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Hollywood: Tinseltown enjoys a new golden age.

Hollywood, the center of the film industry, is home to the Academy Awards and is white-hot when it comes to nightlife. The locals are colorful, from tattooed kids in combat boots to the photo-ready Charlie Chaplin and other costumed characters near Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Trinket shops are still here, but they no longer define the neighborhood. A $1 billion, 30-year revitalization is in full swing, and it's already translated into beautifully restored movie palaces, upscale eateries and boutiques. Fact is, there hasn't been a more exciting time to visit Hollywood since its last golden age more than a half-century ago.

Hollywood+Highland

The mammoth Hollywood & Highland complex, which is named for its cross streets, is home of the Kodak Theatre, permanent site of the Academy Awards. You'll also find Virgin Mega-store, cream puff-specialist Beard Papa Sweets Cafe, retail shops such as Louis Vuitton and cosmetics cornucopia Sephora, restaurants including Wolfgang Puck's Vert, stylish retro bowling alley Lucky Strike Lanes and other entertainment venues. There's a great view of the Hollywood sign from the central courtyard. Built in 1923 to advertise new housing, the original 50-foot-high sign read "Hollywoodland." Its caretaker lived in a small cabin behind one of the Ls.

Historic Theaters

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is adjacent to Hollywood & Highland and opposite the Hollywood/Highland subway stop. Stars have made an impression in the concrete of the forecourt, from Betty Grable's million-dollar legs to Arnold Schwarzenegger's size 12 boots. The ornate theater is a favorite venue for Hollywood premieres. Farther down the boulevard is the Spanish-style El Capitan Theatre, host of the "Citizen Kane" premiere in 1941. It's been restored by Disney and accompanies its animated releases with live stage shows. ABC's late show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, tapes in a studio adjacent to the El Capitan. Tickets are free. The Egyptian Theatre was built in 1922 around the same time King Tut's tomb was discovered. A fascinating documentary called "Forever Hollywood," tracing 100 years of moviemaking, screens on weekends; art-house films are the daily fare. The Art Deco landmark Pantages Theater hosts blockbuster Broadway shows such as Wicked and The Producers. The downscale Frolic Room, adjacent, is abuzz at intermission.

Walk of Fame

Sidewalks along the Walk of Fame-on Hollywood Boulevard from La Brea Avenue to Gower Street and on Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard-are embedded with bronze-and-terrazzo stars. You'll find Hoot Gibson but no Mel Gibson, yet it remains a fascinating record of celebrity. Annette Bening was recently honored with star number 2,324. Musso & Frank Grill, the "oldest restaurant in Hollywood," was founded in 1919. With its red-coated waiters and old-school menu, Musso is as close as you'll come to seeing old Hollywood alive and kicking.

Dressed to Crawl

Parents everywhere take notice: You're never too young to have style. Committed to cutting-edge, forward-thinking baby clothes and accessories, La La Ling, a "baby lifestyle boutique," turns tykes into little hipsters and transforms some of the tasks of parenting into a fashion statement. The store carries rock concert T-shirts and camouflage pajamas for the toddler set, custom bassinets and cribs with a Moderne flair, original wall art and ultra-hip diaper backpacks for design-savvy dads, not to mention a dazzling collection of gifts for jet-set baby showers. The store also offers classes in art, music and languages so your child will be smart inside and out. 1810 N. Vermont Ave., L.A., 323.664.4400.

Museums and More

A few doors down from Musso is the Guinness World Records Museum. Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium shows a version of "The Last Supper" made from 280 pieces of toast. A display at the flagship Frederick's of Hollywood lingerie boutique includes items previously worn by Sharon Stone and Halle Berry.

The Hollywood Museum displays 5,000 artifacts on four floors of the restored Max Factor Building, including costumes, props, photos, movie posters and Max Factor's makeup rooms, where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Lucille Ball a redhead. The Hollywood Walk of Fame CityPass includes admission to major Hollywood attractions, such as the Hollywood Museum and a Starline movie stars' homes tour. The modest Hollywood Heritage Museum is on the old barnyard site of the first major film studio.

Sunset + Vine

The Cinerama Dome, built in 1963, is now part of the $100 million ArcLight cinema complex, considered by many cinephiles the place to take in a film. ArcLight offers "audience greeters," spacious reserved seating and one of the best sound systems anywhere. Amoeba Music-a warehouse-sized emporium of new, used, rare and collectible CDs, vinyl records, videos and memorabilia-attracts die-hard music fans and collectors. The Capitol Records building, 1750 N. Vine, resembles a stack of records.

There's a bevy of newer restaurants in the area, among them Hungry Cat at the Sunset+Vine complex, stylish Magnolia, N.Y.C.-style pub The Bowery and the Patina Group's Eat. on Sunset, around the corner on Gower Street. After Dark Hollywood's bar and club scene revolves around dozens of spots along Hollywood and Cahuenga boulevards and the many Hollywood Boulevard cross streets between Cahuenga Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Hot spots include Les Deux, L'Scorpion, Cabana Club and stunning Social Hollywood, as well as standby favorites such as beauty parlor-themed Beauty Bar and kitschy La Velvet Margarita.

During the summer, the Los Angeles Philharmonic takes up residence at the Hollywood Bowl, the largest outdoor amphitheater in the country. Listening to fine music and picnicking under the stars at the Bowl is one of L.A.'s great summer traditions. Nearby, the intimate Ford Amphitheatre offers an engaging schedule of cultural music, dance and family fare.

Hollywood Adjacent

To the east of Hollywood are the bohemian communities of Los Feliz and Silver Lake. Eclectic eateries, indie boutiques and vintage shops characterize Los Feliz village, Vermont and Hillhurst avenues north of Sunset Boulevard. Find hip, edgy shopping, a cluster of bars and charming cafes farther east in Silver Lake, on Sunset and Glendale boulevards.

Griffith Park, the largest urban park in America, offers miles of hiking and riding trails, among other attractions. The Mt. Hollywood trail, one of the park's most popular trails for its panoramic city views, begins at the newly renovated Griffith Observatory. Take Vermont Avenue north from Los Feliz village to reach the observatory and trailhead-and an award-winning outdoor concert venue, the Greek Theatre. The Los Angeles Zoo and the Autry National Center's Museum of the American West are accessed near the intersection of the 134 and 5 freeways.

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