Best Places to Take Pictures in LA
Surf, sun and so much more!
From beautiful beaches and glittering skyscrapers to Hollywood history and natural beauty, the best places to take pictures in LA can be found all over the city. Although the city is known for its glamour, these photo spots can be surprisingly hard for visitors to find in the maze of freeways and traffic that wave in and out. Luckily, we’re sharing all of our secrets to help you get the perfect West Coast shot for your Instagram.
Vast, wild parks and views from hilly vistas show that nature plays an extraordinary role in the landscape of the City of Angels. Uncanny architecture abounds, too. The city’s perpetual sunshine and picturesque “magic hour” before sunset allows both professional photographers and everyday Instagrammers to capture shots in all the best photo spots in LA.
Without further adieu, here are the 10 best places to take pictures in LA.
Griffith Park and Observatory: Hollywood’s Best Angle for your Instagram
For one of the best photo spots in LA, take up space in the massive Griffith Park. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, there are more than 4000 acres of hiking, rugged country and trees that make this park the ideal place for expansive photos that overlook the city sprawl. If you’re looking for a quintessential LA photo, the Mt. Hollywood Trail will give you a view of the Hollywood sign, sunset and palm-tree lined hills. Griffith Observatory itself, a giant orb that sits on top of the hill, is a must-see (and another Instagrammable place in LA). After hiking, visit the observatory to experience a panoramic vantage point of the Los Angeles Basin, Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean.
Historic Core District: Photograph a Piece of History
The densest place in LA, the Historic Core, is full of early 20th century architecture that often serves as a backdrop in famous Hollywood movies. For filmmakers, this is one of the best places to take pictures in LA. One of these famous spots is The Bradbury Building, which is an architectural landmark that welcomes visitors with its wrought-iron lobby under a vaulted skylight ceiling. Film buffs can you recognize this location? Among other movie appearances, the Bradbury Building is most known for its feature in “Blade Runner” and “500 Days of Summer.”
Throughout the district, you’ll also find a number of early cinemas with decadent façades and even more glamorous interiors (make sure to check out the Los Angeles Theatre!). These locations make for some of the best photo spots in LA and they’re also a time capsule to Hollywood in the silent-film era.
End your day by exploring the layer-cake of books at The Last Bookstore, where the visuals are just as important as the reading materials.
West Hollywood: Your Next Selfie is Waiting...
In a city full of bumper-to-bumper traffic, West Hollywood gives commuters views of some of the best photo spots in LA with its display of unique street art. There’s the notorious Pink Wall at the Paul Smith store or there’s the more low-key “Made in LA” wall outside of Cisco Home. New murals and installations pop up all the time, so make sure to keep your eye out for the next “It” piece.
Colorful drag queens, who are a celebrated staple in the city’s infamous Pride and Halloween parades, paint a vivid picture of a neighborhood built on inclusivity, vibrancy and authenticity. When you come to West Hollywood, you can breathe life into your photos as you pass by one of the most diverse communities in LA.
Head to Sunset Strip and snap photos of famed bars, visit the open hotel pools and lobbies that boast epic views of the hills or pop into Alfred Coffee for one of their much-talked about $10 lattes. While you’re on your quest for the best places to photograph in LA, you’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for the many A-list celebrities that call the eccentric area of WeHo home.
Museum Row: InstaArt
Any list of the best photo spots in LA would be incomplete without Museum Row. This area is lined with one museum after the other and it really has something for everyone! Want to check out over 150,000 works of art? Visit the LACMA. Traveling with kids? Visit the La Brea Tar Pits, which has the world’s most renowned Ice Age fossil excavation site. Passionate about cars? Visit the 300,000 square foot exhibition space at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Whether inside or outside the museums, Museum Row provides excellent material to see some of the most Instagrammable places in LA.
One of our personal favorite photo locations in this area is the Levitated Mass Slot at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (aka LACMA). Next to the well-known “Urban Light'' exhibit, the Levitated Mass Slot is an outdoor installation that’s a perfect backdrop for a model. Play with shadows in the midday sun, take in the blue skies and palm-trees in the background and experiment with angles at this one-of-a-kind location.
Echo Park: Views for Days
When looking for the best places to take pictures in LA, make sure to visit Echo Park. Because of its proximity to Downtown LA, Echo Park was one of the first suburban areas of the city. Since then, it’s gone through many changes and recently, it’s become a thriving neighborhood filled with families, young creatives and commuters.
One of the most appealing aspects of Echo Park is its architecture. Accompanied by perfectly symmetrical palm-tree lined streets (we like to call this symmetree), there are countless Victorian-style homes—a real rarity in LA! To see them for yourself, we recommend walking along Carroll Avenue. The historic avenue has been featured in many movies, music videos and TV shows (can you spot Mad Men’s Don Draper’s childhood home?). Grab your camera or your phone and take advantage of being in one of the best photo spots in LA.
Silver Lake: How to Photograph one of LA’s Coolest Neighborhoods
Adjacent to Echo Park, is the equally trendy Silver Lake neighborhood. Known as the “Brooklyn of Los Angeles”, this area is a hipster haven for those who love local, cold-brew coffee shops, innovative cuisine and boutique shops from local designers.
After you visit the bars, restaurants and shops in the neighborhood, make sure to take a walk along the Silver Lake Reservoir, which has a 2.2-mile trail loop around the lake. The lake’s views of the calming water, mountains and locals on their daily jogs makes Silver Lake one of the most Instagrammable places in LA.
Once you finish your loop around the lake, head over to the Micheltorena Stairs. The 177-step staircase is brightly painted with various colors and a large, red heart that attracts professional photographers and Instagrammers alike. They’ve grown in popularity over the years, but these stairs still seem to fly under the tourist radar—making them one of the best photo spots in LA for a less-known, yet coveted, location.
Arts District: Elevate Your Instagame
One of the most Instagrammable places in LA is the Arts District. On the eastern edge of Downtown LA, the Arts District was originally built for factories and warehouses during an industrial era of the city. As more artists and creatives moved to the area in the 1970s, the Arts District quickly transformed into an energetic community of loft-filled apartments, streets with larger-than-life murals and emerging artists on every block.
Because it’s so spread out, it’s hard to capture the entirety of Art Districts in one shot. We recommend droning to get an aerial view of the area—with Downtown LA standing tall in the background, and the lower warehouse buildings of the district on full display. You’re even able to capture the street art from a bird’s eye view!
Venice Beach: The Quintessential LA Backdrop
What’s more LA than surf, sand and boardwalks? Capture all of that and more at one of the best photo spots in LA: Venice Beach. Venice Beach is mostly known for its skateboarding culture, Muscle Beach fitness addicts and popular boardwalk along the waterfront. In more recent years, Venice Beach has become a hub for upscale restaurants that serve farm-to-table food, high-end retail shops and a vibrant nightlife. Its intriguing mix of glamour and grime makes Venice a staple destination for locals and tourists all around the world.
As the sun sets west over the Pacific Ocean, one of the best places to take pictures in LA's Venice Beach is at Hotel Erwin’s elevated High Rooftop Lounge. Grab a drink and soak up the sun as you look out and see the skaters, basketball players, surfers and beach goers below you.
Santa Monica Pier: Light up Your Feed
For more waterfront views, head north of Venice Beach to the Santa Monica Pier. Against bright blue skies, this Pacific Park pier looks like a cheery, child-like carnival scene. There are boardwalk shops, a giant ferris wheel and roller coaster and arcade games—all with the Pacific Ocean waves crashing softly in the distance for a peaceful, yet lively, environment.
To make the most of one of the best photo spots in LA, we highly recommend waiting until sunset to photograph the Santa Monica Pier. The neon lights of the amusement park will turn on and pop against the dreamy, cotton-candy-colored sky. It’s a scene you definitely don’t want to miss!
Malibu: Who Doesn’t Love an Oceanfront View?
Continue your journey to discover more beautiful places in LA along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. As one of the most exclusive areas in LA, Malibu is a favorite among the elite. Private beaches, oceanfront restaurants and mansions hidden throughout the Santa Monica Mountains make this area desirable for many reasons.
As you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, pull over and grab a bite to eat at Malibu Farm. They serve fresh food with a classic LA twist (extra avocado, please!) in a polished beachside setting. You may have to wait for a table and while you do, we recommend taking a walk on the pier. You’ll be able to see the beaches to the south, like Santa Monica and Venice Beach, as well as the expansive west-facing views of the Pacific Ocean. No wonder this breathtaking pier is famous for being one of the best photo spots in LA!
If you are looking for more incredible places to take pictures in LA and all of California, download the Explorest app today. We provide insider resources and tips for capturing your travels around the globe.