Image courtesy of Konstantin Sutyagin / Shutterstock.com
The Hollywood Sign has been an L.A. landmark since it was built in 1923. While millions have viewed it from the city below or Griffith Observatory a few miles away, getting close to the icon has been a challenge. Steep, narrow roads through residential neighborhoods with limited parking lead to several rugged hiking trails that don’t even come near the alarmed security fences surrounding the nine world-famous letters (formerly 13–it was Hollywoodland until 1949).
But online maps and smartphones now make it easy for gawkers and walkers to try to visit the 45-foot-high sign–perhaps to catch a glimpse of the ghost of Peg Entwistle, an out-of-work 24-year-old actress who committed suicide by jumping from the top of the letter H in 1932. (Ironically, soon after her death, a letter arrived from the Beverly Hills Playhouse, offering her the starring role in its next production: a story about a young girl who commits suicide.)
Up to 10,000 people now clog Hollywood Hills’ streets each weekend, guided by their phones and tablets. A quick web search yields plenty of viewing and hiking suggestions, much to the dismay of nearby residents. If you’re planning to visit, plan your trip carefully and obey all posted signs. The locals don’t like to report trespassers, but will if necessary.
On the way up or down, Hollywood and environs offer a wide range of places to grab just a bite or a full meal. Some of them are almost as famous as the sign itself. Here are a few favorites and their fare:
- Pink’s: Renowned for its massive variety of hot dogs and hamburgers, huge portions, and affordable prices, L.A.’s top dog for 75 years is visited regularly by celebs and famous chefs, and stays open daily until at least 2 a.m. Favorites include the stretch chili cheese dog, double mushroom cheeseburger, and lord of the (onion) rings dog.
- Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles: This is the original location of the beloved soul-food chain, whose fans include the man in the Oval Office. The Los Angeles Times says Roscoe’s is “such an L.A. institution that people don’t even question the strange combo anymore.” The fried chicken and waffles taste uncommonly wonderful, while celebrity sightings are wonderfully common.
- Canter’s Fairfax: L.A.’s 24-hour kosher-style deli-of-choice since 1931, serving everything from omelets to lox and bagel to hot corned-beef sandwiches and egg creams. What’s not to love about a place with a gigantic bakery counter and a cocktail lounge named the Kibitz Room?
- The Original Farmers Market: Since 1934, the meeting place for locals and celebrities. Shopping and fresh-food stalls are plentiful. Restaurants include 24-hour local institution Du-par’s, Chipotle, Bryan’s Pit Barbecue, The Gumbo Pot, LA Korea, Moishe’s, Pinkberry and Veggie Grill
- The Grove: Upscale shopping, dining and entertainment complex adjacent to Farmers Market. Choices for food include The Cheesecake Factory, Blue Ribbon Sushi, Morels French Steakhouse, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Häagen-Dazs, Jamba Juice, and Starbucks at Barnes & Noble.
- 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036, thegrovela.com, 323.900.8080
- Café at the End of the Universe: This stellar eatery by Wolfgang Puck on the lower deck of Griffith Observatory serves soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Takeout is available, and you can take in excellent views of the Hollywood Sign on the observatory grounds.
Photography provided by Konstantin Sutyagin / Shutterstock.com.
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