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Best Nighttime Sights While LACMA's Urban Light Is Half Dark


The plan was that on May 1, Urban Light, the installation of 202 restored cast-iron street lamps outside LACMA, would go dark for two months for restoration. Then, much to the relief of Instagrammers everywhere, the museum announced that the sculpture that launched a thousand selfies would only go half dark — they'd work on repainting and repairing half the lights while the others remained illuminated. Selfie crisis averted, but still, keep in mind that there are lots of other #lit options for nighttime and twilight shots. Here's a luminous list.

The view of DTLA from Vista Hermosa Park
Vista Hermosa is wedged right between downtown and Echo Park in Historic Filipinotown. Because it’s fairly tucked away, it doesn’t get much tourist traffic and the views of downtown are perfect. There’s a wide open grass space where you can hang out with the neighborhood pups, and you can sit on the picturesque bench and watch the sunset and the buildings downtown start to light up. It's Create Your Own Light Installation 101. 

The light-up bunnies that are supposedly coming to L.A. in June
This is not a drill. There really are LIGHT-UP BUNNIES coming to L.A. in June. They will be 20 feet tall, lit from the inside and, according to We Like LA, “While bunnies are a cute and inviting subject, they are used specifically to call back to the introduction of rabbits to Australia by settlers in 1788, an introduction that has been an ecological nightmare for the country.” So these are bunnies with deep meaning. They can replace Urban Light in your heart from June 5-11, and you can find them at Bank of America Plaza (333 S. Hope St.), Wells Fargo Center (330 S. Hope St.) and Figat7th (735 S. Figueroa St.).

The Circus Liquor sign
If you've never seen the truly timeless scene in Clueless where Cher gets robbed in the parking lot of Circus Liquor in the Valley, you should really watch it right now. If you go to gaze at the sign at night, you can plan an entire Valley day beforehand that involves popping into the local Shakey’s and parking anywhere you want.

The "Generators of the Cylinder” installation in DTLA
If you’re missing illuminated works of art by notable artists, Michael Hayden’s light-up installation is hanging in the pedestrian walkway on Hill Street, outside the L.A. International Jewelry Store downtown (550 Hill St.).  Hayden is known for creating “Sky’s the Limit,” the light tunnel at O’Hare Airport, which is one of the best experiences you can have on a moving walkway between airport terminals. The 270-foot-long installation in L.A. uses holography, in that the movement of the lights can change based on a pedestrian’s movements. Think: a mood ring come to life — only better.

The Scientology building
I understand this suggestion might come off as controversial, but it’s also a straight-up tourist landmark. After Going Clear came out, every friend who came to visit wanted to drive by the main Scientology campus. Much like Urban Light, the sign is a landmark by day and an illuminated spectacle by night, and both probably have appeared in L.A. B-roll on every major news network. 

(Obvious but) the view from Griffith Park Observatory at sunset/night
Telling an Angeleno to go to Griffith Observatory in the summer is roughly the same as telling a New Yorker to check out the tree at Rockefeller Center at Christmas. Nonetheless, it’s a classic spot for a reason, and we have the benefit of having space and weather that New York doesn’t, so while the tourist mobs suck, at least we have the space to fit the tourists and the residents in semi-perfect harmony.

The Chinese Theatre
Visiting the Chinese Theatre at night kind of makes me feel like I’m on Legends of the Hidden Temple, which was frankly an important aspiration in my life. It costs a small fortune to see a movie there (to put it in perspective, I think it’d be cheaper to get nosebleed seats at a Dodgers game), but just walking around the theater makes you feel as if you’re in a different world, just as standing in the middle of Urban Light feels slightly transporting. It lights up at night, and if it doesn’t satisfy your craving for light in the face of Urban Light’s darkness, there’s always the rest of Hollywood Boulevard to slap you in the face with light.

The Good Luck bar sign
The interior of Good Luck Bar can be recognized from its appearance in Hail, Caesar!, but the exterior is a classic (and not-quite-PC) landmark in Loz Feliz. While it isn’t what you’d call an “art installation,” it is certainly an alternative light-up sight that makes for a share-worthy pic. 

The light sculpture at The Vermont in Koreatown
This piece is called "Los Angeles Opens Its Heart of Compassion," and it's a suspended light-up sculpture in Koreatown at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. The 3-D art is part of the Vermont building in Koreatown, and it’s huge: 75 feet by 45 feet. The piece centers around a lotus blossom, which, according to Design East of La Brea, artist Cliff Garten chose because “it is a traditional symbol in Korean art and he wanted to integrate the unique history of Koreatown while also addressing the contemporary identity of the neighborhood.” So if you’re wondering what to Instagram this summer, it might be time to head to K-town.