It’s not just the Pacific light, the palm trees, and the people that make Los Angeles an incredible place to visit. Stretching for more than 500 square miles from the coast to the San Gabriel and Santa Rosa mountains, LA has all the world-class galleries and murals you could want, along with many of the best taco stands, juice bars, and Michelin-starred restaurants in the country.
Given the size of America’s second-biggest city, we’ve concentrated on areas you’ll be most likely to visit. From the Arts District to Downtown L.A., Venice Beach to Malibu, here’s the 15 best photos spots in Los Angeles whether you’re visiting or a local.
1. Downtown L.A.
The parking garage on the corner of 9th and Broadway offers a great view of the downtown skyline from the easily accessible rooftop, and you’ll get to include this epic “Jesus Saves” neon backdrop in your frame.
2. Fashion District
Located on the corner of 8th and Los Angeles in Downtown L.A., this mural by @teddykelly offers a pop of color and fun in the heart of L.A.’s Fashion District. This wall is great for portraits, but its scale is most appreciated if you take the photo from the other side of the street.
3. “Penetrable” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Located on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus, Jesús Rafael Soto’s “Penetrable” — made of suspended plastic hoses you can walk through — is a playground for adults and kids alike. For this shot, hold your camera up as high as you can and shoot at your feet for a unique perspective.
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4. Bronson Caves, Griffith Park
The ‘Batcave’ at Bronson Canyon featured in the original Batman series from the ‘60s, but it’s a actually more of a tunnel for hikers to pass through. Natural sunlight against a dark interior makes for a perfect spot for silhouette photos. For any type of motion shot, make sure your shutter speed is high so the subject isn’t blurry.
5. Echo Park
Echo Park has plenty of great views, but the best has to be from the north end of the park looking towards downtown. Sunrise or sunset, this spot is one of the best for capturing that iconic L.A. skyline.
6. Hancock Park
One of the most quintessentially ‘L.A.’ photos I can think of is of the Hollywood sign framed by palm trees. You can get that shot from the Hancock Park neighborhood on Windsor Blvd between 4th and 6th. You’ll need a zoom lens for this; smartphone cameras just won’t do the view justice.
7. The Ace Gallery
Across from the El Rey Theatre, the Ace Gallery on Wilshire Boulevard is one of the hidden gems of Mid-City L.A.. It’s free and open to the public. My favorite piece by Swiss artist John M. Armleder is this wall of neon pink circles. For this shot all you’ll need is your camera and a friend. It also helps if they’re super flexible.
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8. El Matador Beach
A few miles north of Malibu, El Matador Beach has some of the most interesting rock formations on the California coast. My favorite spot is the cool arrowhead-shaped arch right by the water. It creates a brilliant natural frame for portraits. The best time of day is golden hour. You’ll get a beautiful glow in your photos.
9. “Urban Light” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” at LACMA — the largest art museum in the western United States — is one of the most photographed locations in Los Angeles. Made up of 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps, to get a unique shot of the installation I suggest going in the morning. If you can catch it after a rainstorm, you can add a beautiful reflective glow to your photo and capture something magical and similar to what you see in the image below.
10. Hollywood Bowl Overlook
The Hollywood Bowl Overlook offers one of the coolest views in all of L.A. You can see most of Hollywood and downtown in the distance. To get beautiful light trails on the Hollywood Freeway, bring a tripod and set you camera to a long exposure. That’ll give you those smooth, gorgeous streams of light.
11. Venice Beach
On your way to Venice Beach you’ll be greeted by the “Venice” sign strung across Windward Ave. This is a fun spot to play with different compositions, so get creative. I like to play with the idea of emphasizing the word “nice” in the frame.
12. Arts District
The back lot of The Springs vegan restaurant in the Arts District is home to @themostfamousartist’s polka dot mural. These dots make a perfect backdrop for a fun and colorful photo. There are a few dots that are missing; use those blank spaces to make an interesting portrait.
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13. Weller Court, Little Tokyo
Weller Court shopping mall’s light tunnel has become an Instagram favorite for Angelinos. Constantly changing stripes of light create a flowing and dynamic space for photos. Something about this tunnel feels futuristic and otherworldly, as if gravity doesn’t exist. I suggest taking a shot of someone mid-jump to make them look like they’re levitating.
14. Angel City Brewery
Angel City Brewery, located in the Arts District, not only has some of the best beers in town; it’s an incredibly cool space. The exterior is covered with murals and street art. You can find this bleeding heart at the corner of the building on Alameda St. and Traction Ave.
15. Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is perhaps the most iconic place to go in Los Angeles. It’s also a perfect playground for photography. Head under the pier just before sunset, and take advantage of the long evening shadows and gorgeous light this part of the world is known for.