The best way to see the Hollywood sign

Hollywood in Missouri

Update, 2016: This post has been updated several times over the years to reflect trails that have been closed and reopened. All information is current to the best of my knowledge.

Living in Hollywood, like I did for almost seven years, it was the one question I got asked more than anything else: “What’s the best way to see the Hollywood sign?” Being the generous LA resident that I am, the kind of person who knows exactly how vital money from both Omahaians and Okinawaians is to our economy, I always took the time to patiently explain to the inquirer where they could find the most low-impact, high-impression view. From the fourth-floor viewing platform of the Hollywood and Highland mall. I’m serious.

v-hh2-b

View from Hollywood and Highland via Hollywood Sign Trust

95% of people are satisfied with that view, as well as its proximity to Forever 21. But another 5% think they can get EVEN CLOSER. Yet like the people who live in the neighborhood it names, the Hollywood sign is elusive, and slippery.

The sign in the distance

Just when you think you know where it is, it vanishes behind another stucco turret. In fact, the people who live in Beachwood Canyon—the tangle of narrow streets just below the sign—even designed their homes with extra turrets, just to confuse tourists. But with the advent of the GPS, technology now helps drivers to confidently navigate those nasty twists and turns deep in this residential area. And the neighbors, who believed their stucco turrets would forever trump satellite technology, are becoming as nasty as the hairpin curves they live on.

Tourists Go Away photo via Curbed LA

Now a piece of land art that spells out the puzzling words “TOURISTS GO AWAY” has been created by some frustrated Beachwood sculptor near one of the places where tourists like to go. This work is so abstract in nature I’m not sure exactly what it’s trying to say, but I think it’s a bad strategy on behalf of the artist, anyway: I mean, don’t you think tourists will come up here just to see the Hollywood equivalent of the Spiral Jetty?

Persecuted!

As Curbed LA noted, the new installation shares real estate with my other favorite Hollywood sign. In case you can’t read Beachwood Pidgin, that sign says: “No trespassing private property violaters will be persecuted.” That’s right. I had no idea that the violaters in our midst had such ideological or religious differences from the rest of us that they needed to be persecuted. But with this type of grasp on seventh-grade English, I doubt the signmaker did either.

But I’m not going to send you to the land of “GO AWAY TOURISTS,” whatever that means, because, in all honesty, that’s not the best place to see the sign if you want to get EVEN CLOSER. The best place is near Lake Hollywood Park, located at 3204 Canyon Lake Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068. I made a map of the area to help you find it. To prove how great this location is, I’m going to show you a photo taken of me and Keith here.

 

 

Tourists

Look how close we are to the sign! See how famous we look! We even appear younger and thinner! This photo was taken exactly where that camera icon is on my map. You do not have to drive through Beachwood Canyon to get there. You can get there from the 101. It is absolutely the best option if you’re driving. You can relax in a secret dog park and check out Madonna’s old house and Moby’s old house. Then, if you must, you can keep walking towards the sign for as long as you want, unencumbered by your car and fear of potential persecution. You violater.

DOOWYLL

But I’m not going to lie to you. Since we’re talking about the best way to see the Hollywood sign, I have to say that the very best way to see the Hollywood sign is like this. Hopefully as part of an awesome three hour round-trip hike from Bronson Canyon where there’s plenty of parking. Or as part of a shorter hike from the end of Beachwood Canyon Drive where there’s access to transit only one mile from the trailhead (while you’re there, hike the Beachwood stairs). Or most preferably, as part of the Big Parade, the 40-mile urban hike through LA that ends at this very spot. Tourists are, of course, welcome.

It’s true, it has gotten harder and harder to see the Hollywood Sign over the years. Read more about access issues in my article at Gizmodo: Why People Keep Trying to Erase the Hollywood Sign from Google Maps. But rest assured, you can still get there from here.

I put all of these tips, plus a car-less way to get to Griffith Observatory, another great viewing and hiking-to-the-sign spot, on the Google Map I made. If you want more detailed maps of the park itself, check out Modern Hiker’s excellent guides.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.25.32 AM

 

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  • http://lifeofatravelingnavywife.com/ Heather W

    Thanks for this. I live south, in paradise (aka San Diego 😉 ) and don’t often venture back to my old L.A. stomping grounds, but my 19 year old stepdaughter and her friend are coming from Arkansas for spring break and and I’m going to take them up. This will be very helpful in continuing to WOW them with Southern California.

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  • Boog25

    Wanted to thank you for this tip as it was a great spot to see sign! Thank you

  • Andrea

    Hey!! I am coming from Scotland and we are renting a car from the airport… is it easy to park near there or is that silly?

  • Matt

    Yep, awesome view from here. Take a right at the red 6161 mailbox and go 20m down the gravel path (past the vehicle cordon, but it’s fine for pedestrians)

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  • James

    tks for the tip…is this 20 mins walking down the gravel path??? is there parking at 6161 w/o getting towed??? thanks again

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  • Mieka Shelley

    Thanks so much for the info about the park, beautiful view!! I’ve lived in CA most of my life and have visited LA area numerous time and have never tried to see the sign. My daughter and friend asked to see it and it was perfect! Quick and convenient!! The houses in the neighborhood are beautiful and they should feel proud to have such a great iconic sign in their backyard! I have a whole new appreciation for Hollywood now that I’ve seen the area! Thanks again!!

  • Travis Tibbetts

    This is a great website. Thank you!

  • Cranny Cran Cranquino

    Hey all. This is an awesome post and I thank you. Just wondering if the address is still a go for getting a good shot of the sign? Thanks all!

  • Phill

    Hi, these posts are a couple of years old, is the 3024 Canyon Lake Dr hike still accessible to get a reversed view of the sign?

  • Alissa

    Yes! Here’s a more detailed trail map for the area with some different hikes to the top of Mt. Lee: http://www.modernhiker.com/area-maps/griffith-park/. Parking is certainly more of an issue than before, so I recommend taking the DASH to Beachwood and using that trailhead or using some kind of on-demand ride service. If you do choose to drive there’s plenty of parking down by Lake Hollywood.

  • Tom Horan

    What is the current best way to drive up to have a picnic and get good shots of the sign? I’m taking my wife as surprise for her birthday. Appreciate any help. :)

  • Alissa

    Yes the Lake Hollywood Park is a great place for a picnic!

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  • Helen Carr

    Hi there, just wanted to see if anyone has any updates re parking, closed trails etc as this is a few years old now and I’m coming next month. We want to copy your shot(!) then hopefully walk up to the sign for the view. We are by no means experienced hikers but are fit and healthy and don’t mind a decent walk. Looking at google maps would it be possible to drive to the canyon lake address you suggest for the photo thencontinue to hollywood lake park, park up and walk from there? I’m also having trouble following the links to your maps so if there’s any other way of getting these it would be appreciated :)

  • Alissa
  • Helen Carr

    Hi there, just wanted to see if anyone has any updates re parking, closed trails etc as this is a few years old now and I’m coming next month. We want to copy your shot(!) then hopefully walk up to the sign for the view. We are by no means experienced hikers but are fit and healthy and don’t mind a decent walk.

  • Helen Carr

    Thank you so much :) :) :)

  • Nitin Tomar

    Thanks for this blog. We followed your address, 3204 canyon lakes drive, and we were not disappointed. Best view of the sign we ever had. We followed Google maps directions to this address… there were several signs posted on the way stating “no access to Hollywood sign”. We kept ignoring those and kept going… and voila. We went on a mid week afternoon and there was ample streetside parking. Thank you once again.

  • Nitin Tomar

    We drove to this address yesterday, 8Jul16. There was ample streetside parking. Followed Google maps. On the way up there were some official lookout signs starting “no access to Hollywood Sign”. We ignored these, I guess these were not referring to this particular address. Some of the roads going up are narrow, and you need to watch for cars coming from opposite direction.

  • Nitin Tomar

    We did not try walking up the sign, so no idea on the trails closures.