When we visited LA last October, one of the first things we write on our LA bucket list was to see the Hollywood sign and visit Hollywood. It definitely wasn’t what we were expecting though!
My 16-year-old had her heart set on hiking up to the Hollywood sign originally which wasn’t something I particularly fancied but after doing a bit of research, I discovered that there was, in fact, an ‘easy hike’ to the sign. And by easy, I mean a 3-mile long hike uphill with no shade and a mention of lurking snakes – just to see the back of the sign.
I’m not the fittest person around so I trained for it before we went (I walked the dogs around the block an extra time twice in the week before we went ;-)) and was totally ready to do this so-called easy hike.
Luckily though, the weather was amazing when we got there and we had so much that we wanted to fit in that she decided that she didn’t fancy the hike after all and was happy enough just to see the sign from the front like most people. Phew!
So, I did some research and found that one of the best (and easiest to get to) viewpoints of the sign was from the Hollywood and Highland shopping centre in Hollywood which was where we headed one afternoon in the middle of our trip. You might have heard of it before as the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland is where the Academy Awards take place. 😉
Anyway, we got an Uber to the shopping centre and headed up to the second floor where you could get a direct view of the sign. I’ll be honest, the first time I saw it was a definite WOW moment – to see something in real life that you’ve been seeing on TV and in films all your life is a bit surreal.
We took about a million photos, had a look through the telescope thing (definitely take some change to do this) and then reluctantly dragged ourselves away to look around the rest of Hollywood.
We had a quick look around the Hollywood and Highland centre but that didn’t take too long as there were only about four shops in there that appealed to us both and one of those was Starbucks!
After that, we ventured onto part of the Hollywood walk of fame and that’s where it got uncomfortable. We didn’t need to walk far as the next thing we wanted to see was the TCL Chinese Theatre where all the handprints are but the short walk was interrupted numerous times by people trying to sell everything from CDs to sunglasses and from bus trips to attraction tickets. Most were easily discouraged by a firm ‘No thank you’ but some really crossed the line – one grabbed at my teenager and tried to give her a CD which they literally forced into her hand while I was trying to extract her and then when I managed they asked me for a tip! Another grabbed my arm and told me they wanted to take me out to dinner and that they had designer sunglasses that would look amazing on me. Honestly, we were so uncomfortable that we were practically running by the time we got to the theatre and when we got there, we realised we hadn’t seen most of the Hollywood stars in that section of the hall of fame because of it.
The Chinese Theatre was amazing though and seeing the iconic handprints was totally worth the short ordeal we’d had getting to it!
When we’d finished there we actually walked in the other direction, crossed over further along and walked back on the other side of the road which meant we cut out most of the sellers on the street.
We did end up coming back another day as we (by we I mean my daughter) decided to do the TMZ bus tour of LA so we booked an early one and did the Hollywood Walk of Fame first thing in the morning which was much quieter.
(Walk of Fame fact – did you know that stars have to apply if they want a star of their own and if they’re approved then they have to pay something like $30,000 for the privilege of having one.)
I was quite shocked at how scruffy parts of Hollywood Boulevard actually were. It was a really odd mix of glitz and glamour with cracked, uneven paving stones (look at the bottom star in the photo above to see what I mean) and super tacky souveneir shops filled with so many people that in some parts you could barely move.
So, as glad as I am that we’ve been, I don’t think we’d go back if we ever found ourselves in LA again.