Los Angeles: Places to Explore

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Hollywood and Vicinity

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 Hollywood Walk of Fame and catch a movie in one of the neighborhood's opulent movie palaces, such as the TCL Chinese Theatre or El Capitan.

Like Downtown L.A., Hollywood continues to undergo a transformation designed to lure a hip, younger crowd and big money back into the fold. New sleek clubs and restaurants seem to pop up every month drawing in celebrities, scenesters, and starry-eyed newcomers to create a colorful nighttime landscape (and some parking headaches).

Many daytime attractions can be found on foot around the home of the Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre, part of the Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex. The adjacent Grauman's Chinese Theatre delivers silver screen magic with its iconic facade and ornate interiors from a bygone era. A shining example of a successful Hollywood revival can be seen and experienced just across Hollywood Boulevard at the 1926 El Capitan Theatre, which offers live stage shows and a Wurlitzer organ concert before selected movie engagements.

Walk the renowned Hollywood Walk of Fame to find your favorite celebrities and you can encounter derelict diversions literally screaming for your attention (and dollar), numerous panhandlers, and an occasional costumed superhero not sanctioned by Marvel Comics. At Sunset and Vine, a developer-interpreted revival with sushi, stars, and swank condos promises to continue the ongoing renovations of the area. In summer, visit the crown jewel of Hollywood, the Hollywood Bowl, which features shows by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and many guest stars.

The San Fernando Valley is only a couple of miles north of the Hollywood Bowl, yet some say it's worlds away. Over the hill from the notably "cooler" areas of Downtown and Hollywood, "The Valley" gets a bad rap. But all snickering aside, the Valley is home to many of the places that have made Los Angeles famous: Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Studios, and Universal Studios Hollywood.

If you've never been to L.A.—or if you have, and are coming back with your kids—it's hard to resist the allure of the soundstages and backlots of Tinseltown's studios. Studio tours are the best way for mere mortals to get close to where celebs work. Most tours last at least a couple of hours, and allow you to see where hit television shows are filmed, spot actors on the lot, and visit movie soundstages—some directors even permit visitors on the set while shooting.

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