Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States, and its coastal location and status as a cultural melting pot make it worth a visit for anyone. Film buffs in particular will find a lot to love in the City of Angels thanks to its status as the birthplace of modern filmmaking. Plan your trip around the various movie-history places to visit in Los Angeles before you pick out your vacation rental home.
Major Film Landmarks
- Hollywood Walk of Fame: Created in 1960 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the Walk of Fame is a tribute to artists, directors, musicians, and writers who have influenced the entertainment industry in the United States. Along Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll find over 2,000 stars embedded along the sidewalk, dedicated to creatives in the film industry.
- Grauman’s Chinese Theater: Also known as TCL Chinese Theatre, this iconic building is an ornate movie palace found along the Walk of Fame. The film history of the site began in the early 1910s when the land was bought by Sid Grauman to build this magnificent Chinese Theatre.
- Dolby Theatre: Within walking distance of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, this live-performance auditorium — originally named the Kodak Theatre — was the first theatre that took shape from an original design conceived specifically for cinematic exhibitions. Since its opening on November 9, 2001, it has been the venue for the annual Academy Awards ceremony.
- Wax Museums: Continuing your stroll along Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll find two world-famous wax museums: the Hollywood Wax Museum and Madame Tussauds Hollywood, featuring replicas of celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Marilyn Monroe, Tupac, Jimmy Kimmel, and many more. Snap a selfie with life-like figures of your favorite stars!
- Lake Hollywood Park: If you’d rather avoid crowds and want to feel more like a local, this is a great place for a picnic and a clear view of the famous hillside Hollywood sign.
Famous Filming Locations
There are some less touristy, but just as fun, movie sights to see in Los Angeles, including famous spots that have been in dozens of movies and TV shows.
- Griffith Park Observatory: The Griffith Observatory is one such spot that’s worth a visit for its silver-screen pedigree and also because it provides an amazing view of the city, including the Hollywood sign.
- Santa Monica Pier: Although it hasn’t been featured in as many movies and shows as the Griffith Park Observatory, you’re still likely to find some familiar views. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy carnival rides and beach views during your trip to enjoy Hollywood history.
- Guided Tours: One great way to see filming locations around LA is to book a guided tour or take a self-guided tour in a car. Neighborhoods like Hollywood and Century City offer quick glimpses of filming locations (from “Pretty Woman” and “Die Hard,” respectively).
- Los Feliz: Even Los Feliz, a mostly residential area that feels a bit suburban, is home to a famous filming location in the form of John Marshall High School, which you’ll recognize from movies like “Grease” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Doing some research to map out the locations that matter most to you will make it easiest to build a full day around your sightseeing tour without spending the entire day in the car. Some parts of town are more worth visiting for a coffee or meal than others, so try to schedule your tour around important breaks. You don’t want to burn out.
Hollywood Studio Tours
Universal Studios is an obvious go-to attraction for both theme park enthusiasts and movie fanatics. There’s a lot of structured fun to be had at Universal Studios, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the actual studio lot tour — which has been converted into a theme park ride. Movie fans who want a more low-key, authentic experience may prefer the Paramount Studios lot tour. Compared to the highly produced and busy Universal Studios lot tour, the Paramount tour is an intimate look into cinematic history.
Other famous studios don’t offer tours, but very dedicated movie tourists may want to stop for a picture outside the gates. The Jim Henson Company lot, which was once known as the Charlie Chaplin Studios after its famous founder, has a beautiful outside gate that features a statue of Kermit doffing his hat to visitors.
Where to Stay in LA
So where’s the best place to look for a vacation home rental when you visit Los Angeles as an eager movie tourist? There isn’t a single ideal location. In general, you want to avoid coastal locales like Venice and Malibu. Instead, focus on staying fairly close to the heart of the city and Hollywood itself.
West Hollywood, also known as WeHo, is a great choice thanks to its prominent location and fun atmosphere. The Hollywood neighborhood may also offer some fun vacation rental opportunities, though parts of this area can be a bit sketchy. Both WeHo and Hollywood offer easy access to city sights like the Hollywood and Highland center, but if you want to get out to see more of LA, you’ll probably want to rent a car.
You can also immerse yourself in old Hollywood glamour by renting a historic vacation mansion in Beverly Hills or the Hollywood Hills. These locations are both farther out and are best accessible with a car. Visitors who want a quieter place to stay and those who potentially want to be temporary neighbors with actual celebrities might want to take advantage of this option.
The hipster neighborhood of Silver Lake exists thanks to a wave of migration into Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s. Artists, musicians, techies, and professionals sought out communities outside of the usual urban setting and found their way here. The neighborhood is known for its eclectic businesses and nightlife, located roughly 30 minutes away from the heart of Hollywood Boulevard.
No matter where you end up staying, your Los Angeles vacation home will offer plenty of access to the film history places you want to see. Just make sure to plan carefully before you book so that you know whether the houses you’re considering are close enough to what you want to see. Even with a car, you don’t want to put yourself too far away from the must-do things on your list. LA traffic is notorious, even when it’s not rush hour, so don’t put yourself in a position where you end up spending most of your vacation in the car.