It’s a word that denotes both a physical Los Angeles neighborhood and an intangible dream of American stardom; at once as attainable as an Uber ride and as mythical as a unicorn. For most wide-eyed actors who come in search of glitz and glamour, the proximity to a fame that’s perpetually just out of reach can be maddening. For the casual tourist, however, it’s a fleeting opportunity to walk among the stars.
There is, of course, no shortage of Hollywood tours available to whisk you by bus from one famed mansion or hotel or studio to another. But where’s the fun in that? After all, the appeal in pedaling the streets of Hollywood on a rental bike is the chance to roam freely around this aging, surprisingly diverse chunk of Los Angeles lore, taking in crowded attractions and empty back alleys alike.
If this sounds more like your style of exploration, Spinlister’s mapped bike route through Hollywood and Central LA ought to be right up your alley. Stretching from the historic theaters of Hollywood Boulevard to the Kpop billboards of Koreatown, it’s enough biking to keep your legs happy and enough tourism to keep your Instagram feed full. Check it out below.
Perpetually fighting against a decline into kitsch, Hollywood Boulevard is perhaps still the most defining symbol of big screen allure on Earth. Between tightly packed attractions like the Walk of Fame, the TLC Chinese Theatre, and views of the Hollywood Sign, this is hallowed ground for film buffs and anyone determined to crane his/her neck outside of a red carpet premier.
Getting in with a bike is no problem, thanks to Metro Red Line stops like Hollywood/Highland and Hollywood/Vine. As for getting around, well, that’s another story. Crowds and traffic on the boulevard can be overwhelming, so you’ll either be walking your bike as you sightsee or locking it up in a safe, publicly visible place. Thankfully, bike-friendly avenues like Yucca St are just a block away, so you can leave the congestion just as easily as you found it.
CAPITOL RECORDS BUILDING
What do Billy Idol, Garth Brooks, Duran Duran and the Beach Boys all have in common? You’re looking at it. Built in 1956, the iconic Capitol Records Building has launched the careers of countless household names in the music industry, from Nat King Cole to the Katy Perry. These days, the distinctively shaped Los Angeles Historical Monument is more photo opportunity than anything else, however there’s an impressive mural on the south-facing wall that you won’t want to miss. Dubbed “Hollywood Jazz”, it portrays some of the genre’s most notable faces from 1945 to 1972, and was completely restored by the original artist in 2013.
Fun fact: the blinking light on the Capitol Records tower spells out “Hollywood” in morse code.
HOLLYWOOD FOREVER CEMETERY
Looking at its idyllic landscape now, you’d never know the tumultuous history of Hollywood’s only neighborhood cemetery. Formerly owned by notorious conman and convicted felon Jules Roth, the burial ground served for much of the 20th century as a means of financing its wealthy proprietor’s opulent lifestyle. Since his death in 1998, external conditions have improved significantly, while the internal workings of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery remain clouded by new controversy and legal trouble.
In any case, should you choose to pay your respects, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the final resting places of some of the biggest names in entertainment history, including actor Mickey Rooney and French/American singer/songwriter Joe Dassin. There are also a host of cultural events that take place on the cemetery lawn throughout the year, including concerts and movie screenings. You can find out more by visiting the website here.
KOREATOWN (W 6TH ST)
Welcome to Koreatown, Los Angeles, where over 65% of the population was born outside of the United States. Talk about an ethnic melting pot. If you’re wondering if this exchange of cultures has yielded some delicious culinary traditions, wonder no more. Introducing Gogigui, also known as Korean BBQ. It’s near mandatory dining for any non-vegetarian paying a visit to the most densely populated neighborhood in LA, and some of the best restaurants can be found right here on West 6th Street.
For anyone unaccustomed to riding on city streets, be advised that W 6th doesn’t come equipped with bike lanes, so once you arrive you may feel more comfortable pedaling along the sidewalk. It shouldn’t be a problem, however, as your options are plentiful and relatively close together.