Which Hollywood Walking Tour is Best?
This post covers a variety of popular walking tours that you can take in Hollywood. While some of these outings will include a hike to the Hollywood Sign, others focus on the incredible landmarks found near Hollywood Boulevard.
There are so many different options that it can be difficult to pick the right tour without doing a lot of research. With that in mind, we’ve gathered the information you’ll need to make a more informed decision.
Hollywood Walking Tours
Depending on which Hollywood walking tour you choose, each outing could take anywhere from 1 – 4 hours to complete. Some of these treks will have you hiking through the Hollywood hills, so it may be important to wear appropriate shoes and prepare for a lot of physical activity. The average ticket price ranges from $20-$40, but some of the longer trips can cost up to $100 per person.
Several Hollywood walking tours are designed to reveal all of the historic sites surrounding Hollywood Boulevard. These outings typically include an exploration of the Walk of Fame and visits to popular locations such as the TCL Chinese Theatre and Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre. These tours typically run for 1-2 hours and carry a ticket price of between $20-$30 on average. Although it is advised to wear comfy shoes, shorter walks should be possible in just about any attire.
The Real Los Angeles Tours
The Real Los Angeles Tours is a walking (or biking) only tour company and never rely on buses or vehicles to lead their tours, as they feel the best way to learn about a city is to experience it by foot, which we agree with! The Real Los Angeles Tours has a variety of tours to choose from, including one in the Heart of Hollywood. On the Hollywood tour you go back in time to when the name first appeared on maps in the late nineteenth century, then they’ll tell you how and why the movie industry first moved here in the early twentieth century (at which time the town itself didn’t even have a bar or movie-theater of its own). They’ll also show you the many iconic buildings on the famous Walk of Fame, including the Capitol Records Building, the oldest house in Hollywood (where Charlie Chaplin’s kids went to school), the Egyptian Theater, the Dolby Theater and the TCL Chinese Theater, where your Hollywood tour finishes – in the heart of Hollywood.
- Ticket Prices: $25 (but 5% goes to a local charity!)
- Availability: Multiple dates at 1030am
- Duration: 2 hours
- Purchase your tickets to the Heart of Hollywood Tour here
Red Line Tours
This tour starts right in front of Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre and covers a lot of ground. See notable stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as you discover some of the most historic movie palaces in the area. In addition to seeing beautiful and luxurious theatres, you’ll also discover some of the most significant landmarks in Tinseltown. At only 75 minutes in length, this trek should be fairly easy for almost any audience to complete.
- Ticket Prices: $27 for Adults | $15 for Children
- Availability: Daily @ 10 AM, 12 PM, 2 PM & 4 PM
- Duration: 75 minutes
- Live guides use personal audio system to help you hear the tour
- Click here for more information
With an average score of 4.8 out of 5 stars, it’s safe to say that ratings for this service are very positive (read reviews here). Some guests suggested that this was the highlight of their day, indicating that the tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful. A few customers felt that it would be a mistake to avoid this tour, as you might walk right past some pretty significant sites without the proper guidance. Most visitors appreciated all of the historical details they learned about on their trek through Hollywood.
Hollywood Blvd. Walking Tour
Much like their competitors, this company also provides a relatively short and in-depth walking tour of Hollywood Boulevard. That being said, this trek also includes a behind-the-scenes look at the El Capitan Theatre, a fully restored movie palace from the golden age of cinema. In addition to visiting this notable venue, you’ll also see important sites such as the Capitol Records building and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Ticket Prices: $25 per person
- Availability: Sun-Fri @ 9:45 AM
- Duration: 90 minutes
- Inside look at El Capitan Theatre includes
- Click here for more information
Although there aren’t any reviews for this walking tour yet, visitors who experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the El Capitan Theatre indicate that it is definitely worth the price of admission. Some guests even felt that the backstage tour was a must, suggesting that everyone should take the chance to see a side of this movie palace that few get to experience. If this one element of the Hollywood walking tour is so highly rated, chances are that the entire trip is excellent.
LA Tour 1
If you want to see more than just Hollywood, this walking tour might be the perfect option. Utilizing the subway, LA Tour 1 will take you from Hollywood Boulevard to Downtown Los Angeles in order to visit as many significant landmarks as possible. Learn all about the history of Hollywood, then travel south to discover the roots of this entertainment industry. Clocking in at 3 hours in length, we suggest wearing comfortable shoes and being physically prepared for the journey.
- Ticket Prices: $49 for Adults | $39 for Children
- Availability: Daily @ 1 PM
- Duration: 3 hours
- Subway travel is required
- Click here for more information
Ratings for this tour are very positive (read reviews here), and customers on TripAdvisor have given the company 5 out of 5 stars. Guests appreciate the opportunity to experience several different landmarks and learn a lot about Los Angeles history during one interesting trip through the city. Some visitors also enjoyed the smaller group sizes, allowing them to avoid large crowds. Couples and families were the most likely to leave a positive review.
The Hollywood Sign draws a lot of tourists each year, but it’s not always easy to see from Hollywood Boulevard.
If you want a good look at the landmark, it’ll be important to make your way up the Hollywood hills.
Although most people prefer to drive closer to the sign, there are actually a few Hollywood hiking tours that will take you to one of the best viewing locations. Each hike will take around 2-3 hours, so prepare to get a good workout.
Bikes and Hikes LA
With the help of an expert hiking guide, you’ll learn a lot about the history of Los Angeles while walking through the hills to find one of the best views of the Hollywood Sign. In addition to informative narration, your tour guide will also provide interactive videos revealing the significance of specific locations. Once you reach the highest point in the Hollywood hills, you’ll also have the opportunity to look down and see the magnificent skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles off in the distance. Make sure to bring a camera for excellent photo opportunities!
- Ticket Prices: $39 per person (normally $52)
- Availability: Daily @ 10 AM & 3 PM
- Duration: 2 ½ hours
- Reusable water bottle included
- Click here for more information
Customers have enjoyed their experience enough to give this company 4.9 out of 5 stars (read reviews here). A majority of guests felt that their tour guide did a very good job of providing useful and interesting information during the hike. Other visitors were impressed with the incredible views from the Hollywood hills, indicating that this trip was the highlight of their vacation in Los Angeles. This outing is recommended to people who like to hike, have fun and enjoy wonderful scenery.
LA Tour 1
In addition to other services in the area, LA Tour 1 also provides a hike through the Hollywood hills. During this trek, you’ll ascend the equivalent of 12 flights of stairs, taking frequent breaks to enjoy the incredible views. Your final destination will be Griffith Observatory, one of the best locations to see the Hollywood Sign. After the trip, you can either stay and enter the Observatory or walk back down with your tour guide.
- Ticket Prices: $35 for Adults | $30 for Children
- Availability: Daily @ 9:30 AM
- Duration: 2 hours
- Griffith Observatory Entry Included
- Click here for more information
This outing has received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars (read reviews here). Most guests enjoyed the opportunity to get outside and see the sights, while others were also quite pleased to learn a little about Hollywood. The tour guides were described as both informative and friendly, providing a lot of interesting details along the way. Some visitors warn that the inclines can be quite steep, indicating that this hike isn’t necessarily going to be easy for everyone.
If you’re looking for a more extensive tour through Hollywood, this may be your best bet. In addition to providing a traditional trek down Hollywood Boulevard, this service also includes a hike to the Griffith Observatory for incredible photo opportunities. Discover the history behind Tinseltown with the help of a professional tour guide and finish your journey at one of the best viewing locations for the Hollywood Sign.
- Ticket Prices: $49 for Adults | $35 for Children
- Availability: Daily @ 4 PM (Winter), 5 PM (Spring/Fall), 6 PM (Summer)
- Duration: 2 ½ hours
- Includes both walking and hiking tour
- Click here for more information
Although there aren’t many reviews for this specific trip, it’s worth noting that Hollywood Tourz has received an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Ratings for this walking/hiking tour are pretty good, with some guests describing it as a wonderful experience. Reviewers also indicate that their tour guides were very helpful and informative, even going so far as to personalize the experience of visitors based upon their interests.
From scavenger hunts to bar crawls, there are several alternative Hollywood walking tours to consider. Most of these urban adventures will give you the opportunity to learn about Tinseltown while competing with other teams to find notable landmarks. Each outing is about 3 hours in length, giving visitors a lot of time to explore the area and see some of the most historic sites in Hollywood. A smartphone may be required for some of these trips.
Urban Adventure Quests
This company offers groups the opportunity to compete in a Hollywood scavenger hunt. Using your smartphone and the clues provided, you’ll be tasked with finding some of the most significant locations in the area. Along the way, you’ll cover a lot of ground while seeing sites such as the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame and the Capitol Records Building. If you’re more interested in grabbing a few drinks, they also provide a “Sips of Old Hollywood” food tour as well.
- Ticket Price: $44 per person (Scavenger Hunt) | $79 per person (Food Tour)
- Availability: Daily from 8 AM — 8 PM
- Duration: 3 hours
- Best experienced in small groups
- Click here for more information about the Scavenger Hunt
- Click here for more information about the Sips of Old Hollywood tour
Urban Adventure Quests currently enjoys a 5 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor. Guests were typically very impressed with their tour guides, suggesting that they were friendly and knowledgeable. The Sips of Old Hollywood tour is particularly well rated, because it gives visitors a taste of the bars and restaurants in the area. Most customers enjoyed the opportunity to experience some of the drinks that you’ll only find in Hollywood.
If their competitors are a little too expensive for you, it’s worth noting that Viator offers a similar Hollywood scavenger hunt for a much lower price. With a duration of 3 hours and small group sizes, this is very similar to some of the other services in Tinseltown. Learn about the history of Hollywood by using a variety of clues to find each destination on your journey. A smartphone will be required to solve puzzles and figure out which location to visit next.
- Ticket Price: $15 per person
- Availability: Daily from Sunrise to Sunset
- Duration: 3 hours
- Operates rain or shine
- Click here for more information
Unfortunately, there aren’t any reviews for this Hollywood walking tour as of yet. That being said, the ticket prices are so cheap that it might be worth a shot. Viator provides a lot of excellent tours in association with very well rated companies. If you want to explore Hollywood at your own pace while competing to find landmarks, this is probably going to be the most affordable option.
Self Guided Walking Tour of Hollywood
In the early 1900s, a group of independent movie producers wishing to escape the eastern movie establishment made their way west to California. These producers called themselves the United Artists, and by 1910 they found themselves in the tiny village of Hollywood. It was then only known for its marvelous fruit trees, but it quickly grew into the center of the entertainment universe.
Although Hollywood today doesn’t resemble anything of its glamorous past, revitalization projects are now bringing Hollywood’s famed boulevard back to life. This self-guided tour will take you through some the legendary spots of Hollywood and past some of the new and exciting revitalized buildings along Hollywood Boulevard.
Directions to Hollywood
How to get there: take the Metro red line to the Hollywood/Vine exit. If using GPS, plug in 6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 to get to the starting point.
Parking: your least expensive option is the Hollywood and Highland lot, which can be found at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028. The cost is only $2 for 2 hours with validation from participating shops and $2 for four hours with validation from the TCL Chinese Theater and TCL Chinese 6 Theaters. It is $1.00 for every 15 minutes thereafter. Both The Dolby Theatre and the Ray Dolby Ballroom do not validate. If you park here you can take the train over one stop to Hollywood/Vine or take the tour in reverse.
The Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd)
Across the street from the Hollywood/Vine metro stop, you’ll find the last movie palace built in Hollywood; the Pantages Theater, designed by architect Marcus Priteca and completed in 1930. Alexander Pantages originally built the theater to host Vaudeville performances. Eventually, performances of this type became too expensive as the depression wore on and it was converted to an all movie venue. Howard Hughes purchased the building in 1941, and under his ownership, it began hosting the Academy Awards from 1950-1960.The first-ever telecast of the Academy Awards took place here in 1953.
In 1977, the Pantages converted exclusively to live stage productions. In 2000, it underwent a massive rehabilitation uncovering all of its original Art Deco features. The Pantages is now one of the most popular spots in LA to see Broadway-style productions. Great hits such as The Lion King, Wicked and The Book of Mormon have all staged productions here.
The Capitol Records Building (1750 Vine St)
The Capitol Records building was the world’s first circular office building when Welton Becket’s design was completed in 1956. Inside the building, unforgettable acts such as The Beach Boys, Nat “King” Cole, Sir Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra have recorded some of the world’s greatest musical gems.
Thirty feet below the building is an underground concrete bunker designed by guitarist Les Paul. In the quiet of this chamber, musicians can record with a reverb that lasts up to five seconds, an effect that was most famously heard on the Beach Boy’s ‘Good Vibrations.’
If you pass the building at night, you’ll see a red flashing light on top of the needle. Most assume it’s a signal for a passing plane, but it was created to blink the word “Hollywood” in Morse code. In 1956, Leila Morse, daughter of Samuel Morse, was invited to flip the switch for the very first time. In November 2016, the signal was changed momentarily to blink “Capitol 75” in honor of Capitol Records 75 year anniversary.
On the south side of the Capitol Records building, you will find an impressive mural titled Hollywood Jazz: 1945-1972. Painted in 1990 by Richard Wyatt, the mural depicts Jazz greats Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Charlie Parker, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Shelly Manne, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. The mural was originally funded by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, but its restoration was made possible by Capitol records in 2011.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
It’s roughly a 10-minute walk till your next stop so take time to enjoy and appreciate the Hollywood Walk of Fame underneath your feet. The Walk of Fame extends 1.3 miles east to west on Hollywood Blvd, with some stars on Gower Street, Marshfield Way, and Vine Street.
The idea for the walk of fame originated inside the original Hollywood Hotel, where gold stars with the names of celebrities used to grace the ceiling. When the hotel was torn down, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce decided to create a permanent installation along Hollywood Blvd by continuously awarding stars to celebrities of great achievement. Today, celebrities are chosen through a nominating process that is usually initiated by a fan club, studio or record company. Roughly 200 people are nominated every year and only 10% of those nominated ever receive a star. The 2017 honorees include Rita Wilson, Goldie Hawn, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Eva Longoria, Sarah Silverman, John Legend and Selena Quintanilla. You will find the stars for all four Beatles and Neil Diamond outside the Capitol Record Building.
Dolores Del Rio Mural (Hollywood & Hudson Street)
Just off Hollywood Blvd is a Mural celebrating the life and career of one of Hollywood’s most legendary ladies, Dolores Del Rio. She was one of the first Latina stars in Hollywood, making her break into the silent films in the 1920s and then the talkies of the 1930s. She starred in over 30 movies in the United States, after which she returned to her native Mexico, where she launched a career in Mexican cinema. She has appeared in films with the likes of Fred Astaire and Elvis Presley. George Bernard Shaw once said of her: “The two most beautiful things in the world are the Taj Mahal and Dolores del Río.”
This mural was painted by Alfredo de Batuc in 1990 and can be found on the east side of Hudson Street near Hollywood Blvd.
Janes House (6541 Hollywood Blvd)
The oldest home on Hollywood Blvd is the Janes House, built in 1902 as part of a parcel of fine Victorian homes. Herman and Mary Jane of Aurora, IL bought the home for $10,000 in 1903 and lived there with their four children. In 1911, the women of the household opened a kindergarten on site entitled Misses Janes School of Hollywood; later, the school would expand to K-8 services. The school folded up in 1926, and for a time the front yard took on many uses – including a gas pump, parking lot, and a tourist business.
The last of the Janes children died in 1982, and despite it being declared a landmark, the land was sold to developers in 1984. They moved the house to the back lot and built a 14,000-sq. ft. mini-mall in front. It has served many purposes through the years and today it is the home of the 20’s themed speakeasy, “No Vacancy at Hotel Juniper.”
The house and the Janes sisters were said to be an inspiration for the famous novel Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell. The book was later adapted into a movie with Bette Davis playing a character named Jane Hudson. This may be a nod to the fact that the Janes House is adjacent to Hudson Street.
Musso and Frank’s Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd)
Frank Musso’s grill is the oldest in Hollywood and the last of the famed celebrity dining establishments of old Hollywood. The restaurant opened its doors in 1919 with some of their earliest customers arriving on horseback. Legend has it that Charlie Chaplin and John Barrymore challenged one another to a horse race down Hollywood Boulevard right in front of the restaurant.
Not only is the restaurant ancient, but so are the menu options. Charlie Chaplin loved to sit in the front window eating his grilled lamb kidney and Irish stew, Rudolph Valentino preferred a plate of spaghetti, and Ginger Rogers ordered steak followed by a rum cake for dessert. The management has thought to modernize the menu, but whenever the customers are asked the response is “don’t change anything.” In addition to their old-time menu, you’ll also get old-time service from Bartenders and waiters who have worked at Frank Musso’s for up to 50 years. Celebrities are still regulars here and the waitstaff is superb at keeping the paparazzi away.
The Egyptian Theater/American Cinematheque (6712 Hollywood Blvd)
The Egyptian theater originally boasted beautiful murals of hieroglyphics, a sunburst ceiling, and a forecourt with middle eastern shops lined with guards in Egyptian costumes. King Tut’s tomb had just been discovered and showman Sid Grauman thought to capitalize on its popularity by building the elaborate movie palace in 1922.
That same year, the first movie premiere in Hollywood’s history took place here with the showing of Robin Hood starring Douglass Fairbanks. The theater would then serve as the perfect backdrop for the 1923 premiere of Cecil B. De Mille’s The Ten Commandments.
In addition to its regular classic film showings, there are various film festivals that often headline celebrities. The festivals are held on various topics that range from the showing of movies with a specific director or actor to themes such as the developing world or LGBT productions.
Tours of the theater are also available, and they include the showing of a 55-minute documentary called Forever Hollywood.
To find out more about the American Cinematique’s events, check out their calendar.
Hollywood Wax Museum (6767 Hollywood Blvd)
The Hollywood Wax Museum was the first in Hollywood, founded by Indian-Canadian lumber worker Spoony Singh. Mr. Singh was a man full of ideas and always wanted to tap into the next big thing. While working in Canada, the idea struck him that everyone travels to Los Angeles to see all the stars, but they can never find them. Why not create wax figures of them and allow people to see them all under one roof? Mr. Singh opened his museum in 1965 with a half-mile long line of people excited to see his work.
To attract the attention of the average passerby, he had his employees dress as characters such as London bobbies or gorillas riding on skateboards. In addition to these efforts, visitors sometimes found that the most exciting experience was inside the museum, as live actors would stand among the wax figures and start to move/speak to intentionally spook the guests.
Inside the museum, you’ll find a plethora of wax figures including John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Leonardo Di Caprio and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The museum has transitioned somewhat from highlighting individual stars to depicting entire movie scenes. Later, Mr. Singh opened the Hollywood Guinness Museum, another mainstay attraction on Hollywood Blvd.
The Hollywood Museum/Former Max Factor Headquarters (660 N Highland Ave)
Among the various museums lined up along Hollywood Boulevard, this is a must-see. The Hollywood Museum has the largest collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the entire world. You will find movie scripts, props, posters, costumes, photographs and more. You will also get a closer look at the history of Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Inside you’ll see Marilyn Monroe’s million-dollar dress, items from Michael Jackson, I Love Lucy, Harry Potter, and Miley Cyrus just to name a few. As the museum is in the historic Max Factor Building, you can also visit the makeup rooms where Judy Garland and Bettie Davis got their look and the location where Marilyn Monroe became blond.
The Dolby Theater (6801 Hollywood Blvd)
Designed by David Rockwell, the Dolby Theater has been the home of the Academy Awards since 2002. This state of the art theater is perfect for televised theatrical performances and is also the home of America’s Got Talent. The stage is one of the largest in the United States at 113 feet wide and 60 feet deep. It can showcase a large variety of acts and was once the home of Cirque du Soleil.
The entrance leads to a grand stairway and is flanked by Art Deco columns with the names of past recipients of the Academy Award for Best Picture. The theater also showcases the great musical talent and past performances include Adele, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Elvis Costello and much more.
TCL Chinese Theater/Grauman’s (6925 Hollywood Boulevard)
Built by Sid Grauman, the Chinese Theater has undergone a few name changes since it was constructed. Grauman was also responsible for creating the Egyptian Theater down the street. The theater opened in 1927 with the premiere of Cecil B. De Mille’s The King of Kings, the grandest opening Hollywood has ever seen. Since then, it has hosted more premiers than any other theater in Hollywood history and was the site of the 1977 premiere of Star Wars.
The Chinese Theater is also famous for the celebrity handprints and footprints in the concrete out front. Handprints of Hollywood stars include those of Mary Pickford, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. In addition to hand and footprints, you’ll also find an imprint of the cigar of Groucho Marx and the wands used by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in Harry Potter.
El Capitan Theater (6838 Hollywood Blvd)
Across from Grauman’s Chinese theater sits another gem of Hollywood’s glory days, the El Capitan Theater. In 1926, the El Capitan fulfilled Hollywood’s need for its first spoken drama theater with a capacity of 1550 seats. It brought some of the top names of the day to grace the stage including Clark Gable, Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, Joan Fontaine, Henry Fonda and Will Rogers.
The El Capitan was designed in the Spanish Colonial Style by Architectural firm Morgan Walls, with a contrasting East-Indian interior which was designed by Albert Lansburgh.
In 1941, the El Capitan converted to a movie theater. That same year, the theater was rented by Orson Wells to premiere his first feature film, Citizen Kane. It was also the location of the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s Reap the Wild Wind.
In the following decades, the El Capitan changed ownership (and its name along with it) many times, and in the process suffered a series of unfortunate changes to its decor. Thankfully, Disney (in Partnership with Pacific Theaters) bought the venue in 1989 and conducted a full restoration back to its 1920’s grandeur. Today the theater often showcases premiers of Disney Films as well as exclusive first runs, stage shows, and other special events.
Movie viewings are usually preceded by exhibits and entertainment which may include a performance of old Disney tunes on a grand 1926 Wurlitzer organ. Visit the El Capitan website for showtimes.
The Roosevelt Hotel (7000 Hollywood Blvd)
Built in 1926, the Roosevelt Hotel was named after President Theodore Roosevelt and known for its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival Interior. Famous rooms in the hotel include the Gable-Lombard penthouse where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard used to stay and the Marilyn Monroe suite where the actress lived for the first two years of her acting career.
The first Academy Awards ceremony ever held took place here on May 16, 1929. The ceremony, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, was not televised and had only 270 persons in attendance. Winners were already announced three months prior and the award would not be called the “Oscar” for another four years.
The pool at the Roosevelt was featured in a 1955 episode of I Love Lucy when the Ricardos and Mertzes came to Hollywood. Inside the hotel’s nightclub called the Cinegrill, a scene from The Fabulous Baker Boys was filmed featuring Jeff Bridges and Michelle Pfeiffer. Other films shot on this location include Beverly Hills Cop II, Catch Me If You Can and The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
The Magic Castle (7001 Franklin Avenue)
This beautiful 1909 Châteauesque building was once the residence of two Hollywood notables: Rollin and Katherine Lane. Rollin was a banker and real estate investor and Katherine an author, teacher and philanthropist. Both played vital roles in the development of Los Angeles by promoting agriculture in the region and launching vital programs for the betterment of its citizens. The couple named their home “Holly Chateau” and it became a meeting point for the local elite and philanthropic events. After the couple passed away in the 1940s, the building fell into disrepair and took on multiple uses.
In the 1950s, Milt Larsen – an NBC writer for the show Truth or Consequences – had a great view of the Lane mansion from his office window. Milt’s father Bill was an accomplished magician and he taught these skills to his family. Milt’s father even founded the Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences and Milt dreamed of turning the Lane Mansion into its headquarters. Milt’s dream came true in 1961 when he, his brother and a group of volunteers began restoring the mansion to its Victorian grandeur. The Magic Castle opened its doors in 1963 and has been entertaining audiences ever since.
Today, visitors to the Magic Castle are delighted to enter the building, which is shrouded in mystique as only members or their guests can enter. Visitors wishing to get in on short notice have the option of booking a hotel room for the night which is one way to be granted entry.
Once you enter the Magic Castle’s doors and make it through the secret, you’ll be greeted by a wonderful musician named Irma the ghost. Irma will delight you by playing any song you request. There are a variety of bars, a dining area, magicians doing table tricks, and a major headlining show where audience members are volunteered to become part of the magic. Guests also have the option to spend time in the lower level lounge where wonderful artifacts from the history of magic can be found, including some of Houdini’s original instruments.
The Magic Castle was designated as a world heritage site in 1989.
The Four Ladies of Hollywood (7083 Hollywood Blvd)
This stainless-steel monument by artist Catherine Hardwick depicts four leading ladies who broke barriers and represented diversity in the movie industry.
First is Mae West, who not only made her mark as an actress, writer and comedian, but even went to jail for her defiance of censorship. She is known as one of the top 15 movie actresses of all time. Next to her is Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie actress who made her break in the silent movie era. Wong was often cast in stereotypical supporting roles which she reluctantly played. As a result, Wong sought work in Europe and was cast in the notable feature movie Picadilly in 1929. Breakthrough Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio is also featured on the monument, as is Dorothy Dandridge, the first African American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award.
The monument is topped with a weather vane statue of Marilyn Monroe.
Charlie Chaplin Studios/ Jim Henson Company (1416 N La Brea Ave)
From the Four Ladies of Hollywood monument, it’s an 8-minute walk to your next stop: the Jim Henson Company Studios. The studio was originally built by Charlie Chaplin in 1917 in the English Village style, blending in well with the early Hollywood rural scenery. The grounds were a little world unto itself, complete with a swimming pool, tennis courts and even a home where Charlie Chaplin was meant to live. It was here that Chaplin produced films such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator. Such notables as Winston Churchill and Hellen Keller were also filmed here.
When Chaplin left the US in 1952, the studio was sold to Webb and Knapp and became the 1955 filming location for the television series Adventures of Superman.
From 1966 it 1999 it became the headquarters for A&M records and was the location for the filming of Soul Train from 1981 to 1985. The list of those who have recorded at the studios includes The Carpenters, The Moody Blues, The Offspring, Oingo Boingo, The Police, Soundgarden, Styx, Van Morrison and Van Halen. The studio was also the location for the recording of the famous 1985 single “We are the World.”
In 2000, the studio was bought by the Jim Henson Company, who thought the quirky layout from the silent movie era would be a perfect location for its puppet empire. After it was purchased, the studio unveiled a 12-foot statue of Kermit the Frog dressed as Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp. Today, the studio a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.
Unfortunately, the studio does not offer tours, but the grounds are rented out to the public on weekends for special events.
Hollywood High School Mural (521 N Highland Ave)
It’s about a ten minute walk to your next stop, where you’ll find a mural painted on the side of the Holllywood High School auditorium which is well worth seeing. The Mural is titled “Portrait of Hollywood” and it depicts a diversity of popular entertainers.
Shown are Dorothy Dandridge, Dolores del Río, Brandy Norwood, Selena, Lana Turner, Laurence Fishburne, Cantinflas, Carol Burnett, Cher, Ricky Nelson, Bruce Lee, Rudolph Valentino, and Judy Garland.
All of these stars attended Hollywood High School with the exception of Cantinflas, Bruce Lee, Selena and Rudy Valentino. The mural was completed in 2002 by artist Eloy Torrez and in 2007 he added a thirty foot mural of another Hollywood High Alumni: comedian John Ritter.
The Crossroads of the World (6671 Sunset Blvd)
This set of buildings on Sunset Boulevard has been capturing the imagination of visitors for decades and was even replicated at Disney’s MGM studios Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. The Crossroads of the World was built in 1936 by Architect Robert V. Derrah, and it would be the first outdoor shopping mall in Los Angeles. What made the design so unique is how various architectural styles were used for each individual building, giving locals a glimpse of various locations around the world. Styles include California Mediterranean, Cape Cod, French, Italian, Moorish and Spanish. The original shopping center was said to be glamorous, with an Oriental Art shop, a French parfumerie, a Spanish Cigar maker and a high fashion woman’s dress shop.
Crossroads of the World was eventually phased out and turned into office space which has served the entertainment industry for decades. It has been the home base for casting agencies, script writers, costume designers, producers, publicists and much more. Films such as L.A. Confidential, Dragnet and Remington Steele have all been shot on location here. In addition, musicians such as Jackson Brown, Crosby Stills and Nash, and the band America have enjoyed the quiet peace of The Crossroads. Even now, visitors are welcome to walk through the Crossroads of the World to enjoy the lovely architecture and quiet space.
The Hollywood Athletic Club (6525 Sunset Blvd)
The Hollywood Athletic Club opened its doors on New Year’s Eve in 1924, and it would become the premiere meeting place for the stars of early Hollywood. In addition to the grand parties thrown there, the H.A.C. served as a hotel, a gymnasium, restaurant, sauna, library and cigar lounge alongside an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Its founding members were Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Cecil B. DeMille. Other original members included John Wayne, Mary Pickford, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Walt Disney, Mae West, John Barrymore and Groucho Marx. A number of top notch events have been hosted here over the years, including the first Emmy Awards in 1949.
As time went on, the H.A.C. went into decline and was bought by the University of Judaism. In the seventies, the building was put back on the market and was purchased by concert promoter Gary Berwin. The Berwin Entertainment Complex brought in a long list of celebrities who partied there, including members of the Michael Jackson family, Steven Spielberg, Muhammad Ali, Dudley Moore, Michael J. Fox, Madonna, Melanie Griffith, George Lucas, Jane Fonda, Stevie Wonder, Alice Cooper, Billy Crystal and many others.
In 1986, the club was acquired by the Nourmand family and now serves as an event venue and night club called Boulevard 3.
Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd)
Amoeba Music opened its first location in Berkeley, CA in 1990. This is especially interesting to note because independent records stores were being eaten up by corporate chain stores at the time.
Amoeba records had a mission to bring customers more music outside of what the giant retailers wanted them to hear. Eventually, a store was added in San Francisco, and in 2001 Amoeba opened its doors in Los Angeles anticipating a stock of 250,000 titles, which makes it one of the largest independent music stores in the world.
Today, Amoeba Music is a Hollywood landmark and meeting place for creative minds. The store stocks music from both the top 40 and the best underground rock, hip-hop, electronica, jazz, world and experimental music. In addition to its retail operation both in store and online, Amoeba is also a popular music venue for live performance. In June 2007, Amoeba Music hosted an unannounced live performance by Paul McCartney at their Hollywood location. The performance was recorded and released as an EP titled Amoeba’s Secret.
If you look around inside, you might even spot a few celebrities. As a matter of fact, the documentary Lemmy shows the late rock musician Lemmy Kilmister (of the band Motörhead) visiting this store.
Arc Light Hollywood/ Cinerama (6360 Sunset Blvd)
Included in Pacific Theater’s Arc Light Theater complex is the prominent Cinerama dome. The structure was completed in 1963 by Welton Becket & Associates and it is based on Buckminster Fuller’s patented geodesic dome design. This architectural style made it easier to build for half the cost of standard theaters and in half the time.
In the 1960s, Cinerama Inc. had its sights on building 600 of the same geodesic dome theaters within two years, although only a few were ever completed. Since its construction, Cinerama has been a frequent location for movie premiers with the first being It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in November of 1963.
In Ron Howard’s 2008 film Frost/Nixon, a scene was shot on location outside the Cinerama dome, recreating the 1976 premiere of The Slipper and the Rose.
Today, the Cinerama dome is an icon of modern architecture and a Los Angeles Historic/Cultural monument.
Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd)
When the Palladium opened in 1940, it became a top destination for WWII generation youth who danced the jitterbug to the tunes of top big bands. The working folks lined up for the $1 cover charge, and stars such as Rita Hayworth and Tyrone Power were drawn to its dance floors. The first performance featured Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra with Frank Sinatra on vocals.
The Palladium didn’t just host dance events, it was also the location of several notable political rallies including a political luncheon hosted by president John F. Kennedy in 1961 and a speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1964.
In the 70s and 80s, The Palladium brought in popular rock acts which could still be enjoyed under the roof of a Moderne style building. In 1980, it was the filming location for the final scene of The Blues Brothers. Artists such as Richard Pryor, Keith Richards, Bad Religion and Megadeth have all recorded live performances here.
Even to this day, The Palladium still serves as an active music venue. It is also currently the largest and oldest dance venue in the city.