Even though the Sunset Strip is a little over 1.5 miles long, the area is rich with history and things to do. The 100-year-old Strip is known as the entertainment and music mecca of Los Angeles, and famous movie and music stars are frequently spotted walking around the area. You can find tons of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, stores and more to capture your attention for the day. Find the perfect activity in the numerous things to do on the Sunset Strip.
If you want a proper tour of the Sunset Strip, you have a few options. The first is the LA Stories’ Sunset Strip Experience, which goes deep into the history of the Strip. The Rock n’Walk Sunset Strip Walking Tour covers the musical history of the area.
You can also do your own self-guided tour. With the Strip being only 1.5 miles long, you can easily walk it, or you can jump on the Sunset Trip, a free trolley service, and do your sightseeing from there.
Grab a Laugh at a Comedy Club
There are two main comedy clubs on the Strip that are worth seeing: the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory.
The Comedy Store was founded by Mitzi Shore in 1972. It is on the former site of the Ciro’s nightclub from the 1940s. Noted comedic performances include David Letterman, Howie Mandel, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Michael Keaton, Rodney Dangerfield and Richard Pryor.
The Laugh Factory was used to cast the TV show “Living in Color.” Dangerfield, Pryor, Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy and Rosanne Barr have all performed there.
You are in Los Angeles, so you might as well get some shopping done.
Sunset Plaza has over 50 boutiques, restaurants, salons and more to fulfill your shopping needs. This outdoor shopping strip is also a good place to spot some celebrities.
Book Soup is a large independent bookstore with over 60,000 titles, mostly first editions.
To get a real feel of the Sunset Strip or to simply people-watch, eat at any of the numerous restaurants.
The Rainbow Bar and Grill used to be Villa Nova was but transformed by Mario Maglieri, Elmer Valentine and Phil Tanzini in 1972. Known visitors include Alice Cooper, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Guns N’Roses, Jack Nicholson, John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger, Nicholas Cage, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and the Who.
The Saddle Ranch Chop House was the setting for the TV show “The Saddle Ranch” and features a mechanical bull.
Carney’s is a renovated train car that opened in the 1970s.
Visit a Nightclub
There are so many famous nightclubs at the Sunset Strip, and each has had a mark on music history.
The Whisky a Go Go opened in 1964 by former policeman Elmer Valentine, but it is most known for the Doors playing there as a house band. Other bands including the AC/DC, Byrds, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana and the Who have performed there. Go-go dancing began at the Whisky a Go Go in the 1960s.
The Roxy opened in 1973 and premiered “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” in 1974. Frank Zappa and Bob Marley recorded live albums at the club, and Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Guns N’ Roses, Neil Young and Prince have performed here.
The Viper Room used to be a gambling den for mobsters back in the mid-1900s before becoming a jazz club called Melody Room in 1951. It was renamed the Central and stayed open during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993, Johnny Depp purchased the club and renamed it the Viper Room. Along with its musical history, the Viper Room is also known for when actor River Phoenix overdosed there and later passed away.
Stay at a Hotel
After deciding what things to do on the Sunset Strip and then completing your to-do list, you might decide to stay at a hotel to get that final sense of the area. Lucky for you, there are several options, each better than the last.
The Andaz West Hollywood Hotel, formerly known as the Gene Autry Hotel and the Continental Hyatt House, is known for hosting Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
The Sunset Tower was built in 1931 under the name of the Argyle Hotel. Architect Leland A. Bryant designed it using an art deco style. The hotel was eventually renamed the St. James’s Club and Hotel before becoming the Sunset Tower. Over the years, it has housed many celebrities: Clark Gable, David Bowie, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes, Jean Harlow, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe and even mobster Bugsy Siegel; his ground-floor apartment is now where the Tower Bar stands.
Chateau Marmont opened in February 1929. This hotel has a bit more of a colorful history to it than the others. A popular story is when James Dean jumped through a window in 1955, but it’s the deaths that have occurred at the hotel that really grabs people’s attention. Actor John Belushi died in March 1982, and photographer Helmut Newton died in January 2004.
The Mondrian was built in 1959 as an apartment complex before being converted into a hotel. It reopened in 1985 and has served Courtney Love, Elvis Costello, Guns N’Roses, Keith Richards, Smashing Pumpkins and the Who.