Few places capture the spirit of California like Hollywood. It is filled with stars, dreams and lots and lots of cameras.It is also filled with clubs, trash, costumed characters and unpleasant odors. There’s something for everyone, and that means family fun!
The sidewalks along Hollywood Boulevard are themselves a destination, and make an interesting stop on any vacation. The walkways are lined with the engraved stars of Hollywood’s biggest names. However, unless there is a premiere, dedication or award show you’re unlikely to see anyone very famous.
The Kodak Theater, the current home of the Oscars, sits right next to the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater (which has also hosted the Oscars). The Chinese Theater is known for its collection of cement impressions which permanently display signatures and foot/hand prints of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Most tours of Hollywood sites and homes of the stars start here.It is also the area where you will find a collection of costumed “movie icons” ranging from Yoda to Jack Sparrow and three or four Spidermen. These street performers will engage you for photo opportunities and they work for tips.
Across the street are the El Capitan Theatre and the home of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel. The El Capitan is a restored theater operated by Disney and is in itself worth a family trip to Hollywood. Adjacent to the theater is the Disney Soda Fountain, with an array of tasty ice cream creations (and full menu).
The streets in the Hollywood and Highland area tend to be very crowded and in addition to the costumed characters and street performers there are the proverbial prophets of doom and the occasional film crew. It’s the kind of scene that can make parents, especially those with small children, a bit uncomfortable. It’s loud and it’s overwhelming, but it is Hollywood and everyone needs that stamp in their passport.
Dining: There are plenty of places to eat. The shopping area at Hollywood and Highland is the cleanest and has typical food court fare and a few sit down establishments. The Disney soda fountain mentioned above is good and a blast for the kids, but be warned that it doubles as a store.
The Snow White Cafe (not Disney) is perhaps the worst restaurant I’ve ever been in. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not charming or magical.
Parking: Parking is available in lots accessible from the street. I recommend the garage under the H & H (Hollywood and Highland) shopping area, especially at night, as it is well-lit, clean, busy and accepts validation from most establishments within walking distance.
Photos: Hollywood Sign /Disney Soda Fountain by Whit Honea