When I first got to the LA area, I wasn’t focused on seeing the Hollywood sign, but I knew I would eventually see it. There are many places in the city where it can be spotted, depending on how close of a view you’d like. When I went to the Griffith Observatory on my first day in town, I saw it briefly during sunset, and then you can’t see it after the sun goes down.
My second glimpse was from the LACMA elevator, which happens to be pretty far away. You can tell it’s the sign, but it’s not super clear. I also discovered brief moments on the 110 North where you can spot it between making sure you’re not going to hit someone in traffic. Then I thought I had discovered THE place to see it.
I was an athlete when I was a child, and my sport allowed me to meet a lot of people. One of my childhood acquaintances lives in West Hollywood and she invited me over to catch up and meet her friends. After an evening out, I crashed on her couch. The next morning, I decided since I was already in the area that I would make it my mission to find the sign up close.
There really was no plan or direction other than using my GPS. However I remembered seeing a YouTube video about how the residents who live near the sign actually got the GPS maps to redirect people to different places because they hate the traffic in their neighborhood. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m sorry, but if you choose to live near a famous landmark, and yes that is a choice you made by buying/renting a place there, you should expect tourism to become part of your daily surroundings.
Anyway, I gave up on the GPS and actually used my actual vision to find the sign. It did require driving up and down a few streets, but I found myself on N. Beachwood Dr. As you continue to drive uphill, you can clearly see you’re getting closer. I decided I was hungry, and found the Beachwood Cafe on a quaint corner in the middle of a neighborhood.
It’s like something you see in a CW teen show about a small town. Once you enter the bright blue door, you’ll find a few tables, a linoleum floor of yellow and blue triangle pattern that stand out among orange and green, oddly patterned wall paper. There are giant wooden support beams that also run along the stark white ceiling. The cash register is at the end of a white marble countertop where you can dine or purchase baked goods or merchandise. Above it all two signs read: Good Food, Good Mood. I agree completely.
I was able to choose my own table, and I opted for the middle of the room so I could get the full ambiance. The first thing the waitress did was bring a menu and water, which came in a a glass bottle with a screw-on lid. It was a cute touch and helped the server from having to come by to refill my glass all the time. I did end up ordering another beverage, the fresh grapefruit juice. It arrived in a stainless steel cup with the cafe’s logo, name, and location printed on it. I liked it so much, I bought one.
I will let you know, that had I known it isn’t like a Yeti in the fact that it does sweat with cold liquids in it, I would not have bought it. But now it has become a staple of my breakfast at home since it is the perfect size for juice. However, I have to use a coaster every time.
For my meal I ordered the Nichols Scramble, which was scrambled eggs, bacon, cheddar, spinach, and onion. It also comes with a side of homestyle potatoes. It was $13, but the price was justified when I only managed to finish half of it. When there’s enough food to take home and get another meal out of it, that’s always a solid deal to me.
Later as I was paying, I noticed the Market area by the door. It’s above the coffee bar and where they sell merchandise, like t-shirts, bags, and more. Past that was another room of tables in case you couldn’t find seating in the main dining area. Upon leaving, I scoped out the Hollywood sign and thought that if I actually went back down the road, I might have a better view because I was starting to have obstructed views due to houses.
So I put the leftovers in my car and walked back a few blocks down N Beachwood Dr. I did find some sidewalk graffiti which was pretty innocent, but also a nice view of the sign. After about 10-15 minutes of walking and looking, I decided to head back to my car and really start my day.
Then it hit me. Or rather my wallet. Literally in the time it took me to put my leftovers in my car and walk 10 minutes down the road, I got a parking ticket. Apparently I parked where a sign said I couldn’t be between certain hours in a residential neighborhood, and I missed the mark by 10 minutes. So within having lived in the area for less than two weeks, I managed to acquire a legitimate LA parking ticket at the cost of $68. I kept it as a reminder and keepsake.
At that point I was over it and didn’t need to find a closer view of the Hollywood sign. But at least I managed to find a cafe where I will be taking guests prior to visiting the sign.
That was all my first experience seeing the sign close, and eating at that cafe. However, I’ve gone back a few times to find the best ways possible to view the sign closer to take a better photo (if you read my “About” section of my blog, I’m catching up to previous adventures so some of my posts may seem oddly timed or have combined experiences).
I went back and found the legitimate gate entrance from the YouTube video, which puts you right underneath the sign for great photos. I didn’t actually find it alone, but rather my friend Greg, who was visiting, showed me. I’ve used this method twice since then, when other friends came into town. So in case you do decide to go on your own, this is also how I would go about seeing the Hollywood sign with the best view.
Park somewhere free relatively close to N. Beachwood Dr. or actually on it (but somewhere you won’t get a ticket like me). Then get a Lyft because near the actual entrance to the sign, there is nowhere to park. And even if you could find a place to park, you’d be worried about how narrow the roads are near the sign.
You’re trying to get to the corner or Rockcliff Dr. and Derhonda Dr. I’ll leave it up to you to look up or pin places near that intersection on your own GPS/map because I don’t want to give out random strangers’ home addresses. Once you arrive, you’ll notice there is a security person standing near a closed street. You can walk past him/her and go up the hill toward the sign. On your way, you’ll pass a guy who sells $1 bottled water out of his home, which is pretty smart because it can get warm up there.
You’ll come up to a white, closed gate. Look for the teal colored door. It is closed, but it’s unlocked during most daytime hours. When you go through it, follow the path to the right. You don’t have to climb the rocks to get up the hill, but rather follow the paved path. You’ll come to a dirt landing, and you can’t miss the sign because it’s right in front of you.
When you’re there, you’ll notice there is a dirt path to the right of the sign that looks really steep (you can’t see it in the picture). It will take you to the back of the Hollywood sign for a different perspective. I am not sure yet if there are other ways to get to the back of the sign, but I assume so because that path looks like people have slid down it before. I did not try to take it because I was in sandals and because I honestly have no desire. Maybe on another adventure.
There’s also an update you on the Beachwood Cafe. It’s still just as great. I got an avocado BLT with fries, and for dessert, a lemon bar in a jar. They were both picture worthy as you can see below. My friend Emily joined me that time, and she ordered the veggie burger, which also was a large portion and looked delicious. And with that, I’ll end this entry on something that brings joy to almost everyone, food.