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Hollywood Bowl Overlook
Photograph: Michael Juliano

24 Hollywood tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss

Hollywood attractions can be overwhelming (and often disappointing), so stick to these iconic L.A. movie theaters, hotels, restaurants and landmarks

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
Contributor
Krista Diamond
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Hollywood boasts an international reputation like no other neighborhood in Los Angeles. But ask your average Angeleno what they think of it and you’ll likely be met with groans. Yes, it’s busy, touristy and often in disrepair. But parts of Hollywood still sparkle with gems of old glamorous hotels and celebrity hangouts along with an emerging urban cityscape and working production scene. Follow our guide to what to see in Hollywood and tour the iconic movie town’s must-visit attractions along with a few stops away from the crowds on the Walk of Fame and Sunset Boulevard.

RECOMMENDED: Read more things to do in Hollywood 
RECOMMENDED: The best Hollywood tours

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The best Hollywood attractions to visit

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This gorgeous outdoor amphitheatre has been hosting concerts since the LA Philharmonic first played here in 1922. Nestled in an aesthetically blessed fold in the Hollywood Hills, the 18,000-seat venue can bring out the romantic in the terminally cynical. It’s the summer home of the LA Phil (and boozy picnics); as long as there’s no performance, it also doubles as a public park.

Fly high on a Hollywood helicopter tour.

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It’s still a great place to catch a movie but most people come to the Chinese Theatre for the hand and/or foot imprints of around 200 Hollywood stars. The courtyard is usually choked with snap-happy tourists measuring their own extremities against the likes of John Wayne and Judy Garland, but you can avoid the crowds by catching a flick inside, where the auditorium is as stunning as the IMAX screen’s projection quality.

Take a Hollywood and Beverly Hills minibus tour.

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Originally created in 1923, the then “Hollywoodland” sign was supposed to be up for only a year and a half, yet here it is almost a century later. Getting close to the Hollywood Sign, though, is an often contentious issue thanks to pressure from local homeowners. You can catch a dead-on glimpse of the sign on Beachwood Drive, or farther up the hill near Lake Hollywood Park. Looking to get even closer? Go horseback riding at Sunset Ranch or—of you’re alright with a view from behind—lace up for a trek along the dirt road on Mt. Lee Drive to where you will be standing directly above the Hollywood Sign and can experience a total 360-degree view of the cityscape.

Book a horseback ride tour near the Hollywood Sign.

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If you can stomach the suspect superheroes, claustrophobia-inducing crowds and never-ending line of gift shops, tattoo parlors and lingerie stores, there’s actually a lot of old Hollywood history and glamour to discover along the Walk of Fame. The immortalized names on those famous five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars run from the Walk’s western extreme at the Hollywood and La Brea Gateway to the W Hotel and Pantages Theater at Gower, and additionally on Vine from the Capitol Records Building down to Sunset, near where the original movie studios sprang up a century ago.

For a Hollywood Boulevard Walking Tour, click here
 

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Any cemetery that houses the remains of such celluloid luminaries as Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino and Mel Blanc was bound to become a tourist attraction. Aside from popular posthumous celebs, Hollywood Forever is also home to Cinespia’s summer outdoor movie screenings, an annual Day of the Dead festival and concerts, both outside on the lawn and inside the property’s Masonic lodge.

Visit famous Hollywood sites on a bike tour.

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Known as Hollywood & Highland when it first opened, this shopping center helped usher in a commercial renaissance along Hollywood Boulevard—well, for a while, at least. Like many American shopping malls, it eventually became a shell of its former self, but an ongoing makeover that’s renamed the complex Ovation seeks to add a bit of sparkle back to the block. The parking entrances are on Highland Avenue and Orange Drive.

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This 160-acre park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains has one main loop, plus a bevy of dirt hiking trails. The sea of buff trainers and their sleek, sweaty clients can get to be too much during the busy morning and weekend workout traffic, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views of the city (and, if you’re lucky, a chance to gawk at power-walking celebs). The southern entrance is at the end of Fuller Avenue in Hollywood; the northern entrance is off the 7300 block of Mulholland Drive.

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First known as the Kodak until its sponsorship swapped to Dolby in 2012, this 3,400-seat theater routinely hosts Broadway plays, high-profile screenings and the occasional concert. But the main attraction here, of course, is the Academy Awards: The annual star-studded broadcast will continue to be hosted here for the forseeable future, and all of the past Best Picture winners line the columns near the entrance.

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Believe it or not, Paramount is the last major studio to keep its headquarters located in Hollywood—and the only one there to open its doors to the public. Inside the famous wrought iron gate, you’ll be treated to a guided tram tour through soundstages, the prop house and a sizable New York backlot.

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