Hollywood Highlights

IMG_4923_LUCiDBrian travels all the time for work. I have been going along with it for months, but I miss him when he’s gone and sometimes wish I could tag along.

Recently I had the opportunity when he booked a work conference in LA. He was traveling during our anniversary, coming home for a quick weekend getaway, and then turning right back around and heading to Long Beach, California, for the conference.

After weeks apart, a short weekend to celebrate our anniversary didn’t feel sufficient, so I decided to tag along for his work trip so we could have a little extra time together!

I was in LA once before for my own work conference and had hoped to squeeze in a little sightseeing in the evenings after the trade show closed. I know it’s cheesy, but I really wanted to see the Hollywood Sign and visit Santa Monica Pier. I quickly realized those things were nowhere near where my trade show was taking place and put them on the list for next time.

Fast forward seven years, and they are still sitting on my list! Brian really had no interest in seeing Hollywood and had already been to the pier, but he humored me and let me work them into our arrival itinerary. We booked our flights in and out of Burbank to save on costs, and I made a quick list of places we could briefly visit along our drive from Burbank to Long Beach.

It was incredibly hot out—and we don’t do heat—so I did actually manage to keep our stops fairly quick!

We picked up our rental car and headed a few minutes away from the airport to Griffith Observatory, where my friend said we would have the best views of the Hollywood Sign. Despite the fact that it was mid-morning on a Monday, the place was absolutely packed. We managed to find some paid parking right next to the trail head to hike out and around behind the sign.

We didn’t have time to complete the full hike, but we did take the trail straight up to a lookout point where we could get a good view of the Hollywood Sign! I know Brian wasn’t terribly impressed, but it was one of those moments where I felt like I was checking something off my bucket list—I actually got to see the sign!

We walked down a tree-lined path toward the observatory, which is closed on Mondays. I am leaving it on my “next time” list—my friend said it’s well worth the time to visit. Although we couldn’t go inside, we were able to walk around outside and take in some incredible views of the surrounding area. We took some more pictures of and with the sign, enjoyed the barren and rocky mountains around us, and then quickly beat it for the air-conditioned car!

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Our next stop was Hollywood Boulevard so I could see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and check out the stars immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We lucked out on parking again and after leaving our car, we headed about a block south to Hollywood Boulevard to start our walk.

We didn’t have to go far before we started coming across the stars. It’s impossible to walk along and not read off basically every name—there are so many greats honored here! We tried to stay in the shade as we traveled along, taking pictures and calling out when we spotted some of our favorites.

One star recognized ‘Mark and Brian,’ who were the hosts of a radio show. We weren’t familiar with the show, but we had to get a photo of Brian to text his brother, Mark!

I tried to get a few shots low to the ground to show how expansive the sidewalks are and how many stars are in place, but I mostly ended up getting lots of feet—there were tons of people walking the strip.

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We walked past the Chinese Theater as well as the Egyptian Theater on our way to the Four Ladies of Hollywood statue. Initially we missed it—Google Maps doesn’t know where it is!—but we eventually found it floating on the divider in the road!

The four ladies are Mae West, Anna May Wong, Dolores Del Rio, and Dorothy Dandridge, and near them are stars for Elvis, the Beatles, and the official Hollywood Walk of Fame star! We spent some time admiring the statue before walking back along the other side of the road so we could see the remaining stars.

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When we returned to the Chinese Theater, we crossed the road and headed inside the gates to see all of the names and footprints in the concrete. I actually had no idea what to expect—I have seen pictures of people doing it, but I have never seen pictures of how they are all displayed.

It’s total chaos! They are all on top of each other and you basically walk all over them trying to read them all. It was so much fun wandering around and seeing the range of people represented as well as the age range of when they were created!

If you have any interest in Hollywood at all, you have to do the walk and the theater. We didn’t have any interest in the shops and didn’t have time for the tours, but I did love seeing the stars and all of the concrete names and footprints!

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We were both ready for a break after our adventure so we headed back to the car and drove to Pink’s Hot Dogs for one of their iconic lunches. We timed things perfectly and arrived just after the mid-day rush—it was busy, but we had no trouble getting in line, ordering our food, and finding a seat.

The menu was overwhelming, but everything sounded amazing! We ended up sharing some fries while Brian tried the stretch chili dog (mustard, chili, onions) and I had the Guadalajara dog (relish, onions, tomatoes, sour cream). Everything was delicious and if you like hot dogs, you have to stop by for a meal or a snack. Their menu is crazy!

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After lunch we needed to head south before rush hour traffic started. I wanted to drive down some of the famous strips so Brian helped route us so I could drive along Santa Monica Boulevard, down Sunset Strip, and through Beverly Hills. It was so surreal and such a blast—I was singing Sheryl Crow, he was singing the theme song to Beverly Hillbillies, and we were both constantly pointing out crazy shops, billboards, and mansions along the way.

I never really thought of Hollywood as a destination—it only even occurred to me to stop and see some of the sights the two occasions I was already planning to be in the Greater Los Angeles area. Clearly I am in the minority—there were people from all over the world at both the sign and the Hollywood Walk of Fame who sought out those attractions as part of their vacation plans and traveled much farther than us to experience them.

In any case, I ended up having a blast at all of the Hollywood highlights we experienced, and it only took us a few hours on a Monday. I’m not a huge film buff, I don’t know much about Hollywood history, and I don’t tend to follow pop culture, but there’s something iconic and All-American about Hollywood. I thought it was well worth a visit!

3 thoughts on “Hollywood Highlights

  1. Pingback: Universal Studios Hollywood – Heather's Compass

  2. Pingback: A Day at Disneyland – Heather's Compass

  3. Pingback: An Afternoon on Santa Monica Pier – Heather's Compass

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