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Fun Things to Do in Hollywood, California
There are great things to do all around Los Angeles. Some are silly; some are adventurous; some are intellectual; some are non-traditional, but for the true Hollywood experience, give in to the kitsch and plan to do some of these top picks for things to do in Hollywood.
The Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles is known for the glamour of the TV and movie industry. The neighborhood is also the keeper of the history of that industry and the pop culture it represents. You'll find that history permanently etched in the pavement with famous hand prints, footprints and stars on the Walk of Fame. The physical remnants of the history of film and movies from costumes and props to makeup and quirky memorabilia are collected into exhibits in multiple museums.
Although the majority of the top Hollywood attractions are related to the entertainment industry, it is not the only draw to modern Hollywood. Nightlife, fine dining, and live theatre and music venues add to the evening entertainment. Easy... access to the city's natural wonders and one of the top science museums are other draws. Explore all the options in this slideshow.
To get beyond Hollywood, also check out the Top Los Angeles Attractions and my guide to LA Beaches. For a lot more ideas you might not have thought of, take a peek at my comprehensive MEGA Guide to Things to Do in LA, which includes neighborhood by neighborhood lists of attractions, and individual guides based on themes like things to do with kids or romantic options.Continue to 2 of 31 below.
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Forecourt of the Stars at the Chinese Theatre
You can also take a tour of the original Chinese Theatre if you time it right.Continue to 3 of 31 below.
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Hollywood Walk of Fame
Read all about the history, controversies and interesting facts about the Hollywood Walk of Fame as well as exactly where to find the stars you're looking for. (But don't forget to come back and see what else there is to do in Hollywood)Continue to 4 of 31 below.
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The Hollywood Sign
Take photos of the Hollywood Sign from Hollywood & Highland. There are lots of places with a view of the Hollywood Sign, but one of the easiest spots to see the sign and take a photo is from the viewing bridges at the Hollywood & Highland complex right next to The Chinese Theatre.
Check out the Best Viewpoints to See the Hollywood SignContinue to 5 of 31 below.
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Take a Guided Walking Tour of Hollywood
Hollywood is very walkable, and there are historic markers all over the place to tell you the history of different buildings and landmarks, but it's not the same as walking around with a guide who can help put it all in context.
Red Line Tours offers a Behind the Scenes Walking Tour that includes a peak into a few historic Hollywood buildings, a Hidden Hollywood Walking Tour or you can take a Saturday night Hollywood Ghost Tour.
You can also take a Hollywood Sign Hiking Tour, or a 3-hour evening walking and drinking tour of classic Hollywood's dive bars and restaurants on an Old Hollywood Bar Crawl. Check for discount tickets.Continue to 6 of 31 below.
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Take a Sightseeing Bus or Trolley in Hollywood
Los Angeles has a dizzying array of sightseeing tours by bus, trolley or van, from the ubiquitous Hop On, Hop Off Tours to Movie Stars Homes Tours, Ghost and Crime Tours and other specialty tours, many of which depart from Hollywood.Continue to 7 of 31 below.
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The Hollywood Bowl
The landmark Hollywood Bowl half-dome band shell has inspired many imitations around the world. It sits in the largest natural amphitheater in the United States. The Hollywood Bowl has hosted some of the greatest musical talents in history and continues to do so every summer. You can get tickets to a concert, or just go explore. The on-site Hollywood Bowl Museum is free.Continue to 8 of 31 below.
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Attend a TV Show Taping
Getting tickets for a TV show taping is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the Hollywood experience and get up close to celebrities. You can get free tickets to be in the audience of a sitcom, talk show or game show. Even in the off season, you can usually find a pilot or game show taping.Continue to 9 of 31 below.
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Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk
Universal Studios Hollywood is a combination movie-based theme park and studio tour. The special effects shows are as much of a draw as the rides. The adjacent Universal CityWalk is also a popular entertainment and shopping zone.
Universal Studios is technically not in Hollywood. It's just over the hill in its own neighborhood called Universal City, but it's just a 3 minute Metro ride between the two, so I count it as a Hollywood attraction.Continue to 10 of 31 below.
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Madame Tussauds Hollywood
Madame Tussauds Hollywood wax museum opened next to The Chinese Theatre in September 2009 and became an instant hit, overshadowing its neighbor, the Hollywood Wax Museum down the street with wax figures you can actually cozy up to.
Madame Tussauds is included in the Go Los Angeles Card discount attractions pass.
More about Visiting Madame TussaudsContinue to 11 of 31 below.
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Hollywood Museum at the Max Factor Building
The Hollywood Museum in the Max Factory Building, also known as the Hollywood History Museum, is one of the best collections of movie memorabilia around from the silent screen to the present day. They have an extensive Marilyn Monroe display, Cary Grant's Silver Cloud Rolls Royce, Rocky Balboa's boxing gloves, Elvis' bathrobe and Hannibal Lecter's cell from Silence of the Lambs, just to name a few. Downstairs they have recreated the Max Factor hair and make-up rooms.
The Hollywood Museum is included in the Go Los Angeles Card discount attractions pass.
More about the Hollywood MuseumContinue to 12 of 31 below.
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Hollywood and Highland Center
Located adjacent to The Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood & Highland Center has become a landmark all it's own. Explore the Babylon Courtyard and walk the Road to Hollywood public art walk, view the Hollywood Sign, shop, eat, play and more. Some of the most popular stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are right out front.
Guide to Hollywood & Highland CenterContinue to 13 of 31 below.
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Griffith Observatory is technically above Hollywood in Griffith Park, but it's just a few minutes drive from Hollywood Boulevard. The exhibits are great, but even if they don't interest you, it's worth a visit for the day and nighttime views.
Griffith Observatory Visitors GuideContinue to 14 of 31 below.
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Take a Tour of Paramount Studios
Paramount Studios is a Hollywood landmark with its pink-arched gateway. There are other smaller working studios in Hollywood, and other studios you can tour outside of Hollywood, but Paramount is the only one you can visit and tour in Hollywood.
Read more about taking a Paramount Studios TourContinue to 15 of 31 below.
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El Capitan Theatre with the Kids
If you're traveling with kids, seeing a Disney movie at El Capitan Theatre can be a fun way to rest weary feet. Each movie is accompanied by either live character performances, prop exhibits or interactive exhibits. Goldstar.com often has discount tickets to El Capitan.
Review of El Capitan TheatreContinue to 16 of 31 below.
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The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood
The Hard Rock Cafe is an international museum of Rock 'n' Roll memorabilia - with food. You might not think of it as an attraction, but if you're a rock 'n' roll fan, the exhibited artifacts are interesting; you'll probably already be in the neighborhood, and it's free to go in and walk around.
There are two Hard Rock Cafes in Los Angeles. The Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood is in the heart of the tourist melee at Hollywood & Highland Center on Hollywood Boulevard between the Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre.
A few of the more memorable artifacts in the Hollywood branch of this establishment include:
- Jim Morrison's well-worn leather pants under a rainbow light display
- Jimi Hendrix's purple plush hat
- Eddie Van Halen's red and white Kramer guitar
- A pair of Ringo Starr's drumsticks
- Axel Rose's patriotic "Freedom Without Fear" jacket
- Michael Jackson's Black Fedora
- MC Hammer's Blacktop shoes
- A shirt autographed by Debbie Harry in 1978
- Snoop Dogg's black and yellow... bandana jumpsuit
- A Tama drum kit used by Lars Ulrich of Metallica
- Iggy Pop's black leather jacket and red Tracer guitar
- Flea's neon green bass
- A turquoise gown from Gwen Stefani
- A red swimsuit from Rihanna
You don't have to be dining at the Hard Rock Cafe to go in and explore the exhibit, but it's a fun place to eat. As far as the menu goes, it's basically a fancy burger joint with a few more upscale entrees, salads and pizzas.
Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood has two gift shops, one at the Hollywood Boulevard entrance and one in the back at the entrance inside Hollywood & Highland.
The second Los Angeles location is the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal CityWalk, near Universal Studios Hollywood, best known for the giant guitar photo op in front of the restaurant. Some of the more famous pieces at the CityWalk location include Elvis Presley’s iconic jumpsuits, Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” wedding dress, and Janis Joplin’s purple suede pants.Continue to 17 of 31 below.
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The Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of Broken Relationships opened in June 2016 in a relatively new building in the heart of Hollywood Boulevard that briefly housed Frederick's of Hollywood before the store shuttered for good.
The museum exhibits some mundane objects - a hairbrush, a license plate, used emery boards - that derive meaning from the stories submitted anonymously by their donors. Other items are a little more eccentric – Belly button lint, silicone breast implants – that require even more of an explanation.
The relationships represented may be romantic, but they may also deal with breakups or loss of family members, business partners, cities, religions and more. The primary message is that loss is universal, and for those currently feeling isolated in their suffering, they're not alone.
The original exhibit was conceived in 2006 by Croatian artists Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in the midst of their own breakup, when trying to figure out what to do with the meaningful mementos of their former... combined life. They began collecting artifacts and stories from other broken relationships and put together an exhibit that toured Europe before opening as a permanent museum in Zagreb, Croatia in 2010. After visiting the Zagreb museum, John B. Quinn decided that Hollywood, the location of so many broken dreams and relationships, would be a perfect location for such a museum and got to work making that dream a reality.
6751 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
One Block East of Highland
Check Goldstar.com for discount tickets.Continue to 18 of 31 below.
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Tour the Dolby Theatre
It's a bit pricey for what it is, but if you long to stand on the stage where so many famous actors accept their Academy Awards, then taking a tour of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood is the way to do it.Continue to 19 of 31 below.
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The Guinness World of Records Museum
The Guinness World of Records Museum on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard is housed in the oldest standing movie house in Hollywood, built in 1913 as a nickelodeon house, a precursor to movies. The current art deco facade was added later. The neon marquee was one of the first installed with wide side panels to attract passing drivers.
The museum houses a collection of photos, videos and artifacts representative of the thousands of world records in every kind of human endeavor yet conceived, from the amazing, to the disgusting. If you own the latest book and are fascinated by it, then by all means stop in. I find that once I've visited one somewhere in the world, that's enough for me, but my sister and her family were enthralled.
What's really missing here is a good collection of some LA-specific records, since there are many world records broken here, like the world's largest meatball at the Feast of San Gennaro Italian Festival, or the world record for... the most lobsters served at an outdoor event at the Port of LA Lobster Festival.
It's open 365 days of the year from 10 am to midnight, so it's a harmless activity to do with the kids in Hollywood after dark.
There is a combination ticket available that includes admission to three LA pop culture museums including the Hollywood Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe It or Not.
Guinness World Record Museum
6764 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
More LA Pop Culture MuseumsContinue to 20 of 31 below.
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Ripley's Believe it or Not
Ripley's Believe it or Not is an homage to the bizarre, located on the southeast corner of Hollywood and Highland. It's one of three Hollywood pop culture museums that can be purchased individually or as a joint ticket.
If you enjoy all things freaky, this may be the attraction for you, but if you've been to one of the other Ripley's locations around the world, there are definitely more unique things to do in Hollywood, as well as our own collection of the Most Unusual LA Museums.
Ripley's Believe It or Not - Hollywood
6780 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
Ripley's Believe it or Not is another of museum that wouldn't be high on my To Do list, but, like the Guinness Museum, some people are fascinated by the oddities of the world, from two-headed goats to historic torture treatments.Continue to 21 of 31 below.
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Hollywood Heritage Museum
The Hollywood Heritage Museum is a small museum in the former Lasky - DeMille Barn on Highland Avenue across from the Hollywood Bowl. The Barn, built in 1895 on a citrus ranch on the corner of Selma and Vine, changed hands a couple times before becoming the base where, in 1914, Cecille B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky produced the first feature film ever produced in Hollywood. The building was moved to the backlot at Paramount Studios in 1926.
The Barn was moved to its current location in 1983 and opened as the Hollywood Heritage Museum in 1985. It houses an archive of photos, props and memorabilia from the earliest years of Hollywood filmmaking.
More on the Hollywood Heritage MuseumContinue to 22 of 31 below.
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Museum of Death
For aficionados of the macabre, the Museum of Death in Hollywood purports to provide "death education," but the focus is not on death as a natural phenomenon, but rather the unnatural deaths inflicted by serial killers, mass murderers and group suicides as well as the tools of those who work on the dead - the coroners and morticians. It's not for the faint of heart.
The Museum of Death is on my list of LA's Most Unusual Museums.Continue to 23 of 31 below.
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Take a Horseback Ride Past the Hollywood Sign from Sunset Ranch
Tell the guard at the top of Beachwood Drive that you're going to Sunset Ranch and he will let you through to the dirt parking lot on your right.
3400 North Beachwood Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068
More places to go Horseback Riding in Los AngelesContinue to 24 of 31 below.
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Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House and the Municipal Gallery
Hollyhock House, the first house Frank Lloyd Wright designed in LA, is located at Barnsdall Art Park, an 11.5-acre hilltop park in the East Hollywood neighborhood also known as Los Feliz, Thai Town and Little Armenia, depending on whom you talk to. It's right on Hollywood Boulevard at Vermont on top of Olive Hill. The house is not visible from the street, so you have to go into the park to see it. The Hollyhock House was closed for years for restoration, but reopened to the public in February 2015.
Also on Olive Hill, you'll find the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, which hosts temporary art exhibits, and the Barnsdall Art Center and Junior Art Center, which host community art classes for children and adults. There are often free family art workshops on the weekend.
The complex also includes the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, available for rent for live theatre, dance, music, spoken word, lecture, film and special event presentations.
During the summer, Barnsdall Art Park hosts free Shakespe...are performances and ticketed wine tasting events. There is a Monday Farmers Market at the park year-round.
Barnsdall Art Park, including the Hollyhock House, is operated jointly by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Recreation and Parks and the Barnsdall Art Park Foundation.
Get more details and take my photo tour of the restored Hollyhock House, including some areas that are not open to the public.Continue to 25 of 31 below.
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Hollywood Wax Museum
The Hollywood Wax Museum is located in a 1928 Spanish Colonial Revival building at 6767 Hollywood Blvd near Hollywood & Highland on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is one of several LA Pop Culture Museums in the neighborhood. In the 1930s, the upstairs became the Embassy Club. Since 1965 it has housed the Wax Museum's ever-changing collection of wax movie stars and a permanent collection of past presidents and horror figures.
The Hollywood Wax Museum has been on the Boulevard far longer than its nearby neighbor, Madame Tussauds, but isn't as much fun as the newcomer, since it's a lot smaller, with less life-like figures. The figures are also set back in a tableau from the related TV show or movie, so you can't pose with them. But if you're into that sort of thing, you'll see a few characters here that Madame Tussauds doesn't have.
There is a joint ticket available with Ripley's Believe it or Not and the Guinness World Record Museum.
Hollywood Wax Museum
6767 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA... 90028
www.hollywoodwaxmuseum.comContinue to 26 of 31 below.
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You too can join the A-list of the Hollywood nightlife scene - if you have enough money or know the right people. There are plenty of clubs in Hollywood for every taste. Check out the Top A-List Nightclubs that are hard to get into, Top Dance Clubs for everyone, or Top Comedy Clubs. Some of the Coolest Hotel Bars in LA are also in Hollywood.
If you want to get a sampling of nightlife in one night, you can join a pub crawl or club crawl in Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights. If you want some more historic perspective on your cocktails, you can join an Old Hollywood Bar Crawl, where a tour guide will take you through the history of Hollywood's classic bars while imbibing signature beverages along the way.
If you do plan to go clubbing, check out my Tips for Getting on the Guest List at LA Clubs.Continue to 27 of 31 below.
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Hike Runyan Canyon
You don't hike Runyon Canyon to get away from people. The 160-acre park in the Hollywood Hills is full of people, which makes it a great place for people watching, as well as appreciating the natural environment. You'll run into super athletes running the hill trails and moms and nannies with strollers on the flatter cross-canyon trails. You might also run into hip-hoppers, punk rockers or members of 80s big-hair bands between gigs on the Sunset Strip, hipsters taking time off shopping, or local goth teens looking like they stepped out of a zombie movie.
Winter and spring are the best times to hike, when the sky is clearer and there's more greenery. In summer and fall, it can be really hot and dry with hazy skies, so you don't have as nice a view and there is wildfire danger. Hiking shoes/boots, hat, sunscreen and plenty of water are recommended for all seasons.
Part of the system is an off-leash dog park, so it's a popular place for dog owners.
The best thing about Runyon Canyon Park is... that the south entrance is within walking distance of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, so you don't even have to drive there if you're staying in Hollywood. That's a definite advantage, since there's only street parking on the Hollywood side, which is scant and may require a residential permit. You can also hike Runyon Canyon from the top/north, off Mulholland Drive, and there's a small parking lot on that side.
From Hollywood and La Brea at the west end of the Walk of Fame, you continue one block west and turn right onto Fuller Ave, then it's two short blocks to where Fuller dead ends into the park entrance. If you don't turn on Fuller, you can continue 2 blocks west to turn right on Vista St, then another 2 blocks north to another entrance to the park at Runyon Canyon Road. The paved fire road from Vista is an easier hike, but there are also off-shoot trails along the ridge from there if you're looking for something more strenuous.
More on Hiking Runyon CanyonContinue to 28 of 31 below.
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No matter where you're coming from, if you're a music fan, Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood is one of the coolest music stores on the planet with a crazy selection of used and new music on vinyl, cassette, cd and more. You could get lost in the store for hours exploring different music genres, and you might see your favorite rockers, rappers and classical performers browsing the aisles. They also host free in-store concerts.
They have some competition in recent years with the opening of The Record Parlour a block north on Selma and Cahuenga, which carries only pre-digital music and also hosts indie music concerts.Continue to 29 of 31 below.
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The Pantages Theatre, near the corner of Hollywood and Vine, is a stunning Art Deco theatre where top Broadway touring musicals are performed. If you enjoy live theatre, a performance at the Pantages Theatre is a great excuse to get glammed up to match the decor.
Photo Tour and Guide to the Pantages TheatreContinue to 30 of 31 below.
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The Rock Walk at the Hollywood Guitar Center
Like the Forecourt of the Stars at the Chinese Theatre, the Rock Walk is a courtyard of hand prints, but this time, of famous musicians. It is located at the entrance to the Guitar Center store on Sunset Boulevard. The display windows surrounding the Rock Walk showcase Rock 'n' Roll memorabilia.
It's a 15-20 minute walk from the main Hollywood drag around Hollywood & Highland. The Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour makes a stop at the Rock Walk.Continue to 31 of 31 below.
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John Kelley Chocolates
If you're in the vicinity of the Rock Walk, continue west down Sunset Blvd 2 blocks to Sierra Bonita Avenue where you'll find the John Kelly Chocolate Factory just around the corner to the right. There are periodic tours or you can watch the chocolates being made through the window, and then buy some - really. They're awesome.
Keep clicking to check out the Top West Hollywood Attractions (It's a separate city, so gets its own list), where you'll find the famed Sunset Strip and more.
And if you're ready to explore beyond the Hollywood area, you can dive into my MEGA guide to Things to Do in LA. There really is so much more to explore in LA beyond Hollywood. Take a look and see if I manage to astound you with some attractions and activities you haven't thought of.