Beverly Hills: It’s Not For Hillbillies

Since I’ve written about Hollywood, the not-so-charming entertainment district of Los Angeles, I thought I’d devote a post to Beverly Hills, home to the rich and famous, to some of the most beautiful –and expensive– real estate in the country, and some of the most exclusive retail shops in the world. This will complete the Tinseltown portion of this blog…

What can I say about Beverly Hills? Well, for starters, it is a beautiful place. If you come to LA, you must go see it.

The residential streets of Beverly Hills are lined with multi-million dollar mansions, towering trees, and miles of manicured green lawns. Driving around Sunset Boulevard and some of the streets north of Sunset you will see some of the most spectacular mansions in California. Stay away from them, though. The residents of such mansions have very tight security in place, with armed men and all…

The commercial areas of Beverly Hills are packed with good restaurants and most of the shops you’d find at a mall, plus other fine boutiques. I love to go there for a meal or some light shopping along Beverly Drive and Canon Drive.

Of course a visit to Beverly Hills, especially if one is a tourist, must include at least some window shopping along Rodeo Drive, where most of the luxury shops are. That can be fun, even if you don’t buy anything. Go in and check the prices… A t-shirt for $500? A simple cotton dress for $1,200? Sure, dah-ling! Why not?

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Just as in Hollywood, don’t expect to see movie stars parading around the streets of Beverly Hills, although the chances of spotting someone there are a bit higher. Stars have their routines and unless you follow the paparazzi around town, it’s hard to catch them. But if you do, act cool and try to snap a picture without them noticing. It works better than jumping on them and getting the cold shoulder…

Although Beverly Hills is part of LA County, it is an independent city, with its own government. In 2014, the City of Beverly Hills will turn 100. The community is putting together a year-long celebration consisting of tourism initiatives, regional events and community activities to pay tribute to Beverly Hills’ past, present and future. That should be a good time to visit!




Hooray For Hollywood!

I just realized that, after almost two years in LA, I still haven’t written a word about Hollywood. I guess I’ve been so adamant to prove that there’s more to LA than “Tinseltown,” I forgot Hollywood is part of the local culture and, as such, it should be part of Discovering LA.

Hollywood is no doubt the most touristy district of LA. The commercial and entertainment streets of Hollywood are pretty crowded and a bit tacky, with lots of cheap souvenir shops, unsophisticated tourists, and celebrity look-alikes who’ll pose for a picture with you for a couple of bucks. It’s not a pretty place but anyone visiting LA must go there.

Take a tour of the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theater, home of the Oscars; or walk around the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theater, where the stars’ footprints, handprints and autographs are immortalized in cement. Visit Madam Tussauds Wax Museum, and stroll along the iconic “Walk of Fame,” which comprises over 2,400 stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street. And you can eat and shop at the Hollywood & Highland Center, a large complex of restaurants, shops and boutiques.

Since most of the movie studios have long moved out of Hollywood, there’s very little chance you might see any real celebrities there, unless you manage to get tickets to the Oscars Red Carpet!

I don’t mind going to Hollywood when we have family or friends visiting. We usually start with a nice drive through Mulholland Drive, with a scenic stop to see the famous Hollywood Hill with its iconic sign, and a view of the surrounding hills. It’s a beautiful drive, where one can see fabulous houses and stunning scenery. Very different from the frenzy of the streets of Hollywood!

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