Paul J. Pelz, 1874
With all of the flak Los Angeles gets for being a hostile environment, we take solace in the fact that the city’s southernmost border greets the ocean with a humble, wood frame lighthouse from the 1800s. One of a half-dozen similar Victorian structures across the state, Point Fermin is like an idyllic East Coast export with all the natural beauty of the South Bay.
Don’t let the stocky skyline fool you: Los Angeles is full of beautiful buildings. We’d like to think that what we lose in height we make up for in diversity, from 18th-century missions to 21st-century institutions. Though it was no easy task, we narrowed down L.A.’s finest Googie gas stations, Art Deco towers and midcentury masterpieces to just 30 of our favorites.
Of course, some of the city’s most dazzling designs are locked away behind wrought iron gates, buried behind thick gardens and hidden among the celebrity-filled hills—we decided instead to focus on buildings that you can feasibly visit or tour without raising any alarms. For any buildings on the list that you can’t easily or legally enter, we think its most spectacular details are observable from the outside.
Start the countdown to find out our picks for the 30 most beautiful buildings in Los Angeles, and when you’re finished, see what L.A.’s architecture experts had to say—and scope out some of the city’s ugliest edifices.