8 places in L.A. to catch the sunset before it gets dark absurdly early
Earlier and earlier comes the darkness as we hurtle through fall toward year’s end. There’s no stopping this, so you might as well enjoy the light while you can.
This week, before diving into your evening plans, take a moment to watch the sunset.
Once the seasonal time change takes effect Sunday, Nov. 6, sunsets will jump to before 5 p.m., then edge even earlier. For the first half of December, we’ll have the earliest sunsets of the calendar year, between 4:43 and 4:45 p.m.
This troubles many people, prompting persistent arguments about daylight saving time. But it also gives you a good reason to start taking a late lunch (well, a very late lunch). If you time it right on a weekday afternoon, you can race to the rooftop bar at the Hotel Erwin in Venice, order a beer, cocktail or snack at discounted happy-hour rates, and have that refreshment in hand when the sun vanishes.
Then, of course, you can start every Californian’s favorite argument — the one about the green flash.
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Anyway, here are eight of my favorite sunset-viewing spots in Los Angeles County.
And as a bonus, I should also mention the Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck has reopened. It’s on the 27th floor of L.A. City Hall, open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and free, with open-air views in every direction. To get up there, start at 201 N. Main St. Bring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test.
Sixth Street Viaduct
When you get there, just be sure to follow traffic laws when you’re there, whether walking, cycling or driving. Things got pretty crazy those first few weeks.
Since 1935, Angelenos have embraced Griffith Observatory as “the hood ornament of Los Angeles,” in the words of observatory director E.C. Krupp. It’s the architectural star of 4,210-acre Griffith Park, with three green copper domes and a bust of James Dean, who sulked here in the 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause.” Parking is tough, so you might want to hike up from the Greek Theatre or Fern Dell or see about Dash shuttle bus service.
For even bigger views, hike from the observatory to the Tom LaBonge Panorama atop Mt. Hollywood, a roughly 2.6-mile journey (round trip) with 360-degree views of the Hollywood Hills and San Fernando Valley.
Palos Verdes Beach & Athletic Club
For similar views with no admission fee (and no pool), try the adjacent Roessler Gazebo. Or explore the Malaga Cove Trail, which begins from the same parking lot at Paseo Del Mar and Via Arroyo. From the north end of the lot, you can make your way down the slope, past the rocky shoreline to the patch of sand that locals call RAT Beach (the acronym stands for “right after Torrance”).
Santa Monica Pier
Spire 73, the rooftop restaurant of InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown
Hilltop Park, Signal Hill
High, the rooftop bar of Hotel Erwin
At happy hour (3 p.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday), there are $7 beers and $10 cocktails.
You may or may not be bowled over by the subtlety of the establishment’s slogan — It’s Good to Be High. Either way, the breeze off the ocean is nice.
Point Dume Nature Preserve
I can picture some nasty foot traffic in the hour before a summer sunset, especially on weekends. But in the fall, the crowds are fewer.
You get a wide view of Santa Monica Bay from the point’s high ground or the 200-yard boardwalk near the top of the hill. As a plaque notes, Point Dume got its name from English explorer George Vancouver, who sailed by in 1793 and attempted to name it for Francisco Dumetz, a Franciscan priest at the Ventura mission; he apparently left off the “tz.”
Besides savoring the view from up top, hikers usually can take a side trail down to some tide pools. Northwest of the high point, follow the main trail to a rocky promontory that looks down on Pirate’s Cove Beach and a jumble of black rocks and tide pools. To your right, the broad, sandy expanse of Point Dume State Beach reaches northwest and blends into Zuma Beach.
To start at the beach, take Malibu’s Westward Beach Road to Birdview Avenue, then park at Point Dume State Beach. To start atop the bluffs, head for the 29200 block of West Cliffside Drive, where there are 10 two-hour parking spots. If they’re full, continue to Grasswood Avenue, turn left and look for street parking once it’s legal.
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