LOS ANGELES » For many Los Angeles locals — such as myself, born and raised in the cross hairs of Hollywood — avoiding the Hollywood Walk of Fame and its throngs, celebrity impersonators and tchotchke stores comes with jaded Angeleno territory.
But there I was on a recent spring day, tourist-chic in a wide-brimmed hat, navigating the area on a red double-decker tour bus and enjoying the heck out of myself, with the help of City Sightseeing’s iPhone app.
The free app for your iPhone or Android phone is a worldwide app for multiple cities that host City Sightseeing tour buses. The City Sightseeing app for Los Angeles coincides with local Starline Tours’ Hop-on, Hop-off Double Decker City Tour, featuring routes in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and downtown L.A.
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The app allows you to buy tickets for the bus tours and get information on where and what the stops are. There’s also a way to email "postcards" of pictures taken during the tour.
"The City Sightseeing mobile app delivers a pioneering solution, with many features and functions, across a multiplatform solution that no other travel company has, especially other bus and coach operators," said Mandy Gaughan, City Sightseeing’s director of marketing and sales. "The app consumed all the technology that the smartphones had available, including GPS, camera, video, audio."
Once the app is downloaded from iPhone’s or Android’s app store (search for City Sightseeing) and the city location is selected, a home screen comes up with tabs to book tours, look at photos of various tourist hot spots, send postcards and scroll through guides listing stops and tour details.
I chose, through the L.A. app, to try out some stops on Starline’s Hop-On, Hop-Off Blue Route, which goes from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on the Walk of Fame to nearby Universal Studios, and on the Red Route, which stretches from the Walk of Fame all the way to swanky Beverly Hills and back.
You can change routes on the guide page by pressing a plus sign next to the route name. Clicking on a freeway-type symbol below that, next to "Viewing Stop," shows a list of all the stops and stop numbers on that route.
Jumping on the open-top two-tiered Red Route bus at its first stop, Grauman’s, I was happy to find that 12 area points of interest, from the historic Egyptian Theater to the Hollywood Guinness World of Records Museum, were listed, each with concise summaries. An automated tour broadcast in English and American accents from speakers on the bus added even more tidbits of information and celebrity-filled anecdotes.