There’s nowhere in the world quite like Hollywood; the glitz, the glamour, the A-listers – it’s a place where dreams of fame and fortune actually do come true. Other than celebrity-spotting however, what is there to do?
Well, there’s more to this larger-than-life neighbourhood of Los Angeles than you may think. From mind-blowing museums and iconic theme parks, to sweat-worthy hikes and architectural wonders, Hollywood has more than a few surprises up its sleeve. So grab your largest pair of oversized sunglasses and start brushing up on your film knowledge – the bright lights of Tinseltown await.
The building itself has an illustrious history – it once housed the renowned Max Factor beauty headquarters – but it’s what’s inside that is truly the stuff of Hollywood legends. The Hollywood Museum is a treasure trove of all things celebrity and cinema; it’s home to more than 10,000 pieces of movie memorabilia, including props, scripts, photographs, costumes, posters and set pieces. That famous white dress of Marilyn Monroe’s is here (alongside an extensive collection of Monroe-related items), as are Rocky Balboa’s boxing gloves, Elvis’ personal bathrobe and even Hannibal Lecter’s original jail cell from Silence of the Lambs. Covering the silent era right up until the present day, consider this shrine to the film industry one of the best Hollywood museums in LA.
If you’re looking for things to do in Hollywood at night, make a date with the Hollywood Bowl. This natural amphitheatre has been hosting concerts, productions and musicals since 1922, when the LA Philharmonic first graced the hallowed stage. Nowadays, you’re just as likely to see Andrea Bocelli play one night, followed by Lady Gaga the next. Nestled in the scenic Hollywood Hills, this 18,000-seat venue is also much-loved for its movie screenings featuring live accompaniments by the LA Phil – Jurassic Park being one such event. And even if there’s no performances on during your stay, the Bowl also doubles as a public park, so you can wander through the leafy grounds before plonking down to enjoy a twilight picnic.
Did you even go to LA if you didn’t hike Runyon Canyon? This hugely popular walking trail is located within a 160-acre park in the Hollywood Hills, and is the place to be if you love a spot of people-watching. From super-fit athletes to power-walking mums and bubs (nannies in tow, of course), plus the odd A-lister working up a sweat, you won’t know whether to bask in the view – which is glorious, and extends all the way out to Catalina Island on a clear day – or keep an eye out for celebs. And if you’ve been traipsing around LA wondering, “Where is the Hollywood sign?” then this is one of your best chances of getting a good view of it. So if you’re stuck for things to do in Hollywood on a Sunday, do as the Angelenos do and take a hike.
Madame Tussauds Hollywood
It’s one of the best things to do in Hollywood with kids, but there’s just something special about the Madame Tussauds wax museum that makes it a fun day out for people of all ages. Perfectly positioned next to the TCL Chinese Theatre – a historic movie palace – inside are hundreds of hyper-realistic, life-size wax figures, counting the likes of Taylor Swift, Tom Hanks, Charlie Chaplin, and Bette Davis. it would be all too easy to spend an entire day here, cosying up to your favourite idols and taking selfies. Best of all, the exhibits are constantly being rotated and updated, so there’s always someone new to meet.
So it’s not technically located in the suburb of Hollywood (it’s about a 10-minute drive away), but there’s no way Universal Studios could be left off this list. Part film studio, part theme park, it’s a place where you can be wandering through Hogsmeade sipping a butterbeer one minute, before checking out the creepy set from Psycho the next. There are rides galore, incredible live shows featuring stunt actors, and even a seven-storey IMAX theatre. But one of the best things to do at Universal Studios Hollywood is the Studio Tour. Narrated by Jimmy Fallon, you’ll head to the working back-lot (keep an eye out for TV shows or movies being filmed), see a bunch of special effects and come face-to-face with the shark from Jaws. Universal Studios is a Hollywood attraction that truly has something for everyone.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Get up close and personal with the biggest celebrity names in the world when you visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Spanning 18 city blocks, it’s long been considered one of the top things to do on Hollywood Blvd – and for good reason. Strolling past the more than 2,600 terrazzo and brass stars is like reading a roll call of every single person who’s been involved in the entertainment industry. Frank Sinatra? Tick. Audrey Hepburn? Of course. Even Jennifer Aniston, Goldie Hawn and John Travolta have stars. And did you know there’s a public viewing area at every Walk of Fame star ceremony? So if you’re not sure what to see on Hollywood Blvd, find out if there’s a ceremony coming up and join in the celebrations.
Consider yourself a bit of a bookworm? Then you need to make a beeline for Book Soup, an independently-owned bookshop that first opened in 1975. Located on the world-famous Sunset Strip, a visit here is one of the coolest West Hollywood things to do for any bibliophile. There’s more than 60,000 titles to browse through, with Book Soup specialising in art, film and photography, plus limited editions, autographed books and vinyl record reissues. It’s also a regular stop on any author’s book tour, so if you’re lucky you may even run into your literary hero.
NoHo Arts District
When it comes to North Hollywood things to do, it’s impossible to go past the NoHo Arts District. This unique, vibrant and ever-evolving neighbourhood is overflowing with ridiculously trendy restaurants, galleries, shops and bars. Gallery 800 is a must-visit, and although there’s roughly 20 theatre companies within the NoHo Arts District, try to catch a production at The Road on Lankershim – it’s one of the most acclaimed. Food-wise, Republic of Pie do a cracking – you guessed it – pie, while Vicious Dogs make the best hot diggitys going around. Try not to get too caught up in the allure of central Hollywood, when a trip to NoHo is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Los Angeles.
Bask in the genius of architect Frank Lloyd Wright with a visit to Hollyhock House – his very first LA commission, and an early attempt at mastering the style of California Modernism. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2019, the first example of modern American architecture to be recognised. Hollyhock is the centrepiece of Barnsdall Art Park – a historic reserve designed by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, and also includes a community arts centre and theatre. It’s not your typical Hollywood attraction for families, but with both guided and self-guided tours of Hollyhock, children’s art classes and beautifully-manicured gardens to enjoy, there’s something for everyone.