Griffith Observatory is the most majestic and quintessential historic astronomical observatory that I've ever visited
Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Open: 12-10pm Tuesday – Friday / 10am-10pm Weekends / Closed Mondays
Planetarium Shows: $7 adult / Seniors & Students $5 / 5-12 $3 / <5 free / available only at ticket booth inside
1. Amazing Views Some of the most iconic views of Los Angeles are either from or of the Griffith Observatory, located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood. Not only can you see clear across the city sprawl, but on the right day, you can also catch a glimpses of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Turn in the other direction for an incredible vantage point of The Hollywood Sign—always a crowd-pleasing photo op.
2. The Right Price Admission to the Observatory and its grounds is free. That can equal a few hours of fun, all gratis. Tickets to one of the excellent shows at the Planetarium will only set you back $7 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $5 for kids aged 5-12. That's a fraction of movie theater prices, with the bonus of being educational.
3. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium Every show is presented by a live storyteller, and visitors get to see the famous Zeiss star projector in action. There are a few shows currently being offered with themes ranging from the Northern Lights to the search for water on other planets. Tickets are required and can only be purchased at the Observatory on the day of viewing. Also worth noting is that children 5 and under are only admitted during the first showings of the day. Check online for the schedule.
4. Interactive Exhibits The Observatory has truly fascinating (and beautiful) displays showcasing a wide variety of our astrological progress. There is an excellent display about the sun, with videos of sun flares and an exhibit on how tides, eclipses, and moon phases work. Also check out the Tesla Coil, a cool camera obscura of surrounding Griffith Park, various pieces of planetary asteroids that kids can actually touch, a giant display of our universe, and much more.
5. Artwork and Photography Beautiful murals by artist Hugo Ballin depicting the intersection of science and mythology greet visitors upon entering (and don't forget to look up to see his ceiling mural). Even the Foucault Pendulum in the central rotunda is a stunner. A true, and possibly overlooked, highlight is the collection of astronaut images located to the left of the entrance. The photo of Buzz Aldrin on the moon is so isceral you can practically feel the moon dust.
6. Hiking in Griffith Park Feeling active? Try starting the adventure by hiking up to the facility via the east or west observatory trail originating on Fern Dell—or use the Observatory as a starting point to explore a number of paths throughout LA's largest city park.
7. Star Parties What kid doesn't want to go to a star party? One Saturday per month, Griffith Observatory hosts a free public telescope and star party from 2pm-9:45pm. It's a super fun chance for the whole family to check out the stars and planets through free astronomer-led telescope demonstrations. Check the star party schedule for more info.
8. Astrological Events Come by to view special astrological events such as the summer solstice, meteor showers, lunar and solar eclipses, the blood moon, and more. Most often, these events are led by seasoned astronomers who can explain what everyone's witnessing.
9. Cafe at the End of the Universe The adorable and tasty cafe, run by Wolfgang Puck with a nod to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is a great place to grab a gourmet snack for the family. The best part may be the gorgeous views from the outside patio. If you'd rather keep it on the cheap, pack a picnic and sprawl out on the front lawn to appreciate the architecture.
10. The Gift Shop Gift shops are known for being overpriced ways to sell coffee mugs with logos on them. That may be your thing, and you'll likely find that here. What you will also find are some super-cool astrology related items sure to please almost anyone. The real winners are the adorable astronaut costumes for wee ones.
The Observatory itself is free to visit and offered some of the best views I’ve had of Downtown LA, Hollywood, the Hollywood Sign, and the rest of the surrounding area. We could see all the way west to Santa Monica and the ocean and as far south as Redondo Beach! There were several galleries on two floors offering information about the telescopes used to look into space, the history of astronomy, actual meteorites, information about each planet in our solar system, and videos and photos of our galaxy, sun, stars, and planets. Each exhibit was well done and very informative. The place was full of families and people of all ages and the kids there were especially excited to push buttons and look through telescopes. Various terraces offer exceptional views, including the roof, where you can have a peek inside of the dome housing the Zeiss telescope.
There are numerous ways to get to the Griffith Observatory. There is parking on site for $4/hr, but beware, as it is limited and easily gets full on weekends, holidays, and due to school or tour buses. You can also take a DASH bus, taxi/Uber/Lyft, or (as mentioned in #6) you can hike up to the Observatory from a few routes.Bring quarters for the viewing telescopes set up along the outdoor facilities. There is no shade in the outdoor areas, so be sure to pack hats and sunscreen.Allow plenty of time to stay and explore all the fun!
Fun Facts :
It all started when Griffith J. Griffith first gave his park to the city of Los Angeles in 1896 until he left the city in 1919 to built the observatory until it's competition in May 14th, 1935. It's used for many space scientists to examine the stars and planets on how they actively did within outer space as of today. Since then, the observatory officially restored and reopened to the public on 11/3/2006 after it's restoration back in 2002. The Griffith Observatory often used in many movies and TV shows for the past decades like "The Terminator," "Dick Tracy Returns," "The Rocketeer," "La La Land," "The Cosmic Man," "The Wonder Years," "Moonlight," "Remington Steele" etc.