Best Places to Watch Planes Landing at LAX

Los Angeles International Airport is the second busiest airport in the United States and one of the largest in the world.  In 2016 it handled over 80 million passengers.  With the airport averaging one plane taking off or landing every 55 seconds, you don’t have to wait long to catch a view of a jumbo jet flying overhead.  So grab your cameras and let’s get out plane spotting!

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Here are the best places to watch planes landing at LAX.

The IN-N-OUT BURGER on 92 and Sepulveda.

Jumbo Jet overhead seen from 92nd and Sepulveda

This one is my favorite for several reasons.  For one, you can eat lunch while you watch the planes come in on the outdoor patio tables.  If a customer, you can park in the lot.  If not, there is free street parking on Sepulveda and on 92nd.

If you walk just a bit south, there is a little park area and this places you directly underneath the landing path.  You get to see the belly of the planes very up-close and personal from approach, to directly overhead, to touching down.

Sepulveda and La Tijera

This is a lesser known spot.  As you are traveling southwest on La Tijera approaching Sepulveda where the road curves there is a row of medical buildings and just beyond that are parking lots for a shopping center.  Anywhere along here you will see planes landing.  By the medical buildings they are coming in just over the roofs of the houses.  Further down in the shopping center parking lot you have a more unobstructed view.

airplane landing
Plane coming in for landing over the homes along La Tijera

And if you are looking for a cheap home, I’m sure the property owners of the homes under this flight path will let them go cheap!

Clutter’s Park

This is a narrow park between Imperial Highway and Imperial Ave.  It is located at Imperial Ave at Sheldon Street.  You can get from Imperial Highway to Imperial Ave on either Main St or California St.  There is also a long strip of grassy area for a dog park to the east of it.

Whereas at IN-N-OUT BURGER you see the planes landing, from Clutter’s Park you see them right as they depart the runway during takeoff at very steep ascents.  There is parking along Imperial Ave.

By the way, I’m shooting the still photos of the planes with my Nikon D750 with a 24 – 120 VR Nikkor lens.  The D750 has been the best camera I’ve owned.  It’s a real workhorse and it has a 24 megapixel full frame sensor for sharp, clear photos with great depth of field.  While it will also shoot video, I use a Sony video camera.  I also have a Nikon D810, also a full frame workhorse, but with a 36 megapixel sensor.  I just don’t feel DSLRs handle shooting video as well as actual video cameras.

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach is just a bit south of one of the prime runways at LAX.  Depending on how far north you walk along the beach you can see the planes almost directly overhead as they take off over the Pacific.  Dockweiler is also the only beach in LA County where you can make a bonfire (in designated fire pits) or camp in your RV.  It’s located right where the Imperial Highway meets the ocean at 12501 Vista Del Mar in Playa Del Rey  Parking in the lot runs around $13.00

Vista Del Mar Park

This is another of my favorite spots to watch planes.  From Dockweiler, head north along the coast on Vista Del Mar about a mile and you will come to a little postage stamp sized park called Vista Del Mar Park.  It sits directly under some of the main runways and you also have the view of the planes taking off over Dockweiler Beach just to the south of it.

There is a small children’s playground, some picnic tables and a portable restroom.  Parking is on Vista Del Mar and it is free.  You will also know you are nearing the park when you start seeing parked cars.  Prior to it the street is no parking.

Theme Building at LAX

I’ve heard that you can still go to the observation deck in the Theme Building at LAX, but I highly recommend you confirm that before going.  

Also, you can see the planes flying overhead from any of the rental car parking lots along Airport Blvd, but unless you are picking up or returning a car, I wouldn’t recommend this as a place for plane spotting.

airplane takeoff
Airplane seen taking off from Vista Del Mar Park

Background Music: Groovy Day, Orange Free Sounds, Alexander Blu, Creative Commons Attribution License

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One Comment

  • Wally Riggs

    The Encounter Restaurant, (Theme Building looks like a spider) right in the middle of LAX also has great views of the runways, and planes taking off and landing.

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