3 Landmarks on the Sunset Strip

Take a walk through L.A. music history 

The Doors and The Byrds, Van Halen and Guns N’ Roses—just how many Rock and Roll Hall of Famers rose up on the notorious West Hollywood stretch dubbed the Sunset Strip? Led Zeppelin, The Who, Janis Joplin, Beastie Boys and Green Day have all scorched the earth on this half mile of Sunset Boulevard. 

These days, some would say the Strip’s wild side has been tamed. But this is a twilight zone so drenched in rock history, you can almost taste it. Decadent ghosts haunt every stage, bar stool and hotel. As a lifetime rock fan, I had found my mecca.  And whether or not it lives up to its glorious past, there’s still plenty of vitality here. 

Fair warning: a number of the clubs along the Strip aren’t overly welcoming. There’s grease and grime in some of these joints that probably dates back to the release of “Welcome to the Jungle.” But, if you’re looking for a swankier place to grab a cocktail, you’ll find a few of those, too. 

From the diverse music acts that perform here today to the rich rock history in every square inch of turf, the Sunset Strip is a pilgrimage that rock fans must make. Here are a few choice stops along the way: 

Whisky A Go-Go 

This is one of the Strip’s original rock clubs—The Doors were fired here after Jim Morrison worked some lewd lyrics into their set in the 1960s. Later, Van Halen shot videos on location and Mötley Crüe ruled the roost. It remains a hard-rock bar at its core. Suggested drink: Jack Daniel’s, baby. 

Rainbow Bar & Grill

Step into a time warp where the hair-metal heyday never ended. Rockers from John Lennon to Tommy Lee have partied hard in the dark corners of this down-and-dirty watering hole. You might spot the dude from Motörhead at the bar. Suggested drink: Budweiser (with a cigarette-butt floatie). 

The Roxy Theatre

More civilized than many of the classic clubs on the Strip, the Roxy’s current vibe is indie cool. It’s standing room only, unless you’re in the roped-off VIP section, but the staff is friendly, for an L.A. club. Suggested drink: A craft beer.