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!
Hollywood & Highland Tour
Just like the best things in life
An easy walking distance
Do it when it suits you
Take as long as you like
Start this self-guided Hollywood and Highland tour in the beating heart of Hollywood, where the Walk of Fame meets the Dolby Theater, home of the annual Academy Awards. Movie history is everywhere in the blocks surrounding the famous intersection – if you know where to look.
Check here as you do the tour, to discover the locations of some famous movies which were filmed in the area.
HOLLYWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
As you begin this Hollywood and Highland tour take a moment to look around. At the beginning of the last century where you’re now standing was open land, from the Hollywood Hills south. That’s one of the reasons why the nascent film industry moved to Hollywood (in the 1910’s) – because land was cheap and plentiful for those movie pioneers. So, in 1903, when Hollywood High School opened, many of the pupils lived on local farms and would ride to school on horseback. As the years passed and the movie industry grew, several students became huge stars, such as Judy Garland, Lana Turner and Laurence Fishburne. Fun fact: As you look at the school you’ll see the mural by Eloy Torres called “Portrait of Hollywood” – the beautiful blonde lady is Lana Turner. She was discovered when she skipped class one day to get a soda at the pharmacy on the corner of Sunset Blvd. Want to pop in, so the you can be "discovered"? Unfortunately the pharmacy is long-since closed.
GRAUMAN'S EGYPTIAN THEATER
No one really knows why the Egyptian Theater was built in the style it is. Probably Sid Grauman, the impresario who commissioned it, was inspired by the search for Tutankhamun’s tomb (the theater opened a month before Howard Carter discovered King Tut himself). Nevertheless when it opened in 1922 with Douglas Fairbanks’ Robin Hood, it held the first ever red carpet ceremony. In those days seeing a movie here was a big deal – there would be fire-eaters and jugglers in the forecourt and a dancing show supported by a full orchestra before the movie began. Fun fact: You may think that the roof doesn’t look very Egyptian and you’d be right. The theater was originally supposed to be Mission style, but Grauman changed his mind after he’d bought the tiles and like any good businessman he wasn’t going to waste his money, so they were still utilised.
LOEWS HOLLYWOOD HOTEL
For this stop on our Hollywood and Highland tour we’re getting very glamorous. You’ve probably heard of the Academy Awards – you know, a big awards ceremony held in Hollywood every year? On that day everything in Los Angeles stops and all eyes are on this area – Hollywood and Highland. All the nominees and guests prepare in rooms at Loews Hollywood Hotel and when they're ready, jump in a limousine and literally drive right around the corner to the Dolby Theater. They could walk of course – but that’s not how you make an entrance! After the show they return to the hotel for the media events and the Governor’s Ball, the after show event that everyone attends. Fun fact: the hotel is closed for the day of the Oscars, so unfortunately you won’t be able to stay there and sneak into the ceremony.
Did we mention the Academy Awards ceremony is held in Hollywood ? Oh yeah… Well this is where it’s held. Before the Dolby Theater (then known as the Kodak Theater) opened in 2001 the ceremony had bounced all over Los Angeles (being held in no less than nine venues). It’s perhaps not surprising that after all that moving around the Academy wanted to have their own venue for what is, after all, the biggest awards ceremony of them all. It seats an incredible 3,400 guests and has room for 75 musicians in the orchestra pit. Fun fact: if you look up at the entrance you’ll notice that it’s designed to look like a film negative. The idea was that you’d have the feeling that you’re literally walking into the movies, which is ironic now as most movies are shot on digital video.
TCL CHINESE THEATER
The Chinese Theater has to be on a Hollywood and Highland tour. It was also owned by Sid Grauman, opening in 1927 with the epic The King of Kings. It was then that they began commemorating stars, by having their footprints set in concrete. The origin of the ceremony is lost in the mists of time, but the official story is that silent-movie star Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet concrete at the premiere and Grauman then insisted that the footprints should be preserved. Since then over 200 stars have been commemorated in this way – using their hands, feet, autographs and even a cigar (Groucho Marx). Fun fact: TCL Corporation, owner of the Chinese Theater, is actually a Chinese company – so now it really is a Chinese Theater, or a Chinese Chinese Theater…
HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL
Did we mention the Academy Awards… Okay we get it! Well this was the venue for the very first Ademeny Awards ceremony in 1929. 250 guests were invited and the actual prize-giving took just fifteen minutes! It was more like a private industry event. The hotel itself opened in 1927 and was funded by a series of Hollywood heavyweights, including Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Sid Graumann. Marilyn Monroe lived here for a while, as did Montgomery Clift (if you don’t know him look him up!). Fun fact: this is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Hollywood and perhaps for that reason it has the most stories of hauntings and ghost sightings of any hotel in the area. Take a look inside the lobby – it’s beautifully designed in the Spanish Revival style.
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME
In the 1950’s Hollywood was becoming quite run down, so the local Chamber of Commerce came up with a scheme to give the area more lustre. Once again, like much of Hollywood history, no one knows exactly where the idea came from, but one theory is that the idea for the Walk of Fame came from the old Hollywood Hotel (on Hollywood and Highland) and the stars that were painted onto its ballroom ceiling. The first stars were laid down in 1958 and within a couple of years over 1,500 had been added. The Walk stretches from Hollywood and La Brea in the west to Hollywood and Gower in the east (about two miles). Now it holds over 2,500 stars and there are unveiling ceremonies three-four times a month. Fun fact: honorees have to pay $40,000 (at the time of writing) for the costs associated with their Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
For the last stop on your Hollywood and Highland tour you'll visit a castle! What's a castle doing in LA, you ask? Well, it was built in 1909 for local developer Rollin Lane and is one of the oldest houses in Hollywood. Lane lived here until he died, in 1940. It was divided into apartments before two brothers, Milt and William Larsen, bought the property and turned it into a club for magicians. It opened in its new guise in 1963 as a private club for magicians and enthusiasts, and it’s also the headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts, an international organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the art of magic. It’s a rabbit warren inside, with a restaurant, several performance spaces and bars and numerous exhibits.
If you're thinking about hiking to the Hollywood Sign read this article, which will tell you the history of the icon and give you the best options for how to hike there.
We hope you enjoyed this free Hollywood and Highland tour. For more information on things to do in Los Angeles and how to navigate the city take a look at L.A. Info, and check in with us on social media to see what else we're doing.
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