Hollywood 1 Day Itinerary with Kids
When I told my girls they were going to California for the first time, to L.A., my youngest screamed out “I want to see the Hollywood sign!”. I wasn’t expecting that, but then again why wouldn’t I? For a young girl going to the land of stars for the first time, of course she wants to go to iconic Hollywood! So I, along with the help of my aunt, who lives in L.A., devised a fun 1 day Hollywood itinerary.
The Hollywood 1 day itinerary includes some of the better known places to see, as well as some of the not so well-known. It requires a car, as we visited different spots in the Hollywood Hills as well as Hollywood Boulevard. Please note not included in this itinerary is Universal Studios – we’ve already been to the one in Orlando, which was amazing, but didn’t feel the need to go to the Hollywood one with a limited time frame. But for many families, that is the main draw of Hollywood. Here’s what we got up to:
First stop: A visit to the Whimsical Garden of Oz
Our first stop in our Hollywood day was a visit to the very secret Garden of Oz in Beechwood Canyon. Most people, including L.A. residents, don’t know about it, but thanks to my aunt’s local intel, she was able to secure us a “by appointment only” visit to one of Hollywood’s little-known gems.
In the early 90’s Beachwood Canyon resident Gail Cottman turned the plot of land right below her home into a flower-filled garden. As the flowers were set in concrete, her contractor decided to liven things up and add tiled mosaics, beads and other colorful art works. Noticing the new look, it reminded Gail of one of her favorite movies and books, “The Wizard of Oz”. From there, the idea took off, as did the garden, and soon everything Munchkinland would be created, turning the space into a whimsical, fairytale-like garden oasis.
Following the Yellow Brick Road, what at first seems like a small, but precious garden, turns into an enormous space full of tiled staircases, thrones, secret reading spots, and thousands of colorful mosaics everywhere you look. One could say it looks a lot like stepping into a Gaudi creation, and that it did feel like – in fact one of the sections of the garden is dedicated to Gaudi. Beyond that, there are several dedications to inspirational people throughout our world and history, including the Daiai Lama, Princess Diana, Don Quixote, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. There are quotes everywhere, including “Oz is a celebration of nature, whimsey, the child in all of us”, which best describes the garden.
Visiting the Garden of Oz was a real treat for my kids – you can’t help but feel you’ve entered a magical world full of artistry and whimsy. And seeing as it was created for “the child in all of us”, apparently Gail has given all the neighborhood kids a key. For them, they can go as they wish. But for the public, it’s only open at specific times. If you would like the information on how to make an appointment, please comment below and leave your email. It’s a very special and secret spot, and one worth seeing!
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Next stop: The Hollywood Sign
Seeing as we were in the hills in Beachwood Canyon, the Hollywood Sign was very close and our next stop. My girls couldn’t wait to see the cultural icon that is the Hollywood Sign. They’ve seen it in the movies, on T.V., in books, you name it they were eager to go. The 45-foot high and 352 feet-long sign is located on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills. There are several ways to see the sign, all of which can be accessed by car, bus or hiking. My aunt had a secret residential spot she took us too where we got as close as you can possibly be. I’m not allowed to reveal it – sorry! – but see the Hollywood Sign website for all the different viewpoints and ways of seeing the sign.
The Hollywood Sign was a real highlight of our trip for my girls, as it represented so much of California and L.A. they had come to know through pop culture and the movies. To them, it was like finally seeing a celebrity. They took photos, videos, showed their friends..it was exciting. There are so many different spots to get a glimpse of the sign, that even if you don’t make a point of it to see it, if you’re in Hollywood you probably will!
Next stop: Lunch at the Beachwood Café
At the bottom of Beachwood Canyon is the very popular, but low-key Beachwood Café. This is a great spot to head for lunch, and it’s even said you might spot a celeb or two. The ambience is informal, but hip, and the food is delicious, with a healthy slant. We enjoyed soup and salad, burgers, mac n cheese and fresh baked desserts. It was the perfect place to stop and refuel on our Hollywood whirlwind.
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Next stop: The Griffith Observatory
Recently made even more famous by appearing in the movie La La Land, I would be lying if I didn’t say that movie was a big draw! My older daughter saw the movie and loved it (to my surprise..I mean I loved it, didn’t think a 10 year old would) and when she found out we were going to the Griffith Observatory she was ecstatic. So from Beachwood Canyon we headed to Mount Hollywood where the Griffith Observatory is located in Griffith Park. Perched on a hill, on a good day you can see downtown L.A., Hollywood, the L.A. Basin, and the Pacific Ocean. The observatory also has really great views of the Hollywood Sign. For many people, this is the main reason for visiting – its views.
But, of course, the Griffith Observatory is an incredible resource for astronomy and science, with an amazing planetarium. My girls really enjoyed exploring the permanent exhibition rooms. And best of all, it’s FREE! One thing that must be mentioned is that parking at the Griffith Observatory is very tight, so please plan ahead. We were lucky to get a spot in its main parking lot, but many cars had to park in the road winding down the canyon, as well as at the bottom of the canyon. The earlier you go, the better.
Next stop: Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard is one of the most famous streets in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s pretty! I like to compare it to Times Square – a little seedy with a lot of crowds, but some things you just have to see.
Our first stop on Hollywood Boulevard was the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to see all the stars. More than 2600 brass stars grace 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard as well as Vine Street, so it came with great excitement when my girls found Daniel Radcliffe’s star, aka Harry Potter. It was a lot of fun searching for stars of their favorite actors and singers. This is not something I would probably do on my own, but with kids it’s great fun! To see the schedule for upcoming stars, see the Hollywood Walk of fame website above.
Our next stop brought us to El Capitan Theatre. This is a fun theatre to show the kids because it’s owned by Disney. They often show many Disney films, with pre-screen entertainment. We just looked at it from the outside – it’s a fun building – and looked in on the lobby. From there we crossed the street to go see the foot and hand prints of celebrities at the Chinese Theatre (the old Grauman thetre). This was a lot of fun, finding the prints of stars such as Hugh Jackman and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone from La La Land. Right next to the Chinese Theater is the Dolby Theater, home to the Academy Awards.
Hollywood Boulevard is a great place to get souvenirs, so while there may be many tacky shops, this is where my girls found some fun things to bring home and remind them of their first trip to L.A.
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And that’s a wrap! That was our day in Hollywood. We packed in a lot and while we did not see places like the Hollywood Bowl, it was the perfect itinerary for my girls, ages 10 and 8. We all had a blast.