Survey the Scenery at 3 of Los Angeles’ Best Viewpoints

How do you take in an urban sprawl as big as Long Angeles in one swoop? You hike your nearest mountain or you take a drive to one of these viewpoints. Stretching 503 square miles, Los Angeles is the largest city in California (by population and physical geography). Try one or all of these lookout points for sweeping panoramas.

Sitting on top of a prominent hillside, The Griffith Observatory (2800 E. Observatory Rd., offers incredible vistas of Los Angeles, stretching from downtown and the Hollywood sign to the Pacific Ocean (on a clear day, when there’s no smog). While you’re there, tour the Griffith Observatory (always free) or take a stroll on a nearby walking trail. Visit the Griffith Observatory anytime, but especially before sunset for striking views of the city. Street parking is available around Griffith Park; alternately, you can use the parking lot near the observatory, although it fills up quickly on evenings and weekends.


Located off of Mulholland Drive, the scenic drive to the Hollywood Bowl Overlook (7036 Mulholland Dr.) takes visitors through the Santa Monica mountains with a view of the Valley on one side and a view of Los Angeles on the other. Once you park, you’ll climb three flights of paved stairs to reach the lookout spot, which is small and can easily overcrowd during sunset. However, there’s no doubt that the views are worth it. Parking is very limited — there’s only a small parking lot that holds about 10 cars. You can also park along the canyon. 


Known as the Culver City Stairs to Angelenos, the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook (6300 Hetzler Rd., 310-558-5547) offers a grand view of Los Angeles from atop a steep hill just south of downtown Culver City. There are several ways to reach the top: conquer the stairs, hike up the trails or drive to the summit. The stairs are steep but most people can reach the top in less than 20 minutes.


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