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Photograph: Michael Juliano

The 10 best city views in L.A. for when you’re feeling lazy

When you’re searching for scenic views but don’t feel like hiking, try these spots

Michael Juliano
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Michael Juliano
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Don’t get us wrong, we love a good hike—particularly these best hikes—but sometimes we want to show off a stunning vista to out-of-towners who aren’t in the mood for an uphill climb. And then there are those days where we want to catch a stunning sunset without breaking a sweat. When you’re searching for scenic views but don’t want to stray too far from your car or the Metro, here are the best spots to see the city—from atop one of the city’s best parks to a Downtown L.A. skyscraper.

  • Things to do
  • Hollywood

Perched above the Hollywood Bowl, this overlook offers fantastic views of the Downtown skyline all the way to the ocean (on clear days, at least). You can drive right up to it, but be advised that its pint-sized parking lot is a popular destination for Hollywood tours.

7036 Mulholland Dr, Hollywood Hills

  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Griffith Park

The museum at the Griffith Observatory is currently open Friday through Sunday. The surrounding grounds are open daily.

The vista from this Art Deco icon is stunning, particularly at night when Los Angeles twinkles below. Whether on its basin-facing rooftop or hill-adjacent patio, you’ll find a viewing spot here that suits your needs. Show up on a weekday before closing (10pm) and you’ll be much more likely to snag a spot in the parking lot ($8–$10 per hour).

2800 E Observatory Rd, Griffith Park

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  • Things to do
  • Angeles National Forest

This one takes commitment. Drive about 40 minutes up Angeles Crest Highway and onto the narrow, winding Mount Wilson Red Box Road and you’ll reach the summit. Take a short walk from the parking lot to the shaded Skyline Park pavilion and the attached Cosmic Cafe (open seasonally from April through November, 10am–5pm) or pull over at one of the handful of turnouts along the way. On clear days, you can spot the Downtown skyline and even out to the ocean. On cloudy days, you’ll be high above the marine layer. It’s a win-win either way.

Mt Wilson Rd, Angeles National Forest

  • Things to do
  • Culver City

This Westside lookout is best known for its 282 steep, concrete stairs to the top. But if you’d rather not beat up your knees, take a shortcut and drive up to the top of the hill and park in the many empty spaces ($2 per hour, $6 per day). Once you reach the summit, sit at the long park bench and take in the 360-degree city views.

6300 Hetzler Rd, Culver City

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  • Things to do
  • Encino

If you aren’t afraid to get your car dirty, stay on Mulholland Drive past the 405 and then bear left at Encino Hills Drive, at which point the road will turn into a cracked, gravelly mess. Wind up the dirt road and eventually you’ll reach the entrance to San Vicente Mountain Park, a decommissioned radar tower with one of the best 360-degree views in the entire county.

17500 Mulholland Dr, Encino

Universal City Overlook
Photograph: Michael Juliano

Universal City Overlook

Toward the eastern edge of Mulholland Drive, you’ll come across this roadside lookout with a top-down view of Universal Studios. Though it’s a popular spot for tour vans to pull over, the small, paved seating area tends to stay quiet.

7701 Mulholland Dr, Hollywood Hills

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  • Restaurants
  • Downtown Financial District

Perched 73 floors above DTLA, sitting pretty in the InterContinental hotel, is Spire 73—the bar that just so happens to lay claim to the title of tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere.

900 Wilshire Blvd, Downtown L.A.

  • Things to do
  • Downtown

Temporarily closed.

It may seem puny compared to the Wilshire Grand, but the observation deck atop City Hall still offers one of the best views in Downtown L.A. Whether you’re begrudgingly in the area to stop at a government building or just rolling by on a clear day, you owe yourself a visit—public hours are weekdays 8am–5pm, walk into the Main Street entrance.

200 N Spring St, Downtown L.A.

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  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Westside

Reservations required.

You could hike up Temescal Canyon for views of the ocean and the Westside, but at the Getty, such vistas are only a monorail ride away. The hilltop art museum’s travertine and white metal-clad pavilions are as conducive to 19th-century paintings as they are panoramic views, particularly from the cactus garden.

1200 Getty Center Dr, Brentwood

  • Shopping
  • Shopping centers
  • Fairfax District

The next time you navigate the organized chaos of the Grove’s parking garage, spiral up past a half-dozen levels and onto the rooftop. You’ll be rewarded with an unobstructed view of the Hollywood Hills, Century Century and the Downtown skyline off in the distance. And hey, the top-down view of the Grove’s Art Deco-inspired village isn’t bad, either.

189 The Grove Dr, Fairfax District

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