Southern California Close-Ups | A vacation guide to the Southland

Pity the rubes. Those wayward tourists who dawdle in their cars and tour buses along Beachwood Drive, enraging the locals as they haltingly seek that perfect Hollywood sign photo op -- they know not what they do. Maybe you're not from this neighborhood either, but you have savvier Hollywood plans.


They involve horse trails, hidden hotels, a magic castle, a monastery -- and that's just a start. To close out our yearlong series of Southern California Close-Ups, here is a set of 10 Hollywood micro-itineraries, suitable for visitors from across town or across the planet. Read more...


-- Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times staff writer
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Scroll over each image for info on each itinerary
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1. Get thee to a nunnery. More specifically, head for the Monastery of the Angels (1977 Carmen Ave., a mile from the Hollywood sign), where 17 cloistered nuns spend their days praying, eating, sleeping and making desserts. Hand $10 to the gift-shop volunteer for a hefty loaf of pumpkin bread -- a fine souvenir, if it lasts that long. Click for more...
2. The Bowl, the Greek, the difference. The Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave.) is such a prime city asset that it's a wonder nobody has proposed selling it to reduce municipal debt. It was carved into the hills in the 1920s and programmed by the L.A. Philharmonic, seats about 17,000 people and stages mostly jazz, classical works and show-tune performances, June through September. Click for more...
3. Hip strip. You're not in a hurry. So you patiently seek one of the rare parking spots off Franklin Avenue near Tamarind Avenue, then meander past the trendy row of shops and restaurants between Tamarind and Bronson avenues. Click for more...
4. Musso, Frank, Pantages, Frolic and Redbury. Sit down to an early dinner at Musso & Frank Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd.), the oldest restaurant in Hollywood (opened 1919), for old-world service, setting and menu, with juicy steaks and the option of Jell-O for dessert. Then nip out back for a high-end cocktail ($14) at the Writer's Room (6685 Hollywood Blvd.), which feels pre-Elvis but opened next door a couple months ago. Now you're ready for a show at the Pantages Theatre (6233 Hollywood Blvd.), whose 1930 Art Deco lobby is one of the greatest rooms in the city. Click for more...
5. A movie? Or a live show about movies? If you can handle $56 a person and up, there's no better place than Hollywood to see a sort-of play about movies -- Cirque du Soleil's "Iris," which shares the Kodak Theatre (6801 Hollywood Blvd.) with the annual Oscars ceremony. Click for more...
6. Concrete handprints, terrazzo stars and the boulevard. Don't worry about the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- you'll cover it in the course of meandering among other sites. But for the record, its 2,400-plus terrazzo stars, the first of which were laid in 1960, now cover 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and a few neighboring streets too. Click for more...
7. Stars at work, stars at rest. Like Universal and Warner Bros. studios in the San Fernando Valley and Sony in Culver City, Paramount Pictures (5555 Melrose Ave.) opens its lot to paying visitors, offering a two-hour guided weekday tour ($45 a person) by foot and golf cart. Click for more...
8. The reappearing club, the hidden hotel, the wayward pagoda. The bad news: You probably aren't among the 5,000 worldwide members of the Academy for Magical Arts. The good news: You can still get into its clubhouse, the Magic Castle (7001 Franklin Ave.). It's a 1908 Victorian mansion a few blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard. Click for more...
9. Adventures in East Hollywood. Some people want an edgier, only-in-L.A. sort of adventure. For them, there's Jumbo's Clown Room (5153 Hollywood Blvd.), a smallish, strip-mall, retro-burlesque joint that features pole-dancers who keep on their bikinis and whose ages and shapes vary considerably. Two matronly women pour the drinks. Click for more...
10. In praise of bricks, mortar, music and soul food. Start by scavenging for new and used music and videos in cavernous Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd.). Cross Sunset to Space 15 Twenty (1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd.), a little alt-mall that includes Umami Burger and Hennessey & Ingalls bookstore, which specializes in art and design volumes. Click for more...

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