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Friday, July 27, 2012

How to do Hollywood

A typical tourist spends one minute taking a picture of the Hollywood sign and then spends a day meandering the crazily-overrated Hollywood Boulevard (presumably in search of celebrity?). Oh dear tourists, you have it all backward! Instead, spend your time getting up close and personal with the famed Hollywood sign, and then all you need is an hour of "check-it-off-my-tourism-list" time on Hollywood Boulevard. (And if you want a truly awesome Hollywood experience, top the night off with a concert at the storied Hollywood Bowl. But that's a whole 'nother post.) Trust me on this, okay?

The Hollywood sign is so much more "Hollywood" than a touristy street could ever be. Its roots date back to the golden age of Hollywood and it has been in dozens of movies and television shows since. If you care at all about seeing the sign, hiking to it is the best way by far!
The trail starts at Sunset Ranch and takes you all the way above the sign with a a few great photo-ops on your way up. From the top, you can look down at the massive "billboard" and, as an added bonus, you'll be rewarded with amazing views of Los Angeles. Plus, if you care about this kind of thing, quite a few actors live in the area so your odds of a celebrity sighting on this trail have to be higher than on Hollywood Boulevard. I've been to Hollywood & Highland probably 15 times and I'm 0/15 there, but I'm batting 100% in celebrity sightings on that trail! Turns out it's a lovely secluded place to take your baby for a stroll.
Of course, I totally get that you can't come to Hollywood without seeing the Walk of Fame or Grauman's Chinese Theater. Here's the deal. Park at Hollywood & Highland (it's a mall named after the intersection that it calls home) and pick up a free validation from the information desk near the Kodak Theater. You're welcome. The Oscars are held in the Kodak Theater, so take note of the "Best Picture" winners from each year on the pillars as you head down the stairs from the mall to Hollywood Boulevard. Then head out onto the Walk of Fame to find your favorite star. If you're not in the mood to stroll around big crowds for hours, you can google a map of where your favorite stars' stars are located before you go. If you do end up going for a stroll, be sure to grab a hot dog at Pink's on La Brea.

Once you've had your photo op, head over to Grauman's to check out the hand- and foot-prints of Hollywood classics and today's most popular stars. Grauman's is right next to Hollywood & Highland, so it's easy to hop in your car and enjoy the traffic as soon as you're done! If you have time to kill and are in the mood for an overpriced, cheesy, yet also rather entertaining good time, you can make a pit stop at Madame Tussauds before you head out. Nothing like wax celebrities to make your Hollywood tour complete! Although, you could always save some dough by posing with "superheroes" on the street... Oh boy. That boulevard always seems to attract the crazies. Interesting people-watching, for sure.

We did the hike, traffic, and Hollywood Boulevard in about 5 laid-back hours total, so you're good to plan on just a fun afternoon for the experience. Any questions?


  1. How fun! I'm curious...who have you seen on your hikes?!

  2. So glad that you posted this! This in on our to-do list next time we go to southern CA. Def. going to bookmark it so I can refresh my head before we go. How long does the hike up to the Hollywood sign take? Or how many miles is it?

  3. Stacie- Yay! You should totally do it -- if even just for the awesome views! Just cross your fingers for a less-smoggy day. It's about 4 miles roundtrip, and it's an easy uphill. Just beware of the horse droppings on the first little stretch before the trail splits! I think we spent about two hours, and that including a lot of hanging out and enjoying the view.

    Nicole- No one "big" on the hikes :) When we hiked with my family, Connie Britton from Friday Night Lights and Spin City was on the trail with her newly-adopted baby. My favorite random-celebrity sighting was watching Fantasmic right next to Mitchell from Modern Family. (Actually, we've seen a couple celebrities at Disneyland -- go figure!) But the best by far was having dinner with a bunch of A-listers at the Critics Choice Awards. I'm not one to care much about celebrities, but I must admit that being so close to Meryl Streep and the like was pretty cool.

  4. Hey Ash,
    Was wondering if you have a email for your blog, so I could pick your brain about your Hawaii trip. Not sure if you're comfortable emailing with a virtual stranger & therefore not willing to give it out. If you don't remember me, I was the one who spotted Matt's Bayern München sticker on his backpack =) Also, so sorry to hear about your grandpa. He sounds like an amazing man! You were definitely blessed to have such a great grandpa to look up too. And, I can't believe how big your lil Jake is getting.

  5. How fun that your fam visited before your move! I agree with you about escaping the crowded touristy areas. That hike looks incredible and so much better than wandering around the crowded streets with other tourists! Now I'm so curious about all your celebrity sightings. :) I have the worst luck with that, I need to keep a better eye out.

  6. Nina- Of course I remember you :) I'd love to help out! Fair warning: life is beyond crazy right now with our move coming up, so my response time might be a little slow. My e-mail is ashleylovesmatt at gmail.com

    Ang- I'm the worst at noticing those types of things and probably wouldn't recognize Brad Pitt on the street if I were on my own. Any time I've seen anyone famous, it's because someone I was with pointed them out, and then I'm like, "Oh yeah!" (With the exception of Mitchell -- whatever his real name is -- because we'd just watched Modern Family.) Like with the Friday Night Lights girl this day. We passed her pushing her baby in a stroller, said "hi," and then Heidi was like, "Do you know who that was?" And Matt was like, "You're right!" So we googled her to see if Heidi was right, and sure enough, she'd just adopted a little boy from Africa. I'd be the worst groupie/paparazzi ever.

    Oh! And it was way fun to have them out here, although this was actually back in June for Coley's reception. But hey, I'll take it! My siblings have plans to visit here soon, though, so that will be great :)

  7. So I have a photographic memory.. trust me I WISH it came in handy with handsome men of my dreams; I would of loved to have seen HIM on the trail, but alas my powers are unpredictable and I always spot people I could care less of in the " I hope you have a good life, but it doesn't matter to me that you are a celebrity, kind of way ." I loved the hike though, I though it was a perfect spur of the moment-way to elevate what everyone else does- afternoon activity, and a nice transition to the touristy sites of the stars and theater.


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