Wednesday, January 4, 2012

California Vacation: Hollywood BLVD

It's been almost a year since I last visited California and I still have some topics I want to share.  I guess part of my New Year Resolutions for 2012 should be to get caught up!

This is one of our favorite sites to see while we are in the Los Angeles area - Hollywood Boulevard!!  I'm going to share with you some of the reasons why we love it and some things to expect if you visit there.  

First, finding a parking spot can take a huge amount of time.  On our last trip we finally broke down and paid for parking - $8 for the short amount of time we were there.  What we found out later (that we will remember from now on) is that you can park in the garage near the Renaissance Hotel (off Highland, near Hollywood Blvd, part of the H & H Center, for only $2 if you get your ticket validated.  We always eat at the California Pizza Kitchen right there so no big deal to get that done.   

You will want to visit  Grauman's Chinese Theatre (  You can take pictures outside and see all the famous hand/footprints in the cement.  They also offer tours of the inside.  We have not done the official tour but my husband and I did pay extra to see a movie in the main theatre once.  It was a great experience.  

As you walk along Hollywood BLVD you will see MANY of the stars that the boulevard is so famous for - known as "The Walk of Fame".  It's a little hard to find an uncrowded picture opportunity but make sure you take at least one good picture before you are done.

There are many wax figures outside of the wax museum that you can admire for free.

Of course there are many other attention grabbing things along the walk.  We stayed on only a portion of the boulevard to keep things PG for the little ones.  But, with that said, you can find a large variety of interesting shops if you have the time to stroll.  One of my favorites in the costume shop.

The block that Grauman's Chinese Theater and the famous Kodak Theatre are located on (Highland and Hollywood - H & H Center) is the busiest and most interesting to most tourists.  It's also usually very crowded!  You will find a lot of people dressed in their "Hollywood best" ready to have their picture taken with you.  My kids LOVE this part.  Be warned, tipping is highly recommended (for many of them this is their job).  Some will get really pushy with you about getting paid but most are very nice.  We tip $1 per "actor" or sometimes $2 since we have two kids that are both usually in the picture.  With that I usually take 2 quick pictures in the same pose (I always try a back-up picture so I have two to pick from).  Make sure you have enough cash (and don't ask for change) because you never how many pictures you are going to be interested in taking.

I paid $2 for this picture (gave each $1)

I paid $1 for this picture - I had to dig for the money because we ran out....
Notice the fencing in the back??  There are always surprises when you visit Hollywood.  The main section of the road near Highland was closed off and they were setting up for the Academy Awards (held at the Kodak Theatre).  One year they had the road blocked from even walking on the sides due to a movie they were recording.  Another year they were getting ready for the American Idol finale.  They didn't have much blocked off but they did have some of the previous years top ten hanging out for autographs.   My tip for this would be to have a back-up day planned.  The year that the road was closed off for movie recording we were able to come back later that week when the recording was over.

As I mentioned earlier, we always eat at the California Pizza Kitchen.  It has a great view and in a good location.  Plus, we love the food!

It's hard to see in this picture but the Hollywood sign in on the hill in the background

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