The Hollywood Obsession
It might seem like a silly question, but what makes Hollywood, California one of the most visited tourist destinations in the entire world?
Why do millions of people travel thousands of miles every year to walk up and down the Sunset Strip?
The obvious answer to this seemingly silly question is:
“Show business, stupid!”
People all over the world love movies, music, and television and Hollywood is the capital of all three. To visit is to pay respect to pop culture and entertainment.
This is certainly true, but while Hollywood will always be mostly known for being the heart of the entertainment industry, this designation is not the only reason why so many people flock to Tinseltown.
Hollywood and the surrounding area is not just a bastion of larger than life entertainment, it’s an incubator for cultural progress, a sanctuary for artistic expression, and more times than not the guiding light of society as it enters the otherwise strange and frightening future.
Wild West Hollywood
To be frank, most of Hollywood proper is the west coast equivalent of Times Square; packed with out-of-towners taking selfies, with the only locals being those selling memorabilia to tourists. It’s definitely a place to visit, but if an authentic local experience is a goal, this isn’t where it happens.
If that’s the Hollywood experience you’re after, you should check out my post on how to see LA in one day.
With most millennials opting to be “travelers” rather than “tourists”, one would expect there to be a reduced amount of visitors to Hollywood, but this isn’t true. That’s because there is, in fact, authentic local culture to be found in Hollywood. West Hollywood to be exact.
Technically its own town, West Hollywood is home to a seemingly endless array of nightclubs, art galleries, concert venues, and boutique hotels.
Travelers arrive and get lost in a sea of fascinating and innovative exhibits ranging from street performers to industrial art projects, housed in some of the most architecturally distinctive buildings in the entire LA region.
Not to mention the town is about as welcoming a community as they come. The official online West Hollywood visitor’s portal Visit WeHo is not shy about the 1.9 square mile city’s reputation for providing an environment accepting of all ways of life.
Furthermore, the community of West Hollywood has a lasting reputation for standing at the forefront of civil rights causes and progress. For these reasons and many more, millions flock through Hollywood on their pilgrimage to the city immediately to the west.
The diversity of Hollywood and its neighboring towns extends beyond the individuals living there and to the land itself. Beachfront paradises, dense forests, and scorched deserts can all be found nearby.
This wide range of scenery is part of the reason Hollywood wound up becoming the capital of the motion picture industry and later the television industry; studios found it to be an efficient location to headquarter production, as it was within close proximity to geography suitable for nearly any story setting.
In fact, this unique feature of Hollywood has a name: the Studio Zone. It’s a 30-mile radius around Hollywood primarily used to negotiate union contracts but has its origins in the optimum geography of the region.
It goes by another name, “Thirty-Mile Zone”, which readers may be more familiar with in abbreviated form, “TMZ.”
Considering the impact the geography around Hollywood had on the city’s role as the media capital of the world, it’s easy to see how it’s a driving force behind why the region appeals to so many folks from around the globe. Without it, there likely wouldn’t be a Hollywood and consequently no throngs of people coming to visit.
Deja Vu All Over Again
What visitors will likely appreciate most about the Studio Zone is how often they will experience deja vu when wandering within the perimeter. This is true even for first-time visitors to LA. No, it’s not evidence of reincarnation, but rather your brain recalling the on-location sets from favorite movies and television shows watched over the years. Virtually every inch of the Studio Zone has at one time or another served as the backdrop of a production. This gives visiting cinephiles countless chances to recreate some of their all-time favorite movie scenes.
But the Sprawl Says It All
Ultimately, however, the biggest reason so many people flock to Hollywood every year is likely on account of its presence within the greater Los Angeles area. With a population of over 10 million, Los Angeles County is a magnet for humanity. Whether it’s the
Whether it’s the thrill rides of Disney, the commerce of downtown, or the glitz of Hollywood, there is simply no end to the list of things to see and do in LA.
As such, Hollywood and the surrounding area will remain one of the most visited places in the world for many decades to come. Now, if only they would start making good movies again!
What are your favourite spots in LA?