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Los Angeles Travel Guide

The 10 Best Places to View the Hollywood Sign

The iconic Hollywood sign turns 100 this year.

From above the sprawling Los Angeles cityscape, the Hollywood Sign is an iconic image of L.A. that has attracted attention since 1923, despite its “remote” location. But you don’t need to get up close to the sign to see it. In fact, seeing the sign from a distance is possibly the best way to view it, especially at sunrise or sunset. There are several ways of viewing the famous sign across the city, and these are some of the best spots.

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Griffith Observatory  

Perched high on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the art deco Griffith Observatory has been a fixture above Los Angeles since 1935. While the 12-inch (30.5 cm) Zeiss refractor telescope is the main centerpiece of the observatory, and the panoramic views from the building’s outer edges boast cinematic views across L.A.

The Hollywood Sign is visible from the observatory’s western flank, and it’s one of the finest spots in the city to take a photo or simply gaze. Movie fans will also recognize this place as the site of some iconic scenes in James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause—there’s even a bronze bust of Dean sitting on the right-hand side after entering.


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Lake Hollywood Park

One of the most popular and accessible Hollywood Sign viewpoints in Los Angeles, Lake Hollywood Park looks directly up at the sign and is perfect for close-up shots. It’s also dog friendly, so expect to have a few canine friends in your photos as you frame your shots.

As the only parking around is streetside, it’s a good idea to arrive early if you want to a convenient spot. Otherwise, you may have to walk around half a mile to a lookout point. Even so, it’s free, and as a bonus, two beautiful hiking paths splinter off in different directions, one down to Hollywood Reservoir and one up to the sign itself.

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Mulholland Drive Overlook  

Famous for the notable celebrities who live in grandiose mansions, Mulholland Drive bends and snakes through the foothills north of Los Angeles between the San Diego Freeway and Cahuenga Blvd. There are several viewpoints along the way, but the most famous is the Jerome C. Daniel Overlook.

Located at the bottom of a tight road, the overlook offers two stunning views. One looks down over the hazy skyscrapers of Downtown LA, while the other looks directly at the Hollywood Sign. There’s a small parking lot located directly above the Hollywood Bowl, and on clear days it’s possible to see the Pacific Ocean and even make out the shape of Catalina Island.

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Sunset Ranch Guided Trails  

Western movies are a classic part of Hollywood’s history, and when the film industry moved to L.A. in the 1920s, its sunny weather was a perfect canvas for capturing those early days of the Wild West. Sunset Ranch Hollywood is the only horse ranch in greater Los Angeles, and their guided trails offer a unique way to view the Hollywood Sign.

Located in the Hollywood Hills, the ranch runs one- or two-hour horseback trails during the day, showcasing some of the finest views across the city. Though for some true cinematic magic, book the Mt. Hollywood Evening Tour and watch a magisterial sunset fall over the City of Angels.

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Barnsdall Art Park  

Sitting atop Barnsdall Art Park since 1921, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House is a curious remnant of Old Hollywood, and its influential architectural aesthetic makes it an interesting corner of Los Angeles to visit in its own right. But Barnsdall Art Park is also home to wonderfully peaceful grounds and boasts some majestic views across the city, including a direct view of the distant Hollywood Sign.

If you do want to head up for a view of the sign, try and double up with one of the popular seasonal events at Barnsdall, including Friday night wine tastings on the Hollyhock lawn and Saturday night outdoor movies.

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Ovation Hollywood  

An entertainment complex housing everything from alluring cosmetics shops to a vast six-screen IMAX cinema, Ovation Hollywood has plenty to keep visitors occupied for an entire day (or week, perhaps).

But its prime location at Hollywood and Highland means Ovation is well placed for great views of the Hollywood Sign, and its designers made sure there are multiple areas throughout the structure dedicated to visible vistas of the famous white letters. The California Pizza Kitchen restaurant even has outside seating where you can view the sign while eating lunch.

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Helicopter Tours  

If you want to really push the boat out, then taking to the skies is by far the most elaborate way of seeing the sign (and many other L.A. landmarks).

Operating out of Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley, Group 3 Aviation runs a 35-minute “Hooray for Hollywood Tour,” soaring passengers high above the sign, across Downtown LA, and then back around over Sunset Boulevard.

Alternatively, Orbic Air flies from Hollywood Burbank Airport and offers concise 10-minute tours specifically dedicated to getting as close as possible to the Hollywood Sign.

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Mama Shelter  

With a colorful rooftop bar flanked by a gaggle of spindly palm trees, there are few more decadent spots to view the iconic sign than Mama Shelter Los Angeles on the corner of Wilcox and Selma. In the other direction, there are also some magnificent vistas of the L.A. skyline that shouldn’t be missed either.

Settle into one of their large lounge sofas and order a signature cocktail while taking in the all-encompassing panorama. Note that there’s a first-come, first-served policy here, so arrive early for evening and weekend visits.

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Franklin and Gower  

More of a Hollywood Sign hack than anything, this unremarkable intersection feels like it was designed with the sign in mind so perfectly it frames the famous landmark. In the heyday of silent films, “Gower Gulch” was a popular hangout for unemployed movie cowboys, but these days there isn’t too much of note here besides a gas station.

Still, the view is unique, though watch for the hanging arc of utility wires crossing over the street if you’re looking to capture a perfect photo. A good zoom lens may be needed.

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Bar Lis  

Want a touch of French Riviera glamour to go with your view of the sign? Perched at the top of the Thompson Hotel, Bar Lis’s bright Mediterranean decor and coastal drinks menu are only enhanced by its spectacular city views.

Located just south of Mama Shelter, Bar Lis is an ideal accompaniment for a spot of rooftop bar-hopping. Its green cypress trees and central water fountain add plenty of character, while live DJs bring a bouncing soundtrack to weekends, and the panoramic views over Hollywood Hills and Downtown L.A. shimmer as evening falls.