The first thing any visitor to Los Angeles asks is, “Where can I see the Hollywood sign?” It is surprising how many Angelenos are still looking for fun places to spot the city’s iconic sign.
The original sign, funded by Los Angeles Times publisher Henry Chandler, read “Hollywoodland,” and it debuted in 1923 on top of Mount Lee. By 1949, the sign had seen better days. That same year, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce stepped in to issue repairs and remove the last four letters. In 1978, the entire sign was torn down and resurrected three months later thanks to donations and sponsorships from various actors, musicians and high-earning business owners.
Today, with three separate agencies responsible for its care–the City of Los Angeles, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Hollywood Sign Trust–the Hollywood sign will continue to shine down upon the city for years to come.
There are a few places around town that will afford you a glimpse of the Hollywood sign whether you’re looking for it or not. Sit outside for a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, take a long hike up Runyon Canyon or walk up the stairs to the top level of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Sometimes you will see it when you least expect it, and other times it will remain part of the silent backdrop without your knowledge. That is part of the beauty that makes the Hollywood sign a majestic and long-lasting part of Los Angeles’ history.
Here are the top five places to spot the Hollywood sign. Now you know.
North Beachwood Drive and Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90068
The residents of Beachwood Canyon in the Hollywood Hills are begrudgingly accustomed to tourists and locals snaking through the winding streets to park and then hike up the mountainside for a quick snap of the camera. Head up North Beachwood Drive, and grab good shots along the way between Scenic Avenue and Glen Oak Avenue. This is a busy neighborhood, so it is best to watch for traffic should you choose to take pictures outside of the car. Explore the markets and shops of Beachwood Canyon as well – it was the original advertised residential area for Hollywoodland.
Lake Hollywood Park
If you’d not rather drive through residents’ backyards to see the sign, head over to Lake Hollywood Park. Tourists and locals alike mingle together on the grounds, relaxing on the sunniest of days with their friends, families and dogs. There are open fields, barbecue pits and picnic tables, making it a great place to pack a lunch and a camera and settle in for memorable photos. The park is open everyday from 5:00 AM to sunset.
Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith Park Observatory is a prime place for viewing the Hollywood sign. Snap a picture in the parking lot, take a peek through the telescopes for a better view, then head inside to view the exhibits. Parking and admission are always free, but keep in mind the Observatory is closed every Monday and a number of Tuesdays throughout the year. If find yourself standing outside locked doors, ask any park ranger which hiking trails will take you closer to the sign. There are several paths that will lead you to great photos.
Mulholland Scenic Parkway and Corridor
7036 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068
Many Angelenos travel along Mulholland Drive on a daily basis to traverse the city, but it is probable that many do not know the official name for the perfect viewing spot here – the “Hollywood Bowl Overlook.” Not only can you catch a vast expanse of the city, but you’ll see the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood Bowl and Griffith Park. There is an area for a handful of cars to park, and from there it is just a short walk up the path to view the sign. Searching for the address will send you just past your intended stop. Refer to this map for the specific location.
Hollywood & Highland Center
The intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue is undoubtedly the epicenter of Hollywood’s tourism. The Dolby Theatre, Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, along with the Walk of Fame, all meet near this point, which makes it a very busy place. The Hollywood & Highland Center is a multi-level shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife hub in the middle of the hustle and bustle. It is also an easy place to catch the Hollywood sign. Take the escalators up to the third and fourth levels and walk to the observation decks. The view is picture perfect on a clear day.