We decided to do a day in LA last weekend. We live an hour outside of Los Angeles (two hours with traffic at times) so you would assume we know the city well. Well, not so much. Los Angeles can be a tough city for tourists…it’s very spread out and the public transportation, while emerging, is still less than convenient…especially from the burbs. Although, my friend from New York recently visited LA and got around quite well with the Metro (but she was staying downtown so that helped). However, in true Southern CA style, we drove our car.
We had several LA-based destinations in mind when we planned our day, but hitting Madame Tussauds wax museum on Hollywood Boulevard was high on our list. A friend had recommended Madame Tussauds for our London visit. Since we have this museum in Hollywood as well, I decided to visit it there and save my London time for other things.
Madam Tussauds is at Hollywood and Highland, which is basically tourist central. Hollywood and Highland is an intersection of those two streets, but there is also an open air center there called Hollywood and Highland. Inside the center (where there is a ton of parking) are all the usual mall stores, but since they are in LA, they are much cooler! My daughters thought the Hot Topic store there was MUCH better than the one at home. (go figure!) The center also has a huge Dolby Theater a lot of restaurant options, including the Hard Rock cafe. But, we just parked, used the restroom, browsed briefly and bought an Aunt Annie’s pretzel to validate our parking, so that’s all we can comment on!
We headed south on Hollywood Blvd (away from the mall and toward Madame Tussauds), and we saw the Hollywood Stars on the sidewalk. We stopped to take a pic with Christina Aguilera as a tribute to my daughter’s love of The Voice.
Be aware that during high tourist season, this side walk will be very crowded and people will stop abruptly to take pictures of the sidewalk or even selfies with the sidewalk. So watch your step! Also note, there are a lot of actors/pan handers dressed up in costumes roaming this part of Hollywood Blvd. They will do crazy things to get you to take their picture (and then expect you to tip them). Sometimes they will even grab your arm to get your attention so be aware. My daughter’s arm was grabbed a couple of years ago…no harm, but it freaked her out.
We went on the worst possible day, and we knew it. First, it was summer. Second, it was a weekend day. And third, it was a holiday weekend. So we didn’t spend much time wandering and enjoying the sites and people watching. But, I guarantee you, this people watching is some of the best and most entertaining anywhere!
I did stop to take notice that there were several “hop on, hop off” open-air bus options, including Starline Tours. I later looked them up on Trip Advisor and they don’t get great reviews. But I can’t help but think this is kind of a fun way to see parts of LA since it is so spread out. Maybe something to consider.
Amidst this chaos we found the Chinese Theater (and yes, its actually still a movie theater inside, but it’s no longer owned by Sid Grauman) and in front of the theater are the handprints and footprints (cast in cement) of many famous celebrities. My favorite was the cast of Harry Potter, but since it was so mobbed, we didn’t stick around and explore more. To the left of the handprints is the entrance to Madame Tussauds.
Entrance to the wax museum was a bit pricey. We went on the 3rd of July and took advantage of a 50% off discount for military families. That discount is over, but I just saw another “Buy One, Get One Free” offer through Subway that is good until 12/31/16. The promotion code is Subway2016. I suggest you buy your tickets online, use the code and print them out in advance. We bypassed several families waiting in line to buy tickets, which is always fun.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Wax Museum. Some of the figures were better than others for sure. Betty White and Justin Timberlake were two of the best! But, what we enjoyed the most was the ability to interact with the scenes that they created for the wax figures. There are costumes you can put on and props you can use. You can sit on a camel with Lawrence of Arabia or sit and have breakfast at Tiffanys! Or even get in a shower! This made the museum experience come alive for us and caused us to take a ton of fun photos!
After the museum there is the requisite gift shop. This part of Hollywood Boulevard has a lot of stores that sell trinkets and trash. Across the street from the Chinese Theater is much less crowded for shopping. Across the street are also two destinations we’ve enjoyed in the past. El Capitan theater is a fun place to see Disney movies. They have a soda fountain/diner and store attached to the theater to make it a complete destination. LOL! For a more adult experience, we love the Hollywood Roosevelt and the burgers at the restaurant 25 Degrees, where I can still taste the delicious burger (and wine perfectly paired with it) that I ate a while back.
We decided to leave Hollywood and have lunch in the quieter Los Feliz. In the spirit of exploring LA, we wanted to visit a few different neighborhoods. Then, we made our way to Griffith Observatory to check out some different types of stars! Check out our blog More Star Sightings for our Day in LA!