What’s the first place anyone thinks of to visit when they go to Los Angeles? Probably the first place we headed to – ‘THE’ sign. I had Googled the best spot to view the Hollywood sign from, and the answer it gave was Griffiths Park. We went to that park, but could not see the sign from where we had parked, illegally as it turned out. In the UK a no parking spot is indicated by double yellow lines next to the kerb, in the USA they simply paint the kerb red. Carol had discovered this in a quick chat with a local in the park. “Don’t worry” he said, it’s only a $100 fine.
We got directions to where we needed to head, so we quickly headed off towards the Griffiths Observatory, before any fine could be issued. We had some distance to go, and by the time we found a parking space (at $10 an hour) we still hadn’t seen the sign. We walked up a hill towards the observatory (which is currently closed due to covid), still unsure if we were going the right way, eventually we stopped and asked someone.
We were only 100 metres from the observatory, and even the local person seemed a little unsure of what to tell us. You could go across the road and climb the path over there, up a steep hill, or you could go up a less steep hill to the observatory. So, where is the sign exactly? She pointed in a very vague direction, and then changed her mind a couple of times. We thanked her and headed on. We continued walking up hill, until at some point Carol turned around and pointed, we had found the sign, though to be honest it was some distance away, and I came to the conclusion Google had lied to me, and this couldn’t possibly be the best viewpoint for this world famous tourist attraction.
We later found out that if you walk some of the trails you can get closer; on one trail right above it; however given the heat and steep inclines this wasn’t possible for us. We since found some much better places from which to see it, such as the place recommended by Carol’s brother Paul, a shopping centre called Hollywood and Highland right in the centre of Hollywood. Paul had visited LA before, and is a confirmed Yankophile, he loves the place, and so far his knowledge has come in very handy.
The absolute best spot we found though was through some further internet research, Lake Hollywood Park. It involved driving up some winding roads but there was free street parking and an open field with trails leading even nearer the sign. We were more than happy with the view from the road.
Walk of Fame
Probably the 2nd most famous thing to see in Hollywood is the Walk of Fame; stars which cover the sidewalk both sides of Hollywood Boulevard. I’ll be honest…its not all that exciting, you see a few names you know but probably 10 times that of people you’ve never heard of. Nevertheless we had a walk up and down checking them all out whilst looking at other attractions.
Home of the Oscars and also part of the Hollywood and Highland shopping centre. We parked in the centre as it was the most convenient spot although not the cheapest; we had a short stop of half an hour on one occasion which cost $8. Apparently you can usually do a tour here but it was all shut up; probably like a lot of things closed due to covid.
The boulevard is an interesting place in addition to the walk of fame. There are numerous souvenir shops which are actually quite reasonably priced, waxwork Museums, theatres, copious restaurants and street performers of various levels. When we visited there was a quite poor singer and people dressed up as clowns (a lot of peoples worst nightmare!). There are a lot of homeless people along the streets and some were quite adventurous with their signs to grab attention including one older gentleman who had a sign saying “please give me $7 for wine, I promise im over 21” lol . The main part of the boulevard near the Dolby Theatre is fine but walk further away and it becomes more and more run down.
West Sunset Boulevard ( The Sunset Strip)
We had a couple of stops down here once in the evening and once during the day. It is home to the famous Viper Room, previously owned by Johnny Depp and where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose. On a more cheery note you can also find plenty of restaurants, live music venues and the HBO studios. Its a happening place for evening entertainment and apparently has haunts for the rich and famous.
Anyone who is a fan of the TV series will have been in awe of the amazing city views shown when he is in his house. It is actually a real house in the Hollywood Hills and we went up for a stalk one evening to check it out. The views were as amazing as they show on the series although it was quite difficult to get a good picture of the house in dim light. Worth a visit after dark even if you’re not a Bosch fan just for the amazing views. The house is located at 1850 Blue Heights Drive in Hollywood Hills West. The best views of the structure can be seen from the 1600 block of Viewmont Drive and the 8800 block of Hollywood Boulevard (thanks to http://www.iamnotastalker.com for this info).
Rodeo Drive – Beverly Hills
We decided to hit the shops and go on a spending spree….not really….there was no way we could afford anything here, at least we don’t think so as there were no price labels on anything in the windows which is never a good sign. Nevertheless we decided to do some window shopping along Rodeo drive. The fact we celebrated we found 2 hours free parking certainly indicates our lack of affordability here but it was fun none the less.
Honorable Mention – Home to the Fresh Prince
Ok so not technically Hollywood or Beverly Hills, however Bel Air is not far from Beverly Hills so technically the home of Will, Geoffrey, Uncle Phil, Carlton and Hilary should be nearby right? Wrong… The home was actually in Brentwood not in Bel Air. We decided to do a bit more stalking and find the house. It is it appears now an Airbnb and located at 251 North Bristol Avenue in Brentwood. We found it and couldn’t see much from the outside however Nige got inventive with his camera under the gate.
That sums up our time so far in the Hollywood/Beverly Hills area. There are certain major attractions we can’t do at this time such as Universal Studios and Warner Bros tour which are either not open yet or only open to Californians or Tourists who are classed as fully vaccinated. Still we are finding plenty to occupy ourselves and to stay safe as our next few posts will show.
Carol & Nigel x