Sunset Boulevard is one of the most important streets in Los Angeles, a 22-mile artery that runs through the heart of the Greater Los Angeles Area and crosses iconic attractions and famous neighborhoods. A trip on Sunset Boulevard can take a few hours or days, since it passes almost every major tourist attraction in the city and each one requires time to be visited properly.
But at the same time, Sunset Boulevard is a street where you can hunt for iconic objects. Signs, famous clubs, and characteristic attractions dot the route, making it a small road trip in its own right. First, let’s get to know this road better and get a sense of which areas it crosses and which attractions you should visit along the way.
- What Is Sunset Boulevard? Where Is It Located?
- Neighborhoods along Sunset Boulevard Street
- Attractions on Sunset Boulevard
- Sunset Junction
- Tiki-Ti (4427 Sunset Blvd)
- Sunset Gower Studios (1438 N Gower St)
- Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd)
- Cinerama Dome (6360 Sunset Blvd)
- Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd)
- Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum (6616 Sunset Blvd)
- Crossroads of the World (6671 Sunset Blvd)
- The Walk of Fame in Hollywood (6901 Hollywood Blvd)
- Hollywood’s RockWalk (Guitar Center, 7425 Sunset Blvd)
- Sunset Strip Attractions
- Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd)
- Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Dr)
- Will Rogers State Park (1421 Will Rogers State Park Rd)
- Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine (17190 Sunset Blvd)
- Will Rogers State Beach (17000 CA-1, Pacific Palisades)
What Is Sunset Boulevard? Where Is It Located?
Sunset Boulevard begins its long 22-mile ride not far from Downtown Los Angeles, just outside of Echo Park (at the exact junction of North Figueroa Street and Cesar Estrada Chavez Avenue), and it ends at the ocean in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood north of Santa Monica. This long route crosses several areas, neighborhoods, and small towns that represent an intersection of the components that make up the diverse soul of Los Angeles.
Some sections of the road are particularly famous, first and foremost the Sunset Strip, the beating heart of West Hollywood‘s social life, where there are many clubs that have made the history of music and show business, but also the stretch that runs through Hollywood that is called“Guitar Row” because of the large number of guitar shops and activities related to the music business (such as United Western Recorders and Sunset Sound Studios).
The first to pay homage to this street was Billy Wilder in 1950, with his famous film Sunset Boulevard, which inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber, former composer of the music of great classics of Broadway, to write a musical with the same title.
Now let’s discover what you will see on a drive on Sunset Boulevard.
Neighborhoods along Sunset Boulevard Street
As I was saying, the road goes through various areas of Greater Los Angeles; on the way, you will pass residential neighborhoods, multi-ethnic areas, hipsters neighborhoods, and VIP areas where only very wealthy people can afford to live.
Here are the neighborhoods that await you in order from East to West (inland to the ocean):
- Echo Park: The first neighborhood crossed by Sunset Boulevard is not so famous, but it is more interesting than you might think. Echo Park is an ethnic neighborhood full of bars, vintage shops, hipsters, and also boasts some noteworthy parks, including the beautiful Echo Park Lake (from which the neighborhood takes its name) and Elysian Park, not far from the Dodger Stadium, the stadium of the Los Angeles baseball team. Read more in our guide to what to see in Echo Park.
- Silver Lake: This area shares many characteristics with Echo Park, starting with the fact that it owes its name to the lake located in the neighborhood (Silver Lake) and the many hipsters who frequent it. Here you’ll find excellent restaurants, cafes, and markets.
- Los Feliz: On the southern border of the massive Griffith Park is a residential neighborhood where many movie stars and some early movie studios (such as Disney) have taken residence. If you stroll through the streets of the neighborhood, you’ll notice a lot of fine architecture, including 2 houses by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
- East Hollywood: A multi-ethnic neighborhood with a concentration of Hispanic and Armenian communities and Thai Town, the only Thai community in America. This is probably one of the least interesting of the neighborhoods along Sunset Boulevard.
- Hollywood: For many, just the thrill of being in this iconic neighborhood of American cinema already makes it worth a worth coming here. Sunset Boulevard runs parallel to Hollywood Boulevard, so if you want to see the famous Walk of Fame, you’ll have to make a little detour. For all the attractions that await you in the neighborhood, read our guide to the points of interest in Hollywood.
- West Hollywood: Located between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, West Hollywood is actually a small city, and its hub, at least in terms of nightlife, is Sunset Strip, which is a collection of historic clubs, boutiques, and countless other entertainment options.
- Beverly Hills: This small city in Greater Los Angeles needs no introduction. Rodeo Drive captures the essence of this area for those with a large wallet. Many people visit Beverly Hills simply to browse around and see a lifestyle that’s far removed from their everyday life, but there’s more to do. To find out, read our guide to all the attractions in Beverly Hills.
- Bel Air: Sunset Boulevard runs along the southern boundary of this neighborhood known worldwide as the hill where famous people reside, Here you can go in search of unapproachable celebrities on a tour of the mansions. For more information, read our guide on Bel Air.
- Brentwood: Another neighborhood with many luxurious residences, which can proudly claim to have been home to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Richard Nixon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc…
- Pacific Palisades: This is yet another very rich residential area overlooking the sea that borders Santa Monica. The main attractions in this area are Will Rogers State Park, the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, and Will Rogers State Beach. We’ll talk about this in greater detail below.
Attractions on Sunset Boulevard
Here are the main attractions you will encounter along Sunset Boulevard (or in its immediate surroundings) from east to west as you drive towards the ocean.
In Silver Lake, the Sunset Junction sign identifies the intersection of 2 of the most important streets in Los Angeles, Santa Monica Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, which run parallel to each other for long stretches and then end up on Highway 1, the famous scenic road along the Pacific coast. The site is also known for the first protest march on American soil against police repression of the gay community. The nearby Black Cat Tavern was in fact a gathering place for the gay community. This protest was echoed by the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village.
Tiki-Ti (4427 Sunset Blvd)
This Polynesian-themed venue in Los Feliz is a must-see for those who love to go in search of special, out-of-the-ordinary locations. Here the 2 owners also work as bartenders, which apparently allowed the bar to get around the state laws on smoking ban on the premises. Tiki-Ti is distinguished by its long list of original drinks and for the unusual names of the drinks (if you’re undecided there’s a wheel you can spin and that way you leave the choice to chance), some of which make people go crazy. If you want to have this experience, order an Ooga Booga or a Blood and Sand.
Sunset Gower Studios (1438 N Gower St)
Dating back to 1912, Sunset Gower Studios has been the location of movies that have made the history of cinema (for example, Frank Capra’s films), television programs, and recent series (for example, Scandal). For some time during the 70s, it also served as a rehearsal venue for bands such as Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Eagles, and Elton John. To this day it’s still a very active studio but unfortunately, it is not possible for visitors to enter.
Hollywood Palladium (6215 Sunset Blvd)
The Hollywood Palladium, which has been referenced in various movies and used to record concerts by many famous bands (e.g. Keith Richards, Megadeth, and Bad Religion), is a historic venue in Los Angeles. It was built in 1940 in a modern Art Deco Streamline style and it was opened by none other than Frank Sinatra. Among the greatest musicians who have performed in this concert hall is The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Cinerama Dome (6360 Sunset Blvd)
Built in 1963, this historic dome-shaped movie theater not only revolutionized the design of movie theaters of the time but also brought significant technological advances, since it was among the first to use the Cinerama single-lens projection system. The dome-shaped building is a landmark in Hollywood and is often “decorated” as a theme to advertise the movies currently showing at the movie theater.
Amoeba Music (6400 Sunset Blvd)
Those who believe that traditional record stores are destined to disappear should come here and think again. The Amoeba Music chain was born in San Francisco, in Haight Ashbury, a hippie neighborhood, and then it expanded to Berkeley and Los Angeles. If like me you are nostalgic and enjoy browsing dusty shelves in search of some rare records, go take a look.
Update: the store has moved to a new location, 6200 Hollywood Boulevard.
Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum (6616 Sunset Blvd)
This is a free and controversial museum commissioned by the Church of Scientology, the theme of which is a heavy allegation against psychiatry. The museum accuses psychiatry of being a profit-driven industry that often causes the deaths of its patients.
Crossroads of the World (6671 Sunset Blvd)
This is another historic building in Los Angeles, described by many as the first open-air shopping mall in the United States. It owes its striking appearance to the famous tower topped by a globe (also seen in Disneyland and Disneyworld parks) and to the shape of the building inspired by a transatlantic liner. Today, instead of the mall, it is an office complex with offices of businesses related to the entertainment industry.
The Walk of Fame in Hollywood (6901 Hollywood Blvd)
Probably nothing says Hollywood more than the star-studded sidewalks on Hollywood Boulevard. Here artists from American and international cinema as well as singers and other famous people are immortalized on both sides of the road for over a mile. There are also many other cinematic attractions, so in order to find out what they are and better organize your visit, read our guide on the Walk of Fame.
Hollywood’s RockWalk (Guitar Center, 7425 Sunset Blvd)
A large mural will announce the presence of the Guitar Center, one of the largest music store chains in America, but this is certainly not the primary reason to stop here. If you also grew up listening to rock’n’roll, you must visit the RockWalk, where the great rock stars have left their handprints.
If you start looking around in the adjacent windows, you might be amazed to see Jimmy Page’s guitars, Eddie Van Halen’s guitars, Marky Ramone’s drums, and many other memorabilia that have great significance for rock history.
Sunset Strip Attractions
There are plenty of iconic signs, historic clubs, boutiques, and restaurants full of personality on this section of Sunset Boulevard. You will be overwhelmed by the choices of places to visit, including hotels that have hosted stars of the entertainment world, such as the Chateau Marmont and the Sunset Tower, clubs frequented by great actors such as The Comedy Store, and others that have launched historic bands such as Whisky a Go Go and the Roxy Theatre. Given the high concentration of points of interest on the most famous stretch of Sunset Boulevard, I have written an article to talk about all the things to see on the Sunset Strip.
Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Blvd)
Opened in 1912, before the city of Beverly Hills was founded, the Beverly Hills Hotel is probably one of the most famous hotels in the world. The impressive number of celebrities it has hosted since it opened has made it a symbol of glamour and show business. Even the Eagles have paid tribute to it in their song Hotel California.
Founded in 1925, the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles is so large that it could be considered a small town. The campus has red brick buildings and beautiful tree-lined gardens, and unlike universities such as Harvard in Boston and Georgetown in Washington, which have Gothic architecture, the buildings here seem to have been inspired by the Romanesque style and the result is truly remarkable. You can take a pleasant walk around the campus using this map or, alternatively, you can take a guided tour. Information about the tours is found on the official website.
Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Dr)
The Getty Center is one of the most important museums in Los Angeles and houses the entire collection of tycoon Paul Getty. The collection begins with Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art and goes all the way to the 21st century, and it includes several Renaissance and Post-Impressionist works. The beautiful natural setting in which it is immersed completes the picture. Although the Getty Center is not on Sunset Boulevard, it can be easily reached by taking a small detour. If you are interested and would like more information, read our guide on the Getty Center.
Will Rogers State Park (1421 Will Rogers State Park Rd)
Will Rogers was Hollywood’s highest-paid actor in the 1930s, which allowed him to buy 359 acres of land in the Pacific Palisades area and build his own ranch there. The property was donated to the State of California in 1944 and is now a nature park with many trails. Visitors have the opportunity to visit Will Rogers’ own ranch through free guided tours (you can find the tour schedule on the official website ). For those in search of places to visit that are not major tourist attractions, this park can be a pleasant surprise.
Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine (17190 Sunset Blvd)
10 acres of lush gardens, a temple, and an enchanting lake make up this site, created to nourish the spirit and encourage meditation, in honor of the precepts of Paramahansa Yogananda, Indian guru author of the best-selling book Autobiography of a Yogi, which has had a major impact on contemporary art and culture. It can be an interesting stop, and not only for those interested in Indian spirituality. Admission is free.
Will Rogers State Beach (17000 CA-1, Pacific Palisades)
The beautiful sandy expanse on the Pacific Ocean at Will Rogers State Beach is the worthy conclusion of a trip on Sunset Boulevard. Admission to the beach is free but there is a fee for parking. Just 10 minutes south of here there is the Santa Monica Pier, the famous pier with the amusement park on the ocean. This is where Sunset Boulevard ends and where you can start another magnificent road trip on the spectacular Highway 1, which runs along the Pacific and ends just beyond San Francisco.