The Hollywood Hills sit in the center of Los Angeles along the southern-facing slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains. The area is one of the most luxurious, beloved parts of the city, known around the world for its iconic Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory.
People love living in the Hollywood Hills because it feels less urban, more like a verdant, wooded sanctuary even though it’s part of the second-largest city in the United States. The area is home to jet setters, entertainers, entertainment executives, bankers, lawyers and folks who’ve done well for themselves across a spectrum of professions.
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The Hollywood Hills area of Los Angeles is packed with luxury homes and mansions. Stunning canyon and city views are the norm for properties up here. The steep slopes have never deterred home builders over the years; many houses are built on stilts.
Decks jut out over the terrain, enhancing the panoramic vistas and creating space for entertaining guests. During the day, you can catch views all the way to the ocean. At night, residents enjoy sprawling city lights that extend across the L.A. Basin, forming a bright star field below (and, of course, folks enjoy the real stars above).
Well-maintained yards, many with earth-friendly landscaping, blend in with the surrounding hillsides. Prior to development in the 1920s, the natural flora consisted of scrub brush. Today, tall trees, planted over the course of decades, give the hills a natural feel.
Narrow, winding residential streets are the norm; it’s hard to imagine how harrowing it was to drive a 1970s-era Cadillac through the neighborhood. While you’ll most likely be fully engaged with the task of driving – a death grip on your steering wheel and staring intently at the road – passengers can catch glimpses of the expansive views and stunning multi-million dollar homes.
The history of subdivision development in the hills starts in earnest in the 1920s during the rise of Hollywood (at the time displacing New York as the primary filmmaking hub in the United States). The influx of entertainers and their handlers, many of whom clearly had fat bank accounts and architectural tastes to match, led to a construction boom of luxury homes. The eclectic mix of houses came all architectural flavors, from Storybook to Colonial Revival styles (e.g. Spanish). Mediterranean, French Normandy, Tudor Revival homes were also popular in the early 20th Century. At the base of the hills (and throughout Hollywood), Bungalows were also common.
In the postwar period, architectural trends shifted to Mid-Century Modern, Contemporary, and California Modern styles. The Hollywood Hills is still home to several Case Study Houses. There is one Geodesic Dome “Triponent House” designed by Bernard Judge (1962) and a few castles, too. Yes, you read that correctly. Castles!
Due to the sloping terrain and smaller lot sizes, few homes have pools in the Hollywood Hills. But diligent and patient home buyers can find homes that have them. Tennis courts are rare. Some houses have solar panels, but fewer than one would expect for such a progressive area.
Hollywood Hills Subdivisions
There are two major areas of the Hollywood Hills, Hollywood Hills West and Hollywood Hills East. The division between them is marked by the 101 Freeway (a.k.a. Cahuenga Pass). The main east/west areas are further reduced into their component subdivisions, forming a patchwork of enclaves, each with their own charms.
Hollywood Hills West
Between “The 101” Freeway and Beverly Hills and from Mulholland Drive to Sunset Boulevard sits Hollywood Hills West.
The first subdivisions off the freeway, heading west, are Hollywood Heights and Outpost Estates which abut each other. Both tracts were developed during the housing boom in the 1920s. In fact, Outpost Estates once had a real estate billboard promoting the neighborhood just like nearby Hollywoodland. Take a walk through either district and you’ll spot homes designed by notable architects like Frank Lloyd Wright (Samuel Freeman House). Angelinos love to visit the area and spend an evening at Yamashiro Historic District or Magic Castle.
Adjacent Nichols Canyon narrowly slices its way into the Santa Monica Mountains. There is a natural spring-fed creek and manmade waterfalls, giving the area an additional touch of nature as it was before L.A. became a bustling metropolis.
One hop over the hills to the west lies Laurel Canyon, home and muse to many famous artist and musicians over the years, especially in the freewheeling 1960s and 70s. The neighborhood vibe still fuels creative impulses. Laurel Canyon Boulevard cuts into the canyon and serves as a main thoroughfare between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Traffic can get heavy during commute hours and the road is subject to closures after heavy rainstorms when debris from the hillside block. But living here is worth it; side roads branch off into the Hollywood Hills, leading to stunning homes with killer city and canyon views.
Next stop: The Bird Streets. This is one of the most coveted neighborhoods in Los Angeles. One cannot escape the pleasant street names like Oriole Way, Skylark Lane, and Blue Jay Way. Home prices here (even tear-downs) are as elevated as you’ll feel taking in the sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin below. Both are breathtaking. Stunning architectural homes dot the hillsides, each suitable for the likely A-List celebrities who inhabit them.
Just below the Bird Streets is the iconic Sunset Strip with its hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. One could say it is the Times Square of the West Coast, flush with billboards promoting the latest trends in fashion, film, television and music. And, anytime Apple releases a new product or updated version of an existing product, they’ll take out the biggest sign available.
Hollywood Hills East
Between “The 101” Freeway and Griffith Park and from Mulholland Drive to Downtown Hollywood sits Hollywood Hills East.
Dipping off the freeway eastbound, the first neighborhood you’ll find is Hollywood Dell, a housing tract with plenty of shade trees lining the streets. The enclave rests in a gully between Lake Hollywood Reservoir and Franklin Avenue. The combination of trees and low-lying terrain makes it cooler here; temperatures are usually a few degrees lower than the surrounding environs.
Heading up the dell, past the Lake Hollywood Reservoir, you’ll find Lake Hollywood Estates, an enclave perched in a bowl within the surrounding foothills. This small tract has a woodsy feel. There are trees everywhere. The hills encasing the neighborhood reduce urban light pollution which helps make nighttime stars brighter. Living here, one could almost imagine they were dwelling in a mountain community.
Across the ridgeline sits Hollywoodland (1923), one of the original Hollywood Hills housing developments. Its hillside luxury homes sit in the area known as Upper Beachwood Canyon. In fact, the original wood Hollywood Sign was erected at the very peak (Mt. Lee) as a real estate advertisement for the tract. It first spelled out H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D-L-A-N-D and was trimmed with lights to be seen from afar. Later, the bulbs were removed and last four letters dropped. Today it is made of durable steel and maintained by a trust.
Plenty of homes can also be found just below Hollywoodland. Just follow Beachwood Drive down the hill toward Franklin Avenue. This area is known as in Lower Beachwood Canyon.
Nearby Bronson Canyon follows Canyon Drive north from Franklin Avenue and terminates at a Griffith Park entrance and trailhead. There is a parking lot near park trail access point as well as a playground and picnic area. There are plenty of shade trees, making it a great spot to hang out and rehydrate after a grueling hike.
Parks & Recreation
Griffith Park occupies 4,310 acres of the Hollywood Hills and contains 53 miles of trails shared by hikers and equestrians alike. The park draws 3M visitors a year who take in the stars at Griffith Observatory, attend concerts at the Greek Theatre, learn about animals at the L.A. Zoo, or bat around golf balls at one of its three golf courses.
If you want to take Fido out to stretch his legs, check out Lake Hollywood Park, a dog-friendly green space perfect for chilling out with pets. Kids can also burn off some extra energy at the children’s playground. Two water fountains come in handy for both people and their pets on hot days.
Nearby Lake Hollywood Reservoir is perfect for walking, biking or jogging. A tree-lined, paved path surrounds the entire reservoir. The loop is 3.5-miles. The views of Mt. Lee and the Hollywood Sign are some of the best in the city.
Jerome C. Daniel Overlook sits above the 101 Freeway. The view of Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles from the overlook is instantly recognizable; this is where many broadly published photographs of Los Angeles are taken.
The Hollywood Bowl is one of the most beloved venues for concerts and events in Los Angeles. There’s something special about outdoor amphitheaters combined with top notch entertainment. The atmosphere is laid back and convivial; people always seem to be in good spirits here. What’s more, it’s one of the only venues in town that allows you to bring your own food and wine. Folks show up early with their picnic baskets to unwind before the show begins.
Toward the western side of Hollywood Hills, you’ll find Runyon Canyon Park. This dog-friendly park has short but steep trails. Each trail takes about 30-45 minutes each. Hikers are rewarded with killer views. At the base, grassy open spaces are available for doggy playtime, picnics and outdoor yoga classes.
Hollywood Hills REALTORS®
Thinking of buying or selling a home the Hollywood Hills? Our real estate agents are neighborhood experts who can help negotiate the quickest home sale possible. We can provide up-to-the-minute Hollywood Hills real estate data: average home prices; house sales history; and information about broader housing market trends so that you can make the best home buying or selling decision possible. What’s more, all our agents are trusted professionals who work full-time – you’ll be working with a dedicated expert whose only aim is to help you reach your goals.
The Hollywood Hills sports one of the lowest population densities and highest incomes in the City of Los Angeles.
- Population: 39,500
- Area: 11.92 square miles
- Population Density: 3,313 people per square mile (Very Low)
- Zip Codes: 90046, 90068, 90069
Public schools near the Hollywood Hills are operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and are located at the base of the hills, technically within the borders of Hollywood and West Hollywood.
- Cheremoya Avenue Elementary – public, 6017 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, 90028
- Valley View Elementary – public school, 921 Woodrow Wilson Dr., Los Angeles, 90068
- The Oaks School (K-6) – private elementary school, 6817 Franklin Avenue, Los Angeles, 90028
- Gardner Street Elementary – public, 7450 Hawthorn Ave., Los Angeles, 90046
- Wonderland Avenue Elementary – public, 8510 Wonderland Ave., Los Angeles, 90046
- Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIHO) Day School (K-6) – private, 7300 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90046
Middle and High Schools
- Immaculate Heart – catholic private high school and middle school, 5515 Franklin Avenue, Los Angeles, 90028
- Magnolia Science Academy – public high school (charter), 1530 North Wilton Pl., Hollywood, 90028
- Hollywood Senior High School – public, 1521 North Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 90028
- West Hollywood College Preparatory School (K-12) – private, 1317 North Crescent Heights Boulevard, West Hollywood, 90046