The best viewpoints in Los Angeles are varied spots from where you can take in a distinct perspective of the skyscraper city. For a metropolis, Los Angeles has a diverse terrain, with the downtown area mostly flat while the surrounding hills and mountains feature scenic roads and hiking trails with vantage points overlooking the cityscape.

    Of course, the elevated positions offer much to see. However, there are also parks and even a lake where you can enjoy Los Angeles’ scenic side. Some of these great LA viewpoints require some hiking effort, others are just a short drive from downtown, and a few are accessible by all. Check out the list below on where to enjoy the best views of Los Angeles.

    1

    Griffith Park

    For panoramic views of Los Angeles and the famous Hollywood Sign

    Griffith Park is Los Angeles’ vast urban park that has plenty to see and do. These include Los Angeles Zoo, the Autry Museum, and cool spots for taking in views of the downtown cityscape and the Hollywood Sign. You’re immediately offered great views from the car park as well as from the various trails throughout the park.

    Among the top highlights within the park, however, is the Griffith Observatory. From its elevated position, it offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean as well as the Hollywood Sign and Downtown LA. The views are bonuses to the fantastic science exhibits you can enjoy inside.

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    Location: 4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

    Phone: +1 323-913-4688

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    2

    The Getty

    For some of the best views of Downtown LA

    The Getty Center may be a go-to in Los Angeles for fascinating art, but many head to the hilltop institution for its panoramas of Downtown LA. After you’ve admired the amazing architecture and the pre-20th-century European paintings inside (the museum is free, incidentally), take a walk in the manicured cactus gardens and simply enjoy the views.

    You can also take a scenic hike through Getty View Park, with views of the Center, Santa Monica, as well as the downtown cityscape. Hopping on the Getty Center Tram to get to the hilltop from downtown also takes you on a ride through Los Angeles's beautiful landscape.

    Location: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA

    Phone: +1 310-440-7300

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    3

    Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

    A hike with a grand view of the greater Los Angeles area

    Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is part of a state park some 15 minutes’ drive southwest of downtown Los Angeles. From its elevated hilltop position, the overlook treats hikers to a grand view over Los Angeles. The panorama extends from Santa Monica Bay and over to the San Gabriel Mountains, with the Hollywood Hills and skyscraper-filled downtown Los Angeles in between.

    You can reach the overlook either by climbing up 282 steps of the Culver City Stairs, hiking along the mile-long trail to the hilltop, or simply taking a scenic drive from the hill’s other side.

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    Location: 6300 Hetzler Rd, Culver City, CA 90232, USA

    Phone: +1 310-558-5547

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    4

    Runyon Canyon Park

    A hike with rewarding views of Los Angeles

    Runyon Canyon Park in West Hollywood is where you can take a moderate 2.7-mile loop trail hike with rewarding hilltop views of the Hollywood Sign and Downtown Los Angeles. It’s one of the cool spots to escape from the modern frenzy of Hollywood and downtown, with a chance to see wildlife along the moderate trail year-round.

    A word of caution though: besides the shy deer, the hills are also home to rattlesnakes and mountain lions. There are some off-leash areas throughout the park that allow you to take your loyal canine companion along.

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    Location: 2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 818-243-1145

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    5

    Vista Hermosa Natural Park

    A charming urban park with amazing cityscapes

    Los Angeles’ Vista Hermosa Natural Park has the Spanish words for ‘beautiful view’ in its name for an obvious and good reason. This 10.5-acre park just west of Downtown Los Angeles blooms with native trees and flowering gardens, and with sloping green lawns from where you can take in the skyscraper views of the city.

    For some action and adventure, Vista Hermosa Natural Park offers hiking trails that allow you to enjoy a short escape from the hectic scenes of downtown either on a stroll, jog or cycling trip. The well-placed benches throughout the park allow you to catch a breath anytime and admire the views.

    Location: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 213-250-1100

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    6

    Jerome C. Daniel Overlook

    Breathtaking vistas from above the Hollywood Bowl

    Jerome C. Daniel Overlook is one of the best viewpoints in Los Angeles along the beautiful Mulholland Scenic Parkway and Corridor. The overlook sits above the famous Hollywood Bowl amphitheatre and offers views over the venue’s tiered seating, with the contours of the San Fernando Valley, the Hollywood Sign, and even Catalina Island and the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

    One of the best times to admire the cityscape is at dusk when the dramatic skies are coupled with the traffic and city lights as they come alive to greet the night. There are telescopes on the hilltop for you to explore the sights from above.

    Location: 7036 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA

    Phone: +1 310-589-3200

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    7

    Universal City Overlook

    Among the most popular viewpoints along Mulholland Drive

    Universal City Overlook was built in 1984 on the northern side of Los Angeles’ scenic Mulholland Drive with funding from Universal Studios – hence its name. From this roadside outlook, you can take in views of the Verdugo Hills as well as Universal City, all while taking a brief stopover on the scenic parkway drive.

    Besides admiring the panorama with the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Mountains also in view, you might also figure out which luxury houses belong to which A-list Hollywood celebrities. The views are great both day and night, but many make for the spot to enjoy the amazing fireworks on Independence Day.

    Location: 7701 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 310-858-7272

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    8

    Mulholland Scenic Overlook

    Stunning views along Los Angeles’ famous scenic corridor

    The Mulholland Scenic Overlook is one of the best short road trips you can take outside downtown Los Angeles, simply for its breathtaking views above the city. Thanks to David Lynch’s 2001 horror-noir thriller Mulholland Drive, it’s a must-do among movie buffs. Even if you haven't seen that movie, it’s an amazing experience for any visitor to Los Angeles.

    From the scenic overlook, you have the whole Los Angeles valley spreading out before you on a clear day. Mulholland Drive has many scenic stopovers – near the Mulholland Scenic Overlook, just near a bend, is the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook that has canyon trail access for hikers.

    Location: 8591 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 9 pm

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    9

    Angel’s Point

    Splendid vistas of Downtown Los Angeles from Elysian Park

    Angel’s Point is a cool spot in Elysian Park that offers some of the best nearby skylines of Downtown Los Angeles. Elysian Park itself is one of Los Angeles’ oldest urban parks, dating back to 1886. You can plan a family day out in the park and pack a picnic. The kids can have a fun time in the playgrounds, and you can admire the gardens and art installations spread throughout.

    From Angel’s Point and beyond the green and forested valley, you have most of Los Angeles’ skyscraper skyline in view, including highlights such as Dodger Stadium, Hollywood, and the near-constant traffic along the Golden State Freeway.

    Location: Angels Point Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 213-485-5054

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    10

    Hollywood Reservoir

    Los Angeles’ scenic lakeside hiking trail

    Take the Hollywood Reservoir hiking loop trail to enjoy soothing nature views and some of the best views of the famous Hollywood Sign. The artificial lake dates back to 1924, following the construction of the Mulholland Dam. It lies in the hills just west of Griffith Park.

    There are several picturesque trails for you to take around the lake. Most are uphill from the northwest side of the lake. You can also take a mile-long ridge trail along the east of the lake for a challenge. This dirt trail takes you to Canyon Lake Drive, with rewarding views of the Hollywood Sign at the end of your hike.

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    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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