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A Tourist's Guide to Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard stretches just under 5 miles from where it splits off from Sunset Blvd in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles at its eastern origin to where it peters out in the Hollywood Hills in West Hollywood. The most famous stretch of Hollywood Boulevard is the 1.3 mile stretch from La Brea Avenue in the west to Gower in the east. This is where you'll find the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a passel of Hollywood landmarks.
History and Evolution
Hollywood Boulevard is in constant evolution, with businesses and attractions coming and going. Nearly half of the 110 Hollywood businesses and landmarks I photographed for the City of LA in 2004 are gone or transformed. All of the following landmarks are subject to change at any moment. In the 1930's, Hollywood Blvd was the center of glamor, lined with palatial stage and movie theaters like TCL/Grauman's Chinese and Egyptian theaters near Hollywood and Highland and the Pantages Theatre at Hollywood and Vine. In the 1960s, the area declined, and was known more for sleazy strip shows, prostitution and drug culture through the 1990s.
Turn-of-the-millennium redevelopment breathed new life into the Boulevard, anchored by the Hollywood & Highland Center, which opened at that intersection in 2001. At the same time, a crime crackdown moved most of the prostitutes and drug dealers out of the neighborhood, making it reasonably safe to walk around, even at night. In the last couple years, the homeless and drugged out backpackers have returned to line the Boulevard panhandling, but there's a strong police presence to keep things flowing without incident for the tourists.Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
Modern Hollywood Boulevard
Incorporating the historic ITC/Grauman's Chinese Theatre (operated my Mann's) on its southwest corner, Hollywood & Highland Center added the Dolby Theatre, (formerly the Kodak Theatre), the permanent home of the Academy Awards, and a mix of retail, dining and entertainment venues around the central Babylon Courtyard, modeled after the ancient Babylon set from D.W. Griffith's 1916 epic "Intolerance." Hollywood & Highland also includes the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.
Most of the attractions on Hollywood Boulevard are near the intersection of Hollywood and Highland, with nightclubs and restaurants scattered loosely down the street to another cluster at Hollywood and Vine. In 2009, the W Hotel opened at Hollywood and Vine across from the 1930 Pantages Theatre, bringing a new nightclub and restaurant to join the longstanding Avalon nightclub in the Palace Theatre Building and other revolving-name clubs in the area. Also visible from the intersection of Hollywood & Vine is the iconic Capitol Records Building, just north on Vine Street.
East, beyond where the Walk of Fame ends at Gower, Hollywood Boulevard passes through Thai Town and Little Armenia, both home to some great budget ethnic food.Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06
Hollywood Boulevard Nightlife
With the street safe to walk again, nightclubs and restaurants, many co-owned by Hollywood celebrities, suddenly sprouted up alongside the ubiquitous lingerie shops on Hollywood Boulevard. These nightlife venues come and go and change names with uncommon alacrity, trying to keep up with the whims of celebs and socialites. In keeping with the Boulevard's racy past, burlesque shows and lingerie clad go-go dancers compete with clubbing divas for how much skin they can show. Doormen (and women) at Hollywood hot spots keep tight control of who passes the velvet ropes (see Tips for Getting on the Guest List).
More on LA's A-List Nightclubs and the Top LA Dance ClubsContinue to 4 of 6 below.
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Family-Friendly Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard is not ALL about the nightlife. Madame Tussauds Hollywood wax museum moved in next to Grauman's Chinese Theatre in 2009, joining the Hollywood Wax Museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium, the Guinness World Records Museum and the Hollywood Museum (ok for teens, but not young kids) all in the vicinity of Hollywood & Highland. These are all family-friendly (if kitschy) attractions that stay open late, making this a fun area to be in the evening as well as the daytime. Disney's El Capitan Theatre and the Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store, immediately across from the Hollywood & Highland Center, provide additional family entertainment options. The costumed characters in front of Hollywood & Highland also offer a fun photo opportunity for kids, but don't forget to stock up on dollar bills to tip the actors.
Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Hollywood Boulevard Map - Getting to Hollywood Boulevard
Go to my Annotated Google Map of Hollywood Blvd to see where all the top Hollywood Boulevard attractions are located. Each icon links to more information about Hollywood Blvd attractions.
The nearest freeway to Hollywood Boulevard is the 101 Hollywood Freeway which flows northwest from Downtown LA with multiple exits that give easy access to Hollywood Blvd.
The Hollywood Blvd exit is near Van Ness in East Hollywood
The Gower St exit is near Hollywood and Vine
The Cahuenga exit is north of Hollywood Blvd half-way between Vine and Highland
The Highland exit is north of Hollywood Blvd near the Hollywood Bowl and Hollywood & Highland Center, but this exit is often jammed on a Saturday at midnight with club goers, so one of the other exits is sometimes faster to actually get to Hollywood & Highland.
The Metro Red Line runs along Hollywood Blvd for 3 stations. Northwest-bound from Downtown LA, they are at Western, Vine and Highland. The Red Line continues north to Universal Studios Hollywood and North Hollywood (a separate city). The Red Line connects in Downtown LA to Metro service to Long Beach, Pasadena and LAX.
A variety of Metro and city LADOT buses provide service along Hollywood Boulevard.
More on Riding the LA MetroContinue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on Hollywood Boulevard
If you love the outdoors, take a hike into Runyon Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. The park entrance and trailhead are just 4 blocks from the La Brea end of the Walk of Fame at the north end of N Fuller Ave. You'll get a great view over Hollywood and you might run into a rock star.
Get YOUR name on a star on the Walk of Fame at Starring You.
See a TV Show Taping. Jimmy Kimmel Live tapes from the Disney Entertainment Center across from Hollywood & Highland.
Take a personality test. Hollywood Boulevard has multiple facilities that are owned by the Church of Scientology. You'll often find their minions out front offering free personality tests.