Even if you’ve never driven the streets that connect Hollywood to Beverly Hills, you have surely heard their names in films, novels and songs. Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard are the stuff of legend. Both Hollywood and Beverly Hills are home to the stars, and famous TV and movie actors, directors and producers have lived in both communities since the early twentieth century. This is the heart of the American film and television industry, and it’s an area of Los Angeles that visitors will not want to miss.
Start out in Hollywood
Begin your day’s sightseeing with a tour of the beautiful neighbourhoods and celebrity homes in the Hollywood Hills. Bring a map and explore the area on foot, join a bus tour or discover the area by car. Take pictures from one of the public parks in the Hollywood Hills with the iconic Hollywood sign in the background. You can get an especially good view from the Griffith Park Observatory. Drive past the homes of some of your favourite celebrities. Visit the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, where stars are immortalised in bronze. Stop for brunch at one of the Hollywood’s charming cafes and enjoy some fresh, healthy California cuisine. If you stay alert, you might spot someone you know from TV or the movies drinking coffee, eating an omelette and relaxing with friends.
Then, take Santa Monica Boulevard west to Beverly Hills
Santa Monica Boulevard is the western terminus of Route 66, the famous cross-continental highway. It will take you straight to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and if you stay on the road, you’ll find that it ends at the Santa Monica Pier, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Begin driving on Santa Monica Boulevard on the east side of Hollywood, and you can visit Los Angeles’s Russian community. As you continue through West Hollywood, you’ll find yourself in the heart of a lively gay and lesbian neighbourhood, with nightclubs, shops and restaurants. Stop and look at the West Hollywood Memorial Walk between Fairfax Avenue and Doheny Drive, near the border between West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. That’s where many gay victims of AIDS, including celebrities, have bronze memorials imbedded in the sidewalk.
Once you’re in Beverly Hills, you can window shop your way down Rodeo Drive, purchase a designer original or even find a bargain. The commercial area of Beverly Hills, like the Hollywood Hills, is a good place for celebrity sightings. The residential section has many celebrity homes, so it’s worth a tour, as well.
Drive Sunset Boulevard in the evening
Finally, take Sunset Boulevard back to Hollywood and visit the music studios and the music shops of Guitar Row. End the day partying on the Sunset Strip, which is on the West Hollywood stretch of Sunset Boulevard. Join the paparazzi in trying to catch celebrities misbehaving.
When you visit California, you will find that without a car rental, Los Angeles is close to impossible to navigate. It has spotty public transport and a well-established car culture. The stretches of Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard between Hollywood and Beverly Hills are best explored by car, as these neighborhoods occupy many square miles and would be very time consuming to explore entirely on foot.