Experience The Doors in Los Angeles
From the band's birthplace in Venice Beach to iconic music venues
Known around the world as one of LA’s quintessential bands, The Doors formed in 1965 after UCLA alums, singer Jim Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek, met in Venice Beach. As The Doors, the quartet of Morrison, Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore became one of the best-selling bands in history. Regarded as one of the most influential rock acts of the 1960s, The Doors have been listed by many critics and magazines as one of the greatest music acts of all time. The band's eponymous debut album, L.A. Woman, and Strange Days were listed in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
From their birthplace in Venice Beach to iconic LA music venues, read on for the best locations in Los Angeles to experience The Doors.
Jim Morrison Mural - Venice Beach
From The Doors Guide to Los Angeles: "Venice Beach.. where one beautiful summer day in 1965, fate intervened and brought together Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek as they strolled on the beach. That very moment.. The Doors were born."
Painted by artist Rip Cronk in 1991, Morning Shot is the famous mural of Jim Morrison located at 1811 Ocean Front Walk, near the intersection of Speedway and 18th Place. The Doors Guide notes that in 2012, Cronk undertook a major makeover of the mural, "drastically changing background colors, plus adding additional detail to Jim."
Alta Cienega Motel
According to The Doors Guide to Los Angeles, a stay at the Alta Cienega Motel (1005 La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) is a must for "the REAL Doors experience." Located just south of the Sunset Strip, the Alta Cienega was Morrison's primary residence from 1968-1970. Room 32, now known as the "Jim Morrison Room," was his favorite. The walls of Room 32 are covered with fan graffiti - poetry, messages and Doors lyrics. Periodically, the owners will paint over everything, and fans will start writing the graffiti all over again.
Located a couple of blocks from the Alta Cienega, the landmark Barney’s Beanery (8447 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) opened on Route 66 (now Santa Monica Boulevard) in 1927. Barney's was a regular hangout for Jim Morrison, as well as Janis Joplin and many other rock legends. A plaque marks Morrison’s regular seat at the bar. The vibe is unpretentious with lots of rock memorabilia, as well arcade games, pool table, and air hockey. The menu has hundreds of items offering everything from salads and Mexican to burgers and chili.
The Doors' Offices (Tail o' the Pup)
Located around the corner from the Alta Cienega, this two-story building (8512 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) was "the center of all Doors activity from 1968 to 1972." The Doors recorded the entire LA Woman album in the lower level, which the band called "The Doors Workshop."
The building is now fronted by Tail o' the Pup, the beloved hot dog stand that was restored by 1933 Group, which has garnered widespread acclaim for their preservation work on Formosa Cafe, Highland Park Bowl and Idle Hour. The hot dogs range from traditional to veg-friendly, served in whimsical trays shaped like a wiener dog - the frank sticks out of the back, so it's literally the "tail" o' the pup! The interior features a plein air painting by Shag, along with vintage photos of everyone from Sigourney Weaver to The Go-Go's and Devo in front of Tail o' the Pup. A plaque notes that Jim Morrison laid down the vocals for "LA Woman" in the bathroom.
Whisky A Go Go
The Whisky A Go Go (8901 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) opened on Jan. 15, 1964 with a concert by Johnny Rivers. The Sunset Strip venue has launched the careers of generations of music legends, from 1960s rock and folk to punk, New Wave and heavy metal. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honored the Whisky in 2006 with a marker designating it as a historic rock and roll landmark.
The Doors were the Whisky’s house band for a vital period that included supporting slots for key performers like Buffalo Springfield, Captain Beefheart, Love, The Turtles, and more. On the last night of its residency, Van Morrison’s band Them performed with The Doors on Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour” and a 20-minute jam of the classic “Gloria.” Thanks to a couple of performances at the Whisky, The Doors were signed to Elektra Records in August 1966. Just a few days later, The Doors were fired from the Whisky after Morrison’s infamous performance of the Oedipus section of “The End.”
Andaz West Hollywood
Now known as the Andaz West Hollywood (8401 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood 90069) in its previous incarnation as the Continental Hyatt House the hotel was nicknamed the "Riot House" for incidents like Robert Plant shouting, “I am a golden God!” from a balcony and TVs being dropped out of windows by Keith Richards and Keith Moon. According to The Doors Guide, Morrison was reportedly kicked out of the hotel for hanging off his balcony by his fingertips.
The world-famous Hollywood Bowl has been one of LA’s top concert venues for generations of music fans. The Bowl is the summer home of the LA Phil and has hosted performances by music legends and modern superstars, as well as perennial favorites like the summertime Jazz Festival and the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular.
The Doors played the Hollywood Bowl on July 5, 1968. The entire concert was filmed and recorded for inclusion in Feast of Friends. The first and only film produced about The Doors by The Doors, Feast of Friends offers a cinematic look at The Doors on the road during their summer '68 tour. The Doors Guide notes that the performance features "some of [Morrison's] best poetic improvisation, plus his vocal power and range were in full display. Musically and lyrically the performance was flawless." The concert was first released in 1987 as Live at the Hollywood Bowl and reissued in 2012 as Live At The Bowl '68 with previously unreleased tracks.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
In the mid-1960s to 1970s, the Laurel Canyon area was home to some of the greatest musicians of the rock era, including The Doors, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and members of The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Jim Morrison and his girlfriend, Pamela Courson lived at 8021 Rothdell Trail, the street that inspired The Doors song, "Love Street." Restored after a 2011 fire, the house was most recently sold in June 2015 for $1,625,000.
In July 2018, The Doors became the first band to be honored by the City of Los Angeles with a cultural marker recognizing one of their songs. The "Love Street" marker has a Shazam logo - visitors can scan it with the app for additional info about the song, its cultural impact, and The Doors.
The house is just steps from the Canyon Country Store (2108 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Los Angeles 90046), the "store where the creatures meet." The Doors Guide says that Morrison and Courson "no doubt visited the store all the time, as did most of the rock and roll royalty that lived in the Canyon at that time."
The Griffith Observatory is one of LA’s greatest cultural attractions, offering spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to Downtown LA from its perch on Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park. The observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935. Today, the Griffith Observatory is renowned as a national leader in public astronomy and a beloved gathering place for visitors and Angelenos alike.
The Griffith Observatory has appeared in numerous TV shows and films, including an unforgettable scene with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land (2016), and two major sequences of Rebel Without a Cause (1955) starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. A bust of James Dean is located at the west side of the observatory grounds. Jim Morrison and photographer Paul Ferrara were both "huge fans" of James Dean. As an homage to Rebel Without a Cause, the Griffith Observatory was chosen as the site of Ferrara's iconic 1968 photo shoot with Morrison.
The cover photo of Morrison Hotel, The Doors fifth studio album, was taken by Henry Diltz at the actual Morrison Hotel in Downtown LA. Diltz photographed the band from outside the lobby window, with the hotel signage acting as the album title. The album sides were named after Jim Morrison's favorite bars, "Hard Rock Café" (Side A) and "Morrison Hotel" (Side B). The back cover of the album features a photograph of the Hard Rock Café on E. 5th Street. Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, who founded the Hard Rock Cafe chain of theme restaurants, based the name on The Doors album photo.
According to Urbanize LA, Relevant Group is restoring the Morrison Hotel, which was built in 1914 and has been vacant since 2008. Scheduled for completion in 2024, the mixed-use complex will include a new 15-story expansion of the hotel and a 25-story residential high rise with ground-floor retail and restaurant space.