Star in Your Own (Vacation) Production, Hollywood Style!

There’s so much to see and do in Los Angeles that you might feel like you need a personal assistant to get you around. Here are some DIY scenarios to get you from the beaches to the back lots in style.

Location, Location

If you’d like a family-friendly neighbourhood close to the Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood might be just what you’re looking for. Beverly Hills, Laurel Canyon, trendy boutiques, plenty of shopping and dozens of restaurants are all located near the new eco-conscious 1 Hotel West Hollywood – Read our Review of 1 Hotel West Hollywood here. There are two Hop On Hop Off stops along Sunset Boulevard, and it’s only a short drive to movie fun at Universal Studios and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

Poolside views of LA from 1 Hotel - photo Debra Smith

Poolside views of LA from 1 Hotel – photo Debra Smith

 

Places Everyone

Let’s face facts. At 1214 square kilometres (about ten times the size of Paris), Los Angeles is not what you’d call a walkable city. There are 10,500 kilometres of streets and about 6.4 million cars whizzing around on them at any given moment and must-see locations are spread all over the city. How to avoid the madness and still see the sights? Jump on a Starline Tours Hop On Hop Off tour bus.



These open-top, double-decker buses give you a great view of local landmarks like the La Brea Tar Pits, Pink’s Hot Dogs, and the Farmers Market, plus you can jump off and check out attractions on the spur of the moment. The commentary is delivered via complimentary headphones, so you won’t miss a thing when you rejoin the next bus.

West Hollywood Hop On Hop Off tours leave from in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre - photo Debra Smith

Hop On Hop Off tours leave from in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – photo Debra Smith

Three main tour routes cover everywhere from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to the Santa Monica Pier, and they’re all included in a daily pass. Shuttle service from several local hotels to Universal Studios, Hollywood and downtown LA are also available. After celebrating 50 years in the tour bus business, Starline Tours knows how to customize a tour, so if you only have time to take a selfie in front of the Hollywood sign, there’s a Hollywood Sign Tour by car that will take you right there. Want to find out where the stars live? There’s a two-hour Starline Celebrity Homes tour for that too.

If the shoe fits it must belong to Ryan Gosling on the Hollywood Walk of Fame near West Hollywood - photo Debra Smith

If the shoe fits it must belong to Ryan Gosling on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – photo Debra Smith

Action:

If you like a heart-stopping thrill ride, Universal Studios Hollywood delivers. Their Ultimate Hollywood Studio Tour not only takes you onto familiar sets from Jaws and Psycho, but you’ll also race through the jungle as King Kong shakes up your bus. Then hang on tight for a ride-along car chase with the stars of the Fast & Furious, and other exciting 3D special effects. Their latest addition, Jurassic World – The Ride, is a mind-blowing mix of dinos and a roller coaster splash ride. Kids are delighted to get up close to see raptors and a baby triceratops when their “trainers” bring them out.

Puns and fun around every corner of Springfield at Universal Studios - photo Debra Smith

Puns and fun around every corner of Springfield at Universal Studios – photo Debra Smith

For equally fun, but less frightening rides for the younger set, visit Springfield and catch all the inside jokes on The Simpsons Ride, a virtual reality trip into cartoon land. Then head over to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for a Butterbeer and a chocolate frog at Honeydukes. Meet the train conductor and visit the wand shop in a picture-perfect recreation of Hogsmeade village. The 4D ride over Hogwarts is an utterly convincing flight of fancy. Check out the gift shop and watch your wallet grow wings. It’s hard to resist when a wand calls your name. Pro tips: It’s worth it to upgrade to an Ultimate Express pass for one-time skip-the-line access to each of over a dozen rides and unique attractions. Check out the Universal Citywalk shopping and dining area outside the park for upscale restaurant options.

 

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Special Effects:

If you grew up watching Gilmore Girls, or watched every episode of Friends, or if you just love movies from Aquaman to Zelig, then a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is for you. Starting in 1923 with silent films, Warner Bros. Studios rode the ups and downs of the movie business from musicals to gangster flicks, through Hollywood’s Golden Age, moving into music and television and today’s blockbusters.  Riding through the backlots and soundstages you’ll see names that you’re sure to recognize from Gone With the Wind to Batman and the Harry Potter series, the biggest grossing movie series of all time.  Tour the sets and find out where, and how, your favourite movies and shows were made with knowledgeable tour guides.

New York recreated on the backlot of The Warner Bros Studio Tour - photo Debra Smith

New York recreated on the backlot of The Warner Bros Studio Tour – photo Debra Smith

There’s a stop at the Costume Institute to see costumes and props from the studio’s latest hits. Take a break at the Central Perk coffee shop, then raise a cup on the actual set from Friends. You can even sit in Sheldon’s spot on the couch from The Big Bang Theory. It’s the latest set to be added to the collection. Visit Lorelei’s home in Star’s Hollow, then sit on the bandstand with a view of Luke’s Diner from Gilmore Girls.

Warner Bros Studio Costume Institute features outfits from the latest blockbusters - photo Debra Smith

Warner Bros Studio Costume Institute features outfits from the latest blockbusters – photo Debra Smith

Three different tours give you unique insights into the business of movie-making, with optional visits to the Property and Costume departments. There are horror movie-themed tours at Hallowe’en and Christmas themed special events in December. Pro tips: If you’d like to be an audience member at a show taped at Warner Bros. Studios, apply early at tvtix.com. For free tickets to Ellen, check here.  There’s much more to see in West Hollywood before you call it a wrap.

Where Ellen hangs out most days at the Warner Bros Studios - photo Debra Smith

Where Ellen hangs out most days at the Warner Bros Studios – photo Debra Smith

The writer was a guest of Visit West Hollywood and the attractions mentioned. As always, her opinions are her own. For more photographs of California follow her on Instagram @where.to.lady

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Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.

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