Hollywood’s glitz, glamour and celebrities have always held a fascination for travelers. Tourists journey to Los Angeles from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the city’s famous residents or scope out iconic filming locations. For a behind-the-scenes peek at Hollywood’s unknown tales and secrets, enlist the help of a local by signing up for a guided tour. Researching both expert opinion and traveler sentiment, U.S. News selected the 11 best Hollywood tours.
Starline Tours – Celebrity Homes & Rodeo Drive Shopping Tour
This two-part tour begins with a cruise through Hollywood’s exclusive neighborhoods to see more than 40 celebrity homes. The open-air minibus seats just 13 tourgoers and features guides with insider information about Hollywood’s famous residents. Afterward, enjoy free time strolling along Rodeo Drive where you can peruse upscale boutiques, such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Harry Winston. The two-hour tour concludes with a hop-on, hop-off bus ride from Rodeo Drive back to the meeting point aboard the double-decker City Sightseeing bus. Most tour-takers enjoy the experience and the entertaining guides. Several others say the commentary is boring and inaccurate. The tour operates daily with many departure times. Tickets cost approximately $55 for adults and $45 for children. Starline Tours also offers additional excursions, which include theme park and studio visits.
TOURific Escapes – Hollywood Sites & Bites Food Tour
A delicious combo tour that merges Hollywood’s major attractions with five of the best culinary tastings in town, this four-hour outing is a hit with reviewers. Tourgoers will visit the TCL Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre (host to the Academy Awards) and see the famous Hollywood Sign. Other sights during the driving portion include Paramount Pictures Studios and Capitol Records. In between sights, you’ll visit local restaurants, including a deli and chocolate shop, for tasty samples. Visitors are complimentary of the tour and enjoy the well-versed guides and delectable food stops. The tour departs at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, though specific days may vary. The maximum size for the group is seven people. Tickets start at $109 for participants 6 and older and $79 for children 5 and younger. For an in-depth look at famous filming locations, consider the company’s Celebrity Insider Movie Locations Tour.
TMZ, known for its celebrity news-fueled television show and website, operates this bus tour that takes travelers through Hollywood in the hopes of seeing their favorite celebrities. During the two-hour trip, TMZ guides will take you to celebrity hangouts in West Hollywood, the Sunset Strip and more. The guides even bring video cameras in case a passing celebrity is willing to give an interview. Many patrons say the tour is fun, even without seeing any stars. Others say the guides give incorrect information or that they didn’t feel the high ticket price justified the limited scope of the tour. Tours run multiple times daily. Tickets start at $52 for ages 13 and older and $32 ages 2 to 12. Children younger than 2 are not permitted.
Ultimate Hollywood Tours – Celebrity Home Tour
Keep your eyes peeled for celebrity sightings on this two-hour van tour, which promises to drive by more than 50 star residences. The van will also cruise down Rodeo Drive and pass by the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Beverly Hills Hotel, among other celebrity haunts. Visitors appreciate the guides’ sense of humor and knowledge. They also say this is an excellent way to see the major attractions in Hollywood. The tours depart multiple times daily from 9:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets cost approximately $40 for adults and $30 for children. The company also offers tours that visit film studios and famous filming locations in Hollywood.
The Real Los Angeles Tours – The Real Hollywood Tour
During this historic walking tour, travelers will learn why Hollywood, once a farming town, was selected by movie industry pioneers in the early 20th century. The two-hour tour also stops at unique sights, such as the oldest house in Hollywood. But major attractions aren’t forgotten either: You can expect to see the Capitol Records Building, the Dolby Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among other sights. Reviewers enjoy the informative guides, and even locals say they discover things they never knew about the city. Tours are offered daily at 10 a.m. and cost approximately $30 for adults; children 11 and younger tour for free. You can also opt to combine this tour with the company’s Central Downtown LA tour for a comprehensive, six-hour historical overview of the city.
Taking a bus tour to pass by the homes of the rich and famous is a popular activity for Hollywood tourists.(Getty Images)
Open Bus Tours – Star Homes Tour
Admire the mansions of Hollywood’s rich and famous as you wind through LA’s posh neighborhoods on this two-hour, open-air Mercedes bus tour. Then, pass by iconic sights, such as the Hollywood Sign and Mulholland Drive, before cruising along Rodeo Drive, the Sunset Strip and other well-known Hollywood locales. Most reviewers give the tour high marks, applauding the amusing and informative guides. Ticket prices start at $35 for adults, $29 for kids ages 2 to 11 and $20 for infants. Tours depart up to four times daily. Longer three- and four-hour tours of LA are also available.
Dearly Departed Tours – Hollywood’s History & Haunts Walking Tour
Learn about Hollywood’s spooky haunts and notorious crime scenes from a Hollywood historian during this 90-minute walking tour. The mile-long walk passes by theaters, hotels, storefronts, bars and alleyways with an eerie past. Each tour-taker will also receive a personal headset so that they can hear the tour guides’ stories. Patrons say the tour is fun and informative, but most don’t think it as chilling as advertised. Tours are offered on Friday evenings at 5 p.m. Ticket prices start at $25. Visitors in search of an experience focused on some of Hollywood’s worst tragedies should book Dearly Departed’s Helter Skelter or Homicide True Crime tour.
Red Line Tours – Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Visit famous filming locations, well-known movie theaters, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more on this 75-minute walking tour. You’ll also learn the history of the TCL Chinese Theatre and how Hollywood got its name, among other behind-the-scenes tidbits. Tour-takers applaud the guides for their delivery of interesting facts and trivia. Reviewers also praise the use of personal headsets, which makes it easy to hear the guide’s commentary. Tours run four times a day. Tickets cost approximately $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors and $15 for children ages 9 to 15. Children younger than 9 tour for free. The company offers several other tours, including the Hollywood Movie Experience, which takes visitors to legendary filming locations in downtown LA.
Legends of Hollywood Tours
This multimedia tour takes visitors on a four-hour drive through Beverly Hills, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. The narrated ride in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is coordinated with movie and video clips that play on a 32-inch flat-screen monitor. Learn about legendary celebrities while driving past their homes and other Hollywood landmarks. Reviewers, who describe the tour as “incredible,” appreciate the engaging guides and insight. Travelers also appreciate guides’ recommendations. Tours are limited to 13 participants. Ticket prices start at $79 for adults, $69 for seniors and $59 for students (ages 5 to 17).
Bikes and Hikes Experience LA: Hollywood Sign Hike
For a unique and sunshine-filled Hollywood tour, opt for this 2 1/2-hour hike to the Hollywood Sign. Highlights include a visit to Griffith Observatory, panoramic views from Mount Hollywood and local guides who also double as actors and comedians. Along the 3 1/2-mile round-trip hike, you might even see local celebrities walking their dogs. Tour-takers love the views, informative guides and the overall experience. The company offers both morning and sunset guided hikes. The starting times vary, depending on the time of the year. Bikes and Hikes LA recommends wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and sneakers, and bringing a camera or smartphone for all those Instagrammable views. Tickets start at $35 per person. The company also offers three different bike tours around Hollywood and LA.
Bike Tours Hollywood – Hollywood Bike Tour
Get your heart pumping while seeing the sights during this roughly 2 1/2-hour, 8-mile bike ride. The tour departs from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and travels through lesser-known Hollywood neighborhoods before visiting major attractions, such as Griffith Park. Along the way, you’ll have time to stop for photos and take a break from the bike with a short nature walk. Reviewers like the active nature of the tour and praise the guides for their knowledge of the area and entertaining delivery. Tours cost approximately $65 per person and include the use of a geared bike, a helmet and water. Bike rides are offered twice daily. The company also offers a combo bike tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.