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Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame

The best way to see Hollywood is on a walking sightseeing tour. Most of the main attractions are located within a few blocks of Mann's Chinese Theatre, on Hollywood Boulevard. The courtyard of the Chinese Theatre with its famous handprints and shoeprints of all the Hollywood celebrities since 1927, is the most popular attraction in Hollywood. If you go between noon and midnight, you can even see a current hit movie in the Theatre.

Hollywood Walk of Fame attraction in Los Angeles © Corel
The Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame honors the people who have made their mark in film, music and stage.

The Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame honors the people who have made their mark in film, music and stage with a marble star laid within the sidewalk. You can spend hours looking for your favorite stars.

ScreenSource has a complete list of all of the 180+ personalities that have left their handprints and footprints at Mann's Chinese Theater.

WalkOfFame.com has a listing of the Hollywood stars on the Walk of Fame. Search the site to find the location of your favorite celebrity's star on the Walk.

There are many guided bus tours of Hollywood and the homes of the movie stars. Most of them depart from Mann's Chinese Theatre with varying prices depending on the length of the tour. The tours can provide a good overview of the Hollywood sights. You will also see many vendors around Los Angeles selling maps to movie stars' homes. Most of those maps are outdated and inaccurate.

Hollywood Bowl Amphitheater

The Hollywood Bowl is a natural amphitheater, located in the foothills outside of Los Angeles. It is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Mikhail Baryshnikov are just a few of the legendary artists who have performed there. Various concerts are scheduled throughout the summer months, and the grounds of the bowl are open daily, all year round, for free!

The Official Hollywood Bowl site has information about the bowl's history and concert schedule. You can also purchase tickets on-line at www.hollywoodbowl.org.

Griffith Park

Griffith Park is located on the edge of Hollywood. It contains recreational facilities, a planetarium and observatory, nature areas, and various family attractions. You can take pony rides, nature hikes or scenic drives in the park. Griffith Park has a great view of the famous Hollywood sign! The planetarium and observatory offer science exhibits and various shows throughout the day and is a popular place for viewing the LA City lights at night.

The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum is located in the Griffith Park area, and presents the history of the western migration across the US. Exhibits include clothing, weapons and tools from the "old west" with excerpts from old Hollywood "cowboy movies." The official site for the Gene Autry Museum is www.autry.com/museum.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery, where some of Hollywood's famous stars have been laid to rest, is also nearby. In this park, you can see many marble and bronze statues as well as a museum of Mexican History.

Los Angeles Zoo

The Los Angeles Zoo has more than 1,500 animals, birds and reptiles in natural habitat settings. It is located near the junction of the Golden State and Ventura Freeways inside Griffith Park. The Tram is a good way to travel around the park. Be sure to see Adventure Island, a new children's zoo that showcases animals native to the Southwestern United States. Admission to the zoo is about $8. Ask if any discounts are available! For more information, visit the Los Angeles Zoo web site at www.lazoo.org.

Hollywoood Bowl Amphitheater © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
The Hollywood Bowl is a natural amphitheater, located in the foothills outside of Los Angeles.

La Brea Tar Pits

The Rancho La Brea Tar Pits have been featured in many Hollywood films. For about forty thousand years, the pits have been emitting thick, sticky asphalt that has trapped and preserved many prehistoric plants and animals. From the observation platform, you can view replicas of extinct mammals stuck in the bubbling tar. In the George C. Page Museum of LaBrea Discoveries, located next to the pits, you can view actual fossils recovered from the pits and learn more about the site. The web site for the museum can be found at www.tarpits.org.

Television and Movie Studio Tours

Many famous movie studios and television production studios are located in Los Angeles, especially around Hollywood and Burbank. Some of the television and movie studios offer public tours. This is a great way to get a "behind-the-scenes" look at movie magic. Warner Brothers, Paramount and Universal (as part of their theme park) as well as the NBC and CBS television networks all offer tours. Admission prices vary.

You can get tickets to see the taping of a popular sitcom or talk show by going to Universal City early in the morning. The NBC network has a booth at the park where they hand out free tickets for the Tonight Show featuring Jay Leno. Inside the park, studios have booths to recruit the audience for the sitcoms. You can also check Audience Unlimited Ticket Line for a listing of the various studios and tours: www.tvtickets.com/default.htm.

Amusement and Theme Parks

There are four large amusement or theme parks in the Los Angeles area:

The largest and most popular is Disneyland, located in Anaheim. It has more than 60 major attractions. For more information, visit http://disneyland.disney.go.com/.

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Universal Studios, in Universal City, offers a two-part tour that begins with a demonstration of movie production. The second part features live shows and thrilling rides with themes from Universal's most popular movies, including Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, and ET. Visit Universal Studio's web site at themeparks.universalstudios.com.

Six Flags Magic Mountain, in Valencia, is a Warner Brothers theme park with more than 100 rides, shows and attractions. Much of the entertainment features Warner Brothers cartoon characters and movies. For additional details, visit SixFlags.com.

Knott's Berry Farm, in Buena Park, is America's first theme amusement park. It recreates the atmosphere of the Old West, and features live entertainment, rides and shopping. For more information, visit their site at www.knotts.com.

The Southern California Beaches

Santa Monica is located on the Pacific Ocean about 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. On the Third Street Promenade, you can find interesting shops, charming outdoor cafes and entertaining street performers. The famous Santa Monica Beach is a short walk from the town center.

Venice Beach, just south of Santa Monica, is famous for its unique, slightly offbeat culture. The shore is lined with little shops selling everything from trendy, inexpensive clothing to tattoos! "Muscle Beach" is an outdoor gym next to the ocean where many California "Hunks" work out, and the shore sidewalk is great for viewing beautiful "California girls" rollerblading in bikinis. Street performers seem to create a stage anywhere they find a bare patch of sand, grass or sidewalk!

If you prefer a beach where you can relax in the sun away from the tourist crowds, go north or south of the city. Local residents of Los Angeles go to Laguna, Zuma, Malibu, and Pacific Palisades for a break from the city. These beaches are usually cleaner and have less of the tourist attractions.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Photo Description: Venice Beach