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Los Angeles: the name conjures the image of huge studio lots, hillsides dotted with chaparral, and the endless blue of both the sky and its thousands of swimming pools. It’s also famous for something else: traffic. L.A. is so huge that it’s tough to see much by car unless you have days to spend sightseeing—and infinite patience for sitting in gridlock on the 405. Ditch the rental car and take to the skies instead on an L.A. helicopter tour.
Where do L.A. Helicopter Rides Depart from?
L.A. offers helicopter flights departing from four different airports. Hawthorne Municipal Airport is close to LAX, just south of Ingleside. If your hotel is further south, check out tours departing from Long Beach Airport, or if you’re a bit east, Fullerton Municipal Airport is just outside of Anaheim. To the north of the city is Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.
Fly from Hawthorne
L.A.’s Hawthorne Airport is one of the city’s more convenient starting points. This airport offers just about everything: tours of 15, 30, or 40 minutes as well as longer helicopter tours lasting an hour or an hour and 45 minutes. Generally, tours from this airport are taken on a Robinson R44 Raven ll Helicopter. The flying machine features a large glass cockpit and accommodates up to three passengers.
What Do You See When You Depart from Hawthorne?
Helicopter flights departing from Hawthorne take you over L.A.’s most famous coastal communities. Longer flights offer the chance to see Hollywood and the skyscrapers of the downtown core, like the Wiltshire Grand Center, the U.S. Bank Tower, and the Aon Center.
The Beach Cities
Start in the south at Redondo Beach and see Redondo Pier stretching far out into the Pacific—you might recognize it as a primary filming location for The O.C.—and King Harbor Marina with its hundreds of white boats bobbing in the blue.
Head north to soar over Hermosa Beach, a paradise for surfing, sunning, beach volleyball, and paddle boarding. It’s the southernmost part of the Strand, a paved path for runners and roller-bladers that runs twenty miles along the coast from the Beach Cities to Santa Monica. From Hermosa, continue north along the coast to the white sands of Manhattan Beach.
If you’re on a 15-minute flight, it’s time to head back to the airport. Otherwise, your next stop is Venice Beach: its Ocean Front Walk is a mecca for artists, musicians, and street performers of all stripes.
Santa Monica Pier
On a 30-minute flight, your tour continues up the coastline to Santa Monica Pier. Have your camera at the ready as you fly over the iconic Ferris wheel, the yellow roller coaster, and the original 1920s-era carousel hippodrome of Pacific Park. At night, the solar-paneled Ferris wheel and the entire amusement park comes alive with bursts of colored light. Farther down the pier, on the west end, anglers try their luck in the deep ocean waters.
Hollywood & Beverly Hills
A 40-minute flight takes you to Hollywood. See the lavish mansions of Beverly Hills and pass over the Hollywood Sign. From there, nose your way among the big buildings of downtown L.A. Seven of California’s ten tallest buildings are here, including the Wilshire Grand Center with its sail-shaped roof and the glass-crowned U.S. Bank Tower. Your helicopter ride concludes back at Hawthorne Airport. What would take hours of driving to see can be done in a fraction of the time on a helicopter tour.
Long Beach & Palos Verdes
An hour-long helicopter flight from Hawthorne begins at Long Beach, from where you fly past Vincent Thomas Bridge and over Palos Verdes Peninsula. Palos Verdes is an exclusive area with miles of horse trails and luxury homes. See Point Fermin Lighthouse and Point Vicente Lighthouse at the north and south sides of the peninsula. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a pod of gray whales migrating to Baja California. You also pass over the scattered wreckage of the SS Dominator, accidentally run aground in 1961, before the flight path curves up to the Beach Cities.
On the all-stops-pulled, totally comprehensive hour and 45-minute flight, you also cruise up to Malibu Beach to see the rugged coastline of Dune Cove, Paradise Cove, and Zuma Beach. Spot the winding Pacific Highway as it heads into the city before continuing on to Hollywood and the rest of your tour.
Fly from Long Beach Airport
Long Beach Airport offers three southern L.A. helicopter tours at 15, 30, and 45 minutes in length. They’re offered during the day with some sunset flights available that follow a slightly different flight path.
What Do You See When You Depart from Long Beach?
A helicopter tour from Long Beach Airport is the ultimate way to see the coast of southern L.A. Get a bird’s-eye view of downtown Long Beach, San Pedro, Port of L.A., and Port of Long Beach. Longer tours also include Palos Verdes and the Beach Cities.
The Queen Mary
Soaring over the port of Long Beach, you can’t miss the smokestacks of this British luxury liner. She’s longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall at 1,018 feet. Constructed in 1936, the Queen Mary provided transatlantic passenger service from Southampton, England to New York City for decades. After going into service for World War II, she became the transport of choice for both Hollywood stars and British royalty. She’s now permanently moored in Long Beach.
The USS Iowa
Adjoining the Port of Long Beach is the Port of Los Angeles, where you see another famous ship: the USS Iowa. This WWII-era battleship boasts President Franklin D. Roosevelt as its most celebrated passenger and was instrumental in the Pacific Front during the war. After a long career, she was decommissioned in 1990 and has been open to the public as a museum since 2012. From the air, you can spot her massive antiaircraft guns and helicopter landing pad.
L.A. Harbor and Vincent Thomas Bridge
Linking San Pedro and Terminal Island is Vincent Thomas Bridge, the only suspension bridge in the L.A. area. During the day you can see its emerald green towers; on a sunset tour, the bridge is lit up with blue LEDs.
Marina Del Rey
A 30-minute Long Beach helicopter tour includes Marina Del Rey, L.A.’s hub for everything related to boating. See the endless rows of vessels—more than 5,000 dock here—of the largest man-made small-craft harbor in North America, then swoop north over Palos Verdes to the Beach Cities.
Pilot Lesson Experience
What if your L.A. dream is to get behind the controls of a chopper yourself? Take an introductory lesson at Long Beach Airport and you can make it a reality! Your experience begins with a briefing on how to fly a helicopter, followed by a session in a flight simulator. Once you’re feeling confident, it’s time to get out on the helipad and take your seat at the helm of a Robinson R22. An experienced pilot is beside you all the while as you maneuver the controls and soar over the sights of L.A.
Fly from Fullerton Airport
Los Angeles helicopter tours departing from Fullerton Municipal Airport let you see both the downtown and Hollywood without idling for hours in L.A.’s notorious traffic. Flights are 30 minutes long and available during the day. Enjoy the sights from the comfort of a Robinson R-44 helicopter with 280-degree viewing windows.
Your helicopter tour takes you over Central L.A. and Hollywood. See all the landmarks of downtown L.A. like Elysian Park, home of Dodger Stadium; USC, the Staples Center, Union Station, and Echo Park.
Don’t miss the chance to snap a photo of the L.A. skyline juxtaposed against the rolling peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north. In the winter, you may well see them covered in snow—despite the temperature still being in the upper sixties in the city!
Fly from Burbank Airport
Helicopter tours from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank range from quick 15-minute flights to luxury 1.5-hour tours. Some flights offer the exclusive chance to land during your flight—depending on your tour, either on a downtown skyscraper or atop a mountain with incredible views.
What Do You See When You Depart from Burbank?
A Bob Hope Airport helicopter tour gives you unparalleled views of the northern L.A. metro area: Hollywood, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, and more!
The Hollywood Sign
If you’re short on time, opt for the 15-minute private tour of Hollywood and the iconic Hollywood Sign. This tour is the closest you can get to L.A.’s most famous landmark. Fly over Universal Studios and the Hollywood Bowl, hearing juicy secrets of moviemaking history, and travel down the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Sunset Strip. Get your camera ready, because it’s time to head to the 45-foot-high white letters of the Hollywood Sign. Each one is 45 feet tall!
Longer tours let you land your helicopter on a building downtown. Step from the chopper onto the rooftop and feel like Hollywood royalty. As the blades slow to a stop and you start to hear the sounds of the city below, use this first-class photo opportunity to capture unparalleled views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the L.A. skyline. See the whole city stretching out before you as you toast to your successful flight with a glass of Champagne: the perfect combination of adventure and romance.
Mountain Landing & Picnic
Celebrate a special occasion with an L.A. helicopter ride featuring a mountain landing and picnic. Get an aerial tour of Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and the Pacific Palisades before swinging over the celebrity mansions of Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Touch down on a plateau overlooking Malibu Beach for a picnic and champagne with your loved one.
Experience the Magic on an L.A. Helicopter Ride
The City of Angels is a city of extremes. It’s a place where buildings ranging from art deco to ultra-modern lie nestled between mountains and sea, where snowy peaks rise from desert wastelands. A Los Angeles helicopter ride offers an unforgettable glimpse of it all.