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The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State
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Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor. To search the state by region, use the filter below.

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Chase celebrities on the original tour of the stars' homes in L.A.

Starline tour at the late Carrie Fisher's gate in Beverly Hills. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)
Starline tour at the late Carrie Fisher's gate in Beverly Hills. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

Why: Admit it-- you're a little curious about Sir Paul McCartney's chimney, or Justin Timberlake's hilltop or just which L.A. houses Justin Bieber has been obliged to vacate. Since its founding by Sid Grauman's chauffeur in 1935, Starline Tours has traded on our curiosity about these places.

What: Bud Delp (Grauman's chauffeur) built the tour company, then sold it in the 1960s to protege Vahid Sapir, who had come to the U.S. as an exchange student from Iran. These days Sapir's Starline competes with many other tour companies (including Gray Line and TMZ) and covers many itineraries beyond stalking the stars' homes, but it was the first of its species.

Sign on to the two-hour celebrity home tour and before your minivan has finished climbing Outpost Drive into the Hollywood Hills, you'll have gawked at the front-gate gargoyles of the late Bela Lugosi, glimpsed properties attributed to Bob Barker; William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman; and heard all about the "Bling Ring" thieves who stole Orlando Bloom's Rolex collection in 2009.

From there, you'll probably head west on Mulholland Drive, descend Coldwater Canyon Drive, then double back on Sunset Boulevard. You'll see the big D (from the old Disneyland sign) in John Stamos' yard; the irreverent signs that the late Carrie Fisher hung on her driveway gate; the iron gates of  the Holmby Hills estate where Michael Jackson died in 2009.

My particular tour in August included a fender-bender with a Mercedes on Sunset -- you can't get any more up close and personal with L.A. wealth than that. Be glad that your trip probably won't include that extra feature.  

Where: Most tours begin at the TCL Chinese Theater (a.k.a. Grauman's), 6925 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, 8 miles northwest of downtown L.A.

How much: For the two-hour homes-of-the-stars tour beginning at the  Chinese Theater, adults pay $45; children ages 3-11 pay $35. For pickup at your hotel, rates go up by $10-$15. Tours leave every half hour from 9:30 a.m. to sundown. 

Info: Starline Tours

 

The gate of the home where Michael Jackson died, in Holmby Hills. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)
The gate of the home where Michael Jackson died, in Holmby Hills. (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

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