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Visit Beachwood Canyon for a different view of Hollywood
Matthew Jaffe
I discovered Beachwood Canyon years ago while visiting my friends Dino and El Sid. Dino, like many Beachwood residents, is an actor. El Sid was crashing on Dino's couch and running a baking business out of the apartment in his quest to become the gourmet mandelbrot king of Los Angeles.

Smitten by the canyon's creative vibe, I fantasized about moving there. Beachwood Canyon is the 1920s subdivision that the Hollywood sign originally advertised. How cool would it be to come home every day to the city's best views of the sign?

My Beachwood dream never panned out. Even so, the area has remained a personal favorite. Shopping has never been its draw, but Hollywoodland Antiques (closed Sun-Mon; 2699 1/2 N. Beachwood Dr.; 323/962-2438) specializes in vintage timepieces and Hollywood memorabilia. The Village Coffee Shop ($; 2695 N. Beachwood Dr.; 323/467-5398) is a perfect neighborhood hangout, with fine omelets and milkshakes.

Sometimes I'll pick up a sandwich and some deli items at the Beachwood Market (2701 Belden Dr.; 323/464-7154) and head for the hills. A good place to start a hike is on the Hollyridge Trail, which leads into Griffith Park to connect to any number of routes. From them, you can look south and west across a surprisingly wild canyon and out over the city, with a few views of the Hollywood sign along the way.

There's certainly no shortage of Hollywood here in the Hollywood Hills. Near the trailhead, a 20-something guy with a glossy smile poses for a photo shoot in front of a rocky slope. A couple of horseback riders are returning to the Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables (from $20 per hour; 3400 N. Beachwood Dr.; 323/469-5450), which offers day trips and dinner rides to the Valley side. A bit of eavesdropping quickly yields some name-dropping.

"I always wanted to ride in a movie."

"Yeah, you get paid more for that. I had a friend who worked on a Julia Roberts movie. Must have been Runaway Bride ..."

That's the way it is around Beachwood Canyon. Whether or not you hike into the hills, you're bound to get a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood.