Homes of the Stars, Los Angeles
You'll find "Maps to the Stars' Homes" being hawked roadside all over Los Angeles. DON'T be fooled. Brad Pitt's actual house is not on here. I've checked. When you buy one of these maps, what you generally end up with is a guide to the houses of some TV star from 1947 that you've never heard of. Oh, and that star is now dead, but he used to live here for 6 months in 1976. Seriously. Often all these houses are surrounded by 20 foot hedges, so all you'll see the the hedge of the forgotten star's former home. Not exciting.
Unique Suggestions: If you buy a map to the stars, just prepare to be frustrated with what you get.
Fun Alternatives: If you are really dying to search out celebrity homes, you can take a cheesy but more accurate tour, which starts in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre. Or, you're much more likely to see a star by lunching at The Ivy.
All you're really seeing on these trips are the security gates and perimeter walls of the 'stars' homes....how accurate they are is anyones guess!! There are a couple of exceptions but you aren't allowed to stop outside so you only catch the briefest of glimpses before you're staring at the next 10ft wall! These tours are all hype and aren't really worth the effort.
No, this is not worth the money, it was BORING!!! I know I couldn't see the stars, but I expected they stop by some ppl house, but it happened you just sat inside the bus, cruise around the area, looking at fences, and listening to stories which you can check on the net or read from papers!!! Don't waste $35. I got my tour free of charge, but still, I think it wasting my time. I should have see other places instead!!!
Do not under any circumstances pick up a celebrity home tour from Hollywood Blvd between McDonald's and Guinness World Record museum. These people are actually located all along Hollywood Blvd in that area and they accost you with the attempt to guess where you are from. The exact address of the place is 6776 Hollywood Blvd. and the name on the receipt is "Superstar Celebrity Home Tours". I don't know where to start with everything that is wrong with that business. First, they have this sweet talking foreign kid telling you that he will give you a discount for one reason or another. Then you go into this little souvenir shop where you pay the owner of this scam. He charges you quite a bit more but you are not told about it until he hands you the receipt stamped with "no refunds". The owner is a complete jerk. He tries to act somewhat normal until you pay, and then he stops hiding his anger management issues. He tried to force these kids that bought tickets for the next tour to get on our bus even though it was obviously crowded. They said that they wanted to sit together and they planned to go on the next tour anyway. He literally yelled at them and slammed the bus door. What an awful vibe from the very start! I don't feel so much ripped off because I paid for a completely worthless 2 hours that I will never get back or because I paid more than I expected, but because I made this worthless individual just a little bit richer. But moving on with my laundry list of disappointments with this tour. The tour didn't leave or arrive on time which almost made me late for my plane. The tour guide was boring and barely knew anything about his subject. He couldn't engage the group or get a chuckle out of anyone. Once he even asked for a pity laugh after one of his jokes, but didn't even get that. And the worst part (or one of many), he was singing crooner songs every time we would pass by any place that has any relevance to Frank Sinatra and such. Half of the places they promise to show in their sucker trapping leaflet they never show you. And the tour is definitely less than 50+ homes that they claim they will show you. But here is a line for you from the actual tour: "And on the left you see Cheesecake Factory restaurant. Always good food there." And then they have the nerve to put up a suggested tip schedule on the back of the driver's cabin of $10-20. On the second half of the trip the microphone died, so most of the second hour was spent in uncomfortable silence stuck in LA traffic. But honestly, it was almost better than the tour itself. That experience left a really bad taste in my mouth about LA.
Unique Suggestions: Do your research beforehand. I am sure there are other companies offering tours that are fun. I just was in LA for one day, was done with my stuff, and was looking for something to fill in the rest of my day, so I hopped on the first tour I saw. But for people who are planning it ahead of time my advise is - do your research, read the reviews. And if possible, before committing to a tour, wait for the previous one to come back and look at the people. Are they smiling, are they tipping? Do they look satisfied with their experience or do they avoid to look the tour guide in the eye?
Fun Alternatives: If you must see celebrity homes, it will be much more cost effective to do some research beforehand and make your own map. And then just rent a car. A rental for one day will cost about as much or even less than 2 tickets on a tour.
Buying maps to see "Stars" home/Stars is basically a rip-off. Tourists might get a glimpse of the homes behind the gates and and through the dense layers of foliage, and no "Star" in sight.
The place to see the most "Stars" in one place,in person, is at a Los Ageles Lakers basketball game. Regulars are Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Dennis Hopper, John Lithgow, Don Johnson, Laurence Fishburn, Orlando Jones, and the "old" standby Dyan Cannon.
Unique Suggestions: Take your own car..don't take the tour bus.
I used to work with a So Cal city and I used to do research on tour bus companies. beware of any tours that advertise tours of the "Stars Homes" if that is your major reason for booking a tour.
It may be hard for most people to comprehend (perhaps want to believe would be a better term), but if you're in a bus and just driving down a nice street, and the guide says "Mel Gibson lives there." why do you belive him? He's just keeping a busload of people happy. The places where most movie stars live aren't places where tour buses can drive by.
Most bus tours are legit, but if you're on a combined Beach/Star's Homes/Hollywood Tour and the bus is just whizzing by a few homes, who is to say who truly lives where. At the least take it with a grain of salt.
Same thing for the maps, I can buy a whole stack of maps and put a lot of little stick on stars and labels on random locations and sell the maps for $20.
Unique Suggestions: If the Star's Home thing is part of a general tour, go along with it and ooohh and ahhh, but don't waste any film, unless the address happens to match anything you've been able to verify.
Fun Alternatives: If you're really interested in star's homes - and remember you can't just walk up to the front door - Google up articles on real estate sales and you can find out what neighborhoods celebrities are moving in and out of. Magazines like Architectural Digest often showcase sar's homes as well.
A Hollywood-oriented website, SeeingStars.com, has a section on star's homes at http://www.seeing-stars.com/Live/StarsAddresses_B.shtml. I'm not sure about the accuracy of this list, but I've used this website a lot for personal and business use (tons of stuff about Hollywood) and it seems to be trustworthy. Not sure how they got the addresses, but I think addresses are public access if you have the time to go to a city office and look them up.
Remember, you don't want people at your house, so respect their privacy. It's cool to take a photo in front of someone's front gate, I guess, but there are a lot of other things to do.
We took two of the tours offered by Hollywood Fantasy Tours, and both were excellent. Their offices at 6231 Hollywood Blvd, directly across from the Hollywood and Vine Metro station, include nice everything and lots of information. Their prices are very reasonable. Their vehicles (including the shorter open vans needed for navigating in the residential hills), were comfortable and clean, and their guides were excellent, particularly Bruce, who stopped and manoevred to get the best views through the fences and hedges of Beverly and Hormby Hills and Belair, and had carefully researched the homes to know who had lived there and when, sizes, features, and prices. They also offer a wonderful tour up Beachwood Canyon into the Hollywood Hills, where the stunning homes are readily visible and with incredible views of the Hills, Sign and Reservoir. I can't reccomend this firm highly enough. For more info, call me: Chris 204-772-8215. Their telephone numbers are 323-464-8184, 323-469-8184.
Unique Suggestions: The streets in these residential areas are tortuous, confusing, and often sloping; it is better not to drive yourself and not get lost, while wanting to see somethng.
Fun Alternatives: Try their Hollywood Hills Tour - it is really beautiful.
My friend used to drive for the biggest tour company in Hollywood. Some of the drivers were good, many were blatant liars while giving their tours. They justified the lies by saying that it's entertainment - people would be bored if you only showed what was real.
He claims he did his absolute best to retain some integrity (as did some of the other drivers) and to tell the truth the whole way. His tours were fun and informative - I took my friends and family when they came to visit. Unfortunately, these tours all depend on your driver and your fellow passengers. Hit or miss (usually miss).
Unique Suggestions: If you do go, pay the extra cash and go on a private tour, like Icon Luxury Tours (tour-la.com) or Elite Tours. You'll pay more, but get 1st class treatment. Avoid the lines, crying babies, and stuffy 13 seat vehicles for a private luxury van or SUV.
Fun Alternatives: Or you can drive yourself. Cheaper. More difficult. Not as much fun.
Map to Stars Homes- is a waste of money. Most likely the stars listed no longer live there or are from the Golden Days of Hollywood. It's just a waste of time.
Hollywood, although it is much better than it used to be, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is not worth the visit especially when your on a tight schedule. Hollywood celebrities only grace Hollywood when they get a star or at a movie premier which is not that often. Most Angelenos don't even go there, so don't worry if you miss it.
WE WERE TRAVELLING WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE FROM THE ILLAWARRA AREA OF AUSTRALIA. WE WERE EXCITED TO BE GOING ON A LOCAL TOUR TO SEE THE HOMES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS. ALL WE MANAGED TO SEE WERE EITHER HOMES THAT STARS HAD LIVED IN OR GATES. WE DID MANAGE TO SEE RICHARD GEERS GARBAGE BIN. THE TOUR GUIDE ON THE WAY AROUND THE HOMES TOLD US WHO LIVED THERE AND IN HIS NEXT BREATH CONTINUALLY INFORMED US THAT A GRATITUITY WILL BE WELCOME WHEN WE ENLIGHT. WHAT A RIP OFF NOT ONLY WE SAW NOTHING BUT CHARGED EXTRA IN TIPS WHICH I COULD NOT JUSTIFY.
Unique Suggestions: IF I WANTED TO DO THIS AGAIN I WOULD RESEARCH IT MORE EVEN BEFORE I LEFT MY COUNTRY.
I went on a tour called hollywood tours it is located between mcdonalds and gunniess world of records right on hollywood blvd. the lady boss was very nice to the customers but mean to her employees. she was shouting at the sales guys telling them to get away from the front of her.... store, it was this homeless looking woman that was our tour driver, who took us on a trip for about one hour and a hafe. she lied about most homes because i looked them up and on top of that she was argueing with customers just like her boss did with her workers. my group was charge 30 dollars and others was charge 20 dollars which is very unfair. if your on hollywood blvd dont take a tour with that company, watch out for because they are dogs.... here is there web site so your wont get caught up in their scam. www.superstarcelbrityhometours.com
Unique Suggestions: Do your reserch dont get sucker in with hollywood tours where the boss is rude to her staff.
Fun Alternatives: Dont do it to your self stay clear away for the scamers at hollywood tours. between mc donalds and guiness world of records.
The 'star homes maps' - don't buy them! They're outdated and hardly anybody still lives at the addresses listed. You can get better lists for free on the net - print them before you go if you're a stars-homes-hunter.