Five Things You Can't Miss on Hollywood Boulevard

Go off the beaten path in Tinseltown

Muhammad Ali's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Muhammad Ali's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame "floats like a butterfly" | Photo by @ArashMarkazi, Flickr

Hollywood is known around the world as a mecca for entertainment. Amid the hustle and bustle of Tinseltown, be sure to dig a little deeper and discover these can't miss gems along Hollywood Boulevard.

Tropicana Pool & The Spare Room - Hollywood Roosevelt

Tropicana Pool at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Tropicana Pool | Photo courtesy of Hollywood Roosevelt, Facebook

The landmark Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opened on May 15, 1927, financed by a group that included Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Sid Grauman. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel has welcomed generations of VIPs, from legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age to today’s hottest stars.

A true oasis in the heart of Hollywood, the Tropicana Bar overlooks the celebrated David Hockney pool, surrounded by lush foliage and the hotel’s exclusive Cabana rooms. This seductive retreat plays host to Hollywood’s in-crowd both day and night with DJ parties, and intimate gatherings around glowing fire rings.

Located on the Roosevelt’s Mezzanine level, The Spare Room is a handsome cocktail lounge and gaming parlor, featuring custom-made wooden board games like chess and Jenga. Sip a craft cocktail, or share a punch bowl with friends, then lace up a pair of George Esquivel shoes and bowl a few frames on the vintage bowling lanes. Be sure to snap a few pics in the hidden photo booth.

Muhammad Ali - Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

Known "The Greatest," the legendary Muhammad Ali was one of the most charismatic sports figures in history and a pop culture icon. Ali defeated every top heavyweight of his era during what is regarded as the Golden Age of heavyweight boxing. Among his many accolades, Ali was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated, Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC, earned a gold medal at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics, is the only boxer to be named Fighter of the Year six times by The Ring magazine, and was even nominated for two Grammy Awards for spoken word. An outspoken political activist, Ali a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and lost several years in the prime of his boxing career as a result.

In 2002, Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the entertainment industry. Of the 2,500-plus stars on the world-famous Walk of Fame, Ali's is the only one that's mounted vertically (near the entrance of the Dolby Theatre) rather than embedded in the sidewalk. According to the Champ, he made the request because he didn't want to be walked on by “people who have no respect for me." He added, “I bear the name of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and it is impossible that I allow people to trample over his name."

Jimmy Kimmel - El Capitan Theatre

El Capitan Theatre
Photo courtesy of El Capitan Theatre

One of L.A.'s best movie theatres, the landmark El Capitan Theatre is the Walt Disney Studio's premiere cinema. The El Capitan opened in May 1926 as "Hollywood's First Home of Spoken Drama." Fully restored to its original elegance, the theatre boasts a Spanish Colonial exterior and a vibrant East Indian interior designed by acclaimed architect G. Albert Lansburgh, who also designed the Orpheum, Palace Theatre, Shrine Auditorium and The Wiltern. The state-of-the-art El Capitan Theatre experience often includes pre-show entertainment, prop and costume exhibits, and other fun surprises.

Located adjacent to the El Capitan, the El Capitan Entertainment Centre opened in 1921 as the Hollywood Masonic Temple. The Neoclassical building was designed by John C. Austin, the architect who also designed iconic L.A. buildings such as City Hall, Griffith Observatory and the Shrine Auditorium. The Hollywood Masonic Temple was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

After an extensive renovation, Disney reopened the Hollywood Masonic Temple as the El Capitan Entertainment Centre in 2002. Jimmy Kimmel Live! is taped at a studio inside the El Capitan Entertainment Centre. Free tickets to attend a taping can be requested online.

Al Hirschfeld mural - Frolic Room

Al Hirschfeld mural at the Frolic Room
Al Hirschfeld mural at the Frolic Room | Photo by Craig W, Yelp

Located on Hollywood Boulevard next door to the Pantages Theatre, the Frolic Room boasts one of the best neon signs of any bar in L.A. and was a favorite haunt of Charles Bukowski. The Pantages hosted the Academy Awards from 1950 to 1960, so it's fun to imagine Oscar winners like Marlon Brando and Audrey Hepburn stopping by the Frolic Room to celebrate their big nights. The famous two-panel mural by legendary artist Al Hirschfeld features caricatures of more than two dozen iconic figures, including Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Picasso, Albert Einstein and Louis Armstrong. Pro tip: there's free Jiffy Pop popcorn, you just have to ask the bartender (nicely).

Museum of Death

Museum of Death exterior
Museum of Death | Photo courtesy of Amaury Laporte, Flickr

One of L.A.'s quirkiest museums, the aptly named Museum of Death showcases crime scene photos and autopsy videos that make the Los Angeles Police Museum look like a day with Mary Poppins. The macabre artifacts on view include baby coffins, taxidermy, the severed head of a French serial killer, and one of Jack Kevorkian's original suicide machines. Art connoisseurs can analyze the layers of meaning in works by serial killers, but the museum is perhaps most famous for its recreation of the Heaven's Gate cult suicides, which is why the institution was kicked out of San Diego. The Hollywood facility was once a recording studio and the thick walls include sound-dampening materials, which lends the place an extra creepy hush.

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