A Travellerspoint blog

In La La Land

California day fourteen

View California 1991 on ToonSarah's travel map.


We took advantage of several vending machines at the motel to have breakfast in our room (coffee and Danish pastries), and were able to make an early start to our sightseeing.

On Hollywood Boulevard

2017 comment: Chris took this photo in part because at the time his father owned an army surplus store in Gateshaed and we knew he would be interested to see the sign on this one

Firstly we drove to the centre of the Hollywood area where we found a convenient car park. We set off to walk along Hollywood Boulevard, starting at the famous junction of Hollywood and Vine. As with most of the area, it was very obvious that the glamourous film industry had moved on, leaving a very ordinary, scruffy street by LA standards – but full of interest to us. We saw the Capitol Records Tower, which was designed to look like a stack of records.

Capitol Records Tower

We then followed the Walk of Fame – stars set into the sidewalk bearing the name of a famous movie or singing star.

The Walk of Fame


Further along the street we came to the very swish Roosevelt Hotel, where we had a coffee in the Stargazer’s Café, before crossing the road to the famous sight opposite, Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The morning had started dull but by now the sun was breaking through the smog and we were able to take some photos of the exotic architecture.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

However we spent most of our time spotting our favourites among the many stars who have left their hand- and foot-prints in the concrete in the forecourt. These included Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, the Marx Brothers and Jimmy Durante (with a nose-print!)

At Grauman’s Chinese Theater

We then walked back along Hollywood Boulevard, stopping off at several shops selling old movie magazines, scripts and posters. We also went in a fascinating (but expensive) shop selling autographed photos of the stars. I would have loved to have bought the one of Bogart and Bacall but it would have doubled the cost of the holiday at a stroke!

On Hollywood Boulevard

When we got back to the car we drove up into the Hollywood Hills area, where we parked in a side street recommended in a guidebook as giving an excellent view of the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, which it did.

That sign

After taking some photos and admiring the smart houses we drove over to West Hollywood and again found free, easy parking just off Melrose Avenue.

On Melrose Ave

This was a very different Hollywood from the faded stardom further east – young, rather zany, with an odd assortment of shops and fewer tourists. We had lunch in a strange Japanese shop-cum-sandwich bar, and coffee in a café with a good photo exhibition on the walls (pictures of various places in California, including Mono Lake). In between we strolled around and peered into various weird ‘antique’ shops (mostly fifties memorabilia and old movie props such as monsters). We also spotted several interesting restaurants and decided to return for dinner in the evening.




On Melrose Ave

Our next visit for the afternoon was to Beverley Hills, and our parking this time was in typical LA style – valet parking. We saw the famous Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, and took a guided tour on a sightseeing trolley. This took us past very expensive-looking houses (including the homes of several stars) and also the Beverley Hills Hotel.

On Rodeo Drive

Beverley Hills palms

Next we returned to our car and drove up into this ultra-smart area to go ‘star home spotting’. We found the houses of Jack Benny (which used to feature on his TV show), Lucile Ball and James Stewart (the latter still lives here).

2017 comment: not any longer – James Stewart died in July 1997, six years after our visit, here in his home in Beverley Hills.

James Stewart's home

Jack Benny's home

We also saw the house which William Hearst gave to Marion Davies – lovely, but hardly a patch on his own San Simeon which we had visited near the start of the trip.

Marion Davies house

Our first Cuban restaurant

In fact, all the homes, while large and very attractive, were not quite the palatial mansions we had expected. Still, the lawns were clustered with boards advertising the presence of alarms, the streets were patrolled by security guards, and the only other people to be seen were tourists like ourselves. It felt very exclusive.

To return to Melrose Avenue for the evening we drove along the iconic Sunset Strip, only slightly smarter than our own stretch of Sunset Boulevard. We chose a Cuban restaurant for our last dinner in the States – a chance to try something different. We enjoyed our meal, and also enjoyed watching the waiter’s one-man campaign against a curious pigeon that kept wandering into the restaurant!

We then drove back to the motel for our last evening’s viewing of US TV, including catching a few games of tennis slotted among the Wimbledon showers.

Total miles for day: 37

Posted by ToonSarah 00:36 Tagged road_trip california houses city film hollywood

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


California is amazing. Nice article.


Yes, we plan to go back some time soon (which was one trigger for writing up this old diary!) Thanks for your interest Adam :)

by ToonSarah

Next time, forget the glam and visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Getty, the Norton Simon in Pasadena and the Huntington. They are all amazing and the main reason we like LA better than San Francisco.

by Beausoleil

Thanks for the tips Sally. I have to say though that because we have so many great museums and galleries in London we're inclined to neglect them in other cities (perhaps unfairly). But only LA has Hollywood, so that had to be our top priority :)

by ToonSarah

Good memories hey :) Love the pic with Hollywood sign!

by aussirose

Great write up Sarah.

by Wabat

Thanks Ann and Albert, and sorry for the delay in acknowledging your visits and comments - the email alerts aren't working again :(

by ToonSarah

Never visited LA, many say it is overrated ... is it???

by Ils1976

Hard to say Ils. I liked some parts (Melrose Avenue, Venice Beach, the old Mexican area downtown) but was underwhelmed by others. It's so big and varied that you'd be almost certain to find a part to appeal to you but that also means there will be parts you like less. I would certainly recommend including it if touring California as there are so many iconic sights!

by ToonSarah

Have to remember this one Sarah, thanks for the advice. USA is not on my immediate list to travel, but I hope to revisit in 10 years time of if Mr. C leaves the world as soon as possible! :)

by Ils1976

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.