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The Heart of Hollywood
As much an idea as a place, Hollywood is a dream factory. Year after year, wannabe stars flock here in search of ever-elusive fame. Sure, Hollywood's top attractions are a bit touristy—but if it's your first time, you should at least make a brief stop here.
Be sure to check out the Walk of Fame and catch a movie in one of the neighborhood's opulent movie palaces, such as the infamous Grauman's Chinese Theatre or the El Capitan.
In the old days, the intersection of Hollywood and Vine was the hub of the radio and movie industry: film stars like Gable and Garbo hustled in and out of their agents' office buildings at these fabled cross streets.
The glamour has dimmed a bit, but the area comes alive after dark as a place for theater and nightlife. The intersection of Hollywood and Highland, another hot spot of yesteryear, is the location of a massive entertainment complex.
Tips for Touring
The best time to arrive to see this section of Hollywood is around 11 am, when there are just enough people to make it seem busy without it feeling overwhelmingly crowded. After you've seen the sites, stop for lunch at the Hollywood & Highland Center where you can get everything from pizza to sushi. If you can't get an early table, there's plenty to do to occupy your time while waiting.
Grauman's Chinese Theater
Although this cinematic fantasy of Chinese pagodas and temples is best appreciated by seeing a movie in the ornate theater, admittance to the interior courtyard (where the famous footprints of the stars reside) is free. 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 323/464-8111, 323/463-9576 for tours www.manntheatres.com.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
On this mile-long stretch of Hollywood Boulevard sidewalk, the names of more than 1,600 entertainment-industry overachievers are embossed in brass, each at the center of a pink star. Contact the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for more information about specific celebs' stars. 7018 Hollywood Blvd. 323/469-8311 www.hollywoodchamber.net.
El Capitan Theatre
This theater—where Orson Welles debuted Citizen Kane—originally opened in 1926. Taken over and fully restored to its former grandeur by the Walt Disney Company, the palatial venue features soaring ceilings and a lavish East Indian motif. 6838 Hollywood Blvd. 323/467–7674 disney.go.com/disneypictures/el_capitan.
Impresario Sid Grauman built Hollywood's first movie palace in 1922. The nonprofit American Cinematheque now hosts special screenings and discussions with notable filmmakers, and on weekends you can watch a documentary about Hollywood history. 6712 Hollywood Blvd. 323/466-3456 www.egyptiantheatre.com.
Follow the path of red-carpet Hollywood royalty to the home of the Academy Awards. 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood 323/308-6300 www.kodaktheatre.com.
Hollywood & Highland Center
This hotel-retail-entertainment complex pays tribute to the city's film legacy. Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave., Hollywood 323/467-6412 visitor center www.hollywoodandhighland.com.
Plush stadium seating, reserved seats, an usher who welcomes you, and snack bars that cook fresh caramel corn—the ArcLight justifies its high ticket prices. Next door is the restored geodesic Cinerama Dome, a curved-screen architectural icon. 6360 Sunset Blvd., at Vine St., Hollywood 323/464–4226 www.arclightcinemas.com.
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