On Being a Tourist in Your Own Town


As a tour guide I frequently give tours to life-long residents who often start out skeptical thinking a guided tour is just for tourist. When the tour is over I get a special thrill when these folks get off my bus excited about the new things they’ve learned about the history of their own neighborhoods.

Wherever you live or move to, its easy to miss what makes a place special when you’re caught up in the details of day-to-day life. I should know. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and was THIRTY-FIVE before I ever saw the Liberty Bell. That was a turning point for me. I realized that we miss the magical things under our very noses.

Since then, wherever I’ve lived, I’ve made a point to explore what makes a place special. With over 4 million people and 500+ square miles, Los Angeles has lots of those places, and I’m determined to explore as much of it as I can.

And I encourage you to do the same. So go ahead… wherever you are… be a tourist in your own town!

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Hollywood/Vine to Hollywood/Western

Start at Hollywood/Vine Metro Station
End at Hollywood/Western Metro Station
Distance: 1.0 mile (station to station with no side trips)

This walk is the perfect example of missing out on hidden gems if you stay stuck in your car. I’ve driven this stretch of Hollywood Blvd countless times and beyond just a few exceptions it appears to be an easily forgettable section of Hollywood. On foot however, the area has a neighborhood feel brought to life by decades old mom-and-pop shops still tucked in first floors as gentrifying high-rises begin to dominate the skyline. On the periphery of Thai Town and Little Armenia, explore this neighborhood while you can, its changing rapidly!

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Red Line Walk: Hollywood & Highland to Hollywood & Vine

Start at Hollywood/Highland Station
End at Hollywood/Vine Metro Station
Distance: 0.8 miles (station to station with no side trips)

This segment of our Red Line Walks is a rich walk down memory lane. This was a challenging one to write as I had to make some hard decisions on what to include and what to cut. This stretch of the Boulevard is densely packed with Hollywood history and there is no way to cover all of it in just one post. As Beverly and I argued over what to keep and what to toss, I finally decided that since this segment is actually our very own neighborhood, I’d write about those special places that catch the eye of a veteran Hollywood tour guide no matter how many times I pass by.

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Red Line Walk: Vermont/Beverly to Wilshire/Vermont

Start at Vermont/Beverly Metro Station
End at Wilshire/Vermont Metro Station
Distance: 1 mile (+ 1/4 mile with recommended Bimini Place loop)

This walk is the gateway to LA’s melting pot: Koreatown. Despite its name, along this walk we enjoyed the flavors of many countries. Our favorite spots include a Bangladesh market, a Filipino bakery and numerous Mexican taco trucks. Along the way we were surprised to stumble upon a 40-year-old commune committed to ecologically sustainable urban living and traces of the area’s elegant past.
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