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In February 2022, when the Rams won Super Bowl LVI, the team, Los Angeles Mayor's office, and Hollywood Sign Trust made arrangements to temporarily cover the letters of the famous HOLLYWOOD sign with banners spelling RAMSHOUSE ("Whose house? Rams' house!" is the rally cry among fans). The tribute ended up being a last-minute mess. The display was meant to last until the Rams’ parade, three days after the game. Two days after the game, winds and rain had hampered the installation progress, with the sign reading RALLYOUSE throughout the day.
I'm not often on the same side of the mountain as the Hollywood sign but happened to be in the area on Wednesday - the final day the temporary sign would be up. That made me wonder something that hasn’t come to mind for years now: where’s the best view? Over the past decade, I’ve been above, below, behind, to the left, and to the right of the Hollywood sign. Here are the places that offer the best sights.
1) Lake Hollywood Park
3160 Canyon Lake Dr.
Even after the tribute to the Rams was complete, it was widely considered a flop. The banners covering the sign were semi-transparent, so the combination of the original letters and their replacements basically created new characters the world had never seen before. Also, the background printed on the banners was a brown hill. It didn’t match the landscape because the mountain recently turned green after some storms. Despite the failures of this shout-out, Lake Hollywood Park normally provides one of the best views of the Hollywood sign.
2) Ovation Hollywood complex
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Better known by it’s former and more-memorable name, “Hollywood & Highland,” this shopping complex is in the heart of Hollywood, and The Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre and Chinese Theatre next door contribute to it being a bustling tourist hotspot. It was also designed to have a great view of the Hollywood sign. A “tower viewer” telescope on the first floor points in the direction of the letters on the hill. Open walkways on the levels above provide excellent views.
3) palm tree lined street
S. Windsor Blvd. and W. 5th St.
The view north is wider and further away than the image below suggests. From here, the 45 ft. letters appear maybe half the size they do here, so decent zoom is a must for a nice photo. The symmetrical view is from the middle of a residential street, so if you have to get "the shot," be quick, alert, and very careful... and be respectful of the residents navigating their way up through this lovely neighborhood.
4) behind the sign
I had lived in L.A. a couple years before finding out you can hike behind the sign. A trail winds up to the top of Mt. Lee, where a chainlink fence separates you from the giant letters on the hill. This perspective is a neat one, but the best part is the view it offers of Los Angeles on a clear day. Backtracking slightly on the trail provides a great look the other way, to the north, at Burbank and the rest of the San Fernando Valley.
5) Jerome C. Daniel Overlook
7036 Mulholland Dr.
This viewpoint has a small, cramped parking lot, where open-air tour buses drop off tourists all day long for a quick peek at the sign, Hollywood Bowl down below, Hollywood proper above, and downtown L.A. further up. The sign isn't very close, but a nice zoom lens can help.
6) Griffith Observatory
2800 E. Observatory Rd.
The observatory is an awesome museum with a rich history. This location was the scene of the knife fight in “Rebel Without a Cause” and was recently the backdrop for Adele’s “One Night Only” TV performance, in 2021. The sign view from here is unobstructed but distant and at an angle.
7) The Last House on Mulholland
6101 Mulholland Hwy.
There is no house here - it's a vacant lot that's popular with Instragrammers since it gets you about as close to the front of the sign as possible. The bulk of this area is permit parking only during the day, to ease congestion among these winding, narrow streets. If you give this one a try, the best time to visit would be on weekdays, during the morning.
8) Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd.
This is the final resting places for a number of stars - Rudolph Valentino, Mel Blanc, Mickey Rooney, Chris Cornell, Marion Davies, Douglas Fairbanks, and many more. The property is a nice and quiet spot to take a stroll in the center of Hollywood. Plus, of course, it offers a nice view of the Hollywood sign. Unfortunately, though, some telephone and power lines get in the way of taking a nice photo from here.
9) by air
The LAX flightpath is generally the same - depart west, over the Pacific, and arrive from the east, over land. If I'm on the right side of the plane, every time, I can't help but look for the bright letters on the mountain. Even better is taking a scenic flight, in a slower aircraft that gives you more time with all of the landmarks. We did that once, from the Santa Monica Airport, and saw quite a lot - the Santa Monica Pier, Dodger Stadium, downtown, Warner Bros. Studios, Universal Studios, the Hollywood Bowl, and, of course, the Hollywood Sign. I certainly wouldn't say it's a must-do if you're in town for a short stint and on a budget... but the perspective certainly is mesmerizing on a clear day.
10) my first apartment
I couldn't resist including this one. Above our first apartment, in Koreatown, the basic rooftop terrace offered an amazing view - downtown L.A. to the east, West L.A. in the opposite direction, and the Hollywood sign to the north. It turned out to be a great starting point for our lives in Los Angeles. Above all else, I really miss heading up to the roof on a beautiful day and soaking up the sun with a cold beer or glass of wine in hand.
Check out locations 1-8 on the map below... Hit the slider button in the top left part of the frame to see the pin descriptions.
Where is the #1 best place to see the Hollywood sign?
That's subjective, but the Lake Hollywood Park view has become my personal favorite. Anytime I've taken people there, the response has been "Wow, it's right there!" With a nice camera/lens, you can tell the sign is corrugated metal.
Can you see the Hollywood sign from LAX / Los Angeles International Airport?
No, but almost. You can't see it from the airport because of multistory buildings in the airport vicinity and the local topography. The Baldwin Hills and Kenneth Hahn State Park areas are elevated and stand between the sign and airport. However, south, just across the street from the airport, the sign is visible off in distance... as long as it's a clear day.
What's the history of the Hollywood sign?
It was originally built circa 1922/1923 to promote the "Hollywoodland" real estate development and was intended to last for a year and a half. It stayed up and, eventually, the neglected sign fell into disrepair (which, for years, was lit up at night, unlike today). In 1944, the "H" fell over. In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce replace the missing letter and removed "LAND", to reflect this section of the city rather than the "Hollywoodland" development. In 1978, a public campaign (led by the likes of Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner) raised just over $250k to completely replace the sign. That's the version of the sign we see today.
Can you drive up to the Hollywood sign?
No - if you wanna get up there, you'll have to hike.
Okay, okay, this post isn't literally ALL the views of the Hollywood sign - they're just the absolute best ones. Enjoy!
“All the Views of the Hollywood Sign” (updated in 2023) Written by: Justin Kilmer
Edited by: Janine Kilmer
A portion of the images depicted in these journal entries are available for stock media licensing at: https://www.pond5.com/artist/kilmermedia
Unless otherwise noted, all media and text on this page are copyrighted © by Justin Kilmer.