Lights, Camera, Action: Hollywood’s Glamour and History

Hollywood is one part place and one part people. Although an iconic American destination, it is the people behind the ingenuity of its nightlife, culinary, and cinematic scene who contribute to its fame.

We began our stay at The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills. Its modern, contemporary design complimented the immaculately clean layout. The staff are courteous and went out of their way to be of assistance. A cordial server delivered delicious food with a stunning presentation. The bartender had a similar energy with his friendly and welcoming tone. We learned that Joan Jett once lived in a pink house across the street.

After a great dinner at Harriets’ rooftop, we toured 1 Hotel below. Each room has an earthy feel with plants and wooden decor, which is complimented by the kind staff.

ABOVE: Hiking with Bikes and Hikes Tours to one of the most photographed signs in the world.

One of the best ways to explore a city is through ground-level experience. We did just that when we got our blood pumping with Bikes and Hikes Tours as we walked to the iconic Hollywood sign. Our guide was very knowledgeable and had countless stories to tell us as we climbed to the viewpoint. We ended the night with the most incredible food at Kantana Restaurant. The chef prepared us a one-of-a-kind sushi plate that I am still craving.

ABOVE: Kantana Restaurant has a super hip vibe, a DJ in the main dining room, and some of the best sushi.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a fun and immersive experience. We enjoyed ourselves in the room full of cameras that recorded us receiving an Oscar, and a blue screen showed a crowd cheering. The museum also has fun facts about different movies and their history—perfect for film buffs.

ABOVE: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a massive museum that is a must-see for film buffs. It features displays of costumes from famous films, artifacts, movie posters, a room full of screens playing movies, and a great on-site restaurant/bar where you can refuel.

Afterwards, we embarked on a Rock n’ Walk Tour with Jon D’Amico to learn more about the history of West Hollywood. As a bass player, stage manager, photographer and work experience with the Los Angeles Kiss arena football team, Jon is the perfect source to learn all about West Hollywood.

ABOVE: OLM writer George Stryker can add his name to the list of musicians — The Rolling Stones, The Clash, Stray Cats, Cyndi Lauper, Guns n’ Roses and so many more — who have visited and/or stayed at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood! Next visit, he will bring his band and record in the hotel’s basement studio. RIGHT: A guitar sculpture with images of famous people who have stayed at the Sunset Marquis.

We stopped by the famous Barney’s Beanery restaurant, which was once the end of Route 66. With 100 years of history under its belt, the restaurant has been loved by celebrities for many decades and is a favourite of Lenny Kravits, Denzel Washington and Miley Cyrus. It was the last place Janis Joplin visited before she passed away.

Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood

Our last stop was the Sunset Strip, which used to be run by gangsters until families began moving in after World War II. Supreme Store (originally named Tower Records) preserves remnants of West Hollywood’s edgy past. What began as a cash-only pop-up store transformed into a target for gangs who stood outside to rob people standing in line. Another example is Viper Room, which was once run by gangster Mickey Cohen and owned by Johnny Depp. It’s a place of light and dark Hollywood history — River Phoenix passed away out front, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had their first show on its stage.

ABOVE: The original and current sign of the Lair of Hollywood Vampires, an attic space in the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Strip in Hollywood that was a “drinking club.” Its first member was Alice Cooper. Other members included John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, and Micky Dolenz. RIGHT: George Stryker stands in front of a sign for the famous Viper Room, an intimate nightclub styled in the fashion of a Harlem Jazz club that is also known as “Johnny Depp’s Joint”

We also enjoyed touring Book Soup, “bookstore to the great and the infamous,” and one of the main celebrity book signing stops. Elton John is a regular and thus known as the store’s “patron saint.”

My journey through Hollywood was nothing short of mesmerizing. Every moment was filled with the thrill of exploring the ode to pop culture and the American cinematic universe. Hollywood embodies the essence of the highs and the lows of American ingenuity and creativity, rightfully placed under the banner of iconic American destinations.

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