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The HOLLYWOOD sign is one of the international symbols of Los Angeles and many visitors want to view it or even visit it "up close". However, regarding the latter, one CANNOT go to the Hollywood sign. It’s mounted on the southern slope of Mt. Lee overlooking Hollywood and it is fenced off from potential visitors. Anyone trespassing on the property around the sign will be accosted by park rangers and escorted off the property.
In addition, it’s impractical to walk up to the sign because it’s so large (each letter is 45 feet / 14 meters tall) that if you stood in front of it, you would barely cover the very bottom portion of just one of the letters. Because the sign is mounted on the SIDE of Mt Lee, the only way that someone could photograph you next to the sign would be if they were in a helicopter some distance away.
Here’s some info about the sign:
The good news is: There are plenty of places at which to view the sign. Below are some of them.
VIEWING SITE #1:
Perhaps the easiest place at which to view the sign is from the rear of the Hollywood & Highland Center Mall. The mall is located in Hollywood on the northwest corner of Hollywood Blvd & Highland Avenue. The best place to view the sign is from the rear patio on the northeast corner of the mall. By foot, the easiest way to enter this patio area is as follows. From the northwest corner of Hollywood Bl & Highland Av, walk north on Highland Avenue to the first left-hand turn. This will be the entrance driveway to the Hollywood & Highland Center parking structure (car park) and will be labeled “Johnny Grant Way”.
Turn left onto Johnny Grant Way and then make an immediate left up the stairs to the patio level above. When you reach the top, look up and over Johnny Grant Way and you’ll see the sign in the distance.
(You cannot see Hollywood sign from the rear of the Hollywood & Highland Center Mall because the big tree obscured the sign. In April 2016)
To reach Hollywood & Highland by public transit, take the red line metro rail to the Hollywood / Highland stop. Ascend 2 levels to the street. Turn left onto the sidewalk (Hollywood Bl). Walk to the corner. Turn left onto Highland Av. Follow the instructions above for viewing the sign.
If you’re not staying near one of the red line stops, there are buses from all over the city that go to Hollywood. Check the ‘trip planner’ on the right side of the METRO.NET website for routes from your hotel (or other starting point) to Hollywood/Highland (<--enter the destination that way with a slash in between the 2 street names).
VIEWING SITE #2:
If you’re staying in the eastern part of Hollywood (near Western Av or Vermont Av) or you’d like a view of both the HOLLYWOOD sign and the Griffith Observatory, go to the Barnsdall Art Park at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. The Park is on Hollywood Bl, just west of Vermont Av.
Nearest public transit:
a. From Beverly Grove and Hollywood, take the Metro Rapid 780 bus to the corner of Hollywood Bl & Vermont Av and walk back to the Park (2 minute walk).
b. From North Hollywood, Universal City, Hollywood, Koreatown and downtown, take the Red Line Metro rail and get off at Sunset Bl & Vermont Av. Walk north on Vermont Av to Hollywood Bl and then west on Hollywood Bl to the Park (10 minute walk)
From Hollywood and Los Feliz, take the DASH Hollywood bus to Hollywood Bl & Vermont Av and walk back to the Park.
The Park is ‘up the hill’ from the Park entrance so you’ll either need to walk up the long driveway or climb the stairs.
VIEWING SITE #3:
Griffith Observatory parking lot -- here's a sample picture and this web site gives a number of other good locations from which to see the sign: click here
Public transit access: This will be a 2-step transfer for most people:
a. Take the red line metro rail to the Vermont/Sunset station.
b. Take the Observatory Shuttle from Vermont Av, just north of Sunset Bl (outside of the red line station) to the Observatory. The Shuttle operates ONLY on Saturday and Sunday, except holidays, between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. It runs every 35 minutes. The fare is 50 cents, 25 cents for seniors and persons with disabilities, and free for small children (4 years and under)
VIEWING SITE #4:
Here's info on a hike to the rear of the Hollywood sign
VIEWING SITE #5:
Mulholland Drive Park (which is where the "Tours of the Stars Homes" buses stop before heading to the homes). There is no public transit access to this site. Here is the address of the park on Google Maps:
VIEWING SITE #6:
For the closest view of the sign (as well as a good view of Hollywood), go to Beachwood Canyon. Since the sign is on the FRONT of a large hill, you can't get REALLY CLOSE to it without being in a helicopter. However, via public transit you can get close enough to get an excellent photo (better than most of your friends).
Here’s what you do: You want to get to the section of Beachwood Drive that is north of Franklin Avenue. By public transit, the bus that will get you the closest is the "Dash Beachwood" bus. If you use central Hollywood (the corner of Hollywood Bl & Highland Av) as the starting point, it's a 2-step transfer:
a. Take the 'red line' metro rail 'toward Union Station" and get off at the Hollywood & Vine Station (you can also take a bus on Hollywood Bl to accomplish this). The fare is $1.75 per ride or you can buy a day pass for unlimited rides on the metro rail and metro buses, for the day.
b. Exit the metro rail station, turn left, walk to the corner, turn left and the bus stop for the DASH Beachwood will be just ahead. Take the DASH which will. eventually, turn onto Beachwood Drive, heading toward the sign. The fare is 50-cents for the Dash and they do not accept the TAP CARDS or DAY PASSES from the metro bus system. You'll need exact money (no change is provided). Get off the bus at the corner of Beachwood Drive and Glen Oak (7 minutes from where you go on the DASH). Walk about a minute further north (in the direction that the bus was going) and you'll see the sign. Here is the view that you'll see: (NOTE: for all of these links, wait for the LARGE PIC to appear on the right side of the page. It can sometimes take up to 30 seconds).
You’ll need to adjust this photo a little, as follows: Click on the car that is in the foreground in the pic and then click on the "+" sign at the top left corner of the pic. (This mapping software will sometimes settle on a particular location that is a little bit away from where it should be but, of course, in reality, you can walk a short distance to improve the shot). The sign should now appear.
With your zoom. you'll get a decent shot. If you want something closer then stay on the bus. (There's no point in walking since the homes, trees and hedges on the nearby foothills will block your view). Take the Dash to the corner of Beachwood Drive and Westshire Drive (another minute on the bus).
The view will be like this: http://tinyurl.com/4g4u9h4
(again, wait for the big pic to appear)
You won’t see the sign here! You are closer to the sign but can't see it due to the hillside that's closest to you. To your left is a little cafe there and a market. Grab a snack, use the restroom/toilet, if need be. The closest point to the sign is just to the west of the intersection of Mulholland Highway and Durand Drive. It's .8 miles (1.28 km) from the point where you are now standing -- all up hill on shady canyon roads.
Here's the route from the bus stop (point "A" on the map) to the viewing spot (point "B" on the map):
You can zoom in on the map using the '+' button at the right side of the map. You can move the map around by clicking-holding-dragging it.
As you can see, you'll continue walking up Beachwood, then turn left onto Ledgewood and continue until you turn left onto Heather, then a right onto Durand. Follow durand until you have to make a left or right turn. Turn left onto Mulholland Hwy. You'll emerge into an open air, free of trees. Walk about 30 seconds and you'll see an unobstructed view of the sign on your right. Be patient and keep walking as the view will improve. Do not step into the street at this point and, if you are driving DO NOT stop your car to take photo. The road will curve back and forth a number of times and you'll reach a point where you'll need to turn left or right. Turn right onto Canyon Lake Drive.
If you're on foot, enjoy the view of the sign. The road will widen there and the taxi -- or you, if you are driving
-- may pull over and/or park there. .
Here is the view of the sign from there (you'll need to zoom in for the best shot):
If you spin around and walk out onto the little peninsula, there, there are views of Hollywood and the reservoir. See the link below: (the mapping program won't step off the road so you can't see the view from the tip of the peninsula, but a peek at the lake is at the right):
There are a couple of advantages to
1. There's a 'keyhole' view of Hollywood below
2. Looking directly down, there's a view of the Hollywood Reservoir aka Lake Hollywood which visitors rarely see.
3.The view of the HOLLYWOOD sign (now, behind you) is close and unobstructed
You'll see plenty of people at this vantage point. The distance from the bus stop to this second location is a little over a mile so the taxi fare should run about $7 including tip. If you're quick about it, you can ask the driver to wait (it's about 50-cents per minute so if you linger for 5 minutes, it will only cost about $2.50). A pretty good deal. For the return trip, the ride to central Hollywood is only about 3.35 miles so that's only another $20 or so or you could re-trace your steps by taking a taxi (or walking) to Beachwood Canyon & Ledgewood and then take the Beachwood DASH to the red line station at Hollywood Blvd & Vine St.
Have fun and enjoy your visit :-)