Stunning sunsets are synonymous with Los Angeles. With miles of picturesque coastlines and expansive landscapes, there’s no shortage of places to watch the sun go down in the most breathtaking fashion. Mashable agreed in 2016, naming L.A. the city with the most Instagrammable sunsets in the world, according to a study of 2.5 million Instagrams conducted by Modernize.
L.A.-based photographer Melissa Turner shares her favorite spots to capture Los Angeles in all of its Golden Hour glory. From picture perfect El Matador State Beach to the hills above Griffith Park, read on for the top 10 places to photograph a sunset in Los Angeles.
Ascot Hills Park is located just east of Downtown L.A. This location is such a hidden gem that there were only a few people there on a gorgeous evening. You can enter the park via Gateside Drive located off of Multnomah Street. Parking is available in the lot on the right hand side. From this lot, walk north onto the hiking trail. After 0.1 miles make a slight right at the fork in the trail and take this up 0.2 miles to the top of the ridge where the trail comes to a “T”. Make a right, then follow the path along the ridge until you reach the top of the hill. This location offers a great view of the Downtown skyline with gorgeous tall grass in the foreground.
Head to El Matador State Beach for dazzling views of the California coastline. Located between Leo Carillo State Beach and Point Dume State Beach in Malibu, this stretch of sand is a popular destination for all levels of photographers. While you’re there, check out one of the several sea caves and unique rock formations and as the sun starts to set, revel in the multi-hued cotton candy clouds. Paid parking is available in the lot above the bluffs or limited free parking is available just north of the beach along Pacific Coast Highway.
Located atop Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has been a popular Los Angeles landmark since its opening in 1935. It offers unobstructed views of Downtown L.A., the Pacific Ocean and the word-famous Hollywood Sign. No matter the time of year, the sunset from the Griffith Observatory is always gorgeous and can be captured via the park's many vantage points.
The Hermosa Beach Pier offers sweeping views of the beach and the ocean. This beach is also more level around the pier, so you can capture beautiful sunset reflections in the receding waves. Hermosa Beach also offers plenty of parking in a garage just north of the pier. There are several great restaurants and bars to enjoy after your photo session.
Located at the end of Manhattan Beach Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, this location is quite popular with both surfers and photographers. At the end of the pier, the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab & Aquarium makes for a nice feature to contrast against a colorful sunset. Photographing sunsets here provides several different perspectives and even without a beautiful cloudy sunset, the pier and sky are always picturesque.
In 2014, a 70-foot wooden boat washed ashore on the north end of Dockweiler State Beach during a strong storm. The boat has now become an “eyesore” for the locals that live here, but thanks to the graffiti artists and the lack of ability to move the vessel, it's become a great subject for photographers. With the ever-changing nature of street art, each time you visit this location, the boat will be different. To capture this unique scene, you can park in the pay lot located at the intersection of 62nd Avenue and Pacific Avenue. Once here, walk south along the beach and you’ll see it on your right hand side.
If you want unobstructed views of the sunset in any direction, then this is the spot for you! Point Dume State Beach is a bluff-lined point in Malibu that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. This spot offers stellar views of the bluffs and to the northwest you can capture shots of Zuma Beach. From many vantage points, you can capture planes flying by, dolphins playing offshore or surfers catching some evening waves. Parking is available for this area off Cliffside Drive.
This is one of my most frequented photo spots for a true Southern California sunset. The Santa Monica Pier, located at the end of the historic Route 66 in Santa Monica, actually consists of two adjoining piers: one built in 1909 and the other in 1916. The second pier is home to the famous Pacific Park, which houses the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel. The colorful silhouette of the 85-foot Ferris wheel as the sun sets is truly a sight to see and can be captured anywhere along the sand.
Located near Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, this park offers a stunning panoramic view of the Point Vicente Lighthouse and the rocky shoreline. When the sun starts setting, you can capture a breathtaking mix of yellow, violet and orange hues. Free parking is provided in the lot located off Palos Verdes Drive South.
This hidden gem is barely known outside of San Pedro circles. White Point (aka Royal Palms Beach) is located just off West Paseo Del Mar under the bluffs of White Point Park. You can either park on West Paseo Del Mar for free and walk down the Kay Fiorentino Drive ramp, or you can pay to park at the bottom of the ramp. Once parked, walk south of the parking lot along the beachside to capture the best angles. This beach has many tidal pools with lots of urchins, starfish and other ocean critters to photograph. During low tide the rocky beach and pools offer great reflections and foreground during sunset.