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Free observation deck of Los Angeles – how to get to Universal City Overlook and what you need to know

Free observation deck of Los Angeles – how to get to Universal City Overlook and what you need to know 

If you are going to travel around the West Coast of the United States and are choosing what to see in Los Angeles by car, we suggest taking a drive on the famous Mulholland Drive and stopping at the Universal City Overlook. Along with the most famous observation deck near the Griffith Observatory, the Universal City Overlook is considered a great place to view Los Angeles from above. It is also located in the famous Hollywood Hills, but its main advantages are that there are no big crowds of tourists and that you don’t have to walk up to it, unlike the viewpoints in Runyon Canyon Park, which are located right above Hollywood.

How to get to Universal City Overlook

The Hollywood Bowl Overlook is located in the southeastern part of the Hollywood Hills (part of the Santa Monica Mountains) on the famous Mulholland Drive at 7036 Mulholland Dr (point on map), very close to Runyon Canyon Park.

You can get to Universal City Overlook on your own (as we did), or come with an organized tour of Hollywood on a tour bus (link) or in a luxury sports car (link).

Getting to the Hollywood Bowl Overlook by car, as we did, turned out to be very easy. Turn off Cahuenga Boulevard onto Mulholland Drive and drive about one mile west. There you will see a small free parking lot located on the left side of the road. Read about how we rented a car at LAX airport here.

Interesting facts about Universal City Overlook

  • Interestingly enough this observation deck got its name not because of the view of Universal Studios town, but because it was built with Universal Studios money in one of the most prestigious areas of Los Angeles for the 1984 Summer Olympics along with another observation deck Hollywood Bowl Overlook, located a little to the east and closer to Hollywood Boulevard.
  • The Hollywood Bowl Overlook in the evening is a good place to hear your favorite band perform outdoors absolutely free, especially if you didn’t get tickets to a concert at the Bowl. In the summer, the Los Angeles Philharmonic holds music nights there, and the world’s top opera and popular music stars also perform. Arrive as early as possible to Mulholland Drive, as parking there is not much and the road is narrow and winding, so it is not very walkable.
  • On the way to the Universal observation deck are many very expensive mansions, where movie stars and celebrities live. There are even special bus tours that take tourists past their homes. We stopped several times ourselves as we drove down Mulholland Drive on our trip to Los Angeles, marveling at the scale of some of the Hollywood Hills hillside estates and the size of the pools built there.
  • The observation deck has several information boards with historical references about Los Angeles and has paid telescopes, which you can use to see small details in the distance (have quarters ready to pay). However, you can do this with your camera or even a cell phone with a camera. So telescopes today are seen more as a relic of the past and child’s play than a real necessity.

View from Universal City Overlook

Universal City Overlook turned out to be quite a quiet place, from where it was nice to watch L.A. life while looking at the familiar streets and wide highways. We had a grand panorama in front of us, and no one interrupted us to gaze quietly at the city in the absence of hustle and bustle. When the sunlight peeked through the clouds, it was interesting to see how the city changed in different lights.

By the way, from Universal City Overlook is a great view of an exact replica of Hogwarts, built in the Harry Potter World theme park on the Universal Studios campus. But you can’t see the Hollywood sign from there, because you can’t see it from there.

Unfortunately, you also can’t see the ocean and the coastal areas of Santa Monica and Venice from here. Just like Twin Peaks, San Francisco’s most popular observation deck, the Hollywood Hills offers a great view of downtown San Francisco. Only not from the Universal City Overlook, but from the next observation deck, the Hollywood Bowl Overlook.

Here you can clearly see how close the hotels are to Universal Studios. If you go to Los Angeles mainly for the movies, this is where you should look for your Los Angeles hotel.

What else you should know about Universal City Overlook

  • Admission to the Hollywood Bowl Overlook is only available from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., and it is completely free to all visitors.
  • There can be parking problems during the day, especially in good weather in the summer, like at Yosemite Park or the observation decks in San Francisco.
  • The observation deck has a great view of Los Angeles, with a good view of downtown and the Downtown area. But the beaches of Los Angeles, such as Venice Beach and Santa Monica, are virtually invisible.
  • If there are no parking spaces available, you can wait in line for a while, trying not to break traffic laws.
  • And if you don’t have a car, keep in mind that almost all tours from Hollywood Boulevard (such as A Day in LA Tours) make sure to stop at the Hollywood Bowl Overlook Viewpoint.
  • The best views of Los Angeles are from the viewpoint on a clear day, when there is a light breeze from the ocean and no smog over the city. We weren’t so lucky, and there were clouds in the mountains from the morning and over the city was overcast, almost like in Istanbul. But when we arrived at the overlook, the clouds miraculously parted, making it possible to see the streets of Los Angeles.
  • By the way, some connoisseurs of extraordinary beauty prefer to come here after dark to admire the panoramic view of the city at night, to feel like characters from the movie La La Land.
  • If you’re in Los Angeles for the holidays, especially on Independence Day or New Year’s Eve, we recommend stopping by Universal City Overlook in the evening to watch the fireworks being launched over the city. But not too late, because after 9 p.m. the entrance to the observation deck will be closed.

That concludes the story of one of the best viewpoints in Los Angeles. Interesting travels and bright impressions, dear readers!

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