The Los Angeles Skyline and Where to See it

Downtown Los Angeles skyline at sunset with snowcapped Mt Baldy and San Gabriel Mountains behind

 chrisp0/Getty Images

This guide will help you find out where to see the LA skyline and after you look all of the vista points, you can decide for yourself what the best view of Los Angeles skyline is.

You may notice that lots of buildings on the LA skyline look like they got a flat-top haircut from the same 1950s barber. That's because of the 1974 fire code which required every building to have an emergency helicopter landing pad on its roof. That requirement was dropped in 2014, and now LA is losing its flat-topped look. 

And that's happening fast. To see how much vertical development is on the way, check this map from Curbed. It tracks the tallest buildings planned and under construction right now, including a structure described as a “giant urban tree” and a crazy condo building with swimming pools jutting out of its sides.

Notable Buildings in the Downtown LA Skyline

The tallest building on the LA skyline is the Wilshire Grand Center. It's easy to recognize as one of the two tallest buildings in the skyline, the one with a distinctive spire on top. In fact, that spire is the only thing that makes it taller than the US Bank Tower.

The US Bank Tower is tall, but it's also the only one with a rounded structure at the top which crowns a 73-story skyscraper with light-colored cladding and green glass. 

The Aon Center is also one of the tallest buildings downtown at 62 stories. It's not much to look at, a nondescript vertical shaft clad with dark gray glass and white frame. The word “Aon” at the top makes it easy to identify.

City Hall isn't nearly as tall as newer buildings downtown, but In 1928, it took an exception to LA’s building height regulations to create the 454-foot tall building with a pyramid-shaped top. Don't be surprised if it looks familiar; it has appeared in more films than many B-list actors.

The Westin Bonaventure is also distinctive, with its mirrored, cylindrical towers. You can only see it from the south side of downtown.

If you want to identify more of the tall buildings or enjoy statistics and knowing how things stack up against each other, try this list of tallest buildings in Los Angeles.

Below you'll find some of the best places in town to get a look at the skyline.

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Mulholland Drive Overlook

Downtown LA Skyline from Mulholland Drive
©2008 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

The view from the Mulholland Drive overlook takes in much of the city, including Hollywood. The cylindrical-shaped building in the foreground is Capitol Records, built to look like — if you're old enough to remember them — a stack of old LPs. The freeway is US Hwy 101, which passes through Hollywood on its way to downtown Los Angeles.

From this overlook, you can also see down into the Hollywood Bowl — and on a clear day, a whole lot more of the Los Angeles Basin. To find the overlook on a map, look for the spot where Highland Avenue crosses US 101. Mulholland starts its climb up into the Hollywood Hills above Los Angeles nearby.

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West Hollywood Rooftops

Cityscape of the Los Angeles skyline at dusk, Los Angeles, California, United States of America, North America
Chris Hepburn / Getty Images

This picture of the Los Angeles skyline was taken at twilight from the roof deck at the Andaz West Hollywood. The rooftop swimming pool at the Andaz is one you'd love even if it didn't have this view.

Other hotels in West Hollywood, especially along the Sunset Strip will have similar views from their pool area or bar.  The Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel often makes lists of best views and best rooftop bars in LA.

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Griffith Observatory

Downtown Los Angeles and the Griffith Obesrvatory
Wes Tennyson/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

The views of downtown LA from the Griffith Observatory are iconic, in part because it's one of the closest places to downtown with an unobstructed view and easily accessible to the public.

You'll have to climb a nearby hiking trail to get the observatory in the foreground, but you can see all of downtown from its balcony. While you're there, don't forget that the exhibits inside the building are as interesting as what you can see outside. They're all in the Griffith Observatory visitor guide.

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Echo Park Lake

Downtown at sunset, seen from Lake Echo Park
P. Eoche / Getty Images

This is one of the most surprising views of the Los Angeles skyline to many visitors. The city has such a reputation for congestion and overbuilding, but you can get a view of the skyline with a tree-lined lake in the foreground. 

Echo Park Lake is about two miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The lake was originally built in the 1860s as a drinking water reservoir. Nowadays, it's in a city park at 751 Echo Park Avenue.

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Vista Hermosa Natural Park

Downtown LA from VIsta Hermosa Park
BManiago/Getty Images

 This 10-acre park at 100 N Toluca Street has walking trails, streams, meadows, oak savannahs, picnic grounds, and a nature-themed playground but the views of downtown LA are its best characteristic.

And that bench! Who could resist taking a photo or two of it. It resembles the one you may have seen in the 2009 movie 500 Days of Summer, but that one is actually in a different park which closed.

You can park on Toluca Street and walk to the top of the park’s hill to get the view.

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