The first thing most LA visitors want to see is the famous Hollywood Sign. Here’s the short and sweet: it’s not going to be easy. At the best of times, Los Angeles is a large, smoggy city. And if you want to see the sign at night, it’s unlit—though that didn’t used to be the case. In 1923, when the sign first went up, it went up with lights (4,000 lights to be exact), making it easily visible at night. And it was awesome. But years later the sign fell into such disrepair that in 1978 the sign was rebuilt…this time sans lights (blame Hugh Hefner). The sign is also located at the top of a hill accessible only by narrow winding, snaggletoothed roads limited to foot (and horse) traffic—getting a car close is basically impossible. On top of all this the City of Los Angeles has also increased security to protect the sign, but has dropped the ball on designating any comfortable viewing spot for visitors. (Inexplicably, there has never been a dedicated Hollywood Sign viewing area created with adequate parking.) But, thank goodness, we’ve assembled a list of the top places to view the sign here. We’ll start at the bottom so as not to ruin the fun.
- Hollywood Sign Replica at Sunset Ranch Hollywood – Best viewed on horseback.
- Top of the W Hollywood – Just go, and have a mojito.
- Hollywood Bowl Overlook – This is just off of Mulholland Drive east of Outpost. Filled with tour busses but you just can’t beat the view of Los Angeles on a whole. Walk all the way up the path to the circular viewing area to see the Hollywood Sign.
- Hollywood & Highland Center – This was built specifically to point at the sign. From across the street at Disney’s El Capitan Theater to the Cement Day Bed by CPK, there are may different places to get a great view. Don’t forget to check out the second a third story walkways.
- Lake Hollywood Dam – It’s a little hard to get to and has one of the worst parking lots in the city (dirt only and very bumpy so watch your undercarriage) but the dam is a sight to be seen, especially before there’s no water left in California.
- Beachwood Dr. – Here from the middle of Beachwood Dr. before the Hollywoodland Real Estate Company you’ll get one of the most dangerous views of the sign. Tourists from around the world flock here to play Frogger with oncoming traffic to get a selfie with the sign. Look at it from the car, then keep going. There are better and safer views further up.
- Captain’s Roost – Burned through during the one thousand acre Griffith Park fire of ’07 this little corner of the park offers gorgeous views, a bench, new landscaping and 2 charred yet still standing rows of palm trees.
- The Griffith Observatory – One of the most iconic landmarks in all of Los Angeles. Take a selfie with the bust of James Dean (and the Hollywood Sign) before you head down to the new cafe.
- Mount Hollywood – This is the last peak in the Santa Monica mountain range. From here you’ll see the Ollywoo sign (you’re kinda on a steep angle) and 360° views of the whole city. Arguably the best view of the city you’ll ever see.
- Lake Hollywood Park – Not only will you get a great view of the sign, you get a great view of the Lake! Bring a lunch and sit on one of the picnic benches to watch countless dogs tear around the park.
- The Bat Cave – Bronson Canyon has a cave. It’s really an old quarry from which the stones of the houses in Beachwood Canyon were mined. But hollywood needed a bat cave for Adam West, so it’s now the bat cave. Not just Batman, countless other TV shows and Movies have used this old quarry, you just might see some filming if you come on a week day. If you go through the cave to the other side you’ll get an awesome view of the sign.
- Above Sunset Ranch Hollywood – There is a dirt path. Most people walk right by it. If you can find it, it’s got one of the best and least seen views of the sign. You’ll also get an areal view of Sunset Ranch.
- Mt. Lee Drive Viewing Area – This used to be fenced off but has recently been opened up to the public. Just about as close as you can get to the sign—legally.
- The Hollyridge Trail (lower) – It’s hard to explain the difference between these two but you’ll understand when you’re there. This used to be a platform for a water tower, when the tower was pulled out the city popped this trail and called it the Hollyridge Trail as a first attempt at a viewing area for the sign. Parking is tough because you have to hike all the way up from below Ledgewood but the view is just about perfect. (Unfortunately, this trail has been closed to the public by the city, however you should take a look if you are up to it after your ride at Sunset Ranch.)
- The Hollyridge Trail (upper) – If you hike up the trail just a bit further, passing Sunset Ranch’s back entrance you’ll get another great view. Watch out for the horses!
- Mount Lee – Here you will be above the sign, looking down on it. It’s pretty incredible. When you get to the top by the gate head up around to the left and up to get an even better view.