People silhouetted against a red-orange sunset at the top of Signal Hill.
People gather at the top of Signal Hill to watch the sunset.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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.

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The 6th Street Bridge at sunset, its arches lighted red and white, with L.A.'s skyline in the background.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Sixth Street Viaduct

Downtown L.A. Bridge
The Sixth Street Viaduct, built in 1932, then rebuilt and reopened in July, is probably the most famous bridge in Los Angeles now. It connects the downtown Arts District to Boyle Heights, looks handsome and photographs well at just about all hours. But sunset can be seriously dramatic, especially when it comes to the span’s 10 arches. That design was created by HNTB and Los Angeles architect Michael Maltzan, who call it a “ribbon of light.”

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.
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The Griffith Observatory at sunset
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles County Attraction
Without ever stepping inside the observatory on its perch in the Hollywood Hills, you can see Los Angeles as a tidy, twinkling grid of city lights, an epic view at sunset (or dawn, if you prefer). You can also look west for a classic view of the Hollywood sign. Inside, you can scan distant stars and check your weight on Mars.

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.
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Wide view of ocean under pink clouds, with reflecting pool in foreground.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Palos Verdes Beach & Athletic Club

Palos Verdes Estates Beach club
This club overlooking Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes Estates has a prime bluff-top spot. Though the club is private, day passes to the pool deck (including a Jacuzzi and barbecue area) are often available for $55 per person, subject to capacity restraints.

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”).
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Santa Monica Pier's Ferris wheel at sunset.
(Nick Agro / For The Times)

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Attraction
Sonner or later, if you’re a chaser of sunsets, you’re going to end up on the Santa Monica Pier, because it’s got food and Pacific Park amusement rides and the water below. But first head to this pedestrian area on the sand just south of the pier. It’s next to the bike path, a target-rich setting for people-watching. The old Muscle Beach is close at hand, as are the “traveling rings” where gymnasts like to hang, swing and flex. As the sun sinks and you gaze north, you’ll see the pier, amusement park and beach people all turn to neon stick figures and wiry silhouettes.
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An open-air restaurant atop a skyscraper at dusk.
(Travis Geske / For the Times)

Spire 73, the rooftop restaurant of InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown

Downtown L.A. Restaurant and lounge
From the Spire 73 bar and restaurant, atop the Intercontinental Hotel in DTLA, you can see for miles. The building was completed in 2017. Management claims that Spire 73 is “the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere,” 73 stories above Wilshire Boulevard. It opens at 5 p.m. nightly. And the site is steep in more ways than one. To hang out, the hotel requires a minimum food-and-beverage spend of $60 per person. Most cocktails run $22; most beers, $12. Want a char-grilled filet mignon for dinner? $75. Reservations recommended.
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A sculpture and a tree silhouetted against a glowing sunset.
(Matt Pawlik)

Hilltop Park, Signal Hill

Signal Hill Park
This little park (3.2 acres) looks directly south from Signal Hill across Long Beach to the Pacific, which begins 2.7 miles away. The hill is grassy and perfectly round. It has benches and palm trees, and the surrounding residential neighborhood is peppered with the occasional pump jack — those bobbing metal beasts that pull crude oil up from the earth. You can also see the skyscrapers of DTLA to the north. So this is a coastal, residential, urban, semi-industrial sunset spot.
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Rooftop bar at Hotel Erwin, Venice Beach, Los Angeles.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

High, the rooftop bar of Hotel Erwin

Venice Restaurant and lounge
High is the name of the Hotel Erwin’s rooftop bar. It’s a semi-sleek, semi-casual spot that looks out over the randomness of Venice Beach, from the murals (Venus on roller skates and Jim Morrison, for instance) to the surf.

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.
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Rocky cliffs loom over the beach at Point Dume State Preserve, part of Point Dume State Beach in Malibu.
Point Dume State Preserve is part of Point Dume State Beach in Malibu.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Point Dume Nature Preserve

Malibu Nature preserve
This busy but highly satisfactory network of trails is just above Point Dume State Beach in Malibu. From Cliffside Drive, a walk of a few hundred yards brings you to the point’s highest part, a flat-topped hill with a commanding panorama of ocean, beach and coastal bluffs.

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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