Los Angeles Tour: Hollywood
The arrival of motion picture studios in the 1910’s turned this once sleepy hamlet of citrus groves into “Tinseltown”–the original nerve center of the film industry. Since then, the neighborhood has been through numerous “costume changes” from its glamorous Golden Age in the 1920’s through '40’s to the hard-partying, glam rock '80’s. Following a period of slow decline that culminated in the '90’s, recent revitalization projects have restored Tinseltown's sparkle. Though the main drag Hollywood Boulevard is still dominated by shops of the trinket and tattoo variety, gentrification has brought world-class shopping, destination dining, and hot nightlife–and it's still one of the best places in town to catch a movie.
Built around the 1960’s Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, the legendary ArcLight cinemas returns the glitz and glamour to the movie-going experience with 15 state-of-the-art screens, top-quality sound systems, assigned armchair-like seating with plenty of leg room, and spoken movie introductions that are occasionally given by the movie’s director. ArcLight also has a gift shop, costume displays, and a restaurant and bar that features regularly scheduled 21+ screenings for those who prefer to watch movies with a martini in hand.
Amoeba Music, LA
Located on legendary Sunset Boulevard, Amoeba Music is a proverbial mecca for stereophiles in Los Angeles. The store is a monument to vinyl, with over 250,000 titles in LP and EP formats and a similarly breathtaking inventory of CDs, DVDs, BluRay discs, and even cassettes (remember those?). Titles range from every genre and era imaginable, so no matter your taste, you're sure to find something that catches your fancy. The extensive selection of used items means you won't have to break the bank, and you can unload used albums for cash or store credit—if you can bear to part with them.
Musso & Frank Grill
Founded in 1919, this landmark eatery is located in its original spot along the star-inlayed sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. The bar is known for its martinis, and steaks and chops dominate the dinner menu, along with items like calf’s sweetbreads, turkey á la king, and Welsh rarebit. The waiters, many of whom have worked at the restaurant for decades, serve in bowties and red jackets. The dark leather booths, glossy wood bar, and telephone booth all contribute to the Old Hollywood feel of the restaurant, which is still owned and operated co-founder John Musso's family.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Original Debut: In 1927, theater developer Sid Grauman set out to do no less than create the most opulent movie palace the world had ever known. America’s fascination with the Orient led him to adopt a Chinese theme, with authentic temple bells and pagodas imported from the country itself and a 90-foot-high entryway guarded by a giant hand-carved dragon.
Now Showing: Some four million annual visitors still come to pay their respects to the theater’s glitzy Chinese statuary, copper-topped turrets, and infamous Walk of Fame (where Marilyn Monroe’s delicate pump-prints, Brad Pitt’s handprints, and scores of others are preserved in the cement outside). Its iconic status makes it a shoo-in for film premieres (He’s Just Not That Into You, The Wrestler, and Che all had their first showings there).
Space 15 Twenty
Hollywood goes hipster at this carefully curated retail complex. Anchored by Urban Outfitters, the collection of boutiques ranged around the brick-accented courtyard include Free People (funky duds), Hennessy + Ingalls (art and architecture bookstore), and Pharmacy Board Shop (skateboards and sneaks). A rotating pop-up art/fashion shop, outpost of Umami Burger, and performance space hosting everything from film screenings to dance classes make this as much a spot for plugging into the local scene as for shopping.
The Hotel Cafe
The Hotel Cafe is an anomaly along the Cahuenga Corridor cocktailing mecca: it’s a place where softly strummed guitars trump earsplitting dance beats and drinks are sipped, not pounded. Originally a coffeehouse with musical acts, it’s grown into an intimate lounge and full bar that’s a well-known launching pad for singer-songwriters (think John Mayer, Jason Mraz, and KT Tunstall). Come early to score one of the few tables and nibble on a grilled panini or two before the show.