Hollywood Attractions - Finding Stardust in California

From Elvis Presley's honeymoon home to Leonardo DiCaprio's new pad; from a 3D Despicable Me ride to walking through Rodeo Drive, the West Coast has much to offer.

Alfred Hitchcock famously said: The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the bladder. Hitchcock had a weird sense of humour, but he surely knew all about cinema. In California, however, cinema steps beyond the 70mm. There are countless unusual ways of finding star dust - on the silken beaches; in scrumptious food; in the clouds; on foot in a wealthy shopping district; in a national park that borrows its name from a spiky tree... So many.

Hollywood Attractions in California
Hollywood in California

Elvis Presley's Honeymoon Home in Palm Springs
Imagine a circular home on a cul-de-sac with lily-pad steps, a banquet sofa, a bed with a pink duvet, a blue pool, Marilyn Monroe for a neighbor... It was in this home in Las Palmas that Elvis Presley and his newly wed wife Priscilla honeymooned in 1967. The house is still cluttered with Presley memorabilia and fascinating stories of The King. Take a tour of the Presley's honeymoon home with a Priscilla look-alike who'd tell you that Lisa Marie Presley was conceived on the bed with the pink duvet, and show you the bathroom that Presley used before jumping into the swimming pool! Don't drop a jaw if you bump into Leonardo di Caprio - he recently bought a pad in Las Palmas.

Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood sign (originally Hollywoodland) was erected in 1923 by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler for a cost of $21,000. Each of the original 13 letters was 30 ft wide and 43 ft tall. The material was carried by laborers over Mt Lee on dirt paths. The sign featured 4,000 20-watt bulbs placed 8 inches apart. At night, the bulbs blinked; first 'Holly', then 'wood', finally 'land' punctuated by a giant period.

Helicopter Ride Over LA
Book a ticket with Group 3 Aviation. Head to Van Nuys Airport. Strap yourself into an F14 Robinson helicopter for a top-down view of Hollywood. You'd be lucky if Rick Avery, a famous Hollywood stuntman (he has body doubled for Robert de Niro), is your pilot. Hover over the beach where Pamela Anderson strutted in a bikini for Baywatch; the sand where Arnold Schwarzenegger built his muscles; the homes of Johnny Depp, Heidi Klum, Brad Pitt; gaze at the Hollywood sign atop a mountain; get a bird's eye view of Disney Studio.. In 60 minutes, Avery will tell you more star stories than what you've ever read in gossip columns. This is Hollywood first-person in the clouds!

Joshua Tree National Park
Remember the recent photo of Miley Cyrus in torn denim shorts, with a bare back turned towards the camera? It was shot in Jashua Tree National Park. U2's The Joshua Tree album wasn't shot here but films such as Seven Psychopaths, Entourage and Less Than Zero were. Perry Mason series writer Erie Stanley Gardner spent a lot of time in the park, so did Gram Parsons, the country rock pioneer. Parson's last wish was to be cremated and ashes scattered at the park's Cap Rock. The Eagles song Peaceful Easy Feeling (I'd like to sleep with you in the desert tonight..) was inspired by a camping trip to the Joshua Tree.

Universal Studios
For 85 years, this really is the place where all films are made. Get on a VIP Tour tram, drive through blocks and stages. Take a look at Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives, encounter the eerie plane crash from War of the Worlds; meet Norman Bates from Hitchcock's Psycho; hold on to your heart as the Jaws shark leaps out of a pond.. Wear 3D glasses and watch King Kong snarl a few inches from you. Get harnessed and go on a mind blowing 3D Despicable Me ride. The 3D rides are not for the faint hearted. If you love thrill, wear that black goggle.

All About Hollywood
  • Hollywood was established in 1853 with a single adobe hut built outside Los Angeles.
  • On February 1, 1887, real estate tycoon Harvey Henderson Wilcox submitted a grid map of his new town to the Los Angeles County recorder's office. This was the first official document with the name 'Hollywood' printed on it.
  • In 1900, Hollywood had a population of 500.
  • The first film in Hollywood was made by Biograph Company and entitled in Old California.
  • The first motion picture studio was built in  1919 by Selig Polyscope Compnay.
  • The first Academy Awards presentation took place in Hollywood on May 16, 1929, at the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Walk Through Beverly Hills
Barely a few minutes from downtown Hollywood, Beverly Hills is where the stars live, shop, dine and snooze. Walk around. Rodeo Drive is probably the world's wealthiest shopping district. The glam dolls dine in The Spago, and Grill restaurants. Keep an eye out for Hotel Beverly Wilshire where Pretty Woman was filmed. Star gaze as much as you want but be careful when you walk through streets where the rich and famous live - the cops might stop you for an ID check. And yes, do not miss the pink cupcake vending machine. Swipe your card and lo! There pops a cupcake out of the machine.

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