By Carla Marie Rupp and Jason Rupp
Hollywood … glamorous, glitzy, star-studded, bustling, colorful, vibrant, interesting, action-filled, fantastic, electric, bright, dynamic, historic and trendy.
Yes, Hollywood is all of these things. But it’s more than just a glamorous spot on the California landscape — it’s a place that also lives in our imaginations, as well. And when you visit Hollywood the way to get close to both the real and the imaginary is on the tours.
In Hollywood it’s the tours that make all the glitz and glamor and craziness just grow on you, leaving you craving for more! Once you’re hooked on Hollywood touring you can never stop. So do yourself a favor and don’t budget on tours, take a bunch of them.
For many, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is “visitor central” and the Starline Tour Kiosk there has amazing tours that make you feel you’ve “really been to Hollywood.” We did the hilarious TMZ Hollywood Tour first, billed as dishing out the “Secrets” and boy, did we get the lowdown on this “show on wheels” from Luke Artervurn, a great guide who doubles as a TMZ star photographer.
We don’t want to give it all away, it wouldn’t be fair to spoil your fun. Just do it. “It’s all about New Hollywood, and is heavy into pop culture, a tongue-in-cheek journey into the wacky celebrities,” quips our good friend singer Jimmy James, who moved here a few years ago from New York City, and loves places like convenient Melrose Diner.
But for vintage Old Hollywood, which is great for those 50 years and older (and their savvy family who like TV and Turner Classic fare), we definitely recommend the Movie Stars’ Homes Tour (our fantastic Starline guide Bruce was an encyclopedia of celeb knowledge!).
It was beyond one’s wildest imagination, seeing dozens of mansions of those we adored, including Lucille Ball’s beautiful home and the house where Clark Gable lived, and of course, the homes of dozens of living stars also. It was even cute riding on beautiful Mulholland Drive (what a view!!) and seeing where the stars walk their dogs at Runyon Canyon Park. You get the open-air breeze (blankets provided if you need them) and the most eye-opening, pleasurable ride of your life!
For getting off at many stops (such as celebrity hang-outs in West Hollywood or on Rodeo Drive, Beverly or on Melrose, even eating at the Farmer’s Market or at The Grove), do the Hop On/Hop Off with Starline Tours. And for getting more-in-the-know, take the Malibu Star Homes Tour, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, even the Hollywood Trolley with Starline for a joy-ride. You’ll have plenty of memories re-ignited when you see places such as Capitol Records, the Roosevelt Hotel (where JFK and Marilyn supposedly rendezvoused) and other famous landmarks.
Hollywood Boulevard is where the visitor action is, and where most of the tours begin. Excitement and glitz is contagious all along it. Just as exciting, though, is meeting some of the locals. We found talented jazz trumpeter Haji Ahkba, dressed up in his finest, playing his nightly gig in front of Oz tattoo parlor on the boulevard between Las Palmas and Cherokee.
At another spot we met Ashin Wara, a monk from Burma, who had made his way to Hollywood to fulfill his dream. “Every people should come here,” he told us. “Take your picture with the famous names in their stars on the sidewalk. I walked on the right and the left sides of the street to look for stars and found my favorites: Diana Ross, Jackie Chan and (Canadian rock star) Bryan Adams”.
Grauman’s is the place for amazing people-watching. Here visitors from all over the world pose with costumed characters in the dress of Marilyn, Elvis, Batman, Spiderman, you name it, while wandering to find their favorite movie, TV or singing star’s name in a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s here where they also get photos of themselves with a most authentic attraction: shoeprints and handprints of famous stars.
We did that also, right before running off to catch another tour.
If you go:
LA INC. The Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
The Hollywood Entertainment District
6801 Hollywood Blvd., #221
Los Angeles, CA 90028
All Hollywood tours depart from Starline Terminal forecourt at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Boulevard.
(888) 330-5008, (208) 787-4300
A good option for taking tours at a reduced cost
Hollywood Walk of Fame