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Hollywood Boulevard is legendary, but it may not be what you envisioned. It's been a long time since the glory days, and the only stars you're likely to find on the streets are the ones set into the sidewalks, the wax doubles at Madame Tussaud's or the Wax Museum - or the impersonators who hang around getting their photos taken with tourists for tips. You can even see if your feet are small as Marilyn Monroe's or your nose as big as Jimmy Durante.
That is - unless you're lucky enough to show up during a movie premiere, a ceremony for a new sidewalk star or when someone is pressing their hands and feet into the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Frankly, this part of Hollywood is one of the most touristy spots in all of Los Angeles, full of t-shirt and souvenir shops, the streets packed with gawping tourists snapping photos. It's also the epicenter of Old Hollywood history, with lots to see and do.
As much I'd like to sticky my snooty, pretentious nose in the air and say: "That... kind of thing isn't for someone as cool as me." But the place has an undeniable appeal and an energy that's fun and upbeat and I often find myself dropping by just to grab a bite to eat or snap a few new photos.
When we polled our readers, more than 1,200 of them rated Hollywood Boulevard. 46% said it was great or awesome and 29% gave it the lowest rating.
The section of Hollywood Boulevard that appeals to tourists runs between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street, a little more than a mile long. It's also the home of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and Hollywood and Highland shopping and dining complex.
Any time after mid-morning is lively. During daylight hours, you get views and can enjoy the throngs of tourists. At night, the Boulevard is neon-lit.
Proven Tips for Enjoying Hollywood Boulevard
- Check ahead of time to see if any star-studded events are happening. You'd hate to show up an hour after your favorite celeb had left, wouldn't you?
- If you want to take photos with the dressed-up characters on the street, they're actually trying to make a living doing that. Bring some $1 bills for tips.
- If you want to take a tour of the Academy Awards' home, head for the Dolby Theatre box office first, to pick up tickets. Organize the rest of your day around your tour time.
If I were you, I'd definitely skip the tacky "movie stars homes" tours, which from personal experience and by all accounts I've read are just plain boring. You can get the full scoop on them here.
Avoid the folks trying to hand you things, too. Whatever they are, you probably don't want them.
Hollywood Boulevard Bargains
The Go Los Angeles Card offers a lot of attractions at a very reasonable price. Use this handy guide to find out all you need to know about it.
Getting to Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard is west of downtown Los Angeles and accessible from I-10 (exit La Brea Blvd north), I-110 (exit Hollywood Blvd west), but US Hwy 101 is the easiest access. Take the Highland Avenue exit south. Park in the underground lot at the Hollywood and Highland complex, where you'll pay a very reasonable rate as long as you get validation from a shop upstairs. A bottle of water at any of the food spots will do.
For a hassle-free approach, take the Metro Red line and get off at the Hollywood and Highland stop. It's an especially easy way to get there from downtown Los Angeles, Universal City, and North Hollywood.Continue to 2 of 17 below.
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Hollywood at Highland
You'll start your tour at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Street. It's the busiest spot on the boulevard and also one of LA's most dangerous intersections, with distracted tourists sometimes getting injured when step into the street.
The cheapest parking in town is below the shopping center. Just make a small purchase to get your parking ticket validated before you leave. The Starbucks coffee shop near the back of the main court is an inexpensive choice - or the food cart on the lower level near the escalator.
Your Hollywood Boulevard tour starts at the heart of the Hollywood renaissance. Hollywood at Highland is not only a shopping-and-entertainment complex; it's also a tribute to Hollywood history.
To get into the Hollywood and Highland center from the Boulevard, take the steps up across from the El Capitan if you're starting from street level. If you enter from the underground parking, go to level 2 and walk out into the courtyard.
No matter where you start from, look... down to read the stories along the Road To Hollywood, set into the walk in mosaic. They're quotes from people who came to make their fortunes in Hollywood, from camera operators to mega-stars.
Pillars topped with elephants tower over the main plaza, a tribute to the set of D. W. Griffith's classic film Intolerance. Walk to the back of the complex to lounge on the over-sized casting couch and get a photo of the Hollywood sign.
Shopping is optional, but if you parked in the lot downstairs, make a small purchase to get your parking ticket validated (Starbucks, near the casting couch, will do).Continue to 3 of 17 below.
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6801 Hollywood Boulevard
This venue was previously called the Kodak Theatre, but now it's sponsored by a different film industry icon.
You can get to the Dolby Theatre by walking through the corridor at the back of Hollywood at Highland, but it's a lot more fun to walk up the simulated "red carpet" that leads to the Dolby Theatre from Hollywood Boulevard. Stop at their box office (on street level) to pick up tickets for a tour of the Academy Awards' home, or for the Cirque du Soleil show IRIS which makes its permanent home here.Continue to 4 of 17 below.
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Walk of Fame
The Walk of Fame covers the sidewalks along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower and La Brea. You'll be walking on it for most of this tour. It's a wonder more people don't run into each other as they walk with eyes downward, looking for favorite stars.
Since you know better, you'll also look up to see the numbered banner signs that give interesting information about the area's history.Continue to 5 of 17 below.
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People-watching on Hollywood Boulevard is some of the best anywhere. Best spots: anywhere people are interacting with the costumed characters and street performers. Grauman's forecourt (where the hand- and footprints are) is also fun or go upstairs at Hollywood and Highland where you can watch the sidewalk from above.
A bevy of street performers dressed up as film and cartoon characters can always be found along Hollywood Boulevard between Grauman's and Highland. They're fun to take pictures with, but if you do, be sure to give them a tip ($1 is more than enough). In recent years, they've become more plentiful and aggressive, and I suggest just walking away from anyone who hassles you.Continue to 6 of 17 below.
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Grauman's Chinese Theater
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Grauman's Chinese Theatre's forecourt is legendary, filled with handprints, footprints, and other prints that include Jimmy Durante's nose and Whoopi Goldberg's dreadlocks. The appeal is undeniable.
The Chinese-style movie theatre behind the court is an elegant, 1927 Hollywood movie palace, well worth the price of admission no matter what they're showing. It's one of the most glamorous movie-going experiences anywhere, with gorgeous red curtains that swish open when the film starts. Spend a few minutes inside before the lights go down to see its over-the-top ornamentation. Be careful at the box office; only of the several screens here is in the original theatre.
Tour buses leave from the curb outside the theater. However much you'd like to see the movie stars' homes, resist the temptation to get on one of those "Tours of the Stars' Homes." Few stars live within driving distance of Hollywood Boulevard, and the tour guides can be so jaded from... years of giving the same spiel that it's a wonder they don't put themselves to sleep.
If you want some really juicy Hollywood gossip and a chance to see places where stars really lived, I recommend either the Beverly Hills Trolley Tour or Dearly Departed Tours who (although they claim to focus on dead celebrities) give the liveliest tour in town.Continue to 7 of 17 below.
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Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
6933 Hollywood Boulevard
You know the drill - celebrities modeled in wax. Everyone from the President of the United States to Jack Sparrow the pirate.
You can follow the stars a few more blocks to La Brea and The Gateway to Hollywood statue. If you're not interested in it, cross the street and walk back toward Highland Street.Continue to 8 of 17 below.
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Gateway to Hollywood
Hollywood Blvd at La Brea
This structure was built to honor Hollywood's multi-ethnic leading ladies and created by director and production designer Catherine Hardwicke. The four silver statues supporting the structure represent Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna Mae Wong and Dolores Del Rio
You're now at La Brea Blvd. Turn around and walk back toward Highland Avenue, on the same side of the street as the Hollywood Roosevelt.Continue to 9 of 17 below.
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Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
7000 Hollywood Blvd
This hotel is the place of Hollywood legends, from the time it opened in 1927 and hosted the first-ever Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. It's diagonally across the street from the Chinese Theater.
The list of early twentieth-century A-listers who have stayed here is almost endless, and some people say Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe haunt the halls. Unfortunately, an insensitive "renovation" much of its 1920s charm, leaving little to see inside. If you're brazen enough, march through the lobby, following the signs toward the swimming pool, which features a design by artist David Hockney.Continue to 10 of 17 below.
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El Capitan Theater
6838 Hollywood Blvd
Just before you get to Highland Avenue at 6838 Hollywood Boulevard is the El Capitan Theater and the Disney Soda Fountain next door. Both are owned by Disney, and the theatre shows first runs of their newest films.
The El Capitan has a lovely, restored box office and interior, and they go beyond the usual previews-and-main-film to add a lively pre-show. However, prices are very high compared to other movie houses in the area.Continue to 11 of 17 below.
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1660 N. Highland Ave
The pink-colored, art deco-styled building just off Hollywood Boulevard was once the headquarters of cosmetics company Max Factor. Today, it's the Hollywood Museum, and they claim to have the world's most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia.
To get there, cross Highland and turn right onto it.
The ground floor exhibits at the Hollywood Museum pay tribute to legendary makeup artist Max Factor, with many original displays from their studio. Above that are two more floors of exhibits that feature costumes and other memorabilia from Hollywood films. And there's more in the basement, which is where they keep the creepy and scary stuff.
Besides all that, the Hollywood Museum also puts on periodic special exhibits dedicated to famous stars. In recent years, that has included Marilyn Monroe and a celebration of Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.
The Hollywood Museum may not be the best place for youngsters — much of the emphasis is on the Hollywood of yesteryear. And... you'll have to pay to bring the kids in, even if they're bored the whole time.
There are restrictions on photography, so don't be disappointed by that.
A little further down Highland on the right is Hollywood High School.
Return to Hollywood Boulevard and turn right at Ripley's.Continue to 12 of 17 below.
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Ripley's Believe it or Not
6780 Hollywood Blvd.
This attraction is beginning to feel a little out of place in the "new" Hollywood, but many people still seem to enjoy its collection of over 300 oddities.
It's just past Highland Avenue and hard to miss because there's a dinosaur on the roof.Continue to 13 of 17 below.
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6764 Hollywood Blvd.
This museum is where the world-famed book comes to life, full of all kinds of extremes from the smallest apple to the biggest man.Continue to 14 of 17 below.
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6712 Hollywood Blvd.
The Egyptian Theatre offers public tours and screens a 55-minute film called Forever Hollywood, specially produced by them to celebrate Hollywood history and the best film we've ever seen about Hollywood history. Spend an hour watching it, and you'll understand why you wanted to come here and why it isn't what you expected.
The reason for the name Egyptian Theatre is obvious, but besides being a very interesting-looking building, it's a bit of Hollywood history. After opening in 1922, the Egyptian Theatre hosted the first-ever Hollywood premiere of Cecille B. DeMille's Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks.
The Egyptian Theatre got an extensive renovation in the late 1990s. Today, it's a reminder of the days when movie-going could be a grand affair. Sadly, much of the original interior has been lost, but the ceiling and part of interior walls still bear Egyptian decoration.
Other than the Hollywood film (which we think is a must-see), the Egyptian will appeal mostly... to cinephiles and those interested in early Hollywood history.
American Cinematheque also screens classic and independent films at the Egyptian Theatre. The schedule for both is on their website.
Egyptian Theatre History
The Egyptian Theatre was built by Sid Grauman, who also created Grauman's Chinese Theatre down the street. Sid had an international theme going in those days. Miraculously, both of the grand movie theatres have survived.Continue to 15 of 17 below.
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Musso and Frank Grill
6667 Hollywood Blvd.
Cross Hollywood Boulevard and start walking back toward Highland.
One of the few remaining old-style Hollywood restaurants, Musso and Frank Grill is famed for their martinis. Seats at the bar are recommended if you're dining alone - or for a private tete-a-tete, sit in of the red-leather-upholstered mahogany booths. Waiters here still wear ties and red jackets, their attire as old-fashioned as their menu, which boasts items that have long disappeared from other restaurant's offerings, such as stuffed celery appetizers and Jell-O for dessert.
Past Cherokee Avenue, the Boulevard gets seedier, and there's little of interest to see. If you're determined to continue, you can walk on to Hollywood and Vine, about seven blocks each way. The intersection's reputation for being the place to get "discovered" was more myth than reality, but it's fun to think about anyway. A little further past Vine is the restored Pantages Theatre, but unless you go to a... Broadway show there, you won't see much besides the marquee.Continue to 16 of 17 below.
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Hollywood Wax Museum
6767 Hollywood Blvd
The Hollywood Wax Museum is an old-style Hollywood attraction leftover from the Boulevard's less-than-glitzy past,
It doesn't appeal to this writer, especially with entrance prices that cost almost twice as much as seeing a first-run film at Grauman's Chinese Theatre down the street. However, there must be a reason it's the longest-running wax museum in the US, and other people seem to enjoy seeing their favorite stars and starlets sculpted in wax.
They feature over 300 lifelike figures made from wax and painstakingly fitted with makeup, hair, and costumes, displayed in settings from their most famous performances. New celebrities are added regularly at the Hollywood Wax Museum, and each one may take months to create.
One of visitors' favorite things to do at the Hollywood Wax Museum is posing for photographs with their favorite stars.
Stars have been gathering on this spot since before it was the Hollywood Wax Museum - it's the former home of the Embassy Club, an... exclusive nightspot in the 1930s. It's on Hollywood Boulevard near its intersection with Highland.Continue to 17 of 17 below.
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Hollywood Boulevard Map
Print this page to take along with you, and you'll have a quick guide to the attractions and their addresses. They're listed in the same order as the photo tour.
The map above is available in an interactive form which you can use to get directions and see what else is in the area. These are the sights you will see, in order:
- Hollywood at Highland
- Dolby Theatre: 6801 Hollywood Boulevard
- Hollywood Walk of Fame Hollywood Boulevard between Gower and La Brea
- Street Performers along Hollywood Boulevard from Highland to the Chinese Theater
- Grauman's Chinese Theater: 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
- Madame Tussauds: 6933 Hollywood Boulevard
- Gateway to Hollywood: Optional, Hollywood Boulevard at La Brea
- Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: 7000 Hollywood Boulevard
- El Capitan Theater: 6838 Hollywood Boulevard
- Hollywood Museum: Side trip to 1660 N. Highland Avenue
- Ripley's Believe It or Not: 6780 Hollywood Boulevard
- Guinness Museum: 6764 Hollywood Boulevard
- Egyptian Theatre: 6712 Hollywood Boulevard
- Musso... and Frank Grill: 6667 Hollywood Boulevard Frederick's of Hollywood: 6751 Hollywood Boulevard
- Wax Museum: 6767 Hollywood Boulevard
End your tour where you started at Hollywood and Highland.