to mention here, but The Godfather (which was a Paramount movie) famously made use of the backlot when Tom Hagen comes to town to make a studio chief an offer he really shouldn’t refuse.
Originally much bigger (half of it was sold to Paramount to create the studio’s backlot), the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is still enormous and it’s chock full of famous dead people! From Douglas Fairbanks, the original “King of Hollywood”, all the way to Anton Yelchin, who tragically died in 2016, via important Los Angeles figures such as Harry Chandler, one time owner of the Los Angeles Times and a hugely important figure in L.A. history, the list is endless. Too morbid for you? Think again, it’s well worth a visit.
3. Do a tour of Hollywood
The reality is many visitors to Hollywood are disappointed by it. Partly that’s because it’s almost impossible for this Los Angeles neighborhood to match up to the heightened expectations of most visitors. If you think about when you first became aware of the fact that there was a place called “Hollywood”, where movie stars live and play and movies and TV shows are made, it’s likely that you were still quite young, so it’s a place that you may have been fascinated with for many years. Partly it’s because a lot of people confuse it with Beverly Hills – thinking that it’s going to be glamorous and high-end – when in fact it’s never really been that. Most visitors don’t realise that to a certain extent the area is still frozen in time from its peak in the 1930’s, known as the Golden Age of Hollywood. The fact is there’s a ton of interesting – and important – history in Hollywood and if one let’s go of one’s preconceptions a visit to the area can be very worthwhile. The best way to do that is to do a tour like The Real Hollywood Tour with us. By walking the streets you can really explore the myth-making nooks and crannies of this historic neighborhood (many of which are hidden in plain sight) and really understand why it was that this relatively small city suburb came to dominate the world’s entertainment industry and the imagination of countless millions of people.
You’ve heard of the Academy Awards (aka the Oscars), right? Probably at the top of the places you want to visit in Hollywood is the Dolby Theatre, where the annual awards bash is held now. Well the Hollywood Roosevelt is where it all began in 1929, with the very first ceremony. There were only 250 guests and the whole thing lasted just 15 minutes! Quite a change from the marathon event that you see now. Funnily enough even by the next year it had outgrown the Roosevelt, but this historic hotel (which opened in 1927) has hosted numerous stars since then – including Marilyn Monroe, who called the hotel home for several months. It’s been beautifully restored and has a great bar in the old lobby. Oh! And it’s almost opposite the Dolby Theater.
It’s one of the most visited attractions in Los Angeles – it’s where many stars have had their hands and feet set in concrete and it still hosts 3-4 movie premieres a month (check here to see if there’s one during your visit). The entrepreneur who built the Chinese Theatre was called Sid Grauman and in addition to creating the concrete attraction (which was inaugerated at the opening of the theatre in 1927) he also invented the red-carpet premiere itself. The historic auditorium still shows movies – why not go see one?
6. Best Viewpoints for Hollywood Sign Photos
Instantly recongnizable, it’s an icon of Los Angeles and almost everyone who comes here wants to see the Hollywood Sign, but where is the best spot to get that all-important picture? There are several good spots – bearing in mind that you can’t get right up to the sign itself (for some reason L.A. seems unable to create a good visitor attraction out of its most famous landmark). Griffith Park has several good viewpoints, including from the Griffith Observatory, and Beachwood Canyon is popular too. If you do want to get right up to the sign you can also get an Instagram-worthy shot of Hollywood and Los Angeles from behind the sign itself. Probably the best hike to the Hollywood Sign is the Wonder View Trail, which will take you past the Wisdom Tree and over Cahuenga Peak. It’s quite steep in parts, but very picturesque and well worth the effort.
Filmmaking in Hollywood is now accepted as beginning with the movie In Old California in 1910, the first one to be shot in Hollywood itself. The film industry at that time was still young, but some ambitious people were beginning to realize that there were immense amounts of money to be made from it. Within a couple of years film production companies were proliferating in this small country town, which had only just been annexed by the city of Los Angeles. Drawn by the year round moviemaking-friendly weather and varied scenery, amongst other reasons, they set up their studios all over the area. The Hollywood Heritage Museum has preserved one of those early studios. See it to get an idea of what it was like in those early, pioneering, days.
8. Horse-ride or hike the Hollywood Hills
Bearing in mind that the Hollywood Hills are slap-bang in the middle of the second largest city in the United States it’s surprising how much of an unspoilt wilderness feel the area has retained. One of the best ways of experiencing it is by saddling up and riding a horse from Sunset Ranch through the ravines and over the peaks. If you don’t fancy that how about a hike? Our Mount Hollywood Hike meets in Griffith Park, at the Greek Theatre, and from there goes all the way to the top of Mount Hollywood, which has the best views of L.A. in the city. After that we hike down to Griffith Observatory, which is also definitely a must do if you’re visiting the area.
Many people don’t realize that Los Angeles has a very rich architectural heritage. You can find beautiful buildings scattered throughout the city, especially in downtown, but also in many other areas – including Hollywood. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s greatest architects, actually lived in the city for a while and completed several buildings here. One of the most famous is Hollyhock House, which he designed for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. A very interesting lady herself, Ms Barnsdall reportedly fell out with the celebrated architect (who was assisted extensively on this project by Rudolph Schindler) and ultimately, in 1927, she gave the house and grounds to the city of Los Angeles which turned it into a public park.
As mentioned here before, Hollywood has to an extent been frozen in time for many years, as the big studios moved out of the area and development moved on to other parts of the city. But now that’s changing as property prices here spiral ever upwards and developers finally realize what’s obvious if they just looked at a map of L.A., Hollywood, which was once a suburb of the city, is at the center of the expanded city (and has been for decades). So new developments, including several apartment towers, are springing up. With new, better off, residents moving in trendy cafes, bars, shops are following. To see a nice part of the neighborhood that’s less touristy (and that’s one of the most difficult things to do here) take a walk down Cahuenga between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. Once on Sunset take a left and walk east. On your right you’ll pass several of the original Hollywood Studios – Sunset and Gower and Sunset and Bronson. Originally these were the Warner Brothers and Columbia (now Sony) lots (there’s more info on their history on our Hollywood & Vine self-guided tour here). Now Netflix have moved into the old Warner Brothers lot as they ramp up production of their own films and series. Once again Hollywood, the entertainment industry – or should that be called the content industry – is being thrown into disarray. Could Netflix’s arrival here be a symbol of things to come?
If you have any feedback on our list of things to do in Hollywood, or if you have some recommendations of your own, please email us and let us know. We’ll be sure to take it into account.
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