If you don’t live in LA and/or have never visited Hollywood and Highland (H&H) let me describe it for you…
It’s the literal seventh ring of tourist hell. You have to duck and dodge through slow moving foreigners and screaming children under the heat of a thousand LA suns while aggressive men try to shove pamphlets for bus tours into your unsuspecting hands. Every other storefront that you pass is full of the exact same gift shop trinkets that try to exploit the last remaining cool things about Hollywood and there is cart after cart grilling questionable looking sausage meats. People shout at you through megaphones and children breaking child labor laws drum on upside down buckets next to teenagers doing backflips for money and the next Kanye trying to sell you his fire mixtape. It’s BIG desperation energy.
The only reason I EVER brave through H&H on foot is when I need to go to Hot Topic, because I am a late blooming, angsty, emo teenager at heart. The Hot Topic at H&H is the only one that exists within a reasonable distance from my apartment. And on those rare occasions that I need to go and get new My Chemical Romance merch, I am absolutely assaulted by the explosion of tacky colors and sewage smells that exist on that block.
All of the “superheroes” and “old Hollywood actor lookalikes” that loiter around that area look like frightening bargain bin, third garage sale, seventeenth page of Craigslist, meth fueled versions of whoever they’re emulating. Their “costumes” look like they were bought off of the Halloween sale rack at a K-mart in 2011, after they had been run over by a car back and forth forever. The Marilyn Monroes and the Michael Jacksons look like they’re wearing matted wigs they found while dumpster diving and their heavy Ben Nye stage makeup melting all over their faces makes them look like claymation candles. No disrespect to anyone trying to make money from that legit source of gainful employment, but you look like the stuff nightmares are made of. Kids run away screaming from the elegant, charming Disney characters that waltz around Disneyland. With y’all they must shit their pants. How they manage to bamboozle anyone into paying for a photo is beyond me.
The only thoroughfare to get to the 101 freeway from this side of the hill is through H&H, unless you want to drive down to Cahuenga, which also sucks. You have to sit in traffic for forty days and forty nights because the red stoplights are nineteen minutes long to account for the extra pedestrian traffic that exists, and sometimes (re: every single fucking night of my life in the summer time) the Hollywood Bowl has events that will bottleneck everyone into two lanes further backing everyone up worse than your grandpa’s colon. Fucking shoot me.
Believe it or not the OSCARS and big premieres of Marvel movies are actually held on H&H, but they cover up all of the grit and grime with strategically placed red carpeting and flattering lighting, and they sweep all of the homeless people into the sewer until the festivities are over. The whole place is a metaphor for Hollywood in general: smoke and mirrors, baby.
Tourists want to come to this boulevard of broken dreams to see the walk of fame stars and the hand and footprints in front of Mann’s Chinese Theatre. I can see the attraction there, but what you have to suffer through to accomplish that goal has a higher risk than reward. If you’re planning a trip to LA, SKIP IT. Might I suggest these more worthwhile things instead: drugs, a swift kick to the mouth, a colonoscopy, a funeral, Catholic mass, a Ted Talk about dentistry, nails on a chalkboard, an ice bath, or a prison sentence?
Just kidding. No, but for real, just go the fucking beach and hike to the Hollywood sign.