Hollywood is an exciting place to explore at all ages especially for kids and teens.
Even though we live in Los Angeles for many years, and have visited countless times it still is my son’s favorite place to go and walk around when he has a free day.
For those among you who have visited yet – here is a list of the ‘must see’ highlights.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
Compiled of 2,500 stars on the three principal thoroughfares Hollywood Vine and Sunset the Hollywood walk of fame is what one associates with Hollywood in the movies.
What people don’t know is the fact it is the city’s Chamber of Commerce that oversees the care of each star on the sidewalks and processes the applications. Turns out anyone can nominate a celebrity as long as they file a written request, get a celebrity to sign a letter of agreement and come up with the hefty $30k fee.
When you walk around to make sure to point out to your kid the different entertainment categories that celebrities can be nominated for like acting in movies, acting on TV, comedy and music.Look for your favorite celebrity or find the more well-known ones like Marilyn Monroe and Richard Burton-Liz Taylor stars that are placed next to one another.
TCL Chinese Theatre
The TCL Chinese Theatre built in the 1920’s and declared a historic landmark in 1968 has gone through multiple names over the decades. The front courtyard features handprints and footprints of celebrities while the renovated lobby is decorated with artifacts from past movie sets.
The courtyard is a good spot to get that souvenir snapshot with one of the costumed characters the boulevard is famous for, just make sure you negotiate the price before taking a picture.
Have your kid go up and down the steps leading to the Dolby theater that are interactive and change sounds and lights each time.
Hollywood and Highland Center
A massive complex that occupies two city blocks, the Hollywood and Vine Center successfully combines stores and restaurants, along with the theater that is home to the Academy Awards.
Its ‘piece de resistance’ is undoubtedly the spectacular Babylon court inspired by D.W. Griffith’s classic 1916 movie with gargantuan pillars topped by marble elephants.
The second floor is the perfect spot to snap that iconic shot of the Hollywood sign framed with the building’s framed by art deco arches.
After you finish gawking at the Griffith elephants, head on down with your kids to the bottom level where you can have fun tracing celebrity quotes.
The Dolby Theatre
Formerly known as The Kodak Theater, the newly renamed Dolby Theater has hosted the Academy Awards since 2001 and is scheduled to continue through 2021.
If you are a movie buff like my son with autism then, you have got to take the 45 minutes sightseeing tour offered. Visitors walk through the Digital VIP lounge (with an Oscar on display); the lobby filled with framed photos of award recipients and check out the actual seats each celebrity sat in the previous year.
If you can’t take the tour be sure to stop by the majestic staircase and see the plaques detailing the names of all the academy award winning movies in the main lobby.
Located on the second level of the Hollywood and Highland Center, Sweet! Hollywood is a 30,000 square foot candy emporium that would make Willy Wonka proud.
The store tagged as the largest of its kind boasts multiple candy-tasting machines throughout the shop and several stations where you can watch candy and chocolate made right before your eyes.
Make sure you see all the displays and taste all the samples offered before you decide what sweets to buy.
Chado Tea House
Chado (Chinese for tea and Japanese for path) is a unique tea house offering over serving over 300 different types of tea at the Hollywood Highland Center.
The restaurant is serving mini sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts is the perfect stop for a quick bite on the Boulevard after walking around.
Make sure you call ahead and get a reservation as the place is packed particularly on weekends.
The Roosevelt Hotel
Named after President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel on Hollywood Boulevard officially opened in 1927. The Hotel is famous for hosting the very first Academy Awards in 1929 as well as being a favorite hideaway spot for stars like Marilyn Monroe, Carol Lombard, and Mae West.
The locale is still quite popular with the jet set crowd, and you can spot celebrities lounging by the pool and cabanas on weekend afternoons.
Don’t leave without walking up and down the Spanish tiled steps where Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and Shirley Temple practiced their dancing moves.
Part of the three themed theaters on Hollywood Boulevard, envisioned by C.Toberman in the early 1920s the El Capitan theater currently serves as home to the Jimmy Kimmel Live and Disney movies premieres.
The 1550 seat theater boasts a refurbished Wurlitzer organ and exhibit area that displays props and memorabilia accompanying the film shown.
For budding Disney aficionados, the theater offers a unique behind the scene tour ( 15 dollars) that includes a private view of the curtain show and unique photo-op with the organ.
When purchasing tickets bear in mind that the seats are rather narrow and not easy to get out of so if you have an antsy child that needs to move around ask for an aisle seat.
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop
Located on Hollywood Boulevard adjacent to the El Capitan theater the Ghirardelli soda fountain has bar seating, as well as tables.
Patrons can enjoy ice cream and chocolate treats themed after the movie shown at the theater next door.
Our top choice is Pin Trader Sundae Delight (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream scoops) which also comes with a limited edition pin.
The place is insanely popular particularly on the summer weekends, so the best time to come is to arrive when they first open at 10 am.
Thomas Suriya’s ‘You are the star ‘ Mural
As fans of urban and street art, we’ve always enjoyed the wall murals in the various parts of LA.As you walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard, you will come across multiple paintings some on the stores’ metal shutters.
However, the best known is Thomas Suriya’s 1983 ‘be a star’ on Wilcox depicting Hollywood legends sitting in a darkened room watching the people passing by.
Stand across the street for a better view and have a family contest on how many legends you and your family can recognize in the first five minutes.
Autism Travel Tips
Hollywood Boulevard can get quite crowded and noisy, so the best time to walk around is early morning.
Make sure you go over street crossing rules with your kid before visiting since there is quite a bit of traffic on the Boulevard and nearby streets.