Visitors to Los Angeles always want to see the "Hollywood" sign but once you see it and realize that you can't even get all that close to it you'll probably be like me and wonder what the big deal is.
Unique Suggestions: The offical Hollywood Sign website has suggestions on the best places to photograph the sign from and my guidebook says there are trails in Griffith Park that get you closer, I took mine from Barnsdall Park.
Fun Alternatives: Even if seeing the sign isn't terribly interesting, some of the history of the sign is. The original sign spelled out "Hollywoodland" in 50 foot tall white letters adorned with 4,000 lights and was put up in 1923 to promote a real estate development. By 1949, the sign was a bit worse for wear and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce agreed to maintain it but without "land". And the lightbulbs.
By the 1960s it was again suffering from neglect and some of the letters sliding down the mountainside. Papa Bunny Hugh Hefner came to the rescue in 1978 along with celebrities who adopted letters for $28,000, Gene Autry adopted one of the Ls, Alice Cooper one of the Os, Hugh Hefner the Y.
1932 was also a significant year for the sign, Peg Entwistle, an aspiring actress, climbed to the top of the H and hurled herself to her death. The sign that had probably once symbolized her hopes and dreams became a symbol of failure and rejection. Another interesting note, her stepson Brian Keith, best known for his role on Family Affair, also committed suicide just not as dramatically.
The Hollywood Sign should be under "Off the Beaten Path" rather in Tourist Traps. We ahve plenty of the latter but only 1 Hollywood sign.
Here's the first thing to know about the sign - it's at the north end of Hollywood. Until I was more familiar with the city I used that sign as a navigation tool for months!
Here's another thing about the sign: You can walk right up to it. From the Griffith Park Observatory parking lot there's a path that leads you to the sign. The 1-1/4 mile hike offers a couple challenges (especially if you're relatively sendentary like I am), but it's a beautiful walk with a wonderful view of Hollywood.
Unique Suggestions: I would suggest wearing good hiking shoes ... bring some water on a hot day ... don't forget your camera! I wouldn't walk alone, especially as a female, and would avoid it completely at night.
Let's face it, seeing the Hollywood sign is a major tourist thing, for better or worse.
Unique Suggestions: Here are some ways to help you:
1) Drive up Bronson. You cannot go far up, however, you do get a decent view of the sign.
2) Park and take a picture near the Tommy's on Hollywood & Bronson, off of the 101 freeway. Believe it or not, there is a pretty damn good view of the sign from there -- if not, why would tourist buses park there?
3) Use this picture and save yourself the trouble.
Originally a publicity stunt for a housing development titled "Hollywoodland", the giant letters have become a true international landmark. Eh. It's just letters. The "land" collapsed long ago, and the area around the sign is now fully alarmed to keep hoodlums from defacing the letters.
Unique Suggestions: Hollywood & Highland complex has a three tier "viewing area" that actually provides one of the best vantages of the sign. A clever little ploy to get shoppers into the complex, and it works.
Fun Alternatives: Few realize that it's actually possible to get up close to the sign. It's alarmed from the front, yes, but you can approach from the rear and get right behind the famous letters. If you're a hiker, it's a fairly easy climb(and a great way to get views of the city, as well). However, the labyrinth streets of the Hollywood Hills will confuse even the most adept traveler. If you really want to make the hike, contact me directly and I'll reveal my secret route!
It is sad that tourists spend so much time and gas driving to see the sign when the only way to get really close to it is to hike up to it by parking just north of 6363 Deronda Dr, 90068. Or, see it from Griffith Park so you can enjoy the observatory too. There is noting, zero, zilch around the sign but private homes, so nothing to so there.
Unique Suggestions: Go to Griffith Park Observatory and hike to the sign.
This could be a fun break, and you get lots of breathtaking views as you try to make it up to the top. Start at the Griffith park observatory, any park ranger can also help you, then you follow a road closed to traffic by the tunnel, north side of the tunnel, then you have to take trail 46 or 47, cant remember, if you have a bike you need to push it on this short stretch nobikes-on-trails you could rent a horse and go riding and bikes can scare horses, then the trail terminates and there is a service road that a road so you would only push your bike, for less than 1/2 miles, there is a business on hollywood that rents out battery powered bikes right before hollywood/western on the westbound side of traffic. So, there you are on the service road for all radio antennas and LAX related transponders, it gets steeper and steeper, and on the very top you can get up higher than the hollywood sign, and look down on it, fresh air, and the fence for the sign is only about 4 yds. from the sign. Hollywood rent a car has these bikes, or you can drive up to griffith park observatory and walk from there, that would be a family activity, fitness as well! and unless you rent a bike, the cost of the trip is $0, and whatever gatorade you brought, this is a good idea, to have something to drink on top. And that leaves you with incredible views of the whole LA metro area, looking West you see downtown, when the road (only open to service vehicles, pedestrians and bicylists ) is on that side, on the south side, you can see all the way into san bernadino county, and when the road is the east side as you are getting close to the top, you can see the inland. Last time i went up there i also saw some wildlife too, cute little rabbits, bunnies. North is really the only direction you will not see anything. And if you want to get the fence out of the picture for h-wood sign, you can go up about 5-10 yds higher and photograph from there. And this is something most can do, not a tourist trap, the griffith park observatory is notable too.
If that is where you parked and you move slow i.e. with kids say 7-8 years or older, the round trip should take at most 2.5 hrs from the griffith park observatory. If you start lower down it takes longer, and does not have quite the same spectacular view. It might cost to park, but relative to other things to 'to do' its a state park, so i dont believe it is much.
Unique Suggestions: Bring water, ideally an electrolyte balanced drink like gatorade
Beware of service vehicles on the final road. Remember it is Road(says closed, but only for cars)-Trail-Road with the last being very steep.
If you are a horse person, you can rent one to go on the trails with, an remember if you have a bicycle do not ride it on the connecting trail btween the two paved roads, pushing it is ok, because all this trail does is go mostly horizontally, otherwise you might scare the horses, enforced!!!
Smog makes it hard to see what you see, but you can have, I'm sure someone would help you take your or your family's picture with the OH in the background.
So no, or little money spent, and great scenery, you could be sooo far from LA, takes 2 hrs from observatory, i think best time is in early afternoon.
Fun Alternatives: Rent an electric motor assist bike and ride it up the roads along Franklin that go up, just have fun, and they are reasonably priced, i think $25 for half a day, just for safety stay off main roads such As Hollywood, Sunset, Southbound on Western. If you dont want to have to ride back, get a schedule for the metro, red line, it will bring you back to the rental shop, well a little walk west from Western/Hollywood station. You pay a ~dollar one way or 6 for a day long transit pass good throughout. Also a decent motel, Near Western/Hollywood on Hollywood, fairly priced, in th 60's in winter and 80's in summer, N/east side of sidewalk, walking easily from the hollywood/western metro(subway, which is really clean, and well patrolled by LA county sheriffs, also CCTV. So you could ride somewhere and the best bit is that the bike rides for free.
Hollywood. That a very big tourist trap!
Nothing much interesting and beautiful to see there. Quite dangerous neighborhood.
But if you are lucky as I was, you can see the entrance of some very famous people into parties. I saw Stallone, Cher, Larry King, and other I don’t know their names.
Every time I have friends coming over wanting to see the Hollywood sign, I tell them its really not worth it. Its just a bunch of letters on a hillside. Nevertheless I take them to go see it.
Fun Alternatives: If they really want a good picture of the sign... take them to Universal Studios. At least that way you get to enjoy all the fun stuff at the theme park and there's a wall with a picture of the Hollywood sign. When someone takes a pic of you with the sign in the background, it really looks as if you were there.
#1 - HOLLYWOOD - It's a dive. Get in and out of there as quickly as you can... Mann's Chinese Theater is interesting for about 30 minutes, after you locate all the stars' feet & hand imprints, split. There are tons of tourists, all with the same agenda in mind. It gets old.
#2 CITY WALK - This is a construct of a make-believe city (what isn't make-believe in LA?). You have to pay to park your car, which is unavoidable as there is nowhere else to park. There are tons of people there with nothing better to do. However, there are 18 movie screens, so you can go see a film a day or two prior to its release. If you have to, just go once, but you need not repeat this in the future!
Hollywood itself is a huge tourist trap. While it is a little bit of fun to see Mann's Chinese Theatre and the stars on the street. But for the most part Hollywood itself is not glamorous, sexy or even all that safe to walk around. I would recommend heading out to the beaches, up to the mountains, or down to the other end of Sunset if you want some fun and entertainment.
The infamous hollywood sign can be seen from miles. Used to advertise real estate in the 1930's, it has become synonomous with the movieworld ever since, Add a few namechanges and a suicide and its still stands today luring tourist from everywhere.
You can't get a good view unless you drive up beechwood drive or see it on a tour.
Unique Suggestions: Have a photo took infront of it
Fun Alternatives: Go to griffith park, you see a good view and enjoy a day out in a park instead of being stuck on a tour bus
Its not as great as it seems, you will realize this as soon as you see it, if you can see it.
The pollution is so thick you can hardly see anything.
Unique Suggestions: get as close as posssible, and have a good camera.
Fun Alternatives: Buy a postcard!
The hollywood sign is probably one of the biggest tourist traps, but you must have your a picture of your own. We asked directions from people and they were very friendly and helpful and there are some great views on your way up of L.A.
The famous Hollywood sign - there is no easy way to get there and I think the people who live in Hollywood wanted it that way!
The HOLLYWOOD SIGN
If you want to see it LIVE check out these two web-cams: front & rear views of Hollywood Sign