Visit Beachwood Canyon for a different view of Hollywood

I discovered Beachwood Canyon years ago while visiting my friendsDino and El Sid. Dino, like many Beachwood residents, is an actor.El Sid was crashing on Dino's couch and running a baking businessout of the apartment in his quest to become the gourmet mandelbrotking of Los Angeles.

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

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

Sometimes I'll pick up a sandwich and some deli items at theBeachwood Market (2701 Belden Dr.; 323/464-7154) and head for thehills. 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 wildcanyon and out over the city, with a few views of the Hollywoodsign along the way.

There's certainly no shortage of Hollywood here in the HollywoodHills. Near the trailhead, a 20-something guy with a glossy smileposes for a photo shoot in front of a rocky slope. A couple ofhorseback riders are returning to the Sunset Ranch HollywoodStables (from $20 per hour; 3400 N. Beachwood Dr.; 323/469-5450),which offers day trips and dinner rides to the Valley side. A bitof 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 ona Julia Roberts movie. Must have been Runaway Bride ..."

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

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