Monday, July 1, 2013

The Most Specific Directions to The Hollywood Sign

When I lived in Beachwood Canyon I cannot count the times I was stopped to give directions to The Hollywood Sign. And really it never bothered me. But I'm a talker. I like people. Whatever.

Oftentimes the locals have gripes about the amount of people each year going to see the sign and the traffic jams it causes. All understandable but I believe it is a fait accompli. I look at it this way: If I were visiting LA, I'd absolutely make the pilgrimage to such a symbol of the dreams, glamour, tragedy and beauty that is Hollywood. Therefore...

Here are the Directions to The Hollywood Sign (da da da dahhhhh!). Be warned on this journey YOU WILL NOT BE ALONE. Unless you go at 4 in the morning and then you might see some coyotes snapping pictures alongside with you.

First you gotta get to BEACHWOOD CANYON DRIVE. Beachwood starts at Franklin between Gower and Bronson. Okay, so good, you got there. Now HEAD NORTH UP BEACHWOOD. Right away you'll see The Hollywood Sign, front and center. Every day, right on Beachwood, tons of people stop their cars and take pictures, to the annoyance of the natives. I also always see cameras outside people's windows - sometimes while they're driving. Hey, you're in Hollywood, of course you're gonna take a picture but for crying out loud, please be careful!

Anyway, you'll go up several blocks (past Scenic, Graciosa, Cheremoya). In time, you'll hit the adorable little Beachwood village, the cross street of which is Westshire Drive. The village consists of a restaurant, dry cleaner, antique shop and The Beachwood Market. More on that antique shop later. To continue to the sign YOU NEED TO STAY ON BEACHWOOD. To do this it's sort of like TAKING A SOFT LEFT (a hard left would put you on Westshire).

WHEN YOU GET TO THE SIGN AT LEDGEWOOD, TAKE A LEFT. I'd do what the sign here says, This is Hollywoodland. Now relax and slow down.  There are plenty of locals and tourists who use this road. What's the rush? Why get into an accident? Besides, if you go too fast you'll miss this little gem:

This is Oz
Oz (located right after BELDEN) is an outdoor artist's garden with figurines and tiles embedded in cement and tons of dream catchers hanging from various trees. Sadly for the past decade I've not seen its gates open. Back in the day, they would let the public in every now and again.  But now the gates are closed (it seems) all of the time. I feel like the gate keeper is some Willie Wonka, mad at the world and maybe for good reason. Still it's so sad, because if you peek through the gates, you'll see, this is a magical place.

So if you like, leave a little letter in this box on your way to the Hollywood Sign and let them know you'd like to come in.

Now, back to the directions...CONTINUE UP LEDGEWOOD.

You are going to get to an area that's just a shade confusing. In great Wizard of Oz fashion you could go Left, Soft Left, Soft Right or Right. TO CONTINUE UP LEDGEWOOD YOU'LL GO STRAIGHT (WHICH FEELS LIKE A SOFT LEFT).

Immediately after Rodgerton you will see the Hollywood Sign's Gigantic letters smack dab in front of you. Keep going. You'll hit another Stop Sign at Heather Drive. Keep going straight. As straight as a windy road can be. There'll be rental cars coming downhill. Keep going, keep going. Now you can see popping above and through the treetops, the letters of The Hollywood Sign here and there. And right around this amazing white tree...'ll get a nice view of OOD. It'll be outside the right side of your car. You can't stop on your way up the hill. You can though park on the way back down.

At the top of the hill you'll now find yourself on MULHOLLAND HIGHWAY

Take a SHARP RIGHT ON MULHOLLAND HIGHWAY. (BY THE WAY I refer to this section of Mulholland as Mulholland East. This is a very small section of Mulholland. The really big long gorgeous stretch of Mulholland goes from Hollywood all the way towards the ocean. It's fabulous and one of my favorite drives. For more information regarding Mulholland, it's history and all it's famous vistas, click HERE). You'll just drive for less than a minute and here at this turnaround you can get excellent, close up pictures of the sign. You'll also probably be breaking the law. So go at your own risk and make it snappy.

See all those signs, yeah, you're really not supposed to be here. When you leave, continue on Mulholland, going straight. Before you hit the stop sign, you'll see on your left a house where the garage is actually painted to look like stacks and stacks of books -- I always thought this was very cool. CONTINUE FORWARD ON MULHOLLAND. You'll curve around and to your right, below is actually something the people who live here call Dog Hill. It's where locals take their dogs for runs even though you're not supposed to have your dogs off-leash. In my experience this doesn't hold water with the natives or the pooches. So don't ever drive too fast around here!

Regardless, when you get to the vista point you'll know it. THERE ARE TOURISTS EVERYWHERE. THIS IS NOW CALLED CANYON DRIVE. It is here where amongst everything else, you will see this van:

I seem to park behind it every time. Now I highly recommend if you can, come for sunsets or even evening. Such a beautiful spot. Or early in the morning. The soft light will be stunning to you. Anytime you come though it's super cool.

Good photo opps for the sign.

If I were in LA for a visit, I'd want to do what these folks did and rent this car...

Car Porn at The Hollywood Sign
When you go across the street to the actual vista, you'll see The Reservoir (otherwise referred to as Lake Hollywood), and beyond. Beyond is a great view of Hollywood, all the cool signage, to your left you may see Griffith Observatory and if it's a really really clear day, you may see all the way out to Catalina.

What I tend to do though is I go to this dirt road opposite of the area where everyone is taking pictures. You'll see a lot of cacti there. And I mean huge cactus. Like you're in the Land of The Lost or as my friend Jen Sincero refers to it, Mars. The entrance to the little dirt road is marked by this very cool sculpture. I don't know anything about it. It just sort of popped up one day.

I used to hike through this dirt path to get back and forth from Beachwood Canyon - though it's a circuitous route and I would definitely try to do it with someone who knows the score. Anyway, as you walk down the path, if you look up on your left, behind those tall trees is I believe a house first built for Bugsy Siegel's girlfriend. At one time Madonna was said to have owned it. At that time it was painted rust. Now it's more tasteful and more hidden. And I think Madonna's LA digs are in Los Feliz now.

Madonna's old house, or so it is said.
As you continue on the dirt path, you'll see tons of these, cactus with so-in-so + so-in-so carved into the surfaces. I think it's really mean to pick on a cactus but I'm not 18 and mad at nature.

I always call these bunny ears.
Cute, aren't they?

There are also nice photo opportunities from this area and it's quieter.

If you like, when you get back up to the area where the van is and the vista and all the tourists, you can continue down Canyon past Dog Hill and go to Lake Hollywood for a nice walk around the lake.

This is one of my favorite walks and you know it's a little long - 4.2 miles. So take that into consideration. But it's beautiful and there is tons to see and other great photo opps.

When you get back to that little village at Beachwood and Westshire, I highly recommend popping into the antique shop there. It has so much memorabilia of Hollywood, Hollywoodland specifically, and just tons of antiques from the area, you never know what you'll find. It's called Hollywoodland's Antiques and Fine Time Pieces.

It's a collector's paradise.

I love what the owner Jeff finds.

A telephone booth atop which sits a clock from an old Gulf Station.

A giant Rolex:


If real deal memorabilia and vibey type stores are your thing, pop in.

What a great neighborhood this is. Right by the antique shop is this cafe...

Which by the way has a lot of healthy entrees. And while I've never had it I hear there's a good cup of joe. Might be nice after so much scenic driving. Let me know how the Hollywood Sign is and if you ever get into Oz. Until next time...


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