Citywalk - Ultimate Tips For Your Universal Studios Vacation
Citywalk, and Walking the City of Hollywood: Theme Park Center’s Ultimate Tips to Get More out of your Universal Studios Vacation
If you’re visiting Universal Studios Hollywood as part of a family vacation, chances are you didn’t come all the way to Los Angeles for that theme park alone. Even if you’re staying near the park, there are plenty of ways to get around and enjoy some other local attractions even without a rental car in LA! As mentioned in our Universal on a Budget post, the cost of a multi-day ticket or even annual pass can be negligible, giving you plenty of flexible time to enjoy the surrounding area. Here are our tips on some must-do’s nearby!
CityWalk: if you’re going to Universal, you have to pass through Citywalk. Unlike some theme parks’ surrounding areas, this is much more than a retail and dining space runway-ing to the parks, but rather an immersive experience packed with everything from free concerts, exciting nightlife, and a high-quality movie theatre with one of the only true IMAX screens in the country. There is even an enclosed SkyDiving experience for those seeking a (conservative) thrill! Filled with some chain and some exclusive restaurants that are not unreasonably priced for the location, CityWalk can serve as a destination upon itself and can easily provide hours of entertainment for when you need a break from the lines or the sun (or just prefer a premium dining experience over the park’s standard offerings).
The theatre is an AMC and does accept their A-List subscription members for a majority of screenings, so if you have a membership from home, take advantage of the free air-conditioned break and catch the latest blockbuster at the site where they film them. Protip: AMC validates parking such that you save $12+, for anyone needing to drive in, but eager to avoid the $25 parking fee just to tour CityWalk outside the parks.
Hollywood: while Universal Studios Hollywood is actually in Studio City (near North Hollywood, a good set of tall hills and winding roads away from the famed Tinseltown attractions), it is excellently placed for an excursion to its namesake. Uber/Lyft are inexpensive options for those without a rental car, and Universal itself is positioned right next to the Metro Line station where a trip into Hollywood proper is just some pocket change and a good podcast away. Your value decreases with increasing party size, but given the parking situation during peak visit times, avoiding the need to park a car may still be a good option.
The ‘target destination’ to get to the most popular Hollywood attractions is Hollywood and Highland, an intersection featuring a gigantic mall but only a quick pace away from everything else. The mall features the usual chain stores as well as some unique dining and a Lucky Strike bowling and nightclub venue, but otherwise serves as a good starting point from which to visit the neighboring Dolby Theatre (you can visit the site of the Oscars ceremonies by attending a concert or taking one of their daytime tours), Chinese Theatres (tickets are priced reasonably, and you can take pictures of your hands in celebrities’ prints out front), and experience the oddities of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not (especially for those with children). Booths around the area often offer discounts for a bundle of admissions to the major attractions at a good value. The Hollywood Walk of Fame extends quite a way up and down this hotspot, but we suggest sticking to the three main blocks of activity centered around the mall—this area offers some fun wig shops and tourist offerings but quickly fades into tattoo parlours and more adult retail once you get past the beautiful art-deco Pantageas Theatre.
Those visiting Universal on vacation often already have a larger Los Angeles itinerary planned—but for those of you localized to the Resort area, we hope these tips can expand your trip and give you even more ‘Hollywood’ than the backstage tours and behind-the-scenes insights the park itself offers.