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Everyone loves a good view, right? No matter what you say, it’s hard to deny that having a nice bird’s eye view of a beautiful place brings at least a small amount of happiness even to the least emotional of people. Los Angeles is especially perfect for views because it happens to be surrounded by all different kinds of hills and mountains- all of which of course offer spectacular views when ascended.
As a view lover, I took it upon myself over a few years in college to seek out exactly which places you can go and which hills to climb to offer the best views in Los Angeles, the beautiful seaside city. They would be a perfect addition to any LA itinerary. If you haven’t seen them all yet, let this be an inspiration to get out and find the best views in LA!
8. Will Rogers Trails
Right on the edge between Malibu and the Pacific Palisades, Will Rogers State Park is in a perfect position to have spectacular views of the Los Angeles coastline and surrounding scenery. I included this hike over others because of the mere volume of different trails and adventures to be had in this park. You can hike up to multiple different panoramic viewpoints and look up the coast to Malibu or down the coast past Santa Monica, or explore the deep canyons between the mountains as well. Inspiration point is a standout viewpoint only a short hike from the park entrance. Murphy Ranch is one of my favorite LA adventures; it’s an abandoned Nazi camp deep in the canyons just south of the park. You can explore a graffiti-covered house, an old barn, and other eerie ruins from decades ago. For the views or for the adventure, the miles of trails at Will Rogers are among the best views in LA.
Go For: A Workout/an Adventure
7. Del Cerro Park + Surrounding Trails, Palos Verdes
More secluded and serene than the rest of Los Angeles, Palos Verdes is home to some of the most gorgeous yet unknown viewpoints and beaches – some of the best views in LA for sure. Whether it’s because of PV’s slightly longer distance from central LA or because people simply don’t know much about it, the crowds are always at bay in this beachy, upscale, and equestrian community. Close to San Pedro along the southern-facing coast of PV, dozens of hiking trails can be spotted from atop the hill at Del Cerro Park. The trails span from the park, over the hills, and down to a few of the hidden beaches and resorts below. This viewpoint will present you with amazing panoramic ocean views, minus some of the smog that coats the rest of the county.
Go For: A Hike/a Relaxing Picnic at the Park
6. You Guessed It… Runyon Canyon
This classic LA hike had to make the list! Runyon ascends right above Hollywood Boulevard, and you can almost hear the bustle of people and cars below as you make your way upwards. You get great views of the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory, and the Hollywood hills, and you can of course see the downtown skyline and maybe even a blue sliver of ocean on a clear day. Runyon has an all-around great view of LA, and also a great sampling of a stereotypical LA population. This is not a hike to do if you want peace and quiet in nature… Runyon is definitely the trendy hike to do in LA and it’s usually overrun with Beverly Hills Housewives in Lulu’s and young girls posing for instagram pictures at the top. But hey, do it for the solid workout and the great view!
Go For: A Workout/A Classic LA Experience!
5. The Griffith Observatory
Ah, Griffith. An obvious choice. From this viewpoint you have a great view of the Hollywood sign, downtown, and all along the mountains to a pretty smoggy, faraway coast. What I think contributes most to the aesthetic beauty of this viewpoint is the actual observatory building itself and surroundings. The place is beautifully architecturally designed, from the long angular grass areas out front to the almost tribal-esque patterns and columns adorning the cream colored walls. These walls and the deep bronze domes of the telescopes and planetarium just look pretty against the LA skyline, and of course it is so much fun to have a good explore of the exhibits inside. You can drive right up to the front, or go on one of many hikes that stem from the same area. It’s definitely worth adventuring up to this famous viewpoint.
Go For: A Hike, To Check Out the Planetarium
Do a Guided Hike of the Hollywood Hills
Check out the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Park with a guide on your visit to LA!
4. Tuna Canyon
The Tuna Canyon hike for me was such a cool escape from the buzz of LA. Whether it was the extremely complicated way in which we drove through neighborhoods to get to the trailhead, or all the different little magical areas we explored on this hike, it seems like a secluded little hideaway as if you had taken a quick trip to wonderland. For me, the best part of Tuna Canyon and the reason for it being so high on my list was its mysterious crop circle of rocks that you can reach if you take the west (left) turn from the trailhead. One of the coolest photo ops and best views in LA, this little rock maze enhances the wonderland effect of Tuna Canyon even more. The sight of it makes you wonder how it got there and who made it, as you gaze at the amazing view straight down the coast with views from Malibu down past Santa Monica and further south depending on visibility. I’ve been meaning to go back to explore more of this tranquil spot and get a nice hike in while I’m at it, because this view takes some real effort and walking to enjoy.
Go For: A Hike, A Secluded Getaway
3. Baldwin Hills
For some reason I discovered this one incredibly late in my Los Angeles living, but I had always looked and wondered at that one big hill in the middle of Culver City, wondering if it had any worthwhile hikes or viewpoints (I’m weird, I think these kinds of things pretty often when I look at hills – don’t judge). Well, it turns out, it absolutely does. I was in awe driving up Hetzler road and then walking up the trail at the top at Baldwin Hills Scenic overlook; I felt like I was on top of LA looking down at a map. I could pick out the edge of PV, LAX, and the smoke stacks in Manhattan all the way to the marsh and tall buildings in Marina Del Rey, moving up north past Ocean Park and Venice to the taller buildings on the Santa Monica Coast. I could just make out the Santa Monica mountains going up into Malibu (it was pretty smoggy that day – classic) and followed the tall buildings on Wilshire all the way through my home in Westwood, through Beverly Hills, Weho, Hollywood, and all the way to the faded majestic outlines of downtown LA. That’s right, Palos Verdes to downtown. What?! This viewpoint falls basically smack dab in the middle of LA, making it possible to see nearly all our wonderful city of angels. What’s more, it is the most perfect place to have a great workout as well. There’s a winding road and some winding trails up the hill, and also a deadly-yet-amazing long set of stairs. Baldwin Hills is perfect for any type of workout, or you can just drive up to see the all-encompassing view. You can’t lose.
Go For: A Workout/A Hike
2. Point Mugu
This one is a bit of a drive, but oh SO worth the time. Most hikes you do in Malibu end up being pretty deep into the mountain range, and although you can always see the lovely Pacific, it ends up being not much more than a little sliver of blue meeting a distant coastline. After parking at Point Mugu state park and hiking up the hill, the trail takes you so close to the ocean that you can hear the waves crashing as you walk. You end up so close that you feel enveloped in the blue sea fading so perfectly from light teal to deep blue as it stretches into the distance. The cliffs here jut out directly above PCH and right next to the sea, making for the most spectacular ocean-view hike I would say we have in the area. It’s definitely an exposed and decently strenuous hike, but with views (and photo ops!) like the ones you’ll get at Point Mugu, worth anyone’s while.
Go For: A Hike/A Getaway
1. The Getty
Situated at the very southernmost tip of the mountainous hills near Westwood, the Getty Center really does have it all when it comes to beautiful views, or looking at beautiful things in general. Like the Griffith Observatory, the Getty stands a majestic white sentinel commanding attention of the hill upon which it stands. The angular travertine architecture is already remarkably picturesque, and when set against an LA skyline reaching from downtown all along to Beverly Hills, UCLA, and brentwood to Santa Monica and down the coast again all the way to Palos Verdes and even San Pedro in the distance… well, it’s game over. Whatever view of LA you want, the Getty pretty much has it. Its middle-of-town location lends itself to equally great views of the Pacific and of the city, whereas with other viewpoints you basically have to choose one or the other. With free admission (Just cost to park… unless you have a moped/motorcycle like me!) this is worth checking out, not only for those who love a good view, but to check out the amazing art exhibits and gardens they have here as well!
Go For: A Study Session/An Adventure/To See the Exhibits
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Best Views in LA from the Sky
This one is kindof cheating, but you can’t get a better view of ANY place than from the sky! You can book a helicopter OR paragliding tour in LA, which are sure to present the best and most encompassing views out of all of these places. If you’re feeling like treating yo’self, check out these possibilities:
Honorable “Best Views in LA” Mentions:
– The Hollywood Sign Hike
– Bel Air Street Views
– Bixby Knolls Park, Long Beach
– Los Liones Trail, Malibu
– Point Dume, Malibu