It goes without saying that taking photographs is a huge part of any trip – whether it’s to send to family and friends back home, to preserve the memories of your experiences, or simply as quality content for the ’gram. In this series, we spotlight the best places to get your shots in cities around the world – from vibrant street murals and fabled heritage buildings to panoramic lookouts and stunning interiors.
Los Angeles County, with its windswept beaches, fabled entertainment industry and host of award-winning arts and cultural venues, is teeming with attractive sights. But once you’ve ticked off the requisite tourist shots at the Hollywood Sign, Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Bowl and Griffith Observatory, consider dropping by one of these equally eye-catching, under-the-radar destinations to capture something a little different.
1. Bloom by Hueman
Street art is a huge part of Angeleno culture, and you’ll find hundreds of colourful murals scattered throughout the city’s many neighbourhoods. Tourists often make a beeline for the stretch along Melrose Avenue – which includes the famed shocking-pink wall at the Paul Smith boutique – but we suggest heading to the Arts District instead. Outside the Neptune Building you’ll find Bloom by the artist Allison Torneros (who goes by the moniker Hueman). The colourful spray-painted mural, set against a light-blue backdrop, depicts a single hand cradling a bouquet of flowers, and manages to be simultaneously edgy and romantic. The mural was designed as a tribute to the late Joel Bloom, known as the unofficial mayor of the Arts District for his extensive community activism.
2. Nossa Familia Coffee
If you’re knackered from sightseeing and need to rest your legs and grab an iced latte to combat the sweltering weather, we suggest heading to Nossa Familia Coffee in Downtown LA to enjoy an ambience that you won’t get at any other coffee spot in the city. While the coffee bar itself isn’t anything to write home about – effectively a counter where you can place an order and peruse a small selection of sweet treats – it’s situated in the lobby of the beautiful Art Deco CalEdison building. The grand and gorgeous space has 9m-high ceilings, contains over 17 different types of marble and features a Hugo Ballin mural above the elevators. Take a seat in one of the plush chairs to enjoy your beverage, then take a gander around and snap a few pictures of the truly impressive interior.
3. Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer
The late Chris Burden’s Urban Light at LACMA – the now-ubiquitous exhibit consisting of rows of restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s – may be the most visited public art sculpture in Southern California, but the museum also boasts another eye-catching outdoor installation. Just a three-minute walk away on the Resnick North Lawn, you’ll find Levitated Mass, created by land artist Michael Heizer and erected in 2012. The seemingly gravity-defying work consists of a 340-ton granite boulder mounted across a 140m trench and bolted into the inner walls with the help of two shelves. Pedestrians can walk through the trench and directly under the boulder, where you can snap that perfect shot. There’s no need to rush, though – Heizer has stated that he hopes the artwork will persist for 3,500 years.
4. Temescal Canyon Park
Runyon Canyon Park – with its relatively easy trails, high chance of spotting celebrities and views of the Hollywood Sign – is arguably the most popular hike for visitors. But if you’re looking for a less crowded but equally picturesque alternative, consider heading to Temescal Canyon Park. Located off Sunset Boulevard on the city’s west side, the 4.7km loop offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles sprawl as well as plenty of greenery along the way and even a small waterfall. The relatively narrow trail can get quite steep in certain sections and isn’t exactly the most relaxed stroll, so be sure to wear a good pair of sneakers or hiking shoes, slap on dollops of sunscreen and bring a bottle of water – along with your camera to take lots of pictures along the way.
5. Point Dume State Beach
No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a jaunt – or a few – to one of the area’s famed beaches. Los Angeles County boasts 110km of shoreline lovingly lapped at by the Pacific Ocean waves. And while you really can’t go wrong with hitting up the nearest beach from your hotel, we recommend taking a drive out to Malibu to visit Point Dume State Beach. The promontory contains rocky coves, tide pools, bluffs, cliffs covered in vegetation and a long crescent-shaped stretch of white-sand beach, offering plenty of varied landscapes for optimal picture-taking. You’re likely to spot a few surfers carving the waves and a couple of rock climbers scaling the cliffs, and if you’re there between December to April, there’s a chance you’ll catch a glimpse of California grey whales during their migration period.
6. Bradbury Building
Arguably one of the most impressive structures in the city, the Bradbury Building in Downtown LA is a must-visit if you’re an architecture buff. The fabled structure was originally constructed in 1893 as an office building and has appeared in movies such as Blade Runner (1982), 500 Days of Summer (2009) and The Artist (2011). It was most recently sold to an anonymous Hong Kong investor in 2003 on the condition that the building’s legacy and character would be preserved. Designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, the striking interior features a central, sunlight-flooded atrium, geometric-patterned staircases, cast-iron filigree balustrades and open-cage elevators. Admission is free, though visitors are only allowed into the lobby and on the first stair landing. As a bonus, California darling Blue Bottle Coffee has an equally Instagram-worthy outpost in the same building, complete with an entire wall of books, a partnership with the city’s Library Foundation.
7. The Huntington Botanical Gardens
A visit to this spot in San Marino will allow you to flood your Instagram feed with images of lush, rare and unique plants from around the world. The gardens are part of The Huntington – an educational and research institution that also includes an art museum and library. Sixteen themed gardens, which are centred on different countries, topographies and plant species, are spread out across 48 hectares. The Rose Garden contains more than 3,000 plants and 1,200 different varieties of the flower and is particularly worth a visit during the spring blooming season; the tranquil Japanese garden features a graceful moon bridge, Zen garden, bonsai collection and ceremonial teahouse; and the Jungle Garden includes tropical plants such as orchids, palms, ferns and bromeliads grown under a high forest canopy.
*For more information on whether the locations are open, please check their individual websites.