Social life, historic clubs, elegant boutiques, nightclubs that have become legendary, and a very high chance of spotting stars of the Star System Hollywoodiano. These are the main features that distinguish the Sunset Strip from any street in the world, a street with so many stories and anecdotes to tell, so much so that it has become an undisputed symbol of Los Angeles itself.
So let's see what exactly the Sunset Strip means and how to visit it.
- Sunset Strip: what it is and where it is
- How to reach us
- Where to park to visit the Sunset Strip?
- How to move along the Strip
- What to see: Landmarks on the Sunset Strip
- Famous hotels
- Historic premises
Sunset Strip: what it is and where it is
Sunset Strip is a circumscribed stretch of road 2,4 km long which is part of the famous Sunset Boulevard, a 22-mile artery that runs from the outback of Los Angeles (the Silver Lake area), to Highway 1, the road that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Of this great street, what is commonly identified as the Sunset Strip is the stretch between Sierra Drive (on the border with Beverly Hills) and Crescent Heights Boulevard (on the border with Hollywood).
Although less famous than the Las Vegas Strip, the Sunset Strip Los Angeles is still one of the iconic places of the city, known all over the world for its tourist attractions and for some places that have made the history of music and the world of entertainment.
This street has begun to make a reputation for itself in the Years' 20, when many nightclubs and clubs opened there, effectively transforming it into a real nerve center of Los Angeles nightlife. The success it enjoyed is also due to its own geographic location: being outside the city limits of Los Angeles, the Sunset Strip was able to take advantage of a less rigid application of the rules (then restrictive) on gambling and distribution of alcohol.
How to reach us
Sunset Strip is located in West Hollywood, a city in Greater Los Angeles and is connected by bus (Metro line 2), however, the easiest way to reach the Strip is by rental car. Below I point out 2 of our insights that could be useful to you in this regard:
- Our guide on how to get around Los Angeles
- Our tips for renting a car in Los Angeles
Where to park to visit the Sunset Strip?
A bit like in the whole city (as I have already explained in my article on where to park in Los Angeles), even in this area free parking is not an easy affair, so much so that often the same clubs or restaurants have their own paid parking area complete with valet parking to which you will have to hand over the car keys (valet parking).
Since these car parks are often far from cheap, it can be useful to know that there are some in the area solutions at a good price, in some cases free for 1 or 2 hours. In the interactive map above I have reported some based on the data provided by the official West Hollywood website. Whenever possible, I have also reported prices and timetables (however, check that they have not changed in the meantime).
How to move along the Strip
Sometimes we are satisfied simply to cross the Sunset Strip with the car, whose route, if coming from Hollywood, ends with the Beverly Hills sign, which marks the beginning of the new neighborhood. However, you can also opt for a more detailed exploration.
Once you arrive, you can walk around the street and, if you are in the area on a Friday or Saturday, you can also take advantage of a useful shuttle service called Sunset Trip. It is a free trolley offered by the city of West Hollywood which runs every 15 minutes with numerous stops along the Strip, particularly convenient for getting around quickly. For a list of all the stops go to this site.
What to see: Landmarks on the Sunset Strip
In the map above you will find the main points of interest along the route, below is a description of the attractions divided by categories:
Chateau Marmont (8221 Sunset Blvd)
"Touched by scandal and commemorated in literature," the Los Angeles Times described one of the city's most controversial yet intriguing historic hotels, built in 1929 inspired by the Château d'Amboise in France, used as a set for many Hollywood movies, quoted in famous songs and stories.
In addition to the numerous personalities who have stayed there (for example Francis Scott Fitzgerald and Johnny Depp), the hotel has gone into the news for some controversial events that took place inside, such as the accident to Jim Morrison, who fell from the balcony of his room, and death from an overdose of John Belushi. If you want to take a look inside without booking one of its expensive rooms, you can eat in the elegant restaurant of the hotel. Crossing the Sunset Strip by car you may not notice it because it is in an elevated position on the hill.
Cerca a camera allo Chateau Marmont
Sunset Tower Hotel (8358 Sunset Blvd)
It is the first skyscraper built on the Sunset Strip (13 floors in all) and is a fine example of Art Deco Streamline Moderne architecture. In the 30s it became a regular stop for almost all Hollywood stars, including John Wayne, of which it is said that he kept a cow on the balcony so as not to be lacking in good fresh milk.
The pool on the terrace has been used for many films (e.g. Get Shorty and Strange Days), while the current one Tower Bar & Restaurant it was originally the apartment of mobster Bugsy Siegel.
Close a camera to the Sunset Tower
Andaz West Hollywood (8401 Sunset Blvd)
Renamed "The Riot House”Because of the recklessness of the rock-and-roll bands who stayed there after the performances in the Sunset Strip clubs. Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rolling Stones, The Doors, Elton John, Thin Lizzy and many others have passed through here, presences punctuated by tales of broken rooms, televisions and guitars thrown out of the windows and entrances into the hall with great fanfare astride a motorcycle.
This hotel has also been used by Hollywood directors for their films (for example Almost Famous which not surprisingly tells the story of a fictional 70s rock band). Beyond its troubled history, today it presents itself as one of the most elegant hotels with the best view in the area.
Look for a room at the Andaz
The Comedy Store (8433 Sunset Blvd)
It is one of the most important comedy clubs in America, where the likes of Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Michael Keaton, David Letterman and many others have performed ... the interesting thing is that it is not at all uncommon for the great actors who have cut their teeth here come back on this stage to perform, perhaps without announcing it in advance, so be prepared for possible surprises!
The reputation of this place was however already considerable before its opening as a Comedy Store in 1972, just think that here in 1964, when the place hosted the concerts of rock bands, the The Byrds.
Curiosity: the Comedy Store is also famous for hosting the wedding reception between Liza Minelli and Jack Haley Junior. The road was blocked for the event, in order to allow the many invited personalities from the entertainment world to participate.
The Viper Room (8852 Sunset Blvd)
Opened in 1993, this place, also owned for a certain period by Johnny Depp, immediately fell under the eye of the storm for the death by overdose of River Phoenix, which took place precisely in the year of the inauguration. This has not prevented him from becoming an important point of reference for rock and metal band concerts, and at the same time a fixed stop for many VIPs (for example Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston).
Some noteworthy performances that will forever remain in the club's history are that of 1994's Johnny Cash for his record American Recordings, which effectively marked his artistic rebirth; live performances by John Frusciante in 1997, a period in which his physical conditions were severely aggravated by drug abuse; and the opening concert, for which Johnny Depp invited Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Curiosity: do you know the Counting crows? Well, it will interest you to know that singer Adam Duritz worked here as a bartender to regain some contact with reality after the extraordinary success of the album August and Everything After.
Whisky a Go Go (8901 Sunset Blvd)
Lovers of rock and metal will not be impassive when they pass this venue. In fact, it can be said that the Los Angeles rock scene exploded thanks to Whisky a Go Go which, precisely for this reason, in 2006, was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. Do you want some band names that have performed here? Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, The Doors, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Guns N 'Roses and AC / DC, but the list is so large that it is much easier to tell who did not step on this stage than the other way around.
Curiosity: it may surprise you to know Whiskey a Go Go was actually born as discotheque, extension of the first club with this name opened in Chicago, in turn inspired by a nightclub opened in France in the 40s. During its “disco” phase, Whiskey a Go Go introduced suspended cages, which were then reused by dancers in numerous night clubs.
The Roxy Theatre (9009 Sunset Blvd)
Opened in 1973, the Roxy shares 2 things with the Whiskey a Go Go: the co-founder Elmer Valentine and the incredible assortment of famous bands and artists who have trodden the stage. Compared to Whiskey, this venue can boast a more varied repertoire, ranging from rock bands like Ramones and Genesis to jazz musicians like George Benson and The Crusaders, to also go from prose comedies like The Rocky Horror Show.
In addition to the aforementioned, great characters who have passed through here are John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Bob Marley, Van Morrison and Neil Young, but even in this case the list is really long and rich.
Shopping opportunities can be found all along the Sunset Strip but the area where all the shopaholics head is Sunset Plaza (8623 Sunset Blvd), a stretch of the Strip filled with boutiques and cafes. If your wallet is not in the mood to shop you can always sit down for a drink hoping to spot some VIPs going shopping ...
In a street like the Sunset Strip, places to eat abound and when the offer is too much, some targeted advice can always be useful.
Saddle Ranch Chop House (8371 Sunset Blvd) is one of my favorite places both for the quality of the food, typical Tex Mex cuisine with sizeable portions, and for the atmosphere, a reproduction of the stereotypes of the Far West, complete with live performances by country musicians and mechanical bull that you can try to tame. To top it off, if you have some space left, you can "ease digestion" with a lot of cotton candy.
There are at least 2 reasons to drop by Rainbow Bar and Grill (9015 Sunset Blvd), also opened by the ubiquitous Elmer Valentine, and are its history and atmosphere. At the time it was called Villa Nova, Marilyn Monroe he had his first date with Joe DiMaggio here, while Vincent Minnelli, who owned the place, made his marriage proposal to Judy Garland here. But what the club celebrates today is above all its more recent past, the one that has seen it represent a sort of fixed stop for rock bands and metal musicians (Lemmy dei Motorhead above all). Memorabilia, photos and furniture seem to turn this venue into a small museum for rock lovers.
Mel’s Drive-In (8585 Sunset Blvd) is a famous chain, also mentioned in some films (for example Melrose Place and American Graffiti), which has marked American popular culture a little, with its famous logo and 50s atmosphere. Born in San Francisco, the Sunset Strip location is still a viable option, with good quality American food at affordable prices.
Another similar typical place is the Carney’s (8351 Sunset Blvd), famous for 2 things: its quirky sign and location, an old Union Pacific locomotive, the right place to bite into a great burger!
Let's close with 2 curiosities: Beatles lovers will be pleased to know that a short distance from the Strip, in the Hollywood Hills, is the house (1567 Blue Jay Way) where he lived for a short time George Harrison and in which he wrote the song Blue Jay Way, drawing inspiration from the name of the street. If trying to reach the street you don't see the road sign don't worry, it often happens that it is stolen by some out of control fans. It seems for this reason that the municipality had to insert the name of the street directly on the sidewalk.
Returning instead to Sunset Boulevard, you could instead go in search of the Rocky and Bullwinkle statue (8775 Sunset Blvd) which was stationed until 2013 in front of the headquarters of Jay Ward Productions, the company that gave life to the famous moose and the equally famous squirrel. There have been many protests regarding the removal of the statue, some even came to speak of mystery, in any case the fans of these characters can breathe a sigh of relief: it seems that soon the statue will be returned to its original position. If you see it leave us a comment below.
The advantages of sleeping in a hotel on the Strip are the proximity to all kinds of services and the fact that often, many of these properties offer pleasant views and a terrace with a swimming pool. As mentioned, there are some historic hotels with a certain charm, but the hotel offer is much wider, as you can see in this list.
If you want to visit other attractions in Los Angeles, please also consider other areas, for example by reading our guide on the best neighborhoods to sleep in the city, which you can access by clicking on the button below:
Our tips on where to sleep in Los Angeles