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Driving Sunset Blvd

Sunset Blvd
Sunset Blvd in a white font over blue background indicates you are in the city of Los Angeles. Signs printed with letters that are black over white background indicate Beverly Hills.

Sunset Blvd is one of the most famous Blvd in the world. Featured in countless movies and TV shows, Sunset Blvd is as synonymous with the LA landscape as the Hollywood sign. Beginning at Figeuroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles and winding over thirty miles through most of the cities eclectic and colorful neighborhoods that include Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Bel AIr where it terminates at the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles.

Sunset Through Silver Lake

One of the best ways to take in the city by car is to spend a few hours on Sunset Blvd. Beginning in the downtown section of the city, the Blvd winds itself through the Silver Lake and Echo Park areas of the city. It is this neighborhood that has been up and coming for the past few years in the LA area. Filled with a hipster, yet hippie-liberal feel with a presence of a strong LGBT community, People familiar with New York will find many comparisons between Silver Lake and the lower East Side. With its punk, edgy counter culture feel the neighborhood diversifies with the many colorful coffee shops, book stores and new age restaurants and bars that line Sunset Blvd in this neighborhood. Every August this section of Sunset Blvd is shut down for a street fair called Sunset Junction where indie bands, food stands and dozens of community booths converge amongst a sea of art and fashion vendors. Silverlake is a cool community to let go of your inner artists.

Sunset Through Hollywood

Making a sharp turn to the left as you leave Silver Lake a section to the right continues on to become Hollywood Blvd and parallels Sunset as both Blvd proceed into Hollywood. Passing by Western Blvd and over the 101, this section of Hollywood is currently going through a major revitalization. Less than twenty years ago the area was laden with gangs, prostitutes and drug lords. Today it is home to the up and coming yuppie Hollywood crowd. On either side you'll notice quaint new cafes, restaurants and night clubs. After passing the 101 freeway you will see the studios of KTLA on the left. KTLA is the Los Angeles affiliate of the CW and it is from here that the nightly news at ten on Channel 5 broadcasts live. However a historical back lot remains to this studio dating back to 1919. It was here that the first "talkie" movie "The Jazz Singer" was produced. In addition the animation Looney Tunes was first produced here as well. This studio has had several ownership hands over the years including Gene Autrey.

As you proceed into the heart of Hollywood you will come up on the shopping center known as the Arc Light on the left hand side. The main feature to the Arc Light is the Arc Light Movie Theater. A unique theatre going experience the theater offers assigned seating, a bar and gourmet snacks and treats. Adjacent to the theatre is the Amoeba Music Store. Known as the world's largest independent music store, the store space in this retail location is huge. Housing over 100,000 CDs, tape cassettes and vinyl records, since its opening in 2001 it has become an instant Hollywood landmark.
The next point of interest along Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, again on the left hand side is the CNN building. Especially visible at night, the prominent CNN neon logo retraces the red lettering by lighting up. You can see this for about 2 miles out in either direction leading up to the building. This is CNN's flagship west coast headquarters and news bureau. Several times of year CNN's lead anchor, Anderson Cooper, anchors his 360 live news broadcast from the rooftop of this building where viewers at home can see Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills spread out in the background. In addition, most evenings a week this is the location for the Pierce Morgan show. A full newsroom that rivals the New York, Washington and Atlanta operations, this CNN building is an integral part of the CNN news gathering organization.

Immediately after passing the CNN building you'll notice a variety of Hollywood night clubs on either side of the Blvd. Most of these clubs go through various incarnations over the months if not years, premiering as one name, only to be sold or change ownership hands for which a new name develops. During these short periods many of these clubs host many high profile Hollywood events and Hollywood celebs before going through the customary shutdown and changing of hands to reemerge as a new look and feel again. After passing the intersection of La Brea and Sunset you will proceed onto a straight stretch lined on either side of the Blvd by tall thin palm trees. From here you will observe all kinds of colorful and interesting sights, from cafes to music stores to night clubs. This area of Hollywood is very diverse. Although this stretch of Sunset Blvd retains the traditional crazy and colorful Hollywood feel, especially at night, the streets branching off of the Blvd to the right contain multi million dollar real estate.
Sunset Through West Hollywood
As you come up to Fairfax you will be leaving the official boundaries that define Hollywood On the left hand side you will see the official headquarters to the DGA or Directors Guild of America. A labor union that represents the directors interests in the motion picture industry, this building is home to a several private screening theatres, events and charities throughout the year. After crossing Fairfax you are now heading out of the LA city limits and into the City of West Hollywood. This is also the area that Sunset Blvd is now known as the "Sunset Strip". After passing Laurel Canyon and on the right hand side you will see The Laugh Factory. Dating back to 1979, the Laugh Factory has become one of the premier comedy clubs in the nation. Over the course of nearly 30 years, every major comedy act has passed through the doors of the Laugh Factory. Acts such as Richard Prior, Kathy Griffin, Bob Saget, Jerry Sienfield, Damon Wayans, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey and Rodney Dangerfield, to name just a few, have all made stand up appearances or longtime runs at The Laugh Factory.

After passing The Laugh Factory you will find yourself in the heart of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. On the right hand side and going up into the hill you will see the Chateau Marmont. A Hollywood landmark in itself, the hotel has a long history of Hollywood connections, stories and events. To the left you'll see the Standard Hotel, which has also become a hip and fun attraction with an outdoor pool and lounge scene full of the hottest and hip people in LA. Around the corner from The Standard and back to the right you'll see Carnies, a hamburger and hotdog joint in an old 1920s yellow Amtrack train. A staple of the Sunset Strip for years, Carnie's is family owned a good place to stop to grab a quick and economical full meal.
After passing the Carnies , you'll also see the Saddle Ranch on the right hand side. If you are looking for a fun and exciting dining experience, Saddle Ranch is the place to go. A full on BBQ style menu with items ranging from baby back ribs to southern fried chicken, the atmosphere is loud and exciting with a southwest decor that includes a bull riding machine smack in the middle of the dining room. Every night a new brave soul gets on the bull and makes their effort to stay on as long as they can. Next to Saddle Ranch, still on the right hand side is Kings Road. By making a right onto Kings Road you will be taken high up into the Hollywood Hills where the houses are huge, sit on jaw dropping cliffs, many owned by celebrities and which have breathtaking views of all of Los Angeles. At the height of Paris Hilton's fame and during the in and out jail circus-Hilton maintained a residence just a short journey up this stretch of Kings Road.

On the right side adjacent to Kings Road is the new Andaz Hotel by Hyatt. During the 1970s this hotel became the mainstay for many huge rock bands during their LA stopover. Music legends abound from this hotel with names such as The Rolling Stone, Led Zeppelin and Lionel Richie. Continuing down the strip on the left hand side you'll find other known hotel properties with their own storied pasts including the Argyle and the Mondrian. At the center of the Sunset Strip on the right hand side is Mel's Diner. Open 24 hours a day, Mel's diner is always hoping, whether its the shop till you drop types for the lunch crowd or the late night club goers looking for grub at 3AM. This Mel's diner location was featured in a variety of Hollywood movies andTV shows including the movie, "American Graffiti". Formerly known as a Ben Franks, this same diner back then used to be a regular hangout for The Rolling Stones and Andy Warhol. It is also along this stretch to the left you will find many tall glass high rise structures. Many of these structures are home to major advertising agencies, entertainment executives and attorneys.

Sunset Through Beverly Hills

Upon exiting the Sunset Strip, you will find yourself entering Beverly Hills. You will definitely noticed the ambiance of Sunset Blvd to make a 180 degree change from the glitter and neon lights of the strip to the lush, greenery and elegant feel of Sunset Blvd. As you will note, the road becomes a lot smoother in this stretch and and branching off of Sunset are streets that wind into the hills or palm tree flats of Beverly Hills containing multi million dollar estates. The fun part about sight seeing in Beverly Hills is that you pick any one of these streets to drive off onto and you will instantly be treated to the sights of beautiful homes.As you proceed through Beverly Hills you will soon come on the Beverly Hills Hotel on the right hand side. Known as the "Pink Palace" the hotel stands very strong and authoritative with its pink Spanish deco design amongst a forest of palm trees. There is easy parking access around the hotel and its worth a trip to see the lobby where beautiful glass chandeliers hang and you are always guaranteed to see a celebrity sighting, or two. It is also this area you may recognize some of the other popular streets of Beverly Hills as they cross Sunset like Canon, Rodeo and Roxbury Drives. By making a left off of Rodeo at this point you will be taken into the heart of the shopping district of Beverly Hills that is world famous.
After passing Sunset and Whittier you are now heading out of Beverly Hills and into the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles. On the immediate right you will pass Carolwood Drive where Michael Jackson's final home is situated and the location of his recent passing. It is this area that Sunset becomes very windy and somewhat dangerous. Use caution through this area as many locals who are accustomed to this stretch race their fancy German and Japanese sports cars through this area. At the Beverly Glenn intersection, by making a right on Beverly Glenn you will be taken deep into the Santa Monica Mountains where like the Hollywood Hills of the Sunset Strip you get breathtaking views of the canyons, houses on cliffs and ultimately if you choose to proceed will be dropped off in the San Fernando Valley in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of LA.

As you make your way on Sunset the Bel Air neighborhood continues on the right side and the UCLA campus will be visible through the trees on the left. You will see many joggers on the trail on the left. After several more winding turns Sunset Blvd. spits you out into a an area called the Sepulveda pass. It is this area you will see signs for the busy 405 and Sunset will take you over Sunset and into the Brentwood neighborhood. On the right hand side you will see the 405 curving into and over the Santa Monica Mountains on its way to the San Fernando Valley. You will also see the Hotel Angeleno on the right hand side. Featured in countless movies and tv shows, the hotel in itself with its circular geometry and location perched at the bottom of the Santa Monica Mountains and again the busy 405 is a landmark in of itself.

Sunset Through Brentwood/Pacific Palisades

Like much of the past 4 miles on Sunset, the next 6 will continue to be winding, full of fast drivers and lined with beautiful greenery, multi million dollar estates and quaint parks and shopping areas. As you pass through Brentwood you will come to the intersection of Barrington and Sunset. On the left hand side is a small shopping area known as the Brentwood Village. It is here that you can stop for a coffee, a sweet from a bakery or have a full out lunch. This area has been to known to be a celebrity hang out as well as a relaxing spot for the Brentwood locals and their pets. Continuing west on Sunset you will pass many streets such as Kenter and Bundy where by making a right or left on either you will be taken into the hills or canyons of Brentwood where you will see more multi million dollar estates. It is as at Kenter and Sunset where by making a right on Kenter Joan Crawford lived. If Bundy Drive or Rockingham sound familiar as you pass, those were the areas that were the epicenter of the OJ Simpson trial. When you pass Mandeville Canyon Road, it is here that a large number political presidential fund raisers have been held at several estates off of Mandeville.

The next area you will pass through is the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles. It is here traffic on Sunset becomes very slow and enters what is called the Palisades Village. Home to boutique shops, gourmet supermarkets, coffee shops and bakeries, this area of LA tends to be very white and upscale with families. Most of the residents of this area enjoy having a LA zip code but being close to the beach and miles from the crazy ness that is Hollywood. After clearing the village, Sunset again become very windy and from here on out there are few traffic lights. About 4 miles from the village Sunset finally terminates at the coast. Coming down a hill, through a small mountain pass and after making a left curve, the ocean spreads out and Sunset ends at the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). From here you can either make a right and proceed into Malibu or make a left and the PCH takes you into Santa Monica.

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