Pop Culture Cruising along the West Coast

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by Hertz - 07 April 2017

From the sounds of the Seattle underground to dreams of stardom in the Hollywood hills, the USA’s West Coast simply oozes with pop culture reference points.

If you’re looking to check out the spots where your favourite music, movies or even gadgets were made then our Pop Culture Cruisin’ road trip planner contains countless iconic locations celebrating all things TV, film and music.

In honour of the heroes of pop culture who changed our lives – and our viewing habits – forever, here’s our insider’s guide to the best road trip stops to get your cultural fix.

Hollywood Magic

Few places capture the imagination quite like Hollywood, whether it’s the iconic sign in the hills or the stars that line the Walk of Fame. Anyone who ever wanted to be anyone has dreamed of these symbols of stardom.

Along more than a mile of pavement on Hollywood Boulevard you’ll find over 2,500 brass starry plaques, dedicated to the entertainment industry’s best-known names. Track down your favourite while enjoying the lively atmosphere brought to life by buskers and local traders.

Meanwhile, behind protective wire fences halfway up Mount Lee, nine 45ft-tall letters are the symbol of many would-be stars’ hopes and dreams. You can get close to the Hollywood sign itself along pretty hiking trails, but being up close is nothing compared to the view from Mulholland Drive or Griffith Park – the perfect place for a star-struck selfie.

And if you’re hoping for some celeb-spotting of your own, Rainbow Bar & Grill might be just the place. This restaurant/bar on the corner of Sunset Boulevard looks pretty ordinary from the outside, but there must be something in the drinks they serve inside.

After all, this is the place where Marilyn Monroe went on a blind date with Joe DiMaggio, Elton John threw a few of his legendary bashes and Elvis stopped in while on tour. With the list of other former regulars including the likes of the late, great John Lennon and Lemmy (who has a statue over near his favourite spot), this place just oozes cool.

Cult Heroes

If you’re on the road in search of One-Eyed Willy's hidden fortune, your first port of call should be a little white house on the hill in Astoria, Oregon.

Released in 1985, cult adventure classic The Goonies featured a plucky band of young heroes trying to save their homes from demolition. Fortunately their mission was a success – the iconic white two-storey house shown in the film is still standing on 38th Street.

Although it’s no longer open to the public, you can still get some memorable snapshots. And while you’re in town, see if you can spot the other famed Astoria film locations – there’s the school from Kindergarten Cop and much of the original Short Circuit film was made here.

Quirky California

Amid the glitz and glamour of California, our Pop Culture Cruisin’ route also guides you to a hidden gem or two when it comes to the world of cult cinema.

The Lost Boys was set in a fictional beach town, but most of the locations used were in and around sun-kissed Santa Cruz. The Beach Boardwalk was home to the amusement park scenes from the 1987 film – and in other celebrated movies like Sudden Impact, the fourth in Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry series.

Speaking of making our day, while you’re in California a trip to scenic Carmel-by-the-Sea comes highly recommended. Clint Eastwood himself was once voted mayor of Carmel on the promise of ‘bringing the community together’.

The no-nonsense lawman managed to overturn a bizarre local ban on ice cream being sold on the streets, although other kooky customs remain untouched. There are no street names in Carmel, chain restaurants are banned and, amazingly, shoes with heels higher than two inches need a permit. Should you manage to stay on the right side of these decidedly quirky laws, you’ll find beautiful buildings and plenty of sunshine in and among the pretty streets.

Cartoon Classics

The Simpsons are known for living in Springfield – the joke being there are so many of them, the real one would be impossible to pin down. But knowing that Springfield, Oregon, is close to the birthplace of Simpsons creator Matt Groening may help fill in the blanks.

Ok, so it doesn’t have a Kwik-E-Mart or a nuclear plant, but this serene Oregon town is said to have provided inspiration for this cornerstone of pop culture. Check out unofficial Simpsons tours of Springfield to take in sightings of the Simpsons’ couch, models of the characters and a plaque given to the town’s museum by Groening himself.

Keep an eye out too for famed drinking hole Moe’s Tavern, along with a massive mural dedicated to the show on the wall of the city’s Art Centre.

Tech Heaven

No trip to the world’s leading provider of pop culture would be complete without a trip to the headquarters of hip tech providers Apple. Their college-style campus is based in Cupertino, a scenic little town in the Santa Cruz foothills that’s part of the world-famous Silicon Valley, the epicentre of the US digital universe.

Apple founder Steve Jobs spent much of his life in Cupertino, pre- and post-computer revolution, and it’s at the local Flint Centre for the Performing Arts where his most successful products, the first Macintosh computer and the iconic iMac, were first revealed.

The computer boom of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s was thanks in no small part to the talents of Jobs and his partners, who went on to build their company in this beautiful part of California. Although much of the Apple HQ is off-limits, there’s nothing to stop you from an idle wander around campus – and maybe grabbing a swish (but rather pricey) souvenir of your own at the Apple Store.

Check out the full Pop Culture Cruisin’ route for even more great slices of the American experience, whether it’s celebrating the life of dearly departed rock god Kurt Cobain in Washington state or a chilling visit to the Myers house from Halloween.

The route is part of our fantastic US Road Trip planner which features 24 bespoke journeys across America to provide all the inspiration you need for your great American adventure.