Indulge your guilty pleasures with a Hollywood stars’ homes tour! Hollywood has so many layers of appeal: The 1930’s golden age, Oscars week when Hollywood Boulevard is shut down to primp for the big event, and the embodiment of hope and dreams of so many ambitious artists. Just like the closing phrase of 1990’s cinematic classic, Pretty Woman, “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.” Plus, it’s where the STARS’ homes are, don’t you know?
That last statement is probably only partially true and difficult to prove. Yes, there are some gorgeous residences in the Hollywood Hills, Bel Air (remember the Fresh Prince House?!) and Beverly Hills. If you drive around these areas are you going to see a shirtless Ryan Gosling? Probably not—but it is Hollywood, so keep on dreaming.
However, if it’s your first time to Hollywood, you don’t have a car at your access, and you’re fully comfortable diving into a little guilty pleasure, a “Hollywood Stars’ Homes Tour” might be just the thing for you.
What Do I Need to Know about a Hollywood Stars’ Homes Tour?
My experience is with the two-hour all driving Starline Movie Stars’ Homes Tour. Starline Tours has been in the business since 1935 when an ambitious chauffeur put together trips for tourists who wanted to purvey homes of celebrities so needless to say, they’ve got quite a reputation.
The Stars’ Homes Tour is a unique way to see Hollywood (and outside) that’s filled with celebrity gossip and stories with the chance to see a handful of “celebrity home”. The mode of transportation is a small, 13 passenger van. Now, I’ve gone on this tour a few times and I can say that (if the weather is nice) it’s so much better if you have the opportunity to go on tour in one of their topless vans that they advertise on their website. However, it’s not guaranteed this will be your ride—I’ve gone on tour in a closed van before as well. While the closed van was air conditioned (which was nice in July), I felt that the top-down van really added to the over all quality of the tour.
You can buy your tickets ahead of time online and arrange for hotel pick up/drop off via Starline or you could buy your tickets from the pagoda they have right in front of the famous TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd—there are usually hawkers outside trying to sell you tickets to the tour so it’s actually quite hard to miss.
Once the tour begins, you’re off to drive around Hollywood, West Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills, Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and back to Hollywood. While I’m sure their specific routing might vary, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll see “Hollywood stars’ homes” as well as famous landmarks like the Beverly Hills Police Department and famous signs, Rodeo Drive, The Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Melrose Ave, and possibly a chance to drive into the hills to get closer to the Hollywood sign—though I also don’t think this is guaranteed, as sometimes my guide has done this and sometimes not.
I put Hollywood stars’ homes up there in quotation marks because this type of tour is certainly something you have to imaginatively buy into. For example, the first time I took this tour my guide was really good and it was my first time to Hollywood so I was totally into it and we passed a guy on a motorcycle who our guide told us in a delightful squeal was RYAN REYNOLDS! I was so excited! But ten years later I think back to that moment and ask myself if it was really Ryan. Really? Most likely, no. Just like a lot of the homes you see don’t necessarily belong to the celebrities that are mentioned or you might see someone’s “home” that just happens to be completely covered with a huge brick wall and shrubbery.
That said, Starline (and others) have access to the small, winding, neighborhood roads throughout the Hollywood Hills that the big bus companies are too big to drive on. So again, if you don’t have a car at your disposal or have only done a hop on-hop off type tour and you want to see more, this type of tour is great.
The guides are typically working actors/artists/singers/etc and can really make or break a tour with their over the top excitement to see these “stars’ homes” and to share all sorts of stories with you. Most of the guides are great and will give you an entertaining couple of hours.
If it’s hot outside be prepared with sunscreen, water and perhaps a hat with the chance you’ll be in a topless van. There are also no restroom breaks or stopping of any kind on tour so be prepared, though they will give you a chance to use the restroom before departing.
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