Los Angeles City Hall is one of my favorite places.
Especially the 27th floor.
New York might have a world-known observation deck on the 86th floor of Empire State Building, and it costs between $26 to $32 to get in. But right in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, LA City Hall has a free observation deck with panoramic views of the city’s downtown area. Yes – it’s not nearly as high as other places, but it’s LA’s own unique gem.
When entering City Hall, use the entrance on Main Street (201 N Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012) and expect to go through airport-like security. You’ll have to place your belongings on a conveyor belt and go through a metal detector before retrieving your things on the other side. Then you’ll go to a desk behind the checkpoint to get a visitor’s badge. You’ll need to bring photo identification with you, such as a driver’s license or passport, to get a badge.
Afterward, you’ll take two separate elevators to reach the 27th floor: the first will take you to the 22nd floor, and the next will take you to the 26th floor. On the 26th floor, you’ll find yourself in a space called the Mayor Tom Bradley Room (he was the 38th mayor of Los Angeles). From there, you’ll have to take a flight of stairs (you’ll see two – one to the right and one to the left – take either flight) to get the 27th floor.
(There are also instructions posted on the desk that explain how to get to the observation deck and whoever is at the desk can answer any questions you might have about getting around.)
Some of the sights you’ll be able to see from the top include Grand Park, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building, and the LA Police Department building.
It’s not just the observation deck that Los Angeles City Hall has to offer, though.
After taking in the view from up top, it’s also worth stopping by the third floor, where you can admire the rotunda, and the fourth floor, where you can browse through black and white photos of Los Angeles from decades ago. (The photographs are hung along the hallways where offices of LA City Councilmembers are located.)
Notes about visiting:
- LA City Hall is open from Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, and those are the hours visitors can come in to see the observation deck and third & fourth floors
- Public transit options:
- LA Metro Red line – get off at Civic Center/Grand Park. You’ll have to walk three blocks to get to the Main Street entrance. I recommend walking through Grand Park to make the walk more pleasant.
- LA Metro Buses – there are many bus stops within walking distance of City Hall. Depending on where you’re coming from, taking the bus may be an option and eliminates the need to search for parking that comes with driving. Check www.metro.net for more info.
- Finding parking in Downtown LA is always an adventure. Nearby lots are always paid. Some within a few blocks distance include the structure at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Los Angeles Mall, a lot across the courthouse on Hill Street (it’ll be between 1st and Temple and on the right side if you’re heading north). I typically like to park in a lot close to Little Tokyo and walk from there. If you’re up for walking about a mile, you can find also free parking on Beaudry Avenue between 1st and Temple Street across the Edward Roybal Learning Center. Just be sure to read street signs for any restrictions or street cleaning days.
LA City Hall is one of my favorite places to view Los Angeles. If you’re interested in other places to see LA’s skyline, check out 4 views of Los Angeles no one ever talks about.