First Stop: Hollywood
Grand California Hotel,
"Hollywood Pictures Backlot" is a mock studio that only movie moguls could have dreamt up. You enter through larger-than-life gates, topped by a pair of gigantic carved elephants sitting on their haunches. A towering outdoor mural at the far end of this backlot features the bluest sky and fluffiest clouds ever found on a movie backdrop.
Then there's the quarter-mile Hollywood Boulevard, which is fronted by facades of Los Angeles' most architecturally distinct buildings, including the Art Deco Wiltern Theatre, the Moderne May Co. building, and Disney's Imagineering structure. Behind these facades, you'll find shops, restaurants, Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3-D and a 2,000-seat theater for stage productions, animation, and a place to teach kids about making cartoons.
Have lunch at the Soap Opera Bistro, a restaurant mimicking sets of several ABC daytime shows. Even if you won't let the kids watch soaps at home, the restaurant is still worth a stop; it feels like a real TV set complete with overhanging lights, props, and costumes.