You can have a lot of fun in North Hollywood, California from silly to intellectual to adventurous. Hollywood has been glamorized by movies, television and pop culture. This history is literally etched in the Walk of Fame with famous stars, footprints and handprints. You can see past remnants of famous movies and films including unique memorabilia, props and costumes in numerous museums and exhibits throughout the area. Ten of the best things to do in North Hollywood are described below.
1) Blastoff Comics
If you are a comic fan, do not miss Blastoff Comics. The comic shop is aesthetically unique with wood fixtures and shelving and bright lights. This is the backdrop for the offerings of a wide selection of comics, original art, graphic novels, framed classics and statues for sale. The classics go all the way back to the beginning of the twentieth century. They come from the personal collections of the creators of the comics and the stash of the owner. Blastoff Comics is trusted to sell unusual and rare showpieces. The store provides an all-wood interior, beautifully framed comics, classic pulp novels and old school class.
TeaPop is a cafe with a mixture of creativity and refreshment. You can relax, enjoy fresh brewed organic and imported tea and experience the designs and on the walls. Try an almond milk tea for some quick energy or take a look at the back patio. This is where you will discover impromptu performances and pop-up markets. The inspiration for the cafe came from the tea houses in China. This concept has been redefined with a unique menu consisting of tisanes, fresh-brewed loose leaf and imported teas in numerous different styles.
Non-brewed beverages and specialty coffees are also available. This is the place to be to get loud and have a great conversation. You may even see some of the local artists being featured. The cafe nurtures culture while providing a place for customers to meet with old friends over a cup of tea and celebrate their birthdays. TeaPop is about loyalty and the community.
3) ACME Theatres & Studios
This theater is both well kept and small. The specialty of the theater us comedy with quality rivaling Saturday Night Live. The schedule also mixes in a delightful mix of improv shows. There are two gorgeous theaters with 68 seats each. There are also several different sized studios offering open floor plans, theatrical seating and stages. They have been remodeled recently to provide a professional and comfortable environment.
The rental rates for workshops, readings, seminars, screenings, classes, auditions, private coaching and all types of stage shows are extremely reasonable. You will find ACME Theatres & Studios in the center of the NoHo Arts District. After your visit, you can walk to the Metro Orange and Red Lines to enjoy the shops, cafes and delicious restaurants.
4) Laemmle Theater NoHo 7
The chain of Laemmle movie theaters was established in 1938. This is the place to be for the latest in art, foreign and independent films. The theater is considered a hallowed place for watching the very best foreign and independent films. There are eight locations throughout the greater Los Angeles region. The theater is the foundation for events, screenings, previews and the greatest films of all time. The theater is still being run by the Laemmle family. Not only can you enjoy some spectacular movies but there are trailers, sneak peeks, special events and a unique little store as well.
5) Gallery 800
The gallery is located in the NoHo Arts District. This is also the Art Directors Guild for the entertainment industry. The historic storefront of the Art’s Center is your entrance into a world filled with exhibits focusing not only on the guild artists but broader themes such as the old west, still life and abstraction. Illustrators, matte artists and storyboard artists offer scenery, character, creature and vehicle previsualizations and concepts. Realistic scenery backgrounds are created along with the visual effects.
The model makers and set designers create designs for scenery and sets through computer software to build set models and draft the construction drawings or by hand. The graphic, title and scenic artists hand paint the decorations, fine art and scenery for print, film and screen advertising. There is always something interesting for you to see and the exhibits consistently change.
6) The Road Theatre Company
The Road Theater Company was created in 1991. The company is membership-based with a well-earned reputation for nurturing, supporting and presenting original theater works. The idea is the introduction of new thoughts and voices to the American stage. The theatre has made a substantial investment in the revitalization of the neighborhood and the NoHo community.
The company is actively involved in educational outreach and community service. You will enjoy the live performances at the Theater Road Company and the NoHo Senior Arts Colony. Both are a part of the NoHo community. There are acting and writing classes and art exhibits and every Monday night there is a staged reading of a new play.
7) Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation
In 1924, the ornate domed arch of the shrine served the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery as a grand entrance. Beginning in 1953, the shrine became a memorial and mausoleum for the pioneers of early aviation. There is even a plaque for Amelia Earhart. Although you can see some of the shrine from Valhalla Drive, you need to enter from Victory Boulevard to see everything this shrine has to offer. When you walk inside, you will see brass plaques covered in pine needles commemorating more than fifty of the bravest pioneers of aviation.
There are two black crows perched on the top of the rotunda. According to Norse mythology, Valhalla is a gigantic place in heaven the valiant gods and warriors inhabit once they die. The Portal of Folded Wings is the main attraction of Valhalla Memorial Park. The shrine is dedicated to the early aviators who braved the impossible by soring into the skies.
8) California Institute of Abnormal Arts
If you are interested in a truly unique experience, the (CIA) California Institute of Abnormal Arts is a nightclub like no other. The club was founded by two men who collected the freakiest art they could find. You will see zombie clowns, funhouse mirrors, wax pirates, dead fairies, a lot of backlight, pickled fetuses and preserved corpses. The acts include bands dressed up as everything from mutated chickens to pirates and the variety of costumes is wild. A visit here has been compared to being at the circus and going on a joyride after being kidnapped by the clowns.
The layout of the club is a labyrinth. There is an area for screening movies, an outdoor patio, a lot of twisted hallways, a performance stage and intimate crevices you can explore. The highlights include a mangled and cursed arm granting your wish within 24 hours but bringing a terrible end if you take a picture of it, the head of bigfoot, a haunted painting, a monkey’s paw and a baby with two heads who will tell you why it is dangerous to take LSD.
9) The Chandler Bikeway
The bikeway is a corridor running along the lanes of traffic you will find on Chandler Boulevard. The route is lovely with a lot of trees, flower beds and shrubs along the trail. The markings are clear with different lanes for pedestrians and bicycles. You will be passing through a quaint neighborhood during the first two miles. You will see unique homes with lemon and orange trees in the yards and two sculptures along the trail. The trail will change when you enter a retail development and a light industrial neighborhood.
The last mile of the trail displays exceptional public art. There is a series of murals on the sides of the buildings in North Hollywood. Mayor Richard Riordan commissioned the murals from nineteen local artists. The art includes the movie industry, nature, lush California farm fields, music and railroads. Right before the trail ends, it becomes asphalt. At this point, you will be close to the local Metro station and the center of North Hollywood.
10) El Portal Theater
West Coast Theatres opened the El Portal Theater in 1926 with Blarney starring Ralph Graves. This included a Chinese jazz orchestra and a live performance by Chinese actresses and actors. This was the last theater designed by Lewis Arthur Smith. The theater has a Spanish Renaissance decorative style with 1,346 seats. Vaudeville shows were once very popular here. The theatre was renovated in 1950. When it reopened, it was obliterated with curtain material and drapes. The theater was independent for a while, showing Spanish language movies.
After the Northridge earthquake of 1994, most of the exterior was destroyed. The paybox, marquee and facade survived the quake. After substantial repairs, the theatre reopened in 2000 as the El Portal. You can see popular modern plays in any of the 360 seats. There was another theater added with 42 seats. The building is now a historic, cultural landmark.
We hope you get a chance to get out and experience North Hollywood!