If you want to explore every nook and cranny of Hollywood, it would take you several days - but if you've only got one day, you can still enjoy the best of what it has to offer. I'm here to help you navigate the most interesting and enjoyable parts of Tinseltown, which avoiding the gaudy, mundane and just plain cheesy parts.
Charge up your camera, put on your walking shoes and gas up the car. You've got a lot of ground to cover and not much time to do it.
How to Spend Your Day in Hollywood, California
If you get up fairly early and don't dawdle, you can see all of these sights in a day.
- Take a Real Studio Tour: If you're looking for a theme park with thrill rides, go to Universal Studios, but if you want an authentic, behind-the-scenes tour that shows you how movies are made, take a tour at one of the other studios instead. The tours take about two hours and some studios are closed on the weekend.
- Farmers Market: It's not quite in Hollywood proper, but the Farmers Market is close by and a great place to get an inexpensive meal. Early risers can start their day by eating breakfast here. If you're off to a slow start, go in the early evening and enjoy a meal at one of their award-winning food stands.
- See the Hollywood Sign: You can see the Hollywood Sign from many places around Los Angeles, but a quick drive up Mulholland Drive or above the Hollywood Reservoir will reward you with a glimpse of living in the Hollywood Hills and some great city views, too. Allow about an hour for the round trip drive.
- Hollywood Bowl: If your day can extend into the night, this summer concert series is one of the best outdoor music experiences anywhere.
- Hollywood Boulevard: This is where you'll find the Hollywood Walk of Fame (sidewalk stars) and Grauman's Chinese Theater (stars' hand- and footprints), as well as the Hollywood and Highland complex, the Dolby Theatre and lots of fun Hollywood kitsch. Allow two to four hours to see it all, and while it's the one don't-miss attraction in Hollywood, go in the late afternoon and stay into the early evening if you can.
What You Won't See in Hollywood, California and Why
Even though Hollywood is a small portion of the larger Los Angeles area, you still can't see it all in a day. These are some of the popular activities that aren't included in your one-day experience:
- Sunset Strip: This section of Sunset Boulevard has a big reputation, but there's not that much to see unless you want to go to the clubs at night.
- Stars' Home Tour: We say skip it. Few of today's stars actually live in Hollywood, and much of what the guides tell you is made up or just plain wrong. There are better ways to spend your time.
- Forest Lawn or Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Unless you're a fan of old Hollywood and want to pay tribute to the stars of yesteryear, these places won't hold much interest for you.
- Universal Studios: It would take you a whole day just for Universal, and while it's a fun theme park, its studio tour is cursory and scripted.
Getting to Hollywood, California
Hollywood isn't a city, it's a Los Angeles neighborhood. The easiest way to get to Hollywood is to take US Hwy 101 (north from downtown) and exit at Highland Avenue. If you're coming from the south or west, enter 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles CA into your GPS system, which will take you the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue - or locate that same spot on your Los Angeles map and navigate yourself there.