After two full days of sightseeing, there are still plenty of top attractions in L.A. to experience, and hopefully there's still room on your credit card. Again, be ready with comfy shoes, strong coffee, and a red convertible.
Start: 5555 Melrose Ave.
1. Paramount Pictures
Yes, another studio tour, but this one's my favorite. Paramount Pictures is the only major studio located within the city of Hollywood, so its hallowed grounds are oozing with history. The 2-hour walking tour is both a historical ode to filmmaking and a real-life, behind-the-scenes look at working movie and television facilities in day-to-day operation; ergo, no two tours are alike, and chances of spotting a celebrity are pretty good. What you'll get to see depends on what's being filmed while you're there, but it's cool just to hang out on the other side of that big wall.
Right behind Paramount Pictures—they share a back wall—on Santa Monica Boulevard is the main entrance to:
2. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
This "resting place of Hollywood immortals" is 60 minutes well spent walking around the meticulously manicured lawns, searching for familiar names such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks (Sr. and Jr.), Peter Lorre, Mickey Rooney, Estelle Getty, Anton Yelchin, and Jayne Mansfield. Fittingly, there's a terrific view of the Hollywood sign from here. You can pick up a map of the stars' burial sites at the flower shop.
For a lunch break, drive about a mile east on Melrose Avenue to La Brea Avenue for:
3. Take a Break: Pink's Hot Dogs
On weekends the line wraps around the building at Pink's Hot Dogs, an L.A. icon that's been dishing dogs since 1939. About 2,000 of them are served every day in more than 20 varieties, including a heartburn-inducing chili dog made from a secret formula that will stick with you for days. If the line's doable, give it a try. 709 N. La Brea Ave. (at Melrose Ave.).
Drive south on La Brea Avenue for about a mile, then turn right (west) onto Wilshire Boulevard. About 10 blocks down on your right side is:
4. La Brea Tar Pits
There's something about this odorous swamp of gooey asphalt oozing to the earth's surface that's fascinating. Perhaps it's the La Brea Tar Pits' location: smack-dab in the middle of Los Angeles, the last place you'd expect to find this truly bizarre primal pool of hot tar that's been bubbling from the earth for more than 40,000 years. Nearly 400 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish—many of which are now extinct—walked, crawled, landed, swam, or slithered into the sticky sludge, got stuck in the worst way, and stayed forever. It looks like a fake Disney set, complete with cement mastodons in the throes of certain death, wailing from hidden speakers. If you have time, stop in the adjacent Page Museum, which houses the largest and most diverse collection of Ice Age plants and animals in the world.
Head east on Wilshire Boulevard to the Downtown area, turn left on South Figueroa Street, then right on West 1st Street. At South Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets is the:
5. Walt Disney Concert Hall
The strikingly beautiful Walt Disney Concert Hall is a masterpiece of design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Even if you don't have the slightest interest in architecture, you will experience shock and awe the first time you see the impossibly curvaceous stainless-steel exterior. The 45-minute self-guided audio tour is excellent: Narrated by actor John Lithgow, it takes you all over the building and includes interviews with Gehry. Within is a dazzling 2,265-seat auditorium, but you usually can't see it unless you attend a performance (which we strongly recommend).
Get back on Wilshire Boulevard and head west about 9 miles to Beverly Hills. Just before Santa Monica Boulevard on your right-hand side is:
6. Beverly Hills's Rodeo Drive
Okay, that's enough sightseeing for today—let's go shopping along one of the wealthiest and most famous shopping streets in the world: Rodeo Drive. Within Beverly Hills's Golden Triangle—a 16-square-block area surrounding Rodeo Drive—are the couture shops from high fashion's old guard: Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Tiffany, and all the rest. If $15,000 is a bit out of your price range for a suit, the shops off Rodeo are generally not as name-conscious as those on the strip, and you might actually be able to afford something.
7. Take a Break: Il Pastaio
This corner restaurant within the Golden Triangle is the place to take a break from shopping and dine on superb Italian food. Ask for a sidewalk table, then order a bottle of chianti, the arancini appetizer, the pumpkin tortelloni in a light sage-and-cream sauce, and for the finale, the silkiest panna cotta you'll ever swoon over. 400 N. Canon Dr.
Now you have two options. To get to the Pantages Theater from Beverly Hills, head east on Santa Monica Boulevard, turn left onto North Fairfax Avenue, then right onto Hollywood Boulevard. Head east about 2 miles to 6233 Hollywood Blvd.
To get to the Orpheum Theatre from Beverly Hills, take I-10 east to Hwy. 110 north, exit at 8th Street/9th Street, and take 9th Street eastward. Turn left onto Broadway, and the theater is on the right side of the street.
8. Pantages & Orpheum Theaters
You really should end your vacation with a grand show at one of L.A.’s major playhouses, preferably the Pantages or Orpheum theatres, historical and cultural landmarks that have been meticulously restored. Opened in 1930, the Pantages was the first Art Deco movie palace in the U.S. and site of the Academy Awards from 1949 to 1959. Built in 1926, the Orpheum has hosted performances ranging from Judy Garland’s 1933 vaudeville act to Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. Just being inside either of these historic theaters is a thrill, and seeing a show here is a fitting end to your vacation at the film and entertainment capital of the world. While both are equally majestic, the Pantages has more of a regular schedule, as it’s the home of Broadway L.A., which brings major touring productions to the city.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.