As a resident of Los Angeles, I'm always surprised to hear people speaking poorly of the "Hollywood" experience, as if a few persistent buskers and a bad wax museum near the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue actually define the entire neighborhood. That would be like writing off midtown Manhattan, simply because Times Square can sometimes be awful. A century after the first motion-picture companies set up shop here, today's Hollywood can, at times, still feel incredibly close to its colorful past. For that reason alone, it's impossible to exclude it from any Southern California itinerary. 

Here are five essential stops to get you started.