10 Travel Hacks to Hollywood

September 4, 2020

My family and I made the trek to Hollywood, by way of Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona Arizona a few years back. We learned quite a bit while we were there. The weather was as pristine as it appears in the movies and television.

One thing I noticed, the mountains look a lot like the mountains in Korea. I know because I’ve seen every episode of M*A*S*H at least four times. The Los Angeles area sure has grown up a lot since the days of Dragnet, Adam-12, and EMERGENCY!

You didn’t read this to hear about me and my sideline items, so here are my top ten things to know before you go:

1. Know where you are and where you are going.

There is a big difference between Hollywood, West Hollywood, and North Hollywood. They are different cities in the Los Angeles area. So, know before you go — or even before you make reservations.

2. It’s almost always sunny.

Temperatures at the beach average 70 degrees (F) year-round. Temperatures can easily exceed that further inland, without the cool ocean breeze.

Remember that you’re in the desert here, so you might want to start with a sweatshirt in the morning, and if you’ll be out after sunset, you will need pants. It gets a might cool at night.

3. When traveling, be mindful of traffic.

Most travel necessitates the use of a car. Many people are distrustful of the public transportation system in LA, so keep that in mind.

Travel by almost everyone is done by car because the LA area is a huge sprawling area without a city center. The highways and streets are normally full of traffic. Directions are measured in minutes, instead of miles.

4. Hollywood isn’t what you expect.

When we were there, we walked the Sunset Strip, saw the famous Chinese Theater, the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, and the stars lining the walk of fame. There are lots of stars.

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Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theater) — John M. Dabbs

Don’t expect to see stars and starlets out and about. The city is actually a bit dirty and there are bums and street people out and about. The famed LAPD black and white cruisers look much different up close. The ones we saw (big commotions in the area are apparently normal) were beat up and scratched, but they really look sharp from a distance, just like on TV!

5. Bathrooms

When out and about, do not expect to find readily accessible public bathrooms. Use them in restaurants if you will, but be sure to order and eat there too. It would be rude not too and is frowned upon quite severely.

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Kermit’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — John M. Dabbs

My wife almost became involved in an altercation due to breakfast not sitting well with her. Only after making threats of dropping trou’ and going in the front did she make entry and use the facilities before having enough time to order anything. That would have been a fine mess she’d gotten us into. (Ha!)

6. You should make it to the beach.

The beaches around LA are beautiful. Many people do not realize there are so many beaches, due to the prominent names thrown around.

Realize you may not want to go swimming. You see the people surfing on TV and here in person? They are wearing wetsuits for a reason. The water is cold! That beautiful blue pacific has the current coming down from Alaska. The water temperatures do not make it above 70 as they do on the east coast — where the current is coming up from the Caribbean.

7. Places to Stay

The normal rates can be expensive in the Hollywood/Los Angeles area. Your best bet is to know the area you are visiting and begin scouring the discount travel sites, such as Expedia, Priceline, Kayak, and such.

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Home used for Ironman residence — John M. Dabbs

We lucked into an all-inclusive apartment with private swimming pool and hot tub facilities just off Hollywood Boulevard for nearly nothing. We are seldom this lucky, but it does happen. It will not ever happen if you don’t at least try. Start looking at least a month out for the best results.

8. Think twice before taking one of the celebrity tours

These can be tempting, as you ponder the possibility of seeing a celebrity out on their lawn or walking around town. Seriously? Think about it. If you were a celebrity and lived in the area, would you be sitting out in your yard waving to the tour buses going by? Remember, it’s hot. They’ll be sitting inside where it is air-conditioned, or in the back inside the fence beside their private pool.

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John M. Dabbs

Okay, now that being said — I was hot when we were there, so I talked my wife into taking a tour that lasted 1.5–2 hours because I was hot and tired, and the buses are air-conditioned. We did get a glimpse of the homes in Bel Air, and we saw the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood sign, and fancy stores. We did not see anything resembling a celebrity, but they did point out where their homes were behind the big privacy fences.

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Hollywood Bowl — John M. Dabs

9. Don’t be afraid of street food

If you’re like us, you aren’t planning the trip for the fine-dining and most likely do not have the funds for it either. To save a few bucks and experience some great food try the street vendors and food trucks.

No one wants to eat the same food on vacation as they eat every day at home — for the most part. Why have Taco Bell at home and Taco Bell on vacation when there are many other options to explore. Some of the best food you’ll find, especially on a budget, is right on the corner — or out in the street. That’s catchy. Someone should use that in a song.

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John M. Dabs

10. Walk

There is a lot to see and do in the Hollywood area. I recommend you put on your walking shoes and start early. It’s not only great exercise, but you will also be able to see so much more and get a real feel for the place.

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Capitol Records Building — John M. Dabbs

Most of us take riding in cars for granted. We miss a tremendous amount of art and nuance when we drive. We found a fire-station, acting schools, many stores for browsing and free galleries — or were they museums…

The point is, take your camera and get out there and enjoy it! You’ll never experience Hollywood by driving through it. You’ll only experience the traffic. The people we met were friendly.

The nature of vacation is to explore and relax. There isn’t a better way that I know of to do both. I captured some great photos on our trip. None of them had a celebrity, and I didn’t miss them. We see them enough in movies and tabloids.

One more thing! In case you do drive, remember one thing — take extra money to pay for parking. Pay attention, and do not text and drive.