Topping the list at number one, the world's best Aussie dollar holiday destination is none other than the USA
. Natalie Gruzlewski shows us the best way to spend our hard-earned holiday cash in Tinsel Town. The melting pot that is Hollywood has something for everyone, no matter the budget.
The Hollywood & Highland complex is in the heart of touristy Hollywood. It is the quintessential retail and entertainment centre attracting locals and visitors alike. There are 9m-tall elephant statues and glitz to make your jaw drop.
The huge Babylon Courtyard is adorned by mosaic tiles depicting tales of Hollywood dreams and woes, in an enclave of palm trees. The five-storey temple of retail fantasies and tourism features more than 70 restaurants and retail stores will the labels you know and some new ones.
Outside is the Walk of Fame, anchored by Grauman's Chinese Theater. Also nearby are the Hollywood Wax Museum, the El Capitan and Ripley's Odditorium. The Kodak Theatre is the official venue for the Academy Awards ceremony, and at the top of the palatial structure is the Grand Ballroom, venue for the post-Oscar Governor's Ball.
As you wander around the area, there's every chance you will see some filming going on and actors in their costumes. Others are just there to entertain and for a small fee, "Marilyn Monroe" will sing 'Happy Birthday' for you.
Starline Tours have been providing sightseeing excursions since 1935. Their Grand Tour of Los Angeles and The Movie Stars' Homes Tour are the favourites with visitors.
They run from Grauman's Theater and cruise along Sunset Strip passing House of Blues, Chateau Marmont and other favourite haunts. Hyde Lounge is a Brat Pack hangout where Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen Twins go.
The closer you get to Beverly Hills, the bigger the houses and garages get. All immaculately maintained, there's never a blade of grass out of place. They all have high security and it is unusual to see anyone just the odd car coming and going through the huge gates.
Starline drivers know who lives where, what the houses are worth and all the latest gossip such as the fact the former Osbourne house was sold to Christina Aguilera for $11.5 million. The house Michael Jackson was renting for $100,000 a month at the time of his death is worth $38 million. Just in case you wanted to know!
If you want to be in a television studio audience or attend a pilot screening there are a number of websites for you to register. Here are a few for you to try before you go:
Apart from having a great time, there are two other things you can be certain of. This city has no shortage of restaurants or souvenir shops so go for it.
Various sights and things to do around Hollywood.
Starline Bus Tours' Movie Star Homes Tour takes two hours and cost around $45 for adults and $33 for children. They offer round-trip transfers from most major hotel areas for around $6 per person. Fully narrated tours are in open-top mini buses or air-conditioned limo vans. They start at 9.30am and run around every 30 minutes.
For further information
Hollywood & Highland Center
6801 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90028-6128
Ph: +1 323 817 0220
Starline Tours of Hollywood
6925 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood CA 90028
Ph: +1 323 463 3333
Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. You do, however, need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at www.cbp.gov/esta.
Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two-parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.
Time zone: GMT -8.
Currency: The American dollar.
International dialling code: +1.
Travellers should be "in date" for the standard Australia and New Zealand immunisation schedules. Depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, other health precautions and preventions may be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, speak to your doctor or visit www.welltogo.com.au or www.smartraveller.gov.au.
Top 10 best value places for Australians to visit
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