Sign of a Tourist: Or, A Day in Hollywood

Hollywood sign on Mount Lee 10-21-2013
When you see this sign, you know where you are

I’ve lived more than half my life in places where one of the leading industries is tourism. As a teenager on Florida’s Gulf Coast, I mocked it–”tourist trap” was an insult applied to places residents wouldn’t go and activities they wouldn’t do. As a thirtysomething in Memphis–Tennessee’s other “Music City”–I visited Graceland only in the company of out-of-town visitors, but I worked at one of the city’s other leading tourist attractions, the Memphis Zoo, for four years. However, in a decade of living just outside Los Angeles, I’ve learned to appreciate that people travel hundreds (or thousands) of miles to see and do things that are just down the road from me–and that sometimes it’s a lot of fun to see my city through their eyes.

My husband and I like to play local tourists at least a few times a year, and since we’re both big movie and pop-culture buffs, we especially enjoy exploring things to do in and around Hollywood. We took a day off not long ago to do just that, and we thought we’d start it with the neighborhood’s signature attraction, the Hollywood sign itself.

Hollywood Walk of Fame DIY
Hollywood Walk of Fame, DIY-style

You can see those big white letters on the hills from many spots in the city, but it’s hard to get very close to them. A search for “directions to the Hollywood sign” will get you into the neighborhood by car, but once you’re there–and assuming you’re able to score one of the scarce parking spaces without blocking someone’s driveway–you’ve still got a dusty, winding climb up Mount Lee ahead of you. We thought we were up for the challenge. We learned pretty quickly that we were wrong–the directions we were using told us that it was a 40-minute hike to the sign at the top, and we barely lasted for 10. Fortunately, there are plenty of good picture spots even lower down the hill, and we decided we were fine with that. It’s still closer than most people get.

We left the hills for Hollywood Boulevard, where the terrain is flatter but

Hollywood Wax Museum, on Hollywood Blvd.

the crowds are thicker; both places can be a challenge to navigate, but offer plenty of sights to see. We pretty much stuck to the sights on the street along the Walk of Fame this time–the weather was nearly perfect for being outside, walking around and people-watching–but we’ll be back in a few weeks to check out the Hollywood Wax Museum, where visitors have been getting close to (replicas of the) stars for almost 50 years. As it happens, I work in Hollywood–just a couple of blocks off Hollywood Boulevard–but there’s nothing “Hollywood” about my work, and so I enjoy going there for reasons that are not about work and mostly all about “Hollywood.”

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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