The 'Hidden Staircases' of the Hollywood Bowl

There is something so completely odd, yet refreshing, about running up and down the stairs at the Hollywood Bowl during daytime hours. In a place you're used to sharing with 17,000 other people, being there completely alone—not even a security guard in sight—made us realize that this is one of Hollywood's biggest secrets (Read Part 1 of this series, The Hidden Staircases of Hollywood Heights, which are right next door).

It's not like running stairs is some unpopular activity in Los Angeles. In Santa Monica, residents are in uproar at how crowded their famous stairs and nearby medians get with exercisers. In Echo Park and Silver Lake, one man has made a whole walking tour of those neighborhood staircases. Over at the Hollywood Bowl, next to one of the densest parts of the city, it can be utterly dead.

The little known fact is this: Hollywood Bowl is actually an LA County Regional Park that is leased to the LA Phil for programming. But since there is a little thing called an "off-season" and since concerts are not happening all day long, it's still the public's space for their use as they see fit.

So here's the deal. The park, or the bowl and its picnic grounds, are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset, save for when concerts are planned. Everyone is welcome to go picnic, run the stairs (Hollywood High School's track team occasionally does, it's about 168 stairs from top to bottom), hang out, read, check out the historical displays, etc.

On concert days, the park is still open for activities, but on a more limited basis. Generally speaking, during the Hollywood Bowl season, rehearsals take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and usually are open to the public (of course, some groups may request their rehearsals be closed). Running and working out is not allowed during rehearsals (but you can before as of sunrise), but those activities may continue after them until about 3 p.m. when security begins to clear the park for that night's show.

On the weekends, the park is generally open until 3 p.m., but again, there may be rehearsals and special or high profile events that require shutting the park down earlier (for example, the Playboy Jazz Festival is an all day event).

The season officially begins in July (but June things are picking up), so until then, the park is pretty empty. Once the season begins, use is very situational, Hollywood Bowl officials told us, but generally is still open for use as long as you're flexible.

Parking is also free during off-times, but once the Bowl is clearing out for a show, it must be removed or they will remove it for you.

On May 2nd, the Hollywood Bowl store opens during daytime hours and tickets for the season go on sale. There's also the Hollywood Bowl Museum, which is open year round.

LAist recommends you combine Hollywood Bowl stair walking/running with the staircases of Hollywood Heights.