Lights, Camera, Action: 48 Hours in Hollywood!

by Brian & Dana Maass on December 21, 2022 in Travels,

While Hollywood is filled with scores of activities and attractions, you may need more than two days to see everything the “City of Stars” has to offer. If you enjoyed the Netflix series, “The Movies that Made Us” (2019, 2021), then our 48-hour award-winning line-up will help you navigate your way through the galaxy. You can catch a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes while sampling LaLa Land’s best line-up whether this is your first run or perhaps even a sequel! 


Conveniently located near the major movie studios, a quick drive from Hollywood Blvd. and other Hollywood landmarks, The Garland Hotel has it all. Photo Courtesy The Garland Hotel.

The Garland: Best Supporting Location for Lodging

In 1972, actress Beverly Garland built The Garland Hotel in North Hollywood, just a short distance from many top attractions. The Garland’s proximity to top destinations such as Universal Studios and Warner Brothers Studios, along with the complimentary shuttle to Universal and the Metro Redline, make this resort an ideal spot for lodging to access Hollywood.  Recent 2015 renovations to The Garland boast guest room enhancements, a total lobby makeover, and the addition of Beverly Park, popular for special events including wedding celebrations. By car from The Garland, you can reach the downtown Hollywood hub and popular sports venues in as little as fifteen minutes. Sports fans can take in a baseball game at Dodger Stadium, or bounce over to the Arena to watch the L.A. Lakers holding court. Featuring spacious rooms with a retro 1970’s vibe, pulsing with modern amenities, The Garland warmly welcomes guests to cozy up by the lobby fireplace and pull up a chair in the spacious courtyard surrounding their heated pool. Resort activities feature friendly games of Uno or Taboo played among guests, favorite evening films (like the Wizard of Oz) shown on a big screen at the pool, and Sunday yoga outside. Warm colors accented with geometric designs, splashes of fun Brady Bunch orange, and unique decor give a nod to the twentieth century’s famous decade that gave us The Godfather, Rocky, and Jaws. Celebrating her fiftieth birthday in 2022, The Garland makes guests feel golden. 

Day 1, Take 1: 

Universal Studios

Start out your day by hopping onto The Garland hotel shuttle and heading out to see where the movie magic happens on the world-famous tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. Ride a tram that takes you through the backlot of a working movie studio as you listen to a recording of  Jimmy Fallon explaining what happens behind the scene. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities who may be filming on-site.  As you are on the tram, you will see the destructive power of an earthquake, visit Amity Island where a great white 70s shark is on the loose, and look for 1960’s most famous psycho as you drive past The Bates Motel. Following the hour-long tour, head on over to the Universal Studios theme park to enjoy a few thrills on movie-themed rides based on popular movies like Harry Potter, Jurassic World, and more. 

Go behind the scenes, and tour the oldest working movie studio in Hollywood. Warner Bros. Studio offers tours for all movie lovers. Be sure to keep your eyes open, for you never know what famous faces you may find on the property. Photo Courtesy Warner Bros Studios.

Day 1, Take 2: 

Warner Bros. Studio

Located a short distance away from Universal Studios Hollywood is the oldest studio in Hollywood, Warner Bros. Studio. Founded in 1926, and originally called First National Studio, Warner Bros Studio is the home of some of the most iconic movie characters of our time. Since 1972, guests have been touring this historic studio to get a glimpse into the filming of classic movies such as “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Casablanca,” and unforgettable must-see tv shows like “ER” and “Friends.” The tour takes you through the back lot as your guide points out the highlights of various famous films. You will see where Spider-Man (Toby Maguire) hung upside down to kiss Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), the steps where Ben Affleck sat in Argo, and the cafe where Mia worked in 2016’s Oscar-nominated “La La Land.” After the tram tour is over, continue with your self-guided tour to see famous movie costumes, including the dress Lady Gaga wore on-stage in “A Star is Born.” Set foot onto the actual sets and take a seat on famed sofas from the TV hits  “Friends,” and the “Big Bang Theory.” Harry Potter and DC superheroes fans will enjoy the last two exhibits on the tour, which feature interactive exhibits from their respective movies. Before leaving be sure to get a picture holding an actual Oscar trophy!

Day 1, Take 3: 

The Hunger Games

After a day of touring the movie studios, return to The Garland to find stellar options for both dining and drinks. Don’t miss the Front Yard for comfort food reminiscent of curling up with a warm blanket and one of your favorite films. Per the name, the Front Yard is perched directly at the forefront of the hotel’s property with outdoor seating set among twinkling lights, outdoor fireplace, and patio greenery. The menu’s opening scene features scrumptious appetizers like the Front Yard’s famous twelve-minute bacon-cheddar cheese biscuits. Nominees for “best main dish” include their Greek-inspired shawarma-spiced Mary’s Half Chicken and the perfectly grilled Prime Flat Iron Steak with chimichurri. Generously sized, these plates are most enjoyed when shared. Most of us love a movie with a sweet ending, and dessert at The Garland is no different. The cast ranges from fresh-baked cookies, to hot brownies a la mode, and seasonal selections, so save room for a special treat. If you prefer to sip your sweets, then try out a Prohibition-themed cocktail at The Front Yard’s Reverse Happy Hour (11 p.m. to close on Fridays and Saturdays). Weekend brunch fans give a standing ovation for bottomless mimosas with buttermilk pancakes and beyond. For even more casual fare on weekends, remember the Lobby Bar for some of L.A.’s best street foods like bacon-wrapped hot dogs (5-9 p.m., Friday through Sunday). Remember the hour of flower power with botanically-themed beverages from 3-6 p.m. Then step up to Beverly’s Martini Bar, open each evening at 8 p.m. 

Grandmaster Recorders was once a popular recording studio where some of music’s biggest names created some pretty well-renowned hits. Today it has transformed into one of Hollywood’s best spots for fine dining and gathering. Photo Courtesy Grandmaster Recorders.

Platinum Dining at Grandmaster Recorders: 

If you prefer to make it a late night in downtown Hollywood, you have a plethora of options that can easily feel overwhelming. Skip your search, and go directly to Grandmaster Recorders, where you can savor one of the city’s most hip and chart-topping dining experiences. This restaurant once housed a vibrant recording studio for famous acts like The Black Crowes, Bonnie Rait, Foo Fighters, and Beck. You can still feel the energy here, as you enter the restaurant’s doors and walk past famous old records and tapes on display, honoring the musical history of this once-thriving recording studio now serving those with an appetite for flavor and style. Consider ordering the “La Casa Mangia,” a prix fixe menu for the entire table with an option for wine pairings, carefully selected and presented by a knowledgeable house sommelier throughout your meal. This is the best way to sample some of the Grandmaster chef’s greatest creations and take a little world tour of wine. Warm up with the warm focaccia bread topped in whipped balsamic butter and aged balsamic vinegar. Follow with the buffalo burrata drizzled in truffle oil, burnt honey, crunchy chili, and rosemary. The inked cavatelli al granchio with Dungeness Crab includes winning accents of ginger, basil and lemon. Choose the striped bass with a variety of peppers and macadamia nuts, or the chicken piccata topped in citrus brown butter and capers. Wind down with fresh shaved zucchini with leafy watercress and pecorino cheese. Finally, cap it all off with a ricotta gelato with malted caramel, for a happy ending that’s neither too sweet nor heavy. 

Day 2, Take 1:

A Walk to Remember 

One of the highlights of visiting Hollywood is strolling along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where you can have fun looking up your favorite radio, television, and movie stars lining the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. Initiated in 1958 by the Chamber of Commerce and the City, this famous “walk” unveiled the first eight stars. Two years later construction began on what would eventually become the Walk of Fame as we know it today. Since its unveiling, the walk of fame has accumulated over 1500 stars extending over fifteen blocks. Alright, alright, alright already. . . There are a few favorite Texans along the “walk,” from actor Matthew McConaughey, to actresses Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria, actor Jim Parsons from the “Big Bang Theory,” and sixties rock-and-roll legend Janis Joplin.  Continuing your walk down Hollywood boulevard,  you will see Mann’s Chinese theater and El Capitan, where having a new movie premiered remains an honor. You cannot miss the Dolby Theater, home to the “Jimmy Kimmel Show” and the annual Academy Awards where celebrities ascend the iconic staircase, flaunting their designer gowns and suits for fans and photographers. 

Take a walk through the history of photography and motion pictures. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures features exhibits ranging from a gallery of Oscars, with two floors dedicated to women and black participation in American cinema, and a theater overlooking the Hollywood hills. Photo Courtesy Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Day 2, Take 2: 

Night (or day) at The Museum

Now that you’ve had a taste of the stars, head over to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where you will experience the history of movie-making. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, is a multi-story building with exhibits that examine various elements of the moving making process. Currently, the museum is featuring an exhibit called “The Art of Moviemaking: The Godfather.” This exhibit includes costumes, set pieces, and yes even the head of the champion race horse “Khartoum,” left by Luca Brasi in Jack Woltz’s bed. The “Godfather” exhibit will run until March 2023. Other exhibits include “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971,” which looks at African-Americans’ cinematic history and contributions which may have gone unrecognized during that period of time. A special section of the museum is dedicated to the Oscar Experience, allowing guests the feeling of an Oscar-winning moment, while even giving a memorable speech in front of a virtual audience.  Don’t miss the top of this building for panoramic views of the landscape from the architecturally impressive Dolby Family Terrace. From the glass sphere enclosure, soak up unobstructed views of the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, and the Hollywood sign, especially memorable at sunset and closing time. 

For all of the upcoming events and other information on upcoming exhibits, follow the link Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Enjoy perfectly grilled, mesquite-fired steaks at Hollywood’s oldest restaurant (1919), where legends of the silver screen have dined. Frank Sinatra, Alfred Hitchcock, and Lauren Bacall have all been known to frequent this long standing neighborhood culinary gem. Photo Brian Maass.

Day 2, Take 3: 

Steakout (or Steak Out!)

Continue the movie theme right into dinner at Hollywood’s oldest fine dining restaurant, established in 1919 and known for their steaks grilled to perfection with mesquite-fired wood.  For over one hundred years now, the biggest names in Hollywood have eaten at Musso and Frank’s. Ernest Hemmingway, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ole Blue Eyes himself (Frank Sintatra) have frequented the restaurant through the decades. Musso and Frank’s has also been the setting for scenes in popular movies like 2001’s “Ocean’s 11” where Clooney and Pitt meet up at the bar to plot their casino heist, “Swingers,” starring Vince Vaughn, and the more recently Oscar-nominated Quentin Tarantino film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Closed only on Mondays, Musso and Frank’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try the 12-oz filet or the ribeye, topped with one of four available sauces including bearnaise, hollandaise, green peppercorn or the Musso & Frank sauce. You also can’t go wrong ordering traditional Italian-American dishes like their fettuccine alfredo and spinach and ricotta ravioli with butter and sage sauce. Hearty sides like potatoes au gratin and truffled mac and cheese pair perfectly with your steak, along with a sommelier-recommended cabernet or perhaps a malbec from their extensive wine list. Cheesecake fans should not miss this classic and fresh dessert, once requested regularly by Frank Sinatra. Dressed in suits, the staff at Musso and Frank’s take their job seriously and go to great lengths to ensure your experience here will never make you say “Fuh-get about it.” You will eat like a king or queen and feel like a celebrity, with a zero chance of leaving anything less than a five-star review, as you reflect upon your most memorable taste of Hollywood in only two short yet fulfilling days. 

TLM contributors Brian and Dana Maass at Warner Bros. Studio in front of the iconic “Friends” Fountain.


Cover Photo Courtesy Los Angeles Tourism.

Brian and Dana Maass began their feature film of married life in 2019, followed by adopting their dog “Chester” and making their home in Round Rock, Texas. When not working their day jobs, they can be found traveling, spending time with the ones they love, and serving the community. Follow them on Instagram at @Dana_Maass_Adventures and @Brian_Maass_Adventures.