Movie Stars and Rock Stars

I love California because and can do my 2 favorite things...shop and eat! There's always something to do and see. World class shopping, some of the best reastaurants in the world, surfing, amusement parks, Museums, California has it all.


The NEW Sofitel Los Angeles

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

NEWSFLASH! The Sofitel has been remodeled!

French country meets Beverly Hills chic! Sofitel Los Angeles is in a great location across the street from The Beverly Center mall and 5 minutes from Rodeo Drive, Sunset Boulevard, and Hollywood Boulevard.


Rooms were small, but it's all about location, baby! The pool is on the roof of the second story, and the only parking available is the valet parking underground.


Simon LA is the new restaurant and has a whole new menu.


The staff is very helpful and the concierge can get you tickets to a game, the opera, and almost anything else, and can always make dinner reservations and arrange tours.


The new rooms are modern and sleek with huge showers and rainfall shower heads.
The bed was insanely comfortable and the shower head was heavenly.

Sofitel Los Angeles
8555 BEVERLY BLVD
Los Angeles, California, 90048
1-1-278-5444

Marriott Marina Del Rey

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 4, 2005

The Marina Del Rey Marriott is in a great location: right on the marina, down the street from the beach, and only 5 miles from LAX. The hotel is a full-service, modern property with 370 rooms, 124 of which have two beds. There is covered parking for $18 a day with in and out privileges, and they also offer valet parking. There’s an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, one restaurant, a lobby bar, and a 24-hour business center. All guest rooms have high-speed Internet access for $9.95 a day.

Our room was a good size and had two beds that had down mattress pads on them. HEAVEN! I didn’t want to get out of bed. The room had a small table and nice fluffy chair, a desk with the Internet access, and a desk chair. There was a small (skinny) patio to stand on outside our sliding glass door. The bathroom was huge, just like I like it to be. The only complaint I had was that the middle elevator (there were three) was possessed and seemed to be the only one working. I swear: my room was on the seventh floor, and when I’d get into the elevator and press lobby, it would stop at every other floor in between, and no one ever got on from the other floors, a little creepy if you ask me. The view from my room was nice. We faced the beach, not the marina.

In the morning, there were several different kinds of complimentary fresh coffee in the lobby with flavored creamers and complimentary water bottles.

I like the Marriott because it’s right near everything. It’s a hop, skip, and jump from Fisherman’s Village and the harbor cruises. There are also about 45 restaurants within 1-mile radius of the hotel. The concierge can help with fishing trips, kayak, and jet-ski rentals; restaurant recommendations; and just about anything else you can think of.

Marina Beach Marriott Hotel
4100 Admiralty Way
Los Angeles, California, 90292
(310) 301-3000

Dar Maghreb

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

Thick pillows surround low tables, and a belly dancer periodically drifts by moving to pounding Middle Eastern music. Waiters in velvet pantaloons perform a traditional Moroccan hand-washing ceremony on diners.


The 6-course, set-price menu begins with starters like herb-flecked lentil soup, couscous, and cold seasoned vegetables. Entrées include crispy roasted quail; garlicky shrimp; and B'stilla, shredded chicken and almonds wrapped in phyllo.


I can't say enough about this place. The food and service are exceptional--a 6-course meal that you eat with your hands in a Moroccan palace. The salad starter was wonderful, and the lamb was out of this world. The bread keeps coming, but don't fill up on it. Belly dancers end the evening, which makes it even that much better.


I truly recommend this place to anyone who likes to try something new. It's good for either a group or for a romantic night out. It might be okay for children, but not toddlers or babies.


Dar Maghreb
7651 West Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90046
+1 323 876 7651

The Lobster

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

Since 1925, The Lobster has been a staple in Santa Monica. With a brief closure in the late 1980s, it’s back in full force. The Lobster is what California is all about - dining on the beach. Located right on the Santa Monica Pier, sunset dining is a must.

The restaurant space is crowded, with tables really close together (a little uncomfortable), and they’re all within a few feet of the panoramic windows that surround the place. Request table no. 102 for a seat right in the front so you won’t miss a second of the sunset. The service can be good and it can be bad. I’ve had both. It gets extremely busy right before sunset, so take an ounce of patience.

The menu is more traditional, with some specialties thrown in for fun. There is everything from shrimp cocktail to New Zealand dorade to filet mignon. We started the evening off with lobster bisque and the ahi carpaccio with marinated onions and wasabi tobiko. The bisque was SO fresh and creamy, I almost licked the bowl. This was soup made for a king, complete with a lobster claw in the middle of it.

The ahi was perfectly paired with the wasabi sauce and onions. I like a little heat, so it was perfect. The plate was so pretty that I was really disappointed that I didn’t bring my camera, like I normally do.

Steamed lobster is always on the menu and very tasty. I’ve read reviews that say the lobster here can be tough and chewy, but we didn’t experience that at all. This was a 2-pounder complete with drawn butter and roasted potatoes, but don’t waste your time on the starch and go straight for the lobster.

I had the Maine sea scallops Saint Jacques. It had a wonderfully creamy sauce and was served with spinach, grilled tomatoes, and grilled asparagus. This was just about the beast meal I’ve ever had. The scallops were as tender as and tasted like butter. If I die today, I will be happy I had my last meal here. Other wonderful dishes include sesame-roasted black bass, three-pepper-crusted yellowfin tuna, and fabulous crab cakes.

Take a jacket, because it gets chilly with the sea breeze, especially at night. The price for lobster is a little high, but the atmosphere can't be bought. Be prepared to spend some money, as this place isn’t cheap by any means. It’s a good place for a special dinner. Walk it all off after dinner by going to the Ferris wheel at the end of the pier.

Lobster
1602 Ocean Avenue
Los Angeles, California, 90401
(310) 458-9294

Versailles

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

OH MY GOD, I've never tasted anything so good. This is garlic chicken at its finest!

Versailles is a Cuban restaurant, not French, as the name would imply. With several nondescript locations around L.A., you can get your fix, no matter where you are.

I was surprised at the many items on the menu--this is no fast-food joint. They have beef, lamb, pork, seafood, chicken dishes and sandwiches. The best item on the menu is the garlic roasted chicken, the #6. It's a huge half portion of chicken, cooked in garlic, lemon, and onion, with a side white rice, black beans, and fried plantains. The skin on the chicken resembles a deep fried chicken, but it’s not greasy at all. The garlic sauce was so rich, I got a migraine from eating it. I did manage to veer from my fave dish the last time I went, and ordered the garlic pork and chicken combo. The roasted pork was so tender, it fell apart when I tried to cut it. The garlic shrimp (#45) is also wonderful. It comes in a bowl, surrounded by a rich, buttery garlic sauce. All I need is a loaf of bread and I'm off. I've also had the lamb (#24), which was just as tender and had flavors I didn't even know existed! I’ve heard the Paella is simply to die for, but I’ve never had it. The Cuban sandwich is wonderful and HUGE as is the chicken sandwich. Even the iced tea is wonderful! You should also try one of the batidos (shakes) made from tropical fruit. Also try an Ironbeer soda, the Cuban version of root beer. The prices and the heaps of food served is what keeps me going back. The service is spotty, but the food is really all I care about.

No matter the time of day, Versailles is always packed with every nationality you can think of. Don't skip this place if you come across it--you'll regret it. It’s far from fine dining and you may have to wait in line to get in, but you won’t regret it.

Versailles
1000 North Sepulveda Blvd
Manhattan Beach, California, 90266
+1 310 937 6829

Yamashiro

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

High atop Hollywood and Sunset Blvds sits a huge Japanese compound. This place is amazing as it is great. The views are worth a thousand dollars, especially at night.

Yamashiro was built in 1914 by the Bernheimer brothers to house their collection of priceless Asian antiques. It’s the exact replica of a palace in the Yamashiro Mountains in Japan. It was a private estate in the early years, but when one of the brothers died in 1922, all the antiques and rare jade were auctioned off. In the late 1920s, it became the headquarters for the exclusive "400 Club" which was created for the film industry’s top executives and movie stars. It’s the first official celebrity hotspot. At that time, you could pay 25cents to walk the lavish gardens and see all of LA, all the way to the ocean. During World War II, there were rumors it was a Japanese signal tower. It was eventually vandalized and repainted and became a boy’s military school. At the end of the war, the property was purchased by a builder and turned into apartments. In 1948, Thomas O Glover purchased the place with intentions to tear it down and rebuild, but he came across fine silk wallpaper covered by black paint and decided it was too beautiful to tear down. The property is now a staple in the Hollywood repertoire. The original 600 year old pagoda that used to sit beside a pond were rare, black swans swam, is still there but it now sits next to a swimming pool. The interior is classic Japanese, with a courtyard to enjoy dinner or cocktails. Reserve a window table and enjoy the drinks and atmosphere. We didn't eat, but I did have a chocolate hazelnut martini that was simply wonderful. My husband had a martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. YUM! There’s only valet parking and it’s expensive. You can drive up during the day, to get some great pics of the city. The restaurant is only open for dinner.

Yamashiro CalAsian Cuisine
1999 N. Sycamore Avenue
Los Angeles, California, 90068
(323) 466-5125

Pinks

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on January 28, 2005

You HAVE to eat here--it's required when in L.A. to eat at Pinks. Everyone from Basketball players to news anchors to rock stars to actresses and actors, have all graced this sidewalk. There’s a wall of fame inside and you can even purchase a Pink’s shirt or cap. There's a small patio for dining as well as a couple tables inside the back of the restaurant. Pink’s is on the Northwest corner of Melrose and La Brea, next to a flower shop. Just look for the crowd.

Founded in 1939 by Paul Pink, it was originally just a hot dog cart, but in 1946 Paul had enough money saved to build a permanent counter. It’s been in the exact same spot from day one.

We always end up here when we’re in town. There's always at least an hour long line down the street, and this day was no exception. Some people wonder why on earth would you stand in line for an hour to get a freakin' hot dog, but it’s worth the wait. Options for dogs have names like The Ozzy Osbourne Dog (with nacho cheese, guacamole, and grilled onions on a spicy Polish dog) and the Martha Stewart Dog (a 10" stretch dog with mustard, relish, onions, chopped tomatoes, and sauerkraut, topped with bacon and sour cream), the Guadalajara dog with relish, onions, tomatoes and topped with sauerkraut or you can make up your own. I had a 12" jalapeno dog with guac, sour cream, and onions. OUT OF THIS WORLD! This place has THE BEST chili cheese fries in the country! The line and the wait stink, but it's all about the food. Try it--like I said, this place is an institution.

Hours are from 9:30am to 2am Sunday thru Thursday and till 3am of Fridays and Saturdays--and yes, the line is still long at 1 in the morning!

Pink's Hot Dogs
709 North La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, California, 90036
(323) 931-4223

Urth Caffe

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 8, 2005

Urth Caffe is an organic product restaurant that serves wonderful coffees, teas, and healthy sandwiches, salads, and soups. Why organic? All coffees are 100% chemical-free. They use only the freshest fruits and vegetables for their food, and it all tastes better and is better for you. My fave location is the original on Melrose. I had breakfast there not too long ago, and as always, it was great.
Urth Caffe
8565 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, California, 90069
(310) 659-0628

Shanghai Reds

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 8, 2005

Shanghai Reds is located in Fisherman’s Village, right on the marina, in Marina Del Rey. Before you enter the restaurant, there’s a covered walkway that boasts a nice, koi pond and small waterfall. Inside, it reminds me of an old Victorian style home. A nice, big fireplace, 4 dining rooms plus a lounge area. They have tables that overlook the marina, and an outdoor patio as well.

Sunday champagne brunch is all the rage here. The price is $28.95, but if you arrive and are seated before 9:30am, the price is $5 off. The buffet has a carving station, pasta station, dessert station, fresh made omelettes and waffles, hot and cold seafood, imported cheeses and your basic breakfast food like bacon and eggs.

We had lunch this particular Monday afternoon and decided to sit on the patio, despite the cloudiness outside. The service leaves a lot to be desired, but the food is pretty good. I was in the mood for crablegs, but that was not on the menu today. We opted for three appetizers of crab-stuffed mushrooms, steamed clams and a dish called crab rangoon, which are basically crab puffs. I had the beefsteak salad that had medium-rare steak, sliced on top of greens with beefsteak tomatoes and a big hunk of blue cheese, topped with a balsamic, barbeque dressing. The stuffed shrooms were just okay. A little on the dry side…not enough butter. The clams were good and the crab puffs were okay. I thought the puffs were a little over cooked. My salad was wonderful, though. My only complaint was that it was supposed to be topped with their excellent, homemade croutons, but I didn’t see even one. I never saw my waiter again, either, to ask for some.

The experience could have been better if it wasn’t so chilly outside, and our server was around more often. I know this place has good food, but perhaps this was an off day. One of my favorite things is the basket of bread they give you when you sit down that comes with butter and a small lump of pesto. YUM!

There was also an episode of the MTV show, Punk’d, filmed here. The restaurant offers an early bird special Monday thru Friday and they also cater a lot of weddings and have facilities for private parties.

Shanghai Red's
13813 Fiji Way
Marina del Rey, California, 90292
(310) 823-4522

Rainbow Bar & Grill

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 10, 2005

You’re probably thinking that lunch or dinner at a legendary rock ‘n roll nightclub consists of overrated bar food. You couldn’t be more wrong. The Rainbow offers Mexican and Italian specialties, sandwiches, steak, fish, appetizers, and even a really great tiramisu for dessert.

The Rainbow has been an LA staple since the early 1970s as one the biggest clubs to showcase new bands. They also have to feed those starving artists.

My personal favorite dish is the homemade lasagna, with rich and flavorful sauce over pasta stuffed with smooth ricotta cheese. YUM! The stuffed ‘shrooms and escargot apps (yes, snails) are wonderful and so NOT typical bar food. The pizzas are made fresh with almost anything you want on them, and a large can easily feed five or six hungry groupies.

You never know who’ll be dining next to you. You may look over and see Axle Rose or Lemmy from Motorhead (who is a very frequent guest).

The lunch menu is a little smaller, but the prices can’t be beat! It’s 6 bucks for escargot, a meatball sub, or a nice big plate of ravioli. You can’t go wrong. Don’t forget the tiramisu and one of the strongest Long Island Ice Teas you've ever had.

The Rainbow serves lunch 7 days a week from 11am to 5, and dinner is served every night till 2am. This is true late-night dining at its best, not to mention it's in a legendary place and you could be sitting in the same booth that Slash sat in. It can be a little loud, because this is a working nightclub, but not to worry.

After dinner, move over to the bar or go upstairs for some entertainment of the loud kind. You’ll see a host of different characters and personalities, but it’s all in good fun. Do yourself a favor and GO.

Rainbow Bar & Grill
9015 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, California, 90069
(310) 278-4232

The Sunset Strip

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

Anything goes after dark on Sunset. Sunset Boulevard has been a haven for the music scene since the 1960s. Jim Morrison and the Doors, Van Halen, and Motley Crue played at The Rainbow. The Viper Room is owned by Johnny Depp. The Whiskey A Go Go hosted acts like Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin. The Roxy made its mark with bands like Guns and Roses and Poison.Sunset Boulevard has so much history to it, the entire block should be preserved for generations to come.

People-watching has always been great here. Stop into the Rainbow for a bite to eat (the lasagna is amazingly awesome), or rub elbows with rock stars from the past or future rockers at The Key Club.

All the clubs are open 7 days a week. Some charge a cover, some don't. Weeknights are the best time to go to a club, because the weekends are usually crowded with tourists. Some great music has been discovered on this street, and more great bands will be born here.

Most of the clubs on the block have websites - just Google them. You'll be able to look at event calendars and cover charges, not to mention the history. See my review on the Rainbow.

Sunset Strip
Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, California, 90048
Not applicable

Universal Studios/Tips

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on December 29, 2004

As I put my walking shoes on for my day at Universal, I thought about how much I wished I had had a little more information before I walked in the front gate the first time I went. I’ve been to the park four times, both with and without children. Here's a brief rundown, to help you plan your day.

Universal Studios is fun for all ages. There is something for everyone here. Make sure and get a park map when you get your tickets, as it will help you decide your route before you get too overwhelmed.

They have lots of activities: the Studiotour, Rugrats Magic Adventure, Blastzone, The Blues Brothers, Waterworld, Animal Planet, Terminator 2: 3D, Back to the Future The Ride, Spiderman Rocks, Mummy Returns, Backdraft, Jurassic Park, ET, Shrek 4-D, and Van Helsing The Ride. Blastzone and Rugrats Magic Adventure are Nickelodeon activities. Blues Brothers, Waterworld, Animal Planet, and Spiderman Rocks are shows, and Waterworld, Blastzone, and Jurassic Park are WET rides. Terminator 3D is my absolute favorite. Be sure to sit either right in the front or on the far side of either side of the auditorium - you won't regret it. ET is a great ride for kids and adults, as is Back to the Future. They're both virtual rides with motion and special effects. Backdraft can be scary for little ones, because it's hot and there's fire.

I recommend going in the off-season to avoid LONG lines for the attractions. Summer is always busy, as is Christmas. I found the best time is February, when it’s a little chilly in the morning, but the crowds are a lot sparser. I don't recommend bringing really small children (babies), because there's a lot of territory to cover and most of the rides are scary and have a height requirement. Food is a bit pricey, as can be expected. I bring my own water bottle and put a few granola bars and beef jerky in my purse so I don't snack too much. There are plenty of places to eat.

Try to get there when the gates open if you only have a 1-day pass, because there's a lot of ground cover and you can wait in line for half an hour or more for some rides.

Of course, wear comfy shoes and bring a sweater. Don't forget your wallet, as souvenirs are expensive. Don’t forget the camera and extra film and/or batteries. You can purchase those items there, but they’re expensive.

Parking is free at the park and is in a covered garage, which is nice. City Walk, outside the park, is a stretch of land like you've never seen before. Restaurants of every kind and shops line the walkway into the park, tempting you to eat and spend your money. Be STRONG - save your money for the park.

As of 2005, they have a new rain-check guarantee. Go to their website to see the restrictions.

Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, California, 91608
(818) 864 837-725

San Antonio Winery

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on January 10, 2005

Free winery tours, free wine tasting, and a restaurant... what a nice break from your day! Amid the bustling industry that is Los Angeles, The San Antonio Winery is the only still producing winery in the city. Most others are outside and north of the city. It’s a little difficult to find downtown, just around the corner from Chinatown and Union Station, but it's a great small place to visit.

They make several different varieties and brand names. The winery tour lasts about 45 minutes and was a little chilly--bring a sweater. You learn about the family's history and how the winery still thrives today after four generations.

You start off in the vintage room and hear about when the winery was built in 1917 and all the awards their brands have won. Continue on to the crushing of the grapes, the fermenting barrels, and the bottling plant.

They also have a restaurant called Maddelana, named after the family matriarch. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner. The food is homemade and consists of pastas, sandwiches, grilled meats, salads, and desserts. We had a snack and opted for two glasses of wine and a cheese-and-artichoke plate that came with bread. It was the perfect snack.

After the tour, you can taste almost all the wines they produce and buy by the bottle or case.

The winery is open 7 days a week and tours are available from 12pm to 2pm Monday to Friday and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. They also hold wine seminars that include a meal and cost anywhere between $50 and $100. You can check the dates and prices for those on their website, sanantoniowinery.com.

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar St
Los Angeles, California, 90031
+1 323 223 1401

Temescal Gateway Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 8, 2005

The entrance to Temescal Canyon is located at the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Temescal Canyon. It's $6 to park, per car. You can park on the roadside, further down on Sunset. Take your own water, as the small camp shop has irregular hours. Some areas are steep, and you will get dusty, but it's worth the payout at the end, when you see the waterfall. I recommend an early-morning hike, but dress in layers. It gets quite warm later on. The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
Temescal Gateway Park
15601 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, California, 90272
(310) 454-1395

Pacific Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 8, 2005

Imagine climbing onto a roller coaster and looking out over the Pacific Ocean! At Pac Park, kids of all ages will enjoy arcade games, adult and kiddie rides and a food court.

Located right on the Santa Monica Pier, Pacific Park was the brainchild of Charles Looff, the man who built the first carousel on Coney Island. He saw the potential of having an amusement park on the opposite coast of New York so he moved his operation to California. In 1916, The Looff Pleasue Pier as it was originally named, opened to the public with rave reviews in 1916.

For over 8 decades, the park and the pier have become national monuments and continue to charm locals and visitors alike. Adult rides like the Pacific Wheel, the only solar powered ferris wheel, the West Coaster roller coaster zips around the park at over 35 miles an hour and The Sea Dragon that’s a swinging ship that keeps riders on their toes are some of the reasons the park is so famous. There’s even a kiddie version of the Sea Dragon, called Ship Ahoy. Other kiddie rides include Crazy Submarine, Pier Patrol and the Frog Hopper. There are over a dozen arcade games for all to enjoy, as well. Food options are burgers, pizza, Dippin Dots, popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs, etc.

Pacific Park is great place to visit in the summer months. Numerous movies, commercials and TV shows have been filmed here and continue to be the backdrop for many more.

Some things to know before heading out to the park: Parking can be expensive, so avoid parking under or on the pier. Look for lots a block or two away. Always bring a sweater. It tends to be chilly, no matter what time of year.

Pacific Park
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, California, 90401
+1 310 260 8744

Museum Of Tolerance

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on February 9, 2005

Remember your tissues! This is an extremely emotional place to vist and very informative, not just about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, but prejudice in general. Part of the tour involves you taking a card with the bio of someone during WWII and taking a trip in his or her shoes. At the end of the tour, you find out if your person survived the Holocaust or not. My favorite part of the tour was a chance to listen to survivors speak about their experiences during the war.

The tour takes a good 3 to 4 hours if you want to see and hear everything. The fee is $15 for the whole package, or $10 for just the exhibits. This is is a truly interesting and informative museum with lots of interactive things to do, and you can do it all at your own pace.

Museum of Tolerance
9786 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90035
(310) 553-8403

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 3, 2005

Ever wish you could have a star on Hollywood Boulevard? All you need is $15,000 and a sponsor to nominate you for one. No biggie, right? Then there’s the small issue of your accomplishments in the industry and to the community.

Getting a star isn’t all that easy. The Walk of Fame Committee meets annually and receives over 100 nominations a year. The sponsor must fill out a nomination form and include bodies of the artists work, like CD’s, DVD’s, etc., plus a biography and any community and/or civic-oriented activities. If the nominee is chosen, they have to agree to attend the unveiling ceremony. Oy Vey, sounds like a lot of work.

The Walk of Fame is by far one of the most-visited spots in Hollywood. You can see everyone from Joanne Woodward, who was the very first recipient to receive a star, to John Wayne, Elton John, Renée Zellweger, and so on. New 2006 recipients include Charlize Theron, Ray Romano, Judge Judy, and Mathew Broderick.

The area around the walk of fame used to be a hotbed of drug addicts and homeless people, but the city has cleaned it up and maintained it to be a nice tourist spot. Just keep a hold of your belongings and don’t talk to strangers.

There’s Mann’s Chinese Theater, The Hollywood Wax Museum, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum also lining the sides of Hollywood Boulevard. The Kodak Theater, where the Academy Awards is held, is also a main attraction.

I advise to only go during daylight hours and try to park down the street for free. The parking lots around Mann’s Chinese Theater will pre-charge you for the entire day, even if you’re only there for an hour. Don't get taken.

Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Blvd & Vine St.
Los Angeles, California, 90028
(323) 469-8311

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 4, 2005

When the movie King of Kings premiered in 1927, it was a new theater that hosted the premier. That theater was Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Sid Grauman, the builder of other famous L.A. sites such as the Egyptian Theater and the Million Dollar Theater, wanted to build his dream location. With help from a real estate mogul, he bought a piece of property down the street from the Egyptian, paving the way for one of the busiest tourist spots in the U.S.

Hollywood’s elite are immortalized in the theater's courtyard called the forecourt. The first two movie stars to imprint their feet and signatures, where Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks back in 1927, before the theater even opened. Since then, anybody who’s anybody, gets to add their own feet and signatures to the courtyard. This is a very busy spot on Hollywood Blvd. If you go to www.manntheatres.com/chinese, you can see a map of the forecourt to help you locate your favorite stars’ footprints.

Grauman’s is one of the most sought-after theaters for movie premiers and is still very much a part of the Hollywood community.

There are VIP tours of the inside and the history, but there is a price for the tour. It’s a really nice way to see the inside of this legendary place.

TOURIST ALERT: The costumed actors you see walking around outside the theater and across the street, dressed like Michael Jackson, Batman, Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, etc., are not employed by the theater. If you want to take a picture with Darth Vader or Wonder Woman, you’ll be required to hand over some cash. Don’t waste your money. These people are just panhandlers with no jobs. Don’t get sucked into their web. Just an FYI.

NEWS FLASH: Go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9813043/ and read a story about some of those costumed impersonators getting arrested.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
(323) 464-8111

Pierce Bros. Westwood Village Memorial Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 8, 2005

Located just off Wilshire Blvd, down the street from UCLA Medical Center, this celebrity filled cemetery is off the beaten path and a little hard to find. Blink and you might drive right by it.

Names like Walter Matthau, Dean Martin, Jack Lemmon, Rodney Dangerfield, Frank Zappa, and the cemetery’s most famous resident, Marilyn Monroe, soak up the sunshine at this wonderful park. Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame has reserved the crypt next to Marilyn's for when he passes on.

Some people think it’s morbid to visit a graveyard, but where else can you reflect and pay your respects to your favorite stars? Westwood Memorial Village is located in between the high-rise buildings of Hollywood. There is parking across the street from the park and admission is free. Every August 2nd, there is a memorial service for Marilyn Monroe that attracts a pretty large crowd. Try to avoid that day as there is no parking and the place is a zoo--you won’t even be able to get near her stone.

On any given day, you can visit this legendary cemetery and see a plethora of Hollywood’s greatest. It’s a very small, intimate and quiet place. Cameras are allowed and the grounds staff is very friendly and helpful. You can get a map of the grounds at www.seeing-stars.com/Maps/PierceBrosMap.shtml.

It is a little tricky to find, as there is only one way to get to it. The only access is from the east side of Glendon Avenue, up a small driveway between the pink-stone skyscraper on the southeast corner of Glendon & Wilshire and the parking garage just south of that skyscraper.

From Rodeo Drive, take Wilshire Boulevard west (about two and a half miles) to Glendon Avenue (which is one block before Westwood Boulevard), and turn left on Glendon. Then immediately turn left up the driveway, and then turn right again into the gates of the small cemetery. If you look carefully, you will spot a small, square pink-stone sign off Glendon reading "Pierce Bros Westwood Village Memorial Park.

Stop and pick up a couple roses from a nearby Circle K and leave them at your idol’s headstone.

Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
1218 Glendon Avenue
Westwood Village, Los Angeles
(310) 474-1579

Fisherman's Village

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 10, 2005

I had high expectations for my visit to Fisherman’s Village in Marina Del Rey. I had heard about all the restaurants and great shopping. Boy, was I bamboozled. Fisherman’s Village is nothing more than small area that looks like a fishing village, but in reality, it only has four restaurants, a couple souvenir shops, and a hot dog/burger stand. What a letdown. I was ready to shop till I dropped, but the only thing I purchased was a T-shirt. This was not at all what I expected or what I was told the village would be like.

We wanted to take a harbor cruise, and the sign said the cruises start at 12pm and go every hour on the hour. We finally tracked someone down and were told the first cruise would be at 1pm that day due to a boat that had some problems. Well, it was 11:30 in the morning and had there been some stores worth shopping in, we would have gladly waited until 1pm, but at this point, we were pretty bored with the place. We had some snacks at Shanghai Reds and drove down to the beach instead.

All in all, I was very disappointed that it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. Bummer.

Fisherman's Village
13755 Fiji Way
Marina del Rey, California, 90292
(310) 823-5411

Hollywood Sign

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on July 22, 2005

The Hollywood sign is the most recognizable landmark in the world and is the epitome of Los Angeles. There’s A LOT of history behind this landmark.

Each letter stands 30 feet wide and 50 feet tall, and the sign was erected in 1923, originally as an advertisement for a housing development named HOLLYWOODLAND. During that time, there was the filming boom in L.A., and names such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford were all the rage.

A lot of people don’t know that the original sign had 4,000 light bulbs that were maintained and changed daily by a caretaker who lived in a small house behind one of the letter "L’s." The lights would flash at night, first the word HOLLY, then the word WOOD, then LAND.

Yes, it’s true that during the depression in September 1932, a struggling actress named Peg Entwistle committed suicide by jumping to her death from the letter H.

Around 1939, the sign fell into disarray due to the bankruptcy the land developers fell into, the lack of a caretaker, and vandals. All the light bulbs were eventually stolen, leaving the sign to fall apart.

In 1949, the chamber of commerce decided to drop the word "LAND" and repair the rest of the sign, making history with the word Hollywood.

In 1973, the sign was declared an historical monument by the city of Los Angeles and plans were put in place to revamp and restore the ailing sign. A fundraiser was held at the Playboy Mansion, and people were encouraged to sponsor or "buy" a letter at $28,000 each. Alice Cooper sponsored an "O," Gene Autry sponsored an "L," and Paul Williams the "W."

For 3 months in 1978, the sign was torn down and a brand-new one was built. The sign was originally intended to last for a year and a half, but 82 years later, it still stands.

Be warned that it is illegal to get near the actual sign. Security cameras and motion detectors make it impossible to get close. But there are a few places in the city that you can get a great view of the sign. The first one is at the corner of Hollywood and Highland at the Hollywood and Highland Center. Go up the stairs to levels 2 through 5 to get the best pics. The second is the corner of Beachwood Canyon Drive and Glen Holly. The original Hollywoodland real-estate subdivision was located at the end of Beachwood Canyon Drive. Third is the northwest corner of Franklin Avenue and Gower Boulevard.

And the last one is Lake Hollywood, which a little more difficult to get to from the 101 Freeway and Barham Avenue. Exit Barham Boulevard from the 101 freeway. Take Barham east to Lake Hollywood Drive. Turn right on Lake Hollywood Drive and follow it to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill, Lake Hollywood Drive will bear sharply to the right. At the bottom of the hill, bear sharply to the left onto Montlake Drive. Follow Montlake to Tahoe. Turn left on Tahoe to Canyon Lake, turn right, and then proceed up the hill. You'll notice a park on your left. That’s THE best spot to get a great picture, if you can find it. (I told you it was a complex place to get to.)

Hollywood Sign
6342 Mulholland Highway
Hollywood, California, 90068

Iraq War Memorial/Santa Monica Beach

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on August 5, 2005

When I went to the Santa Monica Pier the other day, there was a new, temporary memorial to all the soldiers who have sacrificed and died in Iraq since the war started. You can see it from the right side of the pier, and if you park ON the beach, under the pier, it’s right as you enter the beach on the north side. I didn’t get the details on how long the memorial will remain, but it was very emotional to see. Here's a brief synopsis:

Every Sunday since February 15, 2004, this war memorial is set up on the beach just north of the pier at Santa Monica Beach. The local chapter of Veterans for Peace and other volunteers erect this memorial as a way to acknowledge the costs and consequences of the addiction to war as an instrument of international policy. There is a wall of names that is 45 feet in length, and it identifies all the fallen American military personnel since the US invaded and occupied Iraq to the present day. Visitors can read the names, ages, rank, hometown, and circumstance of death; write the name of a fallen military person on a piece of paper, along with any thoughts or sentiments; and attach this to a cross along with a flower. Also, as the number of casualties is not decreasing, a cross is painted red for each additional 10 persons who've lost their lives. The row of blue crosses up front represents the number killed the previous week. A sign erected in the sand acknowledges the fact that for each Iraqi person killed, the number of crosses would fill the entire beach. Arlington West offers a place to mourn, reflect, contemplate, grieve, and honor those who've sacrificed their lives.

I’m personally against our sons and daughters going over there to risk their lives for our... ahem.... president, but that’s a whole other show.

They are all heroes.

Santa Monica Pier
Ocean and Colorado Avenues
Santa Monica, California, 90401
(310) 458-8900

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j38537-Los_Angeles-Movie_Stars_and_Rock_Stars.html

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