The best way to see the Hollywood sign

Hollywood in Missouri

Update, April 2017: The access point from Beachwood Drive known as the Hollyridge Trail has been closed. I have updated this post but also written a brand-new guide How to see the Hollywood Sign, for Curbed LA.

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

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. Update, 2017: The shorter hike from the end of Beachwood Canyon Drive is now closed, but you can still ride the DASH bus to Beachwood Village (while you’re there, hike the Beachwood stairs) and walk to the Deronda Gate. Or you can start at the Canyon Lake address provided above and walk up, around, and behind the sign. Here are walking directions. 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. Neighbors have conspired to have one of the popular trailheads closed. 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, and view my brand-new guide, How to see the Hollywood Sign, for Curbed LA.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.25.32 AM

 

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  • Netsirk71

    Thanks a million….born and raised here and always wondered.

  • Sarah Hunt

    Thank you!

  • Sundance1021

    I seem to recall when I searched out a good viewing spot  many years ago, I found that I got a good view from the road leading to the Griffith Observatory.

  • Cinniebinnie

    You can also park at The griffith Park Observatory and hike in from there. Tourists and hikers are ALWAYS welcome.

  • CK

     There is also a very nice view of the sign from the parking lot at Yamishiro’s. 

  • Tracydisney6

    The problem is, is that the GPS coordinates send the tourists to the worst place possible for LAFD. They end up at a dead end street that fills with cars and if there was a house fire, there would be no way for the fire truck to get to the other end of the dead end. Believe me, I have nothing against the tourists, I have been giving directions for 6 yrs now in Beachwood Cyn. But the simplest way, and avoiding all hairpin turns is straight up Beachwood Drive to the end and then you can take the trail and get great shots and not one is in danger. Now the tour van drivers, a whole other story….

  • Alissa

    Yes! Observatory is another great from-a-distance view. And you can take public transit up there as well and hike the rest of the way!

  • pvfp

    Nicely done!  Wish I’d had this information a few months ago.  Despite having a native Angeleno as my guide, I didn’t get anywhere near enough to the sign.  Guess I’ll just have to come back!

  • Accidental Tourist

    Thank you for all this helpful information, I wish that you have mention some recommendations about safety, parking and respect for driveways in this neighborhood. Those who live here (the majority) don’t oppose to visitors or tourism, but would like for anyone who visits this tranquil community to respect the signs of no parking any time, no smoking and red curves. There is a great spot to see the sign from Griffith observatory and there is plenty of parking, easy access and wide roads, plus you get to see a must see tourist destination in Souther California.

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  • TXOCDMOM

    Thanks SO much for this info!  I just made my first trip to LA & took a local up to the Canyon Creek place & she had never been there before.  What fun memories (and great photos)!!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for the information on seeing the Hollywood sign! I took a drive up there yesterday, and I was impressed!! THIS is the kind of view that I’ve been looking for!

  • Alissa

    Awesome! Thank you so much for letting me know.

  • Allison

    I just stumbled across this page.. but when I went to see the Hollywood sign last Sept, this is exactly what was recommended to us! Even if we did get a little lost on the way, thanks to our lousy GPS. But we got some amazing pictures there! I’m glad this info is out there for the tourists like me.

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  • signseeker

    I recommend driving up to Canyon Lake Dr through Beachhead and NOT via Barham/Lake Hollywood Dr.  The latter runs you around a reservoir with a nasty rusted chain link fence into a 60s/70s community–you miss out on the JOURNEY to the sign.  Beachwood routes you through delicious winding streets, by 1920s charming spanish  homes, and finally a winding road through a valley at the top of Ledgewood that is breathtaking. I feel bad for those tourists who miss the true “HOLLYWOODLAND” by coming in from Barham/Lake Hollywood Dr.–you’ll end up in the exact same spot at Canyon Lake Drive via Beachwood.

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  • Eric

    we saw the sign from the end of beachwood… but you are really just seeing the side of the sign. a little dissapointing. we plugged in 7500 canyon lake. better view there and much better parking!

  • Awchoy72

    thanks!! you’re awesome!! great info.

  • Bfarr156

    Thanks for the awesome directions. Took our vacation in LA this year and that was the perfect spot to go for pictures! My hubby put your directions in our GPS and they got us there with no problem!

  • Vanessa

    I love you.  I always chuckled as I passed the “NO ACCESS TO HOLLYWOOD SIGN” signs that line Beachwood Drive as I drive up to Sunset Ranch to stare at the sign and then proceed to hike closer towards it. I have to say, the hike around back on Mt. Lee Dr. to just above the sign is absolutely worth it. A great view and a great walk. Thanks for the extra tips!

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  • mariane

    love this post, thanks!!!

  • Christine

    Thank you so much! This post really helped us out and we managed to get a great picture of the Hollywood sign. I’ll be posting about this and linking your blog post next week, so please keep an eye out for it. Keep up the good work!

  • Alissa

    Awesome, thanks Christine!

  • calitourist

    This was right on the money! We missed a turn and ended up above the park at a scenic overlook. Georgous views of lake, hills and perfect view of the Hollywood sign. Thanks for posting this info

  • kumag

    Check out this address there is trail next to it which is much closer to the sign 6161 Mulholland Highway, Los Angeles, CA 90068

  • KUMAG

    Check out this address there is trail entrance next to it which is much closer to the hollywood sign.
    6161 Mulholland Highway, Los Angeles, CA 90068

  • Oliver Sisson

    Beachwood!

  • Aimoo

    I hate how ppl that live in the hills hate on tourists. The sign & toursists were there FIRST. And you decided to plant your butt their knowing that sign attracts ppl from all over. Get ova it!

  • AshleyTallyFL

    Thanks!! Very helpful information! Your awesome for sharing this!!

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  • spotlitev@aol.com

    03-15-14 Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you. I plugged the address you gave for the Hollywood sign into my GPS and found it with no problem and had the BEST time with my son. We came from New York and a good view of the sign was to be the pinnacle of our trip. It was by far. The view of the sign and the surrouding area was absolutely magnificent. We took tons of photos and other than a well-timed ice cream truck the area was free of stores, beggars and other BS distractions. Great suggestion for this. THANK YOU. Paul from New York.

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  • Vanessa

    Hi Alissa, I just sent you a message through Instagram, I’m in Newport for the week with my family, and I’m planning on goings to LA for a day. I hav a car and a GPS. If I go to 3204 Canyon Lake will I be able to take the picture there immediately? Is there parking right there? I ask because I have a child with a disability, and if there’s hiking involved that my be hard for us. If the picture cannot be taken there immediately how far is the walk/hike from there?

    I also saw the picture behind the letters, I loved it! How can I get there by car?

    I’m not sure if I may get your reply, can you please reply to vanyvillarreal@gmail.com

    Thanks!
    Sincerely
    Vanessa

  • Alissa

    Hi Vanessa! Yes, if you go to that address you’ll be able to take a photo like me and my husband by simply stepping outside of your car. Very accessible! Unfortunately you can’t get to the other view without hiking, although it is on a fire road and a pretty gradual incline. Good luck!

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  • Pareidolia Jones

    At the risk of sounding completely pervy, I’d like to tell the owner of the feet at the top of this page that her tootsies are HOT!

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  • Rick Heinegeber

    So the gate with all the signs on it at the start of Mt Lee Dr (Where Mulholland & Deronda meet up) is safe to jump over? Did the residents put this gate up or is it official?

  • Alissa

    Pretty sure the gate you’re talking about is to prevent cars from going up? There is pedestrian access at several places along the way (or at least there should be!)

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  • Eric

    Thanks for the great tip! We were able to get a great picture with the sign, and it felt like hardly anybody knew about this wonderful spot. The dog park was also really nice.

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  • treystewart34@gmail.com

    not bad

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