Hollywood Boulevard is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles and has become legendary for attracting famous actors and celebrities, as well as appearing in multiple films.
With tons of famous landmarks, things to do, and the potential for celebrity sightings, a trip to this famed stretch of road in the Hollywood neighborhood is a great addition to your vacation to Los Angeles. The section of Hollywood Boulevard that appeals to tourists runs between La Brea Ave. and Vine St., which is a little more than a mile long and is home to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and the Hollywood and Highland shopping and dining complex.
Nowadays, the only stars you're likely to find on the streets are the ones set into the sidewalks on the Walk of Fame, 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. However, celebrities still come to Hollywood Boulevard for movie premiers, ceremonies for new sidewalk stars, or to press 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 with streets packed with gawking visitors snapping photos. However, it's also the epicenter of Old Hollywood history, with lots to see and do, making it worth the visit—especially if it's your first time in LA.
Hollywood and Highland Center
The best place to start a tour of Hollywood Boulevard is where it intersects with Highland St., the heart of the Hollywood renaissance and a tribute to its rich history. It's the busiest spot on the boulevard and also one of LA's most dangerous intersections, with distracted tourists sometimes getting hit by cars when stepping into the street out of turn.
To get into the Hollywood and Highland Center from the Boulevard, take the steps across from the El Capitan, but if you enter from the underground parking, go to level 2 and walk out into the courtyard. Pillars topped with elephants tower over the main plaza, a tribute to the set of D. W. Griffith's classic film, "Intolerance." Be sure to also look down to read the stories along the Road To Hollywood, set into the walk with mosaic tiles. These quotes are from people who came to make their fortunes in Hollywood, from camera operators to mega-stars.
This venue was previously called the Kodak Theatre, but now it's sponsored by a different film industry icon and named the Dolby Theatre instead. This live performance auditorium is technically part of the Hollywood and Highland Center, so you can get to it by walking through the corridor in the back of the Center, 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 one of the traveling shows that performs here.
Walk of Fame
The Walk of Fame covers the sidewalks along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower and La Brea Streets, so you'll be walking on it for most of your tour. The Walk of Fame is made up of hundreds of starred tiles with the names of celebrities who have made their mark on the movie industry in Los Angeles.
It's a wonder more people don't run into one another while looking for their favorite actor's tile, but you'll also want to remember to look up so you can see the numbered banner signs that give interesting information about the area's history. If you're looking for your favorite stars, there are also maps available at tourist shops that can guide you to your favorite celebrity's tile to snap a quick picture.
When it comes to people watching, Hollywood Boulevard — along with Venice Beach — is the best place to catch a mixture of tourists, locals, and street performers sharing the sidewalk with one another. Whether you just want to relax while watching passersby or you're hoping to catch a celebrity sighting, you can always get an overhead view of the action from the second level of the Hollywood and High Center.
A bevy of street performers dressed up as film and cartoon characters can also 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 we suggest just walking away from anyone who hassles you.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
The forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre is filled with handprints, footprints, and other prints of celebrities that include Jimmy Durante's nose and Whoopi Goldberg's dreadlocks, making it an important stop on a historical tour of Hollywood Boulevard.
The Chinese-style movie theatre behind the court is an elegant, 1927 Hollywood 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.
You can spend a few minutes inside before the lights go down to truly take in Grauman's over-the-top ornamentation. However, you should be careful at the box office as only one of the several screens here is in the original theatre.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
Everyone from the President of the United States to Jack Sparrow the pirate is modeled in wax at this Hollywood staple, which opened in 2009. With locations in London, New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Washington, D.C., Madame Tussauds has garnered international acclaim for its lifelike depictions of celebrities. As a result, this may be your best opportunity in Las Angeles to get a picture with your favorite celebrity — even if it's just a strikingly convincing replica.
What makes the Hollywood Madame Tussauds special is that it has a unique "Back Lot" setup where stars can be seen hard at work in recreations of film sets from famous Hollywood movies including "Edward Scissorhands," "Kill Bill," and "E.T." Another featured exhibit is an homage to pop icons including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Selena Quintanilla, or you can make your way past the red carpet to an A-list party featuring Betty White, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Snoop Dogg.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
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 20th 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.
Gateway to Hollywood
At La Brea Street and Hollywood Boulevard, you can snap a quick picture of the "Four Ladies of Hollywood," which is also known as the Gateway to Hollywood. This structure was built to honor the multi-ethnic leading ladies who were famous during the Golden Age of Hollywood films. The four pillars are supported by the likenesses of Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna Mae Wong, and Dolores Del Rio, and the statue is topped by a weather vane modeled after Marilyn Monroe.
El Capitan Theater
El Capitan Theater is a Disney-owned movie theater showing the first runs of their newest films. Located just before you get to Highland Ave. at 6838 Hollywood Blvd., next door to the Disney Soda Fountain, the El Capitan has a lovely, restored box office and interior.
This movie theater isn't like most, though, because along with the typical previews before the main film, El Capitan puts on a lively pre-show. However, as a result, prices are very high compared to other movie houses in the area.
The pink-colored, art deco-styled building just off Hollywood Boulevard on Highland Ave. was once the headquarters of cosmetics company Max Factor. Today, it's the Hollywood Museum, which claims to have the world's most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia.
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 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. However, the Hollywood Museum may not be the best place for youngsters as much of the emphasis is on the Hollywood of yesteryear.
Ripley's Believe It or Not
Like Madame Toussads, Ripley's Believe It or Not is a chain of establishments with museums all around the country dedicated to the most bizarre and unusual records and artifacts in the world. Ripley's is hard to miss when walking down Hollywood Boulevard because there's a gigantic dinosaur on the roof, but it's located just past Highland Ave. 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 and exhibits.
Also like Ripley's and Madame Tussauds, Guinness Museums can be found in various cities around the country, but the Hollywood location brings the world-famed book of records to life in fun and unique ways. Here, you can take your picture with a replica of the world's tallest man, see the largest work of art, and see if you can break the world record for the longest long jump.
The Egyptian Theatre offers public tours and screens independent, rare, and classic films as well as a 55-minute documentary called "Forever Hollywood" they produced to celebrate the community's rich history.
The Egyptian Theatre obviously gets its name from its pharaoh-themed design and decor, but it's also served as an important part of Hollywood's 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 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. However, the Egyptian Theatre got an extensive renovation in the late 1990s and is now 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 the interior walls still bear Egyptian decoration.
Musso and Frank Grill
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, but the leather-upholstered mahogany booths are great for a private tete-a-tete. Waiters here still wear ties and red jackets, and the menu is as old-fashioned as their attire, boasting items such as stuffed celery appetizers and Jell-O for dessert.
Past Cherokee Ave., 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.
Hollywood Wax Museum
The Hollywood Wax Museum is an old-style Hollywood attraction leftover from the Boulevard's less-than-glitzy past that's celebrated as the longest-running wax museum in the United States. Interestingly enough, stars have been gathering on this spot since it was the Embassy Club, an exclusive nightspot in the 1930s.
Like Madame Tussauds, the Hollywood Wax Museum features over 300 lifelike figures made from wax and painstakingly fitted with makeup, hair, and costumes and arranged in settings from their most famous performances. New celebrities are added regularly at the Hollywood Wax Museum, but each one may take months to create.
Hollywood Boulevard Map
Here's a quick guide to the attractions and their addresses, which are listed in the same order as the photo tour above. 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
- Grauman's Chinese Theater: 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
- Madame Tussauds: 6933 Hollywood Boulevard
- Gateway to Hollywood: Hollywood Boulevard at La Brea
- Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: 7000 Hollywood Boulevard
- El Capitan Theater: 6838 Hollywood Boulevard
- Hollywood Museum: Side trip to 1660 North 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
- Wax Museum: 6767 Hollywood Boulevard
End your tour where you started at Hollywood and Highland.
Whether or not you choose to follow our guide along Hollywood Boulevard, there are a few tried and true tips to improve your time spent in this thriving Los Angeles district.
- 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, so check to see if there are any movie premieres or celebrity appearances scheduled during your vacation.
- If you want to take photos with the dressed-up characters on the street, they're actually trying to make a living, so be sure to bring some small bills for tips.
- If you want to take a tour of the Dolby Theatre, head to their box office when you first arrive on Hollywood Boulevard, then organize the rest of your day around your scheduled tour time.
- The Go Los Angeles Card offers a lot of attractions at a very reasonable price.
- The famous Tours of Stars' Homes tour bus departs from in front of Grauman's Theatre, but few stars actually live within driving distance of Hollywood Boulevard. It's better to take the Beverly Hills Trolley Tour or Dearly Departed Tours for a real look at celebrity homes.
How to Get There
Hollywood Boulevard is west of downtown Los Angeles and accessible from Interstate 10 (exit La Brea Blvd. North), Interstate 110 (exit Hollywood Blvd. West), but US Highway 101 provides the easiest access via the Highland Ave. exit south.
You can 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. The Starbucks coffee shop near the back of the main court and the food cart on the l ower level near the escalator are both inexpensive options you can use to validate your parking pass.
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.