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10 Best Places to See the Hollywood Sign Without Hiking

Just reach Griffith Park or anywhere in Los Angeles, and the common question you will get tired of hearing is, “how do I see the Hollywood Sign”?

This sign has become a landmark since the day it was showcased on the Santa Monica Mountains in the bold letters “Hollywoodland”, back in 1923. Initially, it allured future homeowners to purchase plots in the housing development of Hollywood. It then emerged as a symbol of the American entertainment sector, and now, it has turned into an international touristic icon of L.A.

People from all across the globe come to see those big white letters. However, the sign is sited in a challenging location over a mountain top, with no address and zero parking area, so it’s not easy to figure out how to see it perfectly. That’s why we’ve selected this list of places from which you can see the Hollywood sign in a wonderful way, without hiking.

These are the Best Places Where You Can See The Hollywood Sign Without the Need for Hiking!

Lake Hollywood Park

Lake Hollywood Park

If you want the closest and simplest view of the Hollywood sign, Lake Hollywood Park is undoubtedly your best bet. The dog park offers great parking space and a beautiful Hollywood Sign perspective. Just walk up the hill along the pathway if you want to see another little varied view of the sign.

Sited at a distance of just 0.6 miles, the sign is pretty clear and looks fantastic from all angles. If you visit in the early morning, you will find little to no crowd; however, weekends can be crowded sometimes.

The intersecting point of Canyon Lake Drive with Mulholland Highway is the major location where most tourists end up. Though you can quickly grab a selfie here, the park itself is a great place to spend some time. If you want the comfiest and nearest view of the Hollywood Sign, then this is it.

Check its location.

Hollywood & Highland Center

Hollywood & Highland Center

Another recommendation which is nearest to the sign attracting too many tourists is the Hollywood & Highland Center. If you visit the mall at Hollywood & Highland Center and walk to the second or third floor, you can see the sign clearly in the distance. It is one of the best ways to see the Hollywood sign if you don’t want to go out of the downtown area.

Sited at a distance of 2.4 miles, it gives you a pretty good view. The view indeed is innovatively developed and is a charm in itself. The lounge area is surely angled towards the big sign, and you can use the place to take amazing pictures. However, the sign may appear a bit far, so you may have to tell people about it before showing the picture.

Check its location.

Hollywood Reservoir / Mullholland Dam

Hollywood Reservoir

Lake Hollywood Reservoir offers a pleasant view of the Hollywood Sign on the Southwest Side. Just park your car at the Hollywood Reservoir Trailhead and walk a little to get the best lookout, or park on Lake Hollywood Drive and move for a mile to get this majestic view.

The Department of Water and Power controls the area, so the rules and hours are different compared to Griffith Park. The sign is more nature-focused and doesn’t have too much urban involvement.

Sited at a distance of 1.3miles, the view is pretty clear with water in the forefront, and the selfie quality is surprisingly outstanding. You can also reach the Mulholland Dam on transit for a better view. Just a flat hike on the road that rings the Hollywood Reservoir to get amazing views of the Sign from the Reservoir’s West. Continue moving to the south to get to the stunning Mulholland Dam. It is also an excellent spot to snap selfies with the Hollywood Sign.

Check its location.

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Drive

The place can be reached as a small spur from a short walk around the Hollywood Reservoir or as a pathway to link the Reservoir and Lake Hollywood Park. It can be reached through an uneven segment of Mulholland Highway. Call this mini-hike a sliver of Griffith Park that spans between the DWP area around the reservoir and offers clean, green-space connectivity.

Sited around 1.2 miles away from the sign, the view is quite good. Though you can get some good selfies, but also receive hindrance from chaparral and newly- constructed houses. You may also notice the amazing views of Mulholland Dam along with scenic views of the Hollywood Sign.

So, overall, driving Mulholland Drive is a fantastic experience in itself, but the easternmost viewpoint on the drive offers a terrific view of the Hollywood Sign.

Check its location.

Jerome C Daniel Overlook

Jerome C Daniel Overlook

Jerome C. Daniel Overlook is a beautiful tourist spot in L.A. along the visually appealing Mulholland Scenic Parkway and Corridor. It is situated above the renowned Hollywood Bowl amphitheater and provides beautiful scenes over the tiered seating arrangement, with pleasant views of the San Fernando Valley, Catalina Island, the Pacific Ocean quite distantly, and the very much renowned Hollywood Sign.

You can admire the extraordinary beauty of the sign at dusk when the vibrant sky teams up with the lights of the Hollywood sign to greet the night. You can also take the stone stairs and go up to the vantage point to see the other side of the mountain. There are telescopes available at the hilltop to help you enjoy the scenic view.

Check its location.

Griffith Park & Observatory

Griffith Park & Observatory

Well, if you are looking for not just a viewpoint for the sign but a place to discover on its own, then Griffith Observatory is the best place for it. You will cherish watching the sunset on the sign from the Observatory, and even though the distance is quite considerable, it still proves to be a great viewpoint. And, on second thought, if you hike Mt. Hollywood from the Observatory, you will get a bonus view from there.

Sited at a distance of 1.5 miles from the sign, you can enjoy a good view from here. Mornings are recommended as the other hours may get crushing. Overall, it is an amazing building with dynamic exhibits and events and extraordinary views of the park as well as the city.

Though the place is heavily crowded, you have quite a lot of infrastructure to manage the crowd. You do have a DASH shuttle line to reach the Observatory conveniently. If you don’t love hiking or have mobility problems, it is surely the most amazing place to see the Hollywood Sign.

North Beachwood Drive

North Beachwood Drive

Well, the North Beachwood Drive is a stretch of 2-mile, and once you reach the end, you stand at the entrance of the Sunset Ranch. However, you don’t have to go to the end to get a good view of the sign. You will notice some amazingly dramatic views of the sign at the intersection with Scenic Avenue, moving to the Hollywood Hills. Overall it is a trendy tourist destination as it sits directly below the Hollywood sign. However, with time, the greenery and obstructions have hindered the view, though you can still glance at the sign clearly through them.

Sadly, the simplest and most known route from Beachwood Drive has been shut down for hikers.

Check its location.

Sunset Ranch Hollywood

Sunset Ranch Hollywood

If you love horse riding, you will surely love the amazing guided riding experience from the Sunset Ranch Hollywood. And, you only have one horse ranch in greater LA, so make sure you make your bookings beforehand.

Sited in the center of the beautiful Hollywood Hills, with the landmark sign right above it and the Griffith Park just close by, Sunset Ranch provides you with a plethora of amenities and activities, comprising of horse rides, boarding and guidance to its renowned Sunset Dinner Rides.

There were a lot of film shoots in the 1920s in Los Angeles, and most of them chose this scenic location. You will still find an extensive history of that Hollywood at the Sunset Ranch. So, if you wish to experience the dazzling view of the sign on the back of a horse, then this ranch is a must-visit.

Check its location.

Barnsdall Art Park

Barnsdall Art Park

Sited close to the intersection of Vermont Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, the Barnsdall Art Park lies on 11 acres above Olive Hill, yielding amazing awe-inspiring scenes of the city and the great SIGN. The site was marked as a cultural center and deeded to LA in 1927.

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At present, it abodes Frank Lloyd Wright crafted Hollyhock House, the Barnsdall Art Center, the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, the LA Municipal Art Gallery, and The Junior Arts Center. There are some seasonal events which include Saturday night outdoor movies, wine tasting on Friday night at the Hollyhock lawn, and workshops on Sundays.

The place is a great site to take pictures with the big Sign and get some amazing breath-taking views.

Check its location.

From The Air

From The Air

Though the hiking method is the most physically beneficial approach to witness the sign, an air trip will indeed prove to give you a dazzling and extravagant experience- not to say the most appealing. Flying out of the heliport sited at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, IEX helicopters pick people and provide a close view of the Hollywood Sign and the other landmarks around going from the coat to the high-buildings of Downtown.

You can also enjoy a tour from a 30-minute flight from Group 3 Aviation offering the Hollywood Trip or a 45-minute tour covering Hollywood along with the beach. There is yet another flight from Fly & dine that starts with supper at the 94 th Aero Squadron restaurant.

If you want to make your Hollywood sign viewing experience a once in a lifetime event, then Orbic Air keeps you covered. You can enjoy themed packages to make your experience mesmerizing. Lastly, you have Star Helicopters that aims to give two types of experience – the Star VIP tour or the Hollywood and More tour.

Things You Should Know About the Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign stands sentinel over all the Hollywood movies, old and new. It is an icon showcasing optimism, glamor, and grandeur defining Hollywood since its birth. Here are a few things that you should know about the Hollywood sign.

  • It’s not allowed to climb the Hollywood sign. When hiking, please walk on the authorized trails only. Trespassing is not allowed. There is always an LAPD officer present near the sign to prevent you from climbing the Hollywood sign.
  • The Hollywood sign is almost a century old. The first sign was created in 1923, the same year when Rin Tin Tin got famous as a canine actor. Though it wasn’t constructed to work as a film industry icon, the sign was made during the start of the first golden period of Hollywood, when Ben Hur was released.
  • The original sign was ‘Hollywoodland’. The original sign read “Hollywoodland” as an advertisement for a housing development above the Hollywood region of LA. However, the “land” part was removed during the 1940s.
  • The first sign was bigger. The initial Hollywood sign was made of huge chunks of sheet metal that stood as high as 50 feet in height. They stood erect using a complex framing system that involved pipes, poles, wires etc. The sign was decorated with more than 4000 light bulbs.
  • The sign is an official landmark. In 1973 the sign was drastically damaged again, broken down, and all rusty. However, the city added another renovation program and declared it a Los Angeles Cultural and Historical Monument.

Enjoy The View of The Most Well-Known Billboard Sign in The World!

It may be tough to think of Los Angeles without picturing the Hollywood Sign. So, now you have all the access you need to see this amazing piece of history from many vantage locations. So, whenever you are in the city, no matter which location you are at, make sure you choose to see the iconic sign once before you leave the place. No matter if you are in the mood for a hike and enjoy a close-up view or don’t want to go for a hike and enjoy a distant view or get an unparalleled view from the saddle, you have all the options open to see this world-famous, historical landmark.

The Hollywood Sign: How to Get There and the Best Places to See It

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

The Hollywood Sign that sits on the top of Mount Lee is perhaps one of the most famous images of Los Angeles (if not of California) and you will certainly want to capture it with your camera. So you may need to know which areas of the city you need to go to to get a better view.

In this article, we are going to explore the best places to observe the Hollywood Sign so that you can bring home the perfect souvenir photos. Many of these places will also allow you to discover unusual corners of Los Angeles where you can admire the city and its surroundings in all its beauty.

The Best Viewpoints to see the Hollywood Sign without hiking

Let’s start with this overview of the best spots in Los Angeles to take a picture of the Hollywood Sign. If you don’t plan to do a lot of walking, or the time you have available to visit the city is limited, this selection is for you.

The Griffith Observatory

Hollywood Sign

We are talking about the incredible observatory that dominates the hills above Los Angeles. Given its location, the Hollywood Sign is still pretty far away (see the picture I took personally) but, since the observatory is one of the recommended things to see in Los Angeles, it can certainly be taken into consideration also because of all the interesting activities it offers to visitors.

Lovers of the great classics of Hollywood cinema will also have one more reason to visit the Griffith Observatory. You’ll be in the place made famous by Rebel Without a Cause, made in 1955. The scene from the movie that features James Dean is iconic. As a reminder of this, you’ll find a monument with the young actor’s face and it is possible to take a picture of him with the Hollywood sign in the background.

The parking lot of the observatory is also one of the starting points for those who want to embark on the Mt. Hollywood Hiking Trail, which we will talk about in detail later in the section about the trails to reach the summit of Mount Lee that allow you to approach the Hollywood Sign from behind.

Lake Hollywood Park

Hollywood Sign trail

Lake Hollywood Park, in my opinion, is the best viewpoint to photograph the Hollywood Sign. It is a large park nestled between the hills and narrow, winding streets and is surrounded by some of the city’s most luxurious homes. As we’ll see in the next section, this is also an excellent place to get on two trails that will take you to the top of Mount Lee to admire the view of Los Angeles from behind the sign.

Mulholland Drive

Hollywood Sign Hike

Mulholland Drive is one of the scenic roads that run along the hills of Los Angeles. It has the added benefit of having been immortalized in countless Hollywood films. This is already enough to make it worth visiting, and if you are particularly fond of David Lynch’s work, you will surely have a special reason to make this excursion.

Returning to the subject of this article, go east on Mulholland Drive near the 101 Freeway, and you’ll arrive at a vista point called the Hollywood Bowl Overlook. From here you’ll be at an elevated point with a view of the city below as well as the Hollywood Sign.

Hollywood & Highland Center

Hollywood sign hiking trail

The Hollywood & Highland Center is a large shopping mall located at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, right where a section of the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame is located. If you go to the terraces of the mall, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign.

The best spot is on the third level crossing bridge. Another incentive to go to this large shopping mall is that if you park your car here and then validate your parking ticket in a bar, restaurant, or shop, you will only pay $2 for parking while you shop for 2 hours. Compared to the rates of other parking lots in L.A., it’s a pretty good deal.

Hollywood Reservoir

where is the hollywood sign

The Hollywood Reservoir is an artificial lake and it is known to be one of the locals’ favorite places to run and exercise along a quiet and relaxing trail and observe interesting views. You’ll find the perfect spot to take a picture of the Hollywood sign at the Mulholland Dam. After taking some pictures, why not take a nice walk along the edge of the lake?

The Hollywood Reservoir has three separate entrances. If you decide to use your car (or to rent one), here are some tips on where to park depending on the entrance you decide to use. Obviously, you should always pay attention to any signs of no parking.

  • Lake Hollywood Drive: This is the recommended entrance if you want to use the North Gate.
  • Weidlake Drive: If you take this road, you will arrive at the Hollywood Reservoir entrance named after this road and once past the residential area, you will find a small parking lot to the left of the entrance. This is especially recommended if you don’t want to walk too far to get to Mulholland Dam.
  • If you want there is also another entrance that I will tell you about for the sake of providing accurate information, but I advise you not to use it because there are very few (if any) parking spaces near this entrance. We’re talking about the East Gate at the entrance of Lake Hollywood Estate that is distinguished by the nice barrier with the Hollywood Sign.

North Beachwood Drive

best places to see the hollywood sign

North Beachwood Drive is a 2-mile road and at the end of the road, you will find the entrance to the Sunset Ranch, which we will discuss in detail later. I recommend that you do not go all the way to the end. In fact, you will begin seeing some nice views of the sign at the intersection with Scenic Ave and then going towards the Hollywood Hills.

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How to get to the Hollywood Sign

best view of the hollywood sign

This section is for those who are not satisfied just to see the sign from a distance but want to get as close as possible (who knows when you’ll be in Los Angeles again?). First of all, I want to make it clear that you cannot in any way touch the Hollywood Sign or get very close to it. In fact, the area is fenced and guarded by cameras and security personnel to avoid accidents and vandalism that have taken place over the years, even though these are rare occurrences.

If you want to get as close as possible the only solution is to climb to the top of Mount Lee and admire the view of Los Angeles from behind the Hollywood Sign. In other words, you can only reach that point where the radio antennas stand out.

Before seeing the routes to reach the top, there is some basic information that I must outline not only for the sake of your safety but also to help you understand that you will not get as close to the sign as you might expect. I advise you to read carefully so as not to encounter unpleasant surprises.

Preliminary Precautions

horseback riding to the hollywood sign

If you are going to reach the top of Mount Lee to see the view from behind the Hollywood Sign, the first thing you should know is that the residents of Beachwood Canyon (the residential area below the sign) are fed up with the crowds of tourists who flock to the top of Mount Lee either on foot or by car along the winding, narrow streets that climb up the Hollywood Hills.

The first consequence of this is that they have put up intimidating and misleading official-looking road signs all over this area that aim to discourage people from venturing into this part of Los Angeles. Some time ago there was even a petition to remove the Hollywood Sign from Google Maps.

The second consequence is that law enforcement agencies (both private and public) are present and ready to report any minor parking violations. So I advise you to try to avoid using your car and rely on Uber or similar services instead, or if you do drive, you should look out for no parking signs.

If you use a GPS, please know that the directions of Google Maps or other services are not entirely reliable. In fact, the last time we checked, when we searched for the Hollywood Sign in the various navigation services, at best, they redirected us to the Griffith Observatory.

If, thanks also to our advice, you finally manage to find the many trails to the top of Mount Lee, make sure to wear clothing and footwear suitable for walking. Another factor to take into account is the climate. In the summer, temperatures will rise considerably and you will not find many shady spots on the trail. Also, bring plenty of water with you.

Finally, remember that even if you’re not far from Los Angeles, you’ll be walking on trails in the middle of nature, so keep an eye out for snakes and other dangerous animals in the area.

Option #1 – From Lake Hollywood Park. Walk along Mulholland Dr or Deronda Dr

One of the best ways to photograph the Hollywood Sign up close and to reach the top of Mount Lee is to go to Lake Hollywood Park and then walk along two residential streets that climb up to the hills.

But let’s go in order. First, get to Lake Hollywood Park, where you can already start taking some nice pictures of the Hollywood Sign. My advice, as I mentioned before, is not to use your car because parking in the area is very scarce, and the police are constantly around to issue fines to those who do not respect the parking signs. In other words, this is the first taste of the hostility of the residents towards the tourists who come to this area.

The alternative to driving can be to take a taxi or an Uber, which is very successful and very reliable. If you really must drive your car, the best place to park could be along Canyon Lake Dr, but watch out for no parking signs (especially in the evening) and be very patient, because, as you can guess, this is a very busy area especially during the high season. If you want to continue the top of Mount Lee, this is where the real adventure begins (strictly on foot).

Your goal will be to reach the point marked on the map at the end of Deronda Dr. To get there, you will have two options: The first route (which I recommend) is also the easiest and consists of walking along Mulholland Dr. Do not be intimidated when it becomes a dirt road that seems to lead to nowhere. Eventually, you will reach the gate that you see in this photo. To the left of the gate, you will find a walkway that will take you to the clearing marked on the map, and from there you can turn onto Mount Lee Dr, which will take you behind the Hollywood Sign. The video below describes the route I have explained to you up to this point.

The other way is to walk on Deronda Dr until you reach what seems like a dead-end road with two gates closed. Next to the gate on your left, however, you will see a small door that, if opened, will lead you to the same clearing we talked about before. Personally, I do not recommend this solution, because it is not guaranteed that you will find the door open (as you also noticed when you watched the first video) forcing you to go back “empty-handed”, even though it should be open from dawn to dusk and it is operated by an automatic system. Also in this case you can take a look at the video below to become familiar with this route.

You will have to factor in 50 minutes to an hour of walking to reach the top of Mount Lee (plus time to take pictures and catch your breath) in addition to the return trip, which at least will have the advantage of being practically all downhill.

Option #2 – Take the Wonder View Trail

I recommend that you park along Lake Hollywood Drive, because Wonder View Drive is a dead-end street with very little space to turn around. Therefore, avoid driving on Wonder View Drive and plan your route very well. It is better to walk a little longer than to find yourself having to make complicated maneuvers to turn around.

The route on foot is not easy but it is not too demanding either. It will take you 30 to 40 minutes to walk all the way to the Hollywood Sign, depending on your level of physical fitness. You have to add time to make stops to admire the view, fill the memory of the camera with pictures, catch your breath, and, of course, walk back.

Therefore, consider spending at least three hours to complete this walk. The ground on the trail is dry and dusty, so I suggest that you wear the appropriate shoes. In addition to this, keep in mind that the trail will be totally exposed to the sun and, especially in the summer, you will need to wear a hat and bring sufficient water with you.

The views you will see along the way will be very impressive, and perhaps even more beautiful than the other trails. You will reach a very famous viewpoint where the solitary Wisdom Tree stands out, which, besides being one of the few trees that survived the 2007 fire, will also be the only place where you will find shade.

Therefore, taking a break is highly recommended not only to admire the view but also to allow yourself a respite from the sun. If it’s a beautiful day without smog or clouds you can see the Los Angeles area, Universal Studios, Burbank, and much of the San Fernando Valley.

best places to see the hollywood sign without hiking

Once past the Wisdom Tree, the route continues along the mountain ridge. The positive aspect is that there are no more excessive ups and downs in this section, but, at the same time, it will coincide with the most difficult part of the route, because you will have to be especially careful when you reach the point where there are two or three steps along the ridge and the path will also become much narrower.

The last viewpoint before you resume walking on a paved road that will take you to the top of Mount Lee is called Hugh Hefner Overlook. The donations of the founder of Playboy have made it possible for this piece of land to become public property again and thus ultimately allow you to walk on this trail.

Option #3 – Take the Mount Hollywood Trail from the parking lot at Griffith Observatory

If the view of the Hollywood Sign from the rooftop terrace of the Griffith Observatory doesn’t satisfy you and you want to take a nice walk, head to the parking lot and take the Mount Hollywood Trail, also known as the Charlie Turner Trail. This trail takes you to Captain’s Roost, an overlook with one of the best views of the Greater Los Angeles Area. The view of the Hollywood Sign is fascinating (though I prefer a frontal view and from here, the sign is seen from a slightly lateral view) as you can see from the photo.

griffith observatory hollywood sign griffith observatory hike to the hollywood sign

The route is very easy and it will take just over 20 minutes to get to Captain’s Roost. For this reason, it will also be very crowded with tourists who, especially in the high season, decide to take this route with the scope of taking a unique souvenir photo.

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Once you arrive at Captain’s Roost, you can decide to go back or start your journey towards the Hollywood Sign. However, the trail to reach the top of Mount Lee is very long (at least an hour and a half one-way plus stops). In this case, my suggestion is that you evaluate whether you have time for such a long walk and, above all, if you feel up to it.

Option #4 – Go to Sunset Ranch from Beachwood Drive

Sunset Ranch is a popular destination for those who want a different way to visit the Hollywood Hills. It offers many types of hikes along the Hollywood Hills, some of them on horseback with an evening barbecue included, which can definitely make your experience special.

Reaching this place is very simple. Just go to the end of Beachwood Drive. From there you will embark on the trail that leads to the Sunset Ranch and the Hollyridge Trail. This easy trail will lead you to the paved Mount Lee Dr, which will take you to your destination.

Please note: Unfortunately, due to a lawsuit filed by Sunset Ranch (which complained about the inability to organize hiking tours due to the high number of tourists passing through the area), as of April 18, 2017, access has been closed to tourists who want to take the trail from the end of Beachwood Drive. While waiting for this legal dispute to be resolved by the courts, you may access Sunset Ranch, but do not go on the trail on your own.

Option #5 – Bronson Caves

In addition to being one of the most convenient ways to reach the top of Mount Lee, this route will allow you to discover an interesting location used in a television series.

But let’s proceed in order and start by saying that if you plan to drive, it is best to park along Canyon Drive, but be mindful of any no parking signs. The route to the top of Mount Lee starts right at the end of Canyon Drive, but if you want, you can take a little detour first to discover the place we mentioned above.

can you drive to the hollywood sign best hollywood sign hike

Following the signs to Bronson Canyon / Caves, you will come to tunnels carved into the rock which were used in the 1960s as the entrance to the Batcave in the Batman TV series, in which Alan West played the famous hero. Making this detour will not take long and will be an opportunity to take some interesting photos of the Hollywood Sign (as well as give you a curious anecdote to tell when you get home).

To get to the top of Mount Lee, you just need to drive all the way along Canyon Drive, until the paved road becomes a dirt road and continue to the intersection with the Mulholland Trail, which will take you to the famous Mount Lee Dr. The route is not too difficult, although it will take you at least three hours (with stops) to get there and back.

What about Photographing the Hollywood Sign from a Helicopter?

All the options we’ve talked about so far require good organization and physical exertion (in case you are in the mood to do some hiking), but why not participate in a tour that is already planned?

Among the many tours in Los Angeles to choose from, I highly recommend the helicopter tour. This is because it will give you a fantastic view, not only of the Hollywood Sign, but of the entire city and its main attractions. You can find out more about the helicopter tour by clicking on the link below.

Other Useful Resources

Now that you’ve discovered the best places to photograph the Hollywood Sign, here are some other useful items to help you plan your stay in Los Angeles.

  • Our tips on where to stay overnight in Los Angeles in and around Hollywood
  • Tips on how to get around L.A
  • Finally, our travel guide to Los Angeles with insights to discover the secrets of the City of Angels.

Looking for accommodations for your trip from California to other parts of the Southwest? Read our guide that contains reviews of hotels and strategic tips for finding accommodations near major attractions: Where to Stay: Our Tips for the SouthWest Area

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

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The Hollywood Sign and Best Places to See It

Kayte Deioma is an internationally published travel writer and photographer based in the Los Angeles area.

Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist and fact-checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guides, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Forbes.

People looking up at the Hollywood Sign

TripSavvy / Christian Hundley

The Hollywood Sign is one of LA’s most famous landmarks and is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world. It may also be the only major landmark whose status was completely unintended. It was originally built in 1923 to promote the Hollywoodland real estate development in the foothills and canyons of Mt. Lee, a neighborhood now known as Beachwood Canyon.

Where Is the Hollywood Sign?

The Hollywood Sign is located on the south-facing side of Mt. Lee in Griffith Park above the Hollywood Hills. It is in the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA.

History of the Hollywood Sign

The 45-foot-tall billboard, placed on Mt. Lee 1000 feet above the city, was originally lit with 4,000 light bulbs. It was only designed to last until all the property was sold, which they expected to be about 18 months. Nevertheless, until 1939, the company paid for a caretaker for the sign (1), who lived in a cottage behind the first L. When they ran out of funding for the caretaker, the sign fell into disrepair, so the developers deeded the land north of Mulholland Highway, including the Hollywood Sign to the City of Los Angeles in 1944 and it became part of Griffith Park.

In 1949, the City of Los Angeles was beginning to tear down the dilapidated sign when community outcries changed the plan and led to the sign’s restoration, minus the LAND and minus the lights. In the 1970s, the sign was once again in bad shape. Hollywood’s A-list rose to the challenge and various celebrities helped foot the bill for a complete restoration. Alice Cooper sponsored an O, Gene Autry paid to rebuild an L and Andy Williams put up the cash for the W. The famed landmark got its most recent paint job in 2012.

In 2010, a large chunk of Mt. Lee came under threat of development after the Howard Hughes Estate sold a large parcel of land there to Chinese developers. A fundraising campaign which covered the sign with the words “Save Our Peak” successfully raised enough money to buy the land and add it to the adjacent Griffith Park, protecting the cherished view for future generations.

Best Places to See the Hollywood Sign

On a clear day, the Hollywood Sign is visible all across the Los Angeles Basin, including from Downtown high-rise buildings, and even from Signal Hill, almost 30 miles south (through the coin telescopes at least).

Driving or walking around Hollywood Blvd, you can look north at just about any intersection and see the sign, but the following suggestions offer some special viewpoints with great photo opportunities to get a nice shot of the Hollywood Sign.

View of the Hollywood Sign From Hollywood & Highland

People on the viewing bridge at Hollywood & Highland looking at the Hollywood Sign

Depending on how the vending carts are stationed, you can sometimes get a first framed glimpse of the Hollywood Sign walking up the left side of the stairway from Hollywood Boulevard into the Babylon Courtyard at Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment complex. The view from the steps is sometimes blocked by the carts or umbrellas on the plaza, but that’s ok ​since your best photo opportunities are from the viewing area at the back of the plaza or take the escalators up to the viewing bridges, where you can see the sign on the hillside above Hollywood. Weather conditions and smog affect visibility, but you’re pretty close here, so even in rain or fog, you can usually make out the sign. There are coin operated telescopes to get a closer look, so don’t forget your quarters.




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