As you know from hours stuck on the freeway, our city stretches on forever. Give your little city dwellers (and yourself) a chance to appreciate the grandeur and sprawling expanse with a spectacular birds eye view of the City of Angels. From an elevator ride to the heights of City Hall to a hike up Baldwin Hills, there is lots of beauty to behold from up high. Here are six of our favorites sweeping vistas that give you a whole new look at LA.
Head downtown visit this historic Los Angeles landmark. When City Hall opened in1928 it was the tallest building in the city. It has since lost that status, but there is still something special about heading up to the 27th floor to take in the city. Take one set of elevators to the 22nd floor and then another to the 26th. Before you head up to that last flight of stairs, take in the portraits of our former mayors and then head up to the Mayor Tom Bradley where your little politicians in the making can have a go at the podium. Once you make it to the observation deck take your time. From the mountains of Northeast Los Angeles to the glistening ocean, there is much to behold.
Good to know: Admission is free but the observation deck is not open on the weekend. Hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
200 N. Spring St.
Angel’s Point in Elysian Park
While Angel’s Point in Elysian Park isn’t the highest vista around, it provides great views of downtown and Dodger Stadium (if you have die hard fans in tow). While you take in the view, stand underneath local Echo Park artist Peter Schire’s sculpture “City on the Hill.” And if the views aren’t enough, there are hiking trails just below the sculpture and plenty of grass to run amok. You can also head over to the other side of Stadium Way (drive, because crossing the street is tough here) where there is a playground and hiking trails to explore Elysian Park.
Good to know: This is an excellent viewing spot for 4th of July fireworks.
Angel’s Point Rd.
There is something for everyone at the Griffith Observatory. Head up to this iconic spot to take in views of the Hollywood Sign, the valleys, downtown and beyond. You can drive up toward the Observatory or if everyone is feeling energetic, hike up one of trails beginning near Fern Dell or the Greek Theater. Beyond the vista, there is the Observatory itself, which will spark curiosity in your little astronomers. Be sure to see one of the shows in the planetarium and explore the wonder of the cosmos. Downstairs, there are more exhibitions where the family can learn about the planets, stars and the equipment that makes all of this information available to us. And the view isn’t limited to the daytime. On clear nights, the observatory hosts public telescopes every evening, sunset hikes with a Ranger monthly and public star parties one Saturday a month. Check the website for scheduling.
2800 E. Observatory Rd.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Tucked deep into Baldwin Hills and near Culver City, this vista is not to be missed. Drive up to the parking lot (self park fee is $6) or park on the street and take one of the hiking trails to the top. Either way, once you reach the top you can take in the entire LA Basin and, on a clear day, see all the way to the ocean. Beyond the view, the overlook is covered in a lush native garden. Get there before 4:30 p.m. and make sure your explorers visit the interpretive center where they can learn about native plants and animals, the past development and exploitation of the surrounding land and its future of preservation. Be sure to check the website for special activities throughout the year.
6300 Hetzler Rd.
The Pacific Wheel in Santa Monica
Not every vista needs to be from a hilly overlook or tall building. Be a tourist for a day and take your crew to Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. Be prepared to be pulled into a ride and game extravaganza, but you can also stick to the agenda and buy tickets for the Ferris wheel alone. The entire family can ride up together in the roomy cars and absorb the expanse of the Pacific. Go ahead, enjoy it. Somehow it never really loses its novelty. Sunset is a spectacular time for the trip, and follow it up with a kid pleasing meal at The Albright, where you can learn a little local Popeye trivia, too.
380 Santa Monica Pier
Malibu Bluffs Park
With all of the beautiful distractions of the Pacific Coast Highway, this gem can be easy to miss. Just south of PCH and across from Pepperdine University, this community park offers a spectacular perspective on the Pacific. Be sure to hike down toward the ocean with your explorers. Somehow, among the native plants and ocean breezes, things get a little more peaceful. After your hike, explore the grounds, including the chance to take in the whole of the Pacific Coast through the telescopes (where you can sometimes spot whales and dolphins!). There picnic tables, a playground, soccer field, two baseball diamonds and a whale watching station. This is a perfect spot to start the day or wrap up the afternoon.
24250 Pacific Coast Highway
What’s your favorite view of LA? Have we missed a sweeping vista? We’d love to hear your best view of the city in the comments below.