A day in Hollywood

Ah, Hollywood — the glitz, the glamour, the stars — if you can find them. Hollywood’s success as an iconic place where the famous rub shoulders with tourists may work against it when reality strikes the visitor. But don’t despair — Hollywood is a great destination even if you don’t end up in Starbucks behind George Clooney. Here are some spots you won’t want to miss.

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Did I say Hollywood is not all about the stars? Well, not completely, but it’s true that no trip would be complete without stopping by this iconic building — and its star-studded Walk of Fame outside complete with hands and footprints. After all, there were riots in the street when it first opened in 1927, the most spectacular theatre opening in motion picture history. The tour inside the building at additional cost is well worth the price.

Follow the Hollywood boulevard and you’ll also be able to tour the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood’s other grand cinema — and, of course, home to the Academy Awards (except for the month prior to the Oscars when tours are not permitted). In between there’s the Hollywood and Highland shopping mall — a great place to get a cup of coffee and look for a little glitz.

Checking behind the scenes

If you want to spend a day at a theme park and learn a bit about the film industry then the Universal Studios experience is definitely for you. But if you want to get a real behind the scenes look at a studio, the Warner Brothers VIP tour — for a whopping $45 per person — is the tour to choose.

And if you really want to see beneath the costumes — and don’t mind being a little red-faced — stop by Frederick’s of Hollywood at 6608 Hollywood Blvd to see the bra museum. That’s right — even celebrity undergarments are an attraction. At various times the items on display have included Tom Hanks’ boxer shorts from Forrest Gump and offerings from Phyllis Diller, Cher and Madonna.

You may, however, want to skip the tours of celebrity homes — many claim the information presented in them is outdated — unless, of course, you simply want to marvel at the opulent lifestyles behind the gates of the mansions.

Enjoy the scenery

The area surrounding Los Angeles is full of natural beauty, almost surreal colours and views from the various hills. Take a drive following Griffith Park Drive, through the hills to the famous Mulholland Highway. Views of the city are spectacular from the ridges, which take you past the Hollywood sign and Hollywood Reservoir. And for a breath of fresh air take the time to stop at the reservoir itself.

If you prefer scenery of a more ephemeral nature you can stop by the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where Marilyn Monroe’s ghost is said to hold court in a mirror in the lobby, and Montgomery Clift is supposed to play his bugle occasionally in one of the ninth floor rooms.


Step just outside

While not quite in Hollywood proper, the Los Angeles Farmers’ Market is well worth the effort to stop by — and this is in fact a place where you might just spot a star, as well as scoring some excellent inexpensive food. Its age and folksy feel is all part of its charm, and perhaps an antidote to the occasionally artificial feel to the city that is home to the American film industry.