Don Henley’s song Sunset Grill may transport you to a different time or place in your head. Listeners often dream of finding the laid-back eatery described throughout the lyrics.
Some think the establishment sounds fabricated, while others swear it’s real. But is it a place you can grab a beer and watch the working girls go by?
Join us as we uncover the secret of this classic tune.
Let’s hit it!
What Is the Story Behind “Sunset Grill” by Don Henley?
Don Henley wrote Sunset Grill with Danny Kortchmar and Benmont Tench. He released it in 1984 on his solo album Building the Perfect Beast.
The song tells the tale of an individual enjoying a meal at a local grill. He watches people come and go with their own stories and troubles. Henley highlights the isolation many feel in urban nightlife.
While the diner may sound too good to be true, it’s a place that Henley frequented. It still sits off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to this day. However, it was a smaller establishment when Don was a regular. Today, a two-story and modern building replaces the little tin shack described in the lyrics.
5 Fun Places to Visit on a Hollywood Day Trip
We’ve found five fun day trips to check out if you plan to visit Hollywood. Whether you’ve got the entire day or a few hours to explore, these sites will add to your adventures in Tinseltown.
#1 The Sunset Grill
So now you know Sunset Grill is an actual place. It’s been serving customers delicious burgers and offering the friendliest service since 1957. The original owner, Joe Froelich, was the guy Henley described as “The old man from the old world” in the lyrics.
However, Froelich sold the business in 1998, and management upgraded the establishment in 2019. Not only did they overhaul the facilities, but also the menu. Fortunately, it seems to have retained the open and accepting characteristics Henley sang about.
It’s an over-the-counter service spot where you can enjoy great food, wine, and the view of Sunset Boulevard. Their extensive menu caters to the various taste preferences of their diverse visitors. In fact, it’s typical to see French toast and filet mignon served at the same table.
#2 Griffith Park
At approximately 4,300 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. The land was donated to the city in 1896 by Colonel Griffith J. Griffith. He desired to create a space that combined public recreation and education. It’s a popular park, especially on weekends, holidays, and all summer.
You’ll find many opportunities for entertainment and enjoyment. With educational exhibits, telescopes, and stargazing, you can easily spend a good chunk of the day here.
Griffith Park is also an outdoor playground offering 53 miles of trails. Whether you’re into biking, hiking, or horseback riding, you’ll have a remarkable time exploring the area.
Just like the menu at Sunset Grill, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this park. Take the time to connect with nature and each other while visiting Hollywood.
#3 Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909 and has become one of the most iconic spots for any Hollywood day trip. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either the start or end of the famous Route 66. You’ll have a variety of entertainment and dining options, most with stunning ocean views.
The biggest draw to the Santa Monica Pier is the amusement park. Featuring a giant Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, and a variety of carnival-style games, it’s great for thrill seekers and families looking for a fun evening stroll. Simply walking around to soak it all in may be enough excitement for you.
Additionally, you can make more memories by visiting the famous Original Muscle Beach, fishing from the pier, or riding the carousel. Plus, the arcade has over 200 games to bring you back to your childhood.
#4 Will Rogers State Beach
The next stop on our Hollywood day trip is the three-mile-long Will Rogers State Beach. Whether building a sandcastle, enjoying a picnic, or playing volleyball, this is one spot you don’t want to miss. It’s also an excellent place to sunbathe and enjoy a stroll.
While it typically sees fewer visitors compared to Malibu and Santa Monica beaches, it often gets crowded in the summer. You’ll see surfers, fishermen, and windsurfers in the right conditions.
At the northern end is Sunset Point Beach. This marks the start of the epic Pacific Coast Highway. If you’ve never taken this incredible drive, you’ll want to put it on your bucket list. It’s certainly worth building into your schedule or extending your time in Hollywood if possible.
#5 La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
The final spot to visit on your Hollywood day trip is the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. It’s your chance to experience an active excavation site from the Ice Age. The museum portion of the attraction features a variety of fossils, animals, and plants the staff unearthed while digging at the site.
Guided tours are available and provide a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most recent discoveries. You’ll get an up-close look at rare items dating back to the Ice Age. Throughout the research, officials have found remains from prehistoric creatures, including mammoths and saber-toothed cats.
Head into the museum to truly appreciate the work and effort the men and women are putting in at the tar pits. It’s an educational opportunity for all ages. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the uniqueness of this astonishing location.
Know Before You Go: Visit the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum website for hours and to purchase advance tickets.
Go Down To the Sunset Grill
If you’re a music enthusiast and already heading to Hollywood for a day trip, the Sunset Grill is an excellent spot to visit. But you can still appreciate the unique music history behind the diner without being a big fan of Don Henley.
Don’t forget to visit some of the other fun stops we shared to help make the most of your time in Los Angeles. You’re likely to discover several more places along the way that’ll surprise you.
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