Hollywood – the home of the stars – is both exactly what you’d expect, and a surprisingly new experience, so it can be very overwhelming to say the least. Most people living in the city will tell you this, so for tourists visiting for just a weekend, ‘overwhelming’ is an understatement. Like our favorite flower, our simple guide to the top Hollywood destinations will ease this stress and make your experience less like a visit and more like a weekend at home.
1. Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Santa Monica Blvd. and Gower St.
A cemetery is no one’s ideal stop, but when it’s home to the likes of Judy Garland, Cecile B. DeMille, and Johnny Ramone, it tops any list of tourist attractions. Aside from these celebrities, Hollywood Forever has also become home to a number of events, including Cinespia’s outdoor summer movie screenings.
Universal Studios in Los Angeles is unlike the other three Universal theme parks in the world because it is both a theme park and a film studio. While visitors are enjoying all the movie themed rides – and Harry Potter themed world – they can also tour the studio to take a look behind the scenes of all their favorite movies and TV shows. If you’re lucky, Halloween Horror Nights will align with your visit, so you can walk through terrifying mazes that bring the most frightening films and shows to life.
Spotify, Tidal, and the Internet has replaced all physical music records and CDs except for Amoeba Music, quite possibly one of the only record stores still in existence. Since 1990, Amoeba has welcomed independent music lovers, making it the world’s largest independent record store. For the music and pop culture collectors, Amoeba also offers a selection of vintage items, most of which are posted on their walls, which are covered in concert posters and artifacts.
The Observatory is technically part of Los Feliz, but this L.A. landmark is an essential part of any ‘Hollywood’ visit. The best time to visit is at night, because you’ll see the most stunning views with all the city lights and stars twinkling. Inside you’ll also find some stunning sights with all the exhibits including the Planetarium, Foucault pendulum, and telescopes.
Before running around L.A. to visit all these must-see attractions, be sure to carbo-load with this must-eat Italian American joint Jon & Vinny’s. This pasta staple has became the place to bring your kids for a big Italian mean, but also the place where you’ll find Mindy Kaling and other celebrities indulging in some of the finest carbs. But if that isn’t enough, be sure to order their spicy fusilli pasta.
No trip to Los Angeles is really a trip to Los Angeles without a hike. Everyone living in Los Angeles will tell you this, but what they won’t tell you is which hike is worth your time, sweat, and years… no hike will actually take that long, but if you choose the wrong one it’ll certainly feel like it – which is why we recommend the Wisdom Tree in the Hollywood Hills. This is a difficult hike requiring lots of water, sunscreen, and pictures once you get to the top which overlooks seemingly all of Los Angeles. Then, if this picturesque view isn’t enough, the trail leads to the Hollywood sign for even more pictures.
The Magic Castle is the most mysterious place in L.A., quite possibly because the hardest trick is getting into the private club. Once entry is granted into this Gothic mansion, guests can enjoy a night of mind blowing magic and illusions, paired with a delicious and theatrical meal overlooking Hollywood.
After walking through the mess that is Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame, you’ll find the famous Chinese Theater easily when you see a whole flock of other tourists taking pictures on the ground and of the ground. Most people visit the theater for this courtyard area, which is covered with 200 imprints of celebrity hands and feet, but you can avoid the crowd by catching a movie inside.
This Japanese palace – with spectacular views overlooking all of Hollywood – was originally built in the 1920s as a private Asian art museum. After getting passed from one owner to the next, Yamashiro eventually became the famous Japanese restaurant that it is today, with beautiful architecture surrounded by an equally beautiful garden, pagoda, and free farmer’s market if you visit during the summer months.
Farmer’s Markets have become popular everywhere during summer months, but the Melrose Trading Post has become a year-round staple in Los Angeles. Open every Sunday to the public, for an eclectic selection of arts and crafts, vintage fashion, antique furniture, and more treasures from hundreds of local vendors.
11. In-N-Out Burger – Every street corner
Somewhere in our bylaws you’ll read that the city of Los Angeles will not let you leave without trying a burger from the famous In-N-Out. The burger chain has become a cult favorite in L.A. and really all locations on the West Coast and Southwest, so don’t even dare bad mouth the burger empire. Chances are you won’t bad mouth the joint because you’ll be too busy stuffing your mouth with animal style everything.