A Walking Guide to the Hollywood Bowl

by Danielle F. Winter

The Hollywood Bowl is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. While you probably know and love the iconic landmark for its concerts under the stars, $1 LA Phil tickets (to be offered again this season), and BYOB-and-wine policy, you may not realize it’s also a fantastic public park that you can enjoy during the day.

Ready to experience the Bowl in a whole new way? Put on your walking boots and follow this guide to the on-site gems people often miss rocking out at the shows. Owned and managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, the 88-acre property is filled with trails to art, music history, native plants, wildlife, and beautiful city views.

A Walking Guide to the Hollywood Bowl

1. Admire the ‘Muse’.

The ThBowluse of Music, Dance, Drama” sculpture stands at the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Even if you’ve never been to a concert at the Bowl (or if it’s been a while), you’ve almost certainly driven past the 101 and the ‘Muse of Music, Dance, Drama’, the grand Art Deco style sculpture, which is locatedBowlthe entrance of the site.

Two hundred feet long, 22 feet high, and carved from 300 tons of granite, the work was designed by sculptor George Maitland Stanley, who gave Hollywood another famous figure: the Oscar statuette. The sculpture and 1,180-ton layered concrete fountain on which it stands were unveiled in 1940 as part of the Depression-era Public Works of Art Project and cost $100,000.

2. Meet some critters.

The theater and “shell” in the Hollywood Bowl.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

People sometimes forget that the Bowl is in the wild. Dozens of species live in and around the natural arena – on a recent walk, I sa,w red-tailed hawks gliding over us, yellow butterflies flappBowltheir wings, and lizards basking in the sun.

Before the shows, bats can flutter around or hear coyotes howl. Paul Geller, a longtime production director at the Bowl, once told me that during a concert, a family of six raccoons hung from the arches of the shell (presumably, they were music lovers). Another time, in the middle Bowl of the performance, a fox walked onto the stage and sat down behind a pianist. And at the end of the evening, it’s not uncommon for deer to emerge from the trees and pick up the leftover popcorn.

3. See (and smell) an original pepper tree.

The original pepper tree stands at the doors of the Hollywood Bowl Museum.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Here’s a fun fact: Peppertree Lane, which takes you from Highland Avenue to the site entrance, is named after the trees that lined the walkway in the early days of the Bowl. (Did you know that the Bowl started as a natural canyon amphitheater, Daisy Dell?) only one of those original pepper trees remains, and it’s near the doors of the Hollywood Bowl Museum, which, by the way, is worth a visit if you’re Bowlrested in the Bowl’s rich history.

4. Search for treasure.

Picnic Area No. 7, overlooBowl’she Cahuenga Pass, is one of several piBowl areas around the Hollywood Bowl.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

With the main gate open, work your way up to Picnic Area No. 7, which sits at the top of a winding hill but is worth the climb for views of Hollywood and beyond. Concert or not, binoculars are essential as from here; you can look for unusual sparkles in the Cahuenga Pass.

As the story goes, buried somewhere nearby lies a fortune in diamonds, pearls, gold, and silver. It was put away in 1864 by Diego Moreno, a shepherd who saw Mexican agents hiding the loot after fleeing San Francisco, where they planned to buy weapons to aid the war against the French. Moreno dug up the packages and ran, but horrified by a nightmare; he buried them in line on the way back to Mexico. He then died, the first of several deaths related to the “curse” of Cahuenga Pass.

5. Sit comfortably in the chairs.

A person claims a row of seats at the Hollywood Bowl.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

During the season, which runs from June to the end of September this year, locals and well-known tourists alike will be able to watch the morning rehearsals of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, sometimes even with maestro Gustavo Dudamel holding the baton. (For the latest information, email [email protected] or call (323) 850-2000. Seating is limited to the side benches in Section D.)

Walking the 168 steps to the back of the theater is a must. In 2011, The Times reported that British actor and comedian Eddie Izzard, an avid marathoner, ran to the top in less than five minutes with guards following him. He jokingly fell to his knees when he was back on stage and advised the audience not to follow his lead.

The Bowl has just under 17,500 seats, many offering incredible views of the Hollywood sign on Mt. Lee. Sections Q3 and U3’s row 9 are the only two-seater sofas – power options for couples.

6. Check out some rare plants.

Toyon Terrace is one of the many picnic areas around the Hollywood Bowl.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Despite an escalator and a series of sloping concrete steps leading up to it, tiny Toyon Terrace is not one of the Bowl’s official picnic areas, making it quite a hidden gem.

It is located north of the stage and has only a few tables, but there is an interesting historical marker Bowl’sa small, ragged-looking tree. It notes that the Heteromeles arbutifolia, or toyon California holly tree, is native to these hills and that “Hollywood was named after this plant.” (However, the story that Hollywood was named after the shrub has been disputed.)

There are native and non-native plants throughout the Bowl, but Plummer’s mariposa lily, a rare plant, is especially growing in this area. There are also Southern California black walnuts and native trees in the Los ABowles Basin and surrounding hills.

7. Stop for a picnic in the park.

Highland Camrose Park is located inside the Hollywood Bowl.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

After doing some stairs around the picnic areas, rest your legs across the street at Highland Camrose Park. The park’s historic Craftsman bungalows, now offices for the Sheriff’s Department and the LA Phil, were once part of a residential village home to movie stars and singers. Part of the Bowl, it’s a quiet, walled area with palm trees and plenty of tables.

8. Admire the bowl from every angle.

The Hollywood Bowl bowl has become a cultural icon.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

You can see the bowl of the other will from almost anywhere in the park, an enduring cultural icon. There have been five versions since 1926, the first three lasting just a year each as engineers and architects trieBowl find thBowtthrow thehape to reach the public’s ears. The 1929 incarnation landed on the Los Angeles County seal and was “temporary” for 75 years until it was completely replaced in 2004. debut. Said LA Phil trumpeter Boyde Hood, “When I played the first note, I thought, ‘Boy, this is fun.'”

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