Top Views and Vistas in Los Angeles: Unforgettable Photo-Ops

Observatorio Griffith | Foto cortesía de Shawn S. Park, Flickr

The question, posed to the Los Angeles Facebook page, was a fairly simple one: “What is your favorite view in L.A.?” Hundreds of comments later, familiar favorites emerged on top and a few hidden gems were uncovered, as chosen by great fans of L.A. from near and far.

Griffith Observatory

The most popular choice by far was the Griffith Observatory. With panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the Hollywood Sign, and Downtown L.A., not to mention its fantastic space and science exhibits, it’s no wonder the Griffith Observatory was voted ahead of other views by a 3-to-1 margin. The following comment is representative of the dozens of similar votes for the landmark, which opened in 1935: “The amazing view of the city lights on a painfully cold, crystal clear night from the Griffith Park Observatory.”

Downtown LA

1st St. Bridge | Photo courtesy of Rob Stanard Photography, Flickr

Downtown city views were the second most popular choice, with numerous suggestions on where to enjoy the best vista, including this standout: “Looking east to the skyline over MacArthur Park from the roof of The American Cement Building.” Another viewpoint, this time on the road: “On the Hollywood Freeway at Alvarado, on the bridge looking toward Downtown at sunset. The way the dimming light hits the cityscape ... beautiful.” And then this lesser-known gem, also seen from a car: “Here's a good one nobody really knows about. Driving west on the First Street Bridge.”

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium | Photo courtesy of southerncal88, Flickr

There were several votes for the view from inside Dodger Stadium, which surely must make owner Magic Johnson and his partners proud. Well, there’s also the fact that the Dodgers are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, which makes the view from Chavez Ravine that much prettier. Dodger Stadium celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012, and it continues to be regarded as one of the country's great ballparks.

Perch

Pershing Square viewed from Perch | Photo courtesy of Paolo Pamintuan, Flickr

While the Standard Downtown is still a favorite view for many, a new contender has emerged since its 2011 opening: “The view from Perch in Downtown L.A. Breathtaking!” The aptly-named Perch offers bistro fare and craft cocktails in a French-inspired rooftop setting. Besides its high-rise view of the city, on any given night Perch features a live Caberet act, a funky jazz trio, indie bands or a late-night DJ. The mood is set with two outdoor fireplaces, various fire pits, as well as lounge and table seating.

Yamashiro Restaurant

View from Yamashiro | Photo courtesy of Stephen Carr, Flickr

Another perennial favorite is Yamashiro Restaurant, located in Hollywood. Spectacular backdrop aside, this Los Angeles mainstay has one of the most stunning environments in the city. The restaurant was built in 1914 as a replica of a palace in the Yamashiro mountains, complete with a pagoda, koi ponds and gardens. Sunsets stretch above the L.A. metro area in an endless sky — hence a designated section called the “Sunset Room.” Couples battle for Table 8, one of the best seats in the house.

Runyon Canyon

Photo courtesy of Jared Schoenemann, Flickr

Of course, the higher you go into L.A.'s hills the better the sights, and that's why Runyon Canyon was another top vote-getter: “View from Runyon Canyon of L.A. and the canyons on the 405 on a sunny day (which is everyday).” As noted in our guide to L.A.’s best hikes, “this is a fun hike highlighted by million-dollar mansions and priceless views of the Hollywood sign, the Sunset Strip and the LA Basin.”

Korean Bell of Friendship

Korean Bell of Friendship | Photo courtesy of Shawn S. Park Flickr

Overlooking the Los Angeles harbor and the Catalina Channel, the Korean Bell of Friendship was given to L.A. in 1976 as a gift from Korea. Intricate reliefs represent spirits and goddesses of liberty, victory and peace, while architectural details impart the colorful nature of Korean culture. Best visited on a clear, sunny day for a picnic and a stroll, the area features pristine views complemented by the yachts and charter boats of the harbor below.

San Fernando Valley

Photo courtesy of dj murdock photos, Flickr

Regarded as one of the world’s great scenic drives, Mulholland Drive winds from the Hollywood Hills, across the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains, and west towards the Pacific Ocean. It also offers spectacular views of the San Fernando Valley, as described by this fan: “If you take Mulholland towards the west, there's a point where you can see the entire Valley, Los Angeles and the Ocean all at once. Brilliance. During massive wind storms I would go up there and watch LA and the valley ignite with transformer black outs with the moon illuminating the ocean.”

The view of the Valley from Mulholland also got some love from fans who couldn’t limit their votes to just one vista. This fan shares a few of her favorite sights and a love for L.A. shared by millions of Angelenos: “The SFV from anywhere on Mulholland, Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles from the eastern edge of Mulholland, looking out onto Los Angeles from [Greystone Mansion] in Beverly Hills and Century City, Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles as you are driving north on La Brea when driving back from LAX -- we sure live in a BEAUTIFUL place!!!!!”