For a taste of Old Hollywood, wander the narrow, winding streets of Whitley Heights, a residential preservation zone bordered by Franklin Ave to the south, Highland Ave to the west, and split in two by the 101 freeway to the north and east. Peppered with beautiful Moorish, Renaissance and Italianate-style villas, this was the city's first 'Beverly Hills,' a salubrious estate designed by architect AS Barnes in the early 1900s and inspired by Mediterranean villages.

The neighborhood's proximity to silent-era movie studios made it popular with the day's stars. Among its silver-screen residents was heartthrob Valentino, whose home on Wedgewood Pl was demolished to make way for the 101 freeway. Acclaimed actor Marie Dressler lived at 6809 Iris Circle, while Jean Harlow reputedly called 2015 Whitley Ave home. Watsonia Tce is an especially beautiful street in the neighborhood, framed by lush gardens and houses that wouldn't look out of place in Italy. Of particular note is Villa Vallombrosa at number 2074, a Venetian-inspired mansion designed by architect Nathan Coleman and home (at different stages) to screenwriter Ben Hecht, Hollywood fashion designer Gilbert Adrian and composer Leonard Bernstein. Close by, number 2058 was Gloria Swanson's base while filming Sunset Boulevard.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hollywood attractions

1. Hollywood Heritage Museum

0.09 MILES

Hollywood’s first feature-length film, Cecil B. DeMille’s The Squaw Man, was shot in this building in 1913–14, originally set at the corner of Selma and…

2. Hollywood Bowl Museum

0.25 MILES

The Bowl (as it's affectionately known around town) enjoys a glamorous history, and this is where you can literally listen to it, and watch it. Classic…

3. Janes House

0.51 MILES

The last remaining Victorian home on Hollywood Blvd, built in 1903, and the former site of Miss Janes’ School, which was attended by the children of old…

4. Hollywood Wax Museum

0.55 MILES

Starved for celeb sightings? Don’t fret: at this museum Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and other red-carpet royalty will stand still – very still – for your…

5. Egyptian Theatre

0.56 MILES

The Egyptian, the first of the grand movie palaces on Hollywood Blvd, premiered Robin Hood in 1922. The theater’s lavish getup – complete with hieroglyphs…

6. Guinness World Records Museum

0.58 MILES

You know the drill: the Guinness is all about the fastest, tallest, biggest, fattest and other superlatives. Frankly it's an underwhelming tourist trap…

7. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

0.58 MILES

Life’s pretty strange and it’ll feel stranger still after you’ve visited Ripley’s, where exhibits range from the gross to the grotesque. If shrunken heads…

8. Dolby Theatre

0.61 MILES

The Academy Awards are handed out at the Dolby Theatre, which has also hosted the American Idol finale, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY)…