One of my favorite places and views in all of Los Angeles is that of the Griffith Observatory. Not only is it one of the best observatories in the United States but it is completely free, surrounded by hiking trails and it even allows the visitor to see through one of the smaller telescopes during select nights, giving you a glimpse of the stars normally only seen in photographs. A remarkable place to have a picnic or to begin a new love for astronomy.
The land on which Griffith Observatory sits was once a part of a Spanish settlement known as Rancho Los Felis. The Spanish Governor of California bequeathed it to Corporal Vincente Felis in the 1770s. The land stayed in the Felis family for over a century, being subdivided through generations, until Griffith, a wealthy mining speculator, purchased what remained of the rancho in 1882. On December 16, 1896, he donated 3,015 acres of Rancho Los Felis to the City of Los Angeles in order to create a public park in his name. On December 12, 1912, he offered the City of Los Angeles $100,000 for an observatory to be built on the top of Mount Hollywood to be fully owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles. The dedication and formal opening of Griffith Observatory took place amid much fanfare on May 14, 1935. On that day, the Griffith Trust transferred ownership of the building to the City of Los Angeles.
Getting There and Parking
Just like anything in LA, getting here can be a long haul, depending on how close you are to Hollywood. We came from down by Amoeba and it took us around 25 minutes to go the four miles to the top of hill. From the 5 Freeway I imagine it is a lot easier to get to, just like the old la zoo. Parking can also be difficult, depending on what time you go. As one of LA’s biggest attractions it will fill up the small lot very fast as the day winds to a close. It is not uncommon to have a mile walk to get to the observatory if you go during a busy time so be prepared and bring your walking shoes.
Like I said before admission is completely free to the observatory. There are some shows that you have to pay for, but just to walk through the museum area you do not have to pay anything. The musuem itself houses a lot of really cool exhibits as well so being able to go for free is a huge plus.
Some of my favorite things are the swinging pendulum that shows the earths rotation, the live view of the sun and the periodic table with the actual elements inside of it.
But that is just the tip of the iceberg as there is a lot more to do, and there is even a layout of the underground area of the observatory.
When you are done with that you can walk along the outer parts of the observatory to get a view of the la skyline, or even climb up on the roof for a unique view of the Hollywood sign or the LA skyline. On clear days you can see for miles up here and it is great place to just relax and wonder at the views.
One of the smaller telescopes on the top of the observatory is open to the public to look through on certain nights of the week, check their site for when. It is a amazing experience and depending on what it is pointed at can give you an amazing view of the space above us. It is a great thing to take the kids to so make sure you come during one of the viewing times.
The observatory really does show you that there is more to LA then the celebrities and the glamour. Los Angeles also provides easy access to the more important stars that don’t fade as easily with age (see what I did there). It is one of my favorite spots to relax and spend some time and I recommend you check it out yourself to help create a full view of what Los Angeles has to offer. If you are outside of the country consider visiting California by booking a flight to LA. If you already live here then get directions and check out the rest of the pictures below.