Amidst the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, there are still small pockets of communities where human creativity and talent are celebrated above all else.
One of these locations is the quaint neighborhood of North Hollywood, California.
It’s separated from the Los Angeles Metropolis by Hollywood Hills, so this area has a more relaxed and down-to-earth appeal.
And it’s also the home of the Noho Arts District, the cultural heart of the community.
Here, you’ll find numerous theaters, art galleries, restaurants, and shops of all kinds.
The rest of the town is composed of suburban neighborhoods, green spaces and parks, commercial establishments, and other recreational facilities.
These features have made the area a great place to live, start a career, and grow a family.
So if you want a taste of Hollywood with a touch of authenticity, culture, and human talent, this is the place to be.
Here are the 15 best things to do in North Hollywood, CA:
Tour the Solemn Grounds of Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery
Also called Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park, this landmark is one of the largest green spaces within the neighborhood, covering an area of 63 acres.
And while it is a resting place for the dead, the destination nevertheless attracts many visitors because of its marvelous features.
The people resting here are also a factor to the fame, as some of the most prominent celebrities, aviation pioneers, and inventors are buried on the grounds.
Upon arrival, you’d immediately see the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation.
It’s located on the easternmost edge of the property—an imposing arch that wouldn’t look strange in a Sci-Fi or fantasy movie.
The intricately designed columns, sculpted decor, and winding filigree make the structure a sight to behold.
Then there’s the space shuttle replica that seemingly points to the two other fountains located farther into the park—two other must-see attractions.
Feel Like a Star at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which is one of the award-giving bodies for the Emmys, is headquartered in the Noho Arts District.
To most people, the name Television Academy might be more familiar.
But the complete name “Academy of Television Arts & Sciences” highlights how the organization was established to advance the television industry in the country.
Some parts of their complex are open for tours, allowing curious visitors to see what goes on behind the scenes.
One of the most prominent attractions is the Hall of Fame Garden.
Here, you will find busts of inductees recognized for their contributions and pioneering work for the industry.
Then there’s the giant statue of the winged Emmy Award itself, solemnly raising its globe of circular hoops to the heavens.
Watch a Delightful Production at El Portal Theatre
The NoHo Arts District is home to many performance art venues, and one of the most popular ones is the enchanting El Portal Theater.
First used as a vaudeville and silent movie house in 1926, this three-theater complex has since become an institution in the region.
Because of this status, it has earned the title of the Jewel in the North Hollywood Crown.
You can catch many types of shows here aside from the theater plays, including dance recitals, musical performances, and comedy skits.
And since you’re in Hollywood, there’s a good chance that a well-known celebrity will make an appearance during the show.
Some of the people who have graced the stages are James Corden, Kate McKinnon, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Neil Patrick Harris.
Check out their calendar and purchase a ticket for an upcoming show!
Appreciate History at Groundwork Coffee Co.
The charming Groundwork Coffee Co. effortlessly blends into the Noho Arts District atmosphere with its quaint interiors and historical setting.
But the building from which it stands is not your ordinary old structure.
It’s actually the Lankershim Train Depot, which served as a bustling stop when trains were still the most-used mode of transport in the region.
Today, it stands as one of the oldest landmarks in the neighborhood, rightfully taking its place in the list of registered State Historic Site.
The train depot was established in 1911, facing many renovations before it was finally closed in the 1950s.
In 2017, it was re-opened as Groundwork Coffee Co.
All the original architecture and wooden structures are kept intact, along with the Southern Pacific sign, patio, and paint color.
So eating here is like going back in time, except that no more trains are stopping every now and then.
Cheer for Your Favorite Team at Valley Plaza Sports Complex
While most people might associate Hollywood with celebrities and their glamorous lives, the region also has a huge sporting culture enjoyed by average residents.
In North Hollywood, one of the largest facilities for such activities is the Valley Plaza Sports Complex.
The destination is an expansive property with both indoor and outdoor facilities.
Outside, you’d find manicured football fields, lit basketball and tennis courts, as well as baseball and softball diamonds.
The indoor gyms and activity center are ideal for other recreational activities, camps, and even special events.
So if you want to catch a game while in the neighborhood, make sure to check out the upcoming matches in their calendar.
See the Vibrant Murals of The Great Wall of Los Angeles
While not as tall or lengthy as China’s, the Great Wall of Los Angeles still has its own kind of majesty that makes it a memorable landmark.
This public art installation runs along the Tujunga Wash, a drainage system that eventually becomes a tributary of the Los Angeles River.
In 1978, artist Judith Baca had an idea to paint the concrete walls of the drainage and establish a piece of public art.
The result is a magnificent mural spanning 2,754 feet, one of the longest in the world.
The paintings aren’t the sole work of Judith, as over 400 community youth and artists came together to create the masterpiece.
So get ready to see paintings depicting various cultures and groups in the region, including indigenous peoples, the LGBTQ+ community, religious and ethnic minorities, and more.
While there, don’t forget to explore the Tujunga Greenbelt.
It’s a greenway that runs parallel to the drainage system, offering tree-lined paths and grassy spots where you can rest and enjoy the beauty of the murals.
Catch a Show at The Lonny Chapman Theatre
While The Lonny Chapman Theatre may be smaller compared to El Portal Theater, it has the same charm quintessential of the NoHo Arts District.
It’s the home base of The Group Rep, an Ovation-Nominated theatre company composed of actors, directors, technicians, and writers.
On what was once a laundromat, they established a 36-seat theatre where they held various shows.
Most of these were under the artistic direction of Lonny Chapman, an established actor who starred in many 1950s shows and plays.
Since then, the company has produced many musicals, plays, and other performances that entertain while also examining the human condition.
So check out their calendar today and buy a ticket for one of their shows.
Go Swimming at North Hollywood Recreation Center
North Hollywood Recreation Center has similar features with Valley Plaza Sports Complex, but the former has far more facilities in store.
It also has more green spaces where you can simply put down a blanket and relax under the California sun.
This attraction is where most North Hollywood residents stay for a few hours of physical activity and playtime.
Within the complex, there are soccer fields, baseball and softball diamonds, basketball and volleyball courts, and outdoor fitness areas.
These are all well-equipped and well-maintained for every user's convenience and enjoyment.
During hot summer days, the seasonal pools are open for quick cooling dips or an afternoon of swimming.
There’s also a gorgeous skate plaza and a playground for kids.
Check Out the Art in NoHo Commons
Another place where art is celebrated as a community is the incredible NoHo Commons.
The enormous complex is a mixed-used facility adorned with shops, restaurants, and residential properties.
So while most of the buildings are restricted to the residents, the grounds and commercial establishments are open for visitors.
And you don’t need to be inside any of the structures to appreciate the beauty of Noho Commons.
The walls of some apartments have been turned into a mural by French artist Thierry Noir.
He worked for three months to create a section facing the street into a modern piece of public art.
Marvel at this bright abstract work that suggests human faces in vibrant primary hues, all set with the bright white color of the buildings.
Dare to Watch a Show at Zombie Joe’s Underground
Zombie Joes Underground theater takes on a more unconventional approach to their performances.
While most other performance art venues in the NoHo Arts District dazzle with their bright and vibrant productions, Zombie Joe’s Underground focuses on genre-bending horror shows.
So while their space may be small, they still attract many audiences.
Whether you’re a fan of thrillers, mysteries, or supernatural stories or simply looking for a brand-new theater experience, this is the place to be.
They have many full productions annually, ranging from musicals to regular theater plays.
On occasion, the company will hold special events like Silent Film nights where you can enjoy other media.
Book a ticket before heading to North Hollywood for a guaranteed seat.
Other Things to Do Nearby
After you tour North Hollywood’s wonders, check out these other famous places just a few minutes away.
Spend a Day at Universal Studios Hollywood
By driving less than 10 minutes south of North Hollywood, you’ll find one of the most visited amusement parks in the US, the iconic Universal Studios Hollywood.
This film studio and theme park is one of the defining attractions in the region, with as many as 9.5 million visitors flocking to the place annually.
There are two main sections that you can visit: the Upper and Lower Lot.
At the Upper Lot, you’ll find rides, exhibits, and other family-friendly attractions featuring many of the studio’s most iconic characters.
It contains The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-themed area, where you can buy a wand, see the Hogwarts Castle, and sample some mugs of Butterbeer.
Then there’s the Lower Lot, which contains thrilling rides inspired by beloved franchises like Jurrasic World and Indiana Jones.
You can ride rollercoasters, join a water adventure, and dig fossils of ancient animals—exhilarating and memorable experiences for everyone!
Explore the Forests of La Tuna Canyon Park
One of the nearest hiking areas north of North Hollywood is the scenic La Tuna Canyon Park.
It’s part of Sun Valley, but you can easily drive to it in less than 20 minutes.
Within the 1,100-acre area, you’ll find forests, picnic areas, and winding trails that bring you to the valleys and ridges of the area.
One path leads to sycamore-lined canyons, while another leads to a majestic waterfall perfect for cooling dips or photoshoots.
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hike to the steep upper reaches of the Verdugo Mountains.
Up there, you’d be treated to panoramic views of the surrounding cities and mountains.
Hike to the Hollywood Sign
No trip to this part of SoCal would be complete without visiting the world-famous Hollywood sign.
Anyone with a TV or access to the internet would know about this landmark, so you shouldn’t miss the chance to get close to it and brag about the experience.
There are several trails to take if you want to reach the sign without any troubles—just consult with a local guide or find information on the internet to avoid crossing private properties.
The hike can be challenging, especially during summer when the trails are dusty and the temperatures are hot.
So make sure that you have plenty of water and protection from the elements.
Once you reach the summit, take as much time as you need to marvel at the symbolic attraction.
Watch the Cosmos at Griffith Observatory
The majestic Griffith Observatory stands as one the most-visited attractions on Hollywood Hills.
It’s less than 25 minutes away from North Hollywood, so astronomy enthusiasts can easily drive to the location and enjoy the scenery.
This attraction offers the best close-up views of the Hollywood Sign, which can be seen in the northeastern section.
But most people come here to view the cosmos!
The telescope at the observatory offers clear views of nearby planets, stars, and other celestial bodies—a mind-blowing and out-of-this-world experience.
You just have to make sure that you come at night and when the weather is clear.
Tour the Halls of Martial Arts History Museum
Some people might think that a martial arts museum would only be found in places where the practices originated.
But there’s a significant Asian population here in California, hailing from immigrants who brought their culture into the American consciousness.
Burbank’s Martial Arts History Museum is a culmination of these cultures, especially the aspects tied to combat and fighting.
While touring the facility, you’d find artifacts from various country’s in Asia, such as Japan, China, Korea, and the Philippines.
Instruments, armors, weapons, and other items are showcased to highlight each culture's diverse fighting styles.
There are even memorabilia of famous objects used in movies that incorporate martial arts.
These serve as markers of how Americans absorbed, redefined, and celebrated the various forms of fighting brought over to the country.
North Hollywood has a hip vibe with all the theaters, galleries, public art, and performance art history.
But the attractions translate to every preference and age since human creativity is something universally shared by all.
So if you want a place where the whole family can catch entertaining shows, marvel at incredible paintings, and simply enjoy the diversity of talents, make this neighborhood your top choice!