Starline Sightseeing Tours essentially operates an entire network of double-decker bus circuits across the city, from Downtown to Santa Monica. Unlike most full-day tours, you’ve never been held hostage to a particular itinerary. Buses arrive at most major tourist attractions across the city every 20 to 30 minutes, so feel free to avoid awful spots and linger in more interesting ones (the Hollywood-West Hollywood-Beverly Hills loop clocks in at just under two hours). Between attractions, faux Robin Leach narration pumps through headphone jacks at every seat. The ritzy British accent lends extra hilarity as it recounts Hollywood lore, like the El Pollo Loco where Brad Pitt used to dress up as a chicken, or the liquor store where Guns N’ Roses used to get sloshed. That the narration plays through headphones offers two other possibilities: the ability to change the narration language for both practical purposes and entertainment value, or a completely quiet, narration-free ride. Promotional wraps on the bus obscure the view from the interior, lower level, but the view from the open-air, upper level is unexpectedly fantastic. Even for locals, it provides a fresh vantage point that really highlights the natural and architectural beauty of L.A.’s more attractive areas.
Hollywood tours are in no short supply, from the open-top vans that line the Hollywood Walk of Fame to intimate walking tours. At their best, they take the guesswork out of exploring major tourist attractions and celebrity hangouts, and can sometimes offer an offbeat look at Hollywood history. But finding a perfect route is a challenge, especially when most Hollywood tours barely even take place in Hollywood; in fact, most are excursions through West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip as well as Beverly Hills.
We’ll be honest: Enterprising visitors are better off with a DIY approach. A smartphone, a Metro pass, and a ride-hailing app cost far less than a proper tour, and you’ll be able to tackle everything at your own pace.
But if you’re looking for a bit more hand-holding and have upwards of $40 to spare, a couple of quality options do exist for Hollywood tours. So we hopped aboard Tinseltown’s top tour buses to find you the best tours through L.A.’s most famous neighborhoods.
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