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Yes, there really is a neighborhood called Hollywood. It’s about 3 miles south of Universal City. The real Hollywood is a down-on-the-luck town way past its prime especially during the day. Other than its famous few blocks, for those that do not want to see behind the “curtain,” it’s best to stick to famous streets.

Classic Hollywood is brimming with traces and faces of the stars. Take a snapshot of the famous Hollywood and Vine intersection, then stroll down Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame and pay homage to your favorite movie star’s plaque glimmering on the sidewalk.The stars certainly have left their marks at nearby Mann’s Chinese Theater. Here, you can match foot and handprints with the famous in this landmark’s walkway.

As you exit the freeway, the Hollywood Bowl is hidden in the hills to your right and a few blocks away is the famous CAPITOL RECORDS round building (that resembles a stack of records) that we know. At that point you are at the famous HOLLYWOOD & VINE. A few blocks to your right is the (Graumann’s) Mann’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood WALK OF FAME. They also added a new mall and the now-famous KODAK THEATER where the Academy Awards are now permanently. The JIMMY KIMMEL SHOW also tapes across the street. While they have fixed up the neighborhood a bit and the streets with the theaters are packed day and night – the other streets are still a bit shady at night so the tourist stuff is best done by day.  

A short walk down Hollywood Boulevard is the new Hollywood Entertainment Museum where you can see how movies and TV shows are put together and actually sit in Capt. Kirk’s chair on the Enterprise or Norm’s at Cheers. Alternatively, a couple blocks south is HOLLYWOOD HIGH SCHOOL. Going south to Melrose Avenue, if you turn left, you will soon hit PARAMOUNT. The gates are instantly recognizable but no tours. There is the HOLLYWOOD CEMETARY by Paramount Studios. There are also many other TV studios in the area but from the outside, they pretty much just look like office buildings. If you turn right on Melrose and then turn left on Fairfax, you can see CBS TELEVISION CENTER (more TV show tapings).

If you don’t catch a glimpse of a real-life celebrity at an L.A. hangout, stare as long as you want at the still-life stand-ins at the Hollywood Wax Museum. The vintage ads and glamour photos at the Max Factor Museum of Beauty show you the magic and sizzle that make the stars shimmer. Or, feel the excitement of movie-making on a tour of Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

About 10 miles west is Century City. It used to all belong to Fox but they had to sell it – allegedly to pay off debts from the production of Cleopatra. You can see glimpses of the Fox lot (no tour) and on the AVENUE of THE STARS is the famous “Nakatomi” building from DIE HARD (now known as the Fox Tower). AVENUE of the STARS also is west coast HQ’s for most cable companies and ABC (no tours). Nearby in Culver City is Sony & MGM (no tours and not much of a back lot). Now, you can overlay the next-level tourist destinations while you’re visiting some of the entertainment related sites.

One of the first upscale gay communities, it is not really so defined now. People of all persuasion call it home – but only if you’re wealthy and stylish :- ) The famous Sunset Strip is in the area. It is not surprisingly full of great restaurants and star watching (original Wolfgang Puck’s Spago’s is here).

Above West Hollywood and further west, this is where the famous and rich houses in the hill start. A daytime driving activity for those so inclined.

Up in the hills are some still-famous restaurants and it’s a fun (if hidden) drive to the Hollywood Reservoir. At night, there are some 30-40 clubs in the area. Pick up a copy of the LA WEEKLY to get an idea of what’s going on.

The Hollywood Hills also are home to the world’s largest outdoor amphitheater, the Hollywood Bowl, which features outdoor concerts all summer long. Of course, you can always go tourist, buy a map to the stars on a street corner and cruise past the driveways of the rich and famous.

South of West Hollywood is the segment of Melrose Avenue made famous. It really just runs from about 3rd Street to Fairfax – full of one-of-a-kind-shopping, it is less unique than it once was but still fun to check out. A few blocks south is on Fairfax is the Farmer’s Market (Next to CBS TV Center noted above) along with L.A.’s latest upscale mall – the Grove. A few blocks south is the La Brea Tar Pits and the LA County Museum. Forget the fancy restaurants – stop by Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffle House! (not really on Melrose but in the area). There are also more 3-star/4-star restaurants in the area (not on Melrose itself) so pick up a ZAGAT guide to see what fits your bill. Again, everything from a $3 lunch to $300 lunch is in the area. 



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