That saying how “no one walks in L.A.” isn’t true. Plenty of folks love to go for a peaceful walk and hike in Los Angeles.
But let’s face it, sometimes you just want to enjoy a gorgeous view of Los Angeles without all trudging and hiking and plodding that it sometimes takes to reach the summit of a great mountain or remote coastal cliff.
It’s not that you’re lazy. You’re just being economical with your time.
So if you need some instant zen (or maybe you just want to snap some cool photos), we’ve got you covered with a list of great spots where you can enjoy the view, but skip the trek.
1. Vista Hermosa Park
You might take one look at the that bench and think it’s the same one made made famous the 2009 movie 500 Days of Summer, but you’d actually be wrong (that’s actually Angels Knoll, which is currentl closed) Nonetheless, Vista Hermosa will do just fine, with a peekaboo bench view of the DTLA skyline that’s sure to impress. Your best bet is probably to park on Toluca and then take a short stroll over to the top of the park’s hill to get the view.
2. Hollywood Bowl Overlook
Along the famous Mulholland Drive, the Hollywood Bowl Overlook has glorious view of Downtown from right on top of the amphitheater. The parking lot is tiny, but if you can secure a spot, you don’t have to hike far to take in the view or listen to some tunes if a band is playing a concert below. Open sunrise to sunset (a Ranger may boot you out if you’re there outside those times).
3. Griffith Observatory
Sure, Griffith Park has plenty of options for a fun hike up to the Observatory, but if you’re feeling like taking in a gorgeous view without the sweat, you can drive right up to the top. We’d recommend going at non-peak times, since it get get very crowded and parking can be a challenge otherwise.
4. Kenneth Hahn Recreational Area
This Culver City scenic park has lots of beautiful views. Want to see a waterfall? You got one. Feeling like feeding the ducks by a calm lake? Kenneth Hahn has that, too. You can walk to all of the park’s varying landscapes, but what’s nice is you can also drive each of them, too. The view of the skyline from the overlook at the top has been the spot of some of the most iconic skyline photo captures of L.A.
Keep in mind Parking is free on weekdays, but there is a fee on weekends ($6 for cars).
5. City Hall Observation Deck
Check out this free and unobstructed view above Downtown without any tall buildings or tourists in the way. Public hours at the City Hall Observation Deck are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
6. Echo Park Lake
The benefit of Echo Park’s own park/lake is that you see the body of water and its iconic fountain as soon as you drive up to it. Once you park your car, you don’t have to walk far to enjoy the pretty lake — in fact, you can take it in as you walk around it.
7. Hilltop Park
This Signal Hill spot (just north of Downtown Long Beach) offers a lovely panoramic view of Long Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, and maybe even DTLA on a clear day. Parking is free on the street, but spots will be sparse during peak times (like sunset), most especially on weekends.
8. Santa Monica Pier
Sure, it’s a tourist hot spot, but for good reason — the pier offers some of the prettiest views of the one of L.A.’s most famous beaches. And if you want an easy-to-get-to view of the pier itself, the next-door Palisades Park is a peaceful, non-strenuous walk that’ll let you take in the famous Ferris wheel from afar.
9. Pacific Coast Highway & Malibu Coast
On the way to Malibu, the PCH offers some of the most stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline. You can choose to hike down some rocks to see more, or you can appreciate it from the road. Pointe Dume especially has some lovely bluff viewpoints that aren’t hard to reach at all.
10. Baldwin Hills Overlook
One of the best views of Culver City can be seen from this high point, which has a steep incline to the top. If you’re not feeling like the climb, you can drive to and park at the top, but be aware there is a fee to park. If you decide to take the stairs, it’s a relatively short (but intense) 282 step walk to the top.
11. Ascot Hills Park
This El Sereno park has an amphitheater and lots of hiking trails, but you don’t need to venture on a long journey to take in some breathtaking views of Downtown and the rolling hills. If you want a shortcut to the view of DTLA, park in the gravel lot on your left when you enter and head up the hill on the same side. Follow the path towards the left (west) as you head up the hill from the gravel lot and you should be able to spy the skyline with clarity.
12. BONUS: Skyspace LA at U.S. Bank Tower (Coming Soon)
Scheduled to open in June 2016, Skyspace LA will be perched 1,000 feet and will become the largest open-air observation deck in the state of California, complete with a 360-degree view. There’s even a Skyslide, a 45-foot slide to glide down. Tickets for admission to Skyspace are on sale now and start at $19.
What are some of your favorite views in L.A.? Let us know in the comments below!