Take a really retro tour of HollywoodJust like a lot of celebrities probably are right now, Hollywood is in the middle of a major facelift, with shiny new high-rise hotels and residences under the knife—er, construction. But, thank our lucky stars, that doesn't mean that historic buildings are becoming as rare as a silent movie. These places around Tinsel Town that go back nearly 100 years are must-sees for every film buff.
Grauman's Chinese Theatre
Yeah, yeah, it's officially called the TCL Chinese Theatre nowadays, but most locals still call this movie palace by its given and most famous name: Grauman's. Sure, it's a tourist trap, but just say no to photo opportunities with the throngs of celebrity and superhero impersonators crowding the courtyard, and instead check out the foot and hand prints of legends like John Wayne, Paul Newman, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Just don't pull a Lucy Ricardo, because nobody wants to spend their vacation in jail.
Back in the 20th century, stars like Frank Sinatra and Mae West enjoyed a drink or four at this bar that's more dive than diva. It's right next door to the Pantages Theater, near Hollywood and Vine. The hidden entrance from the theater's ladies' room is no more, but the neon sign outside is the original one, unlike the current faces of most stars born in the '30s. Inside, you can admire the decades-old mural of Hollywood legends by Al Hirschfeld as you sip a strong yet very reasonably priced cocktail.
This art deco building on Highland, just south of Hollywood Boulevard, used to be the home of Max Factor, famous make-up artist and hair colorist to the stars. It was a public place where both famous women and nobodies could buy make-up "without the stigma of being called 'hussies,'" according to the museums's website. Wow, wasn't America great back then? You can see the studios where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Lucille Ball a redhead. Speaking of Marilyn, this place is nirvana for her fans—it has the world's largest collection of her memorabilia.
Musso & Frank Grill
You may think that some of the waiters have been serving steak and chops at Hollywood's oldest restaurant since it opened in 1919. Not quite, but a few of them have worked here for over 40 years and are more than happy to share their stories. Slip into one of the red leather booths where Charlie Chaplin or Greta Garbo once dined an enjoy old-school fare like filet mignon and creamed spinach. Be sure to wash it down with a martini—the ones served here are often praised as the best in L.A.
Across Highland Avenue from the iconic Capitol Records Tower is the historic Avalon Hollywood, a Spanish Baroque-style nightclub that, like many Hollywood stars, has played several roles since it opened in 1927. Originally a theater, it was converted into a TV studio in the 1950s. In the '60s it became the Hollywood Palace, the first place the Beatles played on the West Coast. A decade later, its name was shortened to The Palace and it was transformed into a nightclub. It's been the Avalon Hollywood since 2002, with shows featuring famous DJs every Friday and Saturday night.
Crossroads of the World
Depending on how you feel about malls, the good or bad news is that this is considered the very first outdoor shopping center in the U.S. Famous for its globe atop a 60-foot tower, this ship and old-world themed shopping center has been a Sunset Boulevard landmark since 1936. The mish-mosh of architectural styles wasn't meant to be tacky, but to represent different parts of the world that were once way too expensive for (non-movie-star) shoppers to travel to. Don't worry about the shops here being too expensive—they've all been converted to office space.
Although it's been serving its famous chili in West Hollywood since the 1920s, this roadhouse might be even more famous for the time when Jim Morrison mistook the long wooden bar for a urinal. Other guests who more successfully found their way to the restrooms (whose walls, like the rest of the restaurant, are covered in photos and memorabilia) include Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Janis Joplin and Charles Bukowski.
Laura Goldman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Check out her i Still Love Dogs blog and follow her on Twitter.