Without a doubt, the most iconic LA landmark is the Hollywood sign. Located in the Hollywood Hills it’s viewable from all over Hollywood and even can be see as far away as the I-10. Here’s some of its history and the best places to catch a glimpse.
The Hollywood Sign was originally part of a larger “Hollywood Land” sign built in 1923 to advertise a new real estate venture of low cost housing built in the Hollywood Hills. Originally it was only supposed to stay up for about a year and a half, but its international recognition kept it standing much longer. The housing development failed and the sign slowly fell into disrepair until it was taken under the wing of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 1949. Permanently changing the sign to “Hollywood” in place of “Hollywood Land”, the chamber worked to restore the sign and eventually the refurbishment became a celebrity affair, headed by Hugh Hefner. Nowadays the sign is a permanent fixture in the hillside, with each letter privately owned.
Depending on how much you want to see the Hollywood sign, here are the best vantage points:
Hollywood and Highland :
Easiest to access from Hollywood and Best for a quick view and distant picture. This one stop shop for the major Hollywood attractions also offers a viewing bridge of the Hollywood Sign. While not the most glamorous or closest viewpoint, it is super easy to access (especially if you are on foot) and provides a great view if you don’t particularly care about getting up close.
To Get Here : Enter the center courtyard of the Hollywood and Highland Shopping Center. You will be able to see two very tall Egyptian themed pillars facing towards the hills and on the opposite side of the plaza from Hollywood Boulevard. The viewing bridges are on the 3rd and 4th floors and cross between the pillars, simply take the escalators to your preferred view.
Beachwood Canyon :
Walkable from Hollywood and provides an amazing picture opportunity with palm tree lined streets filing back to the nearby sign, this my number one spot to take pictures with the sign. This residential road lies just northeast of the main Hollywood attractions and adds a great backdrop to the typical Hollywood Sign photo. Beachwood Canyon is also the easiest place to see the sign a bit more close up if you are traveling without a car.
To Get Here : Directions are as simple as ‘walk up Beachwood Canyon’. Beachwood Canyon is located northeast of central Hollywood. Travel East on Sunset Boulevard to Gower Street. Go North (turn left) up the slight hill on Gower to where it dead ends into Franklin Ave. Go East (turn right) on Franklin and walk about a block to Beachwood Canyon, which extends towards the hills on the Left or North of Franklin. Once you are on Beachwood, the walk is about a mile and the sign will line up to the center of the street. From Hollywood and Highland, this is roughly a 45 min walk.
Hike to the Sign :
As close as you can get, but you’ll probably need a car. If you really want to get up close and personal, this is the best destination. While it is illegal to hike to the sign, it doesn’t really stop people from making the hike, and incase you don’t want to break the law – there is a nearby vista for a close up picture. Note: The neighbors really don’t like people going here, and, while plenty of tour companies travel here daily, be respectful of their property and you go.
To Get Here : There are several great online guides for reaching the sign, so instead of retracing their steps I’m going to provide links here.
A final option for viewing the sign is to flag down a cab and ask the driver to take you to the sign. While exact destinations may vary, I’ve spoken with several people who have gotten pretty close and have been very satisfied with the results for around $30 USD.