The first image that often comes to mind when talking about LA is jam-packed freeways and smog. This picture doesn’t do the city justice. Head to one of these places to rewrite your first impression—you’ll be surprised how quickly your opinion changes. Instead of associating the city with traffic, you might first think of its impressive Downtown skyline that is, dare we say it, beginning to rival Manhattan’s.
1. Downtown LA's skyline from the Standard
You haven’t experienced LA before until you’ve been to a rooftop bar, and the Rooftop at the Standard, especially, lives up to the hype. It’s best visited at night, when the dark contrasts the sprawling buildings and lights. Chill by the pool with a drink in hand or take a nighttime dip. You may even catch an old-fashioned movie on a screen that drops from an adjacent building.
2. The span of the Valley from Balboa Park
Being in Balboa Park feels as though you are in another city, one with a lake, luscious grass and wildlife. There’s not a palm tree in sight. The only thing that gives it away that you are still in LA is when you take in the distant view as you walk your dog around the lakeside path. Gaze out at the expanse of the Valley and the surrounding homes stacked in the hills for a unique LA experience.
3. The Santa Monica Pier from the top of the Ferris wheel
Many LA natives deliberately avoid this tourist area. If it's been years since you’ve stepped onto the pier, we urge you to give it another try. No matter how many thrill rides you’ve been on, standing in line for the Ferris wheel incites a different kind of excitement. The ocean view as you dangle over the pier is spectacular. There’s no beachside restaurant with a view that can compare to the one from that height.
4. The Heart of Hollywood from the Montalban Theatre
See a Rooftop Film Club movie and take in the view from the top of the Montalban Theatre. You can traverse the Hollywood Walk of Fame as you make your way there to watch actual stars on the big screen. You'll witness all of the lights, movie billboards that span the surrounding buildings and the magic of Tinseltown from the turf-covered roof.
5. The Los Angeles landscape from the Griffith Observatory
It’s a solid tie whether the view from the Observatory is better in the day or at night, so make sure to experience both. Take a hike from the museum during the day to get a closer look at the Hollywood Sign. Arrive before dusk to watch the sunset, then head inside to learn about the sun, the moon and the stars from the museum exhibits. Afterward, peer into the telescope to see what you can discover.
6. The Malibu landscape as you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway
Assign a confident driver to navigate the curves of this cliff-side highway, and then relax as you absorb the breathtaking beauty of the landscape. You’ll wish you had visited Pepperdine University before making your college decision. The mountains are greener on this side, the sand is softer and the waves are rougher. If you are craving some nature and fresh air, the drive here is worth it.
7. Angels Point at Elysian Park
Take in an incredible view of Downtown LA and Dodger’s Stadium from Angels Point at Elysian Park. As the incline increases during this short hike, the scenery becomes even more impressive. Some residents say that this spot tops Runyon Canyon and the Malibu trails, but we say you should see for yourself.