Griffith Observatory is perched on Mt. Hollywood in the hills above Los Angeles. The observatory has been a major Los Angeles landmark since it was built in 1935.
Admission to Griffith Observatory is absolutely free making a trip to the observatory an affordable fun day trip.
The grounds surrounding the observatory have many points of interest including an Egyptian sundial and a memorial to James Dean. On a clear day, you will be treated to a spectacular view of Hollywood and the Los Angeles basin.
Completed in 1935, it has always been a popular location for Hollywood shooting, beginning with the classic Rebel without a Cause starring James Dean.
Dean also shot a Coca-Cola commercial during his early years as an actor on the grounds surrounding this magnificent structure. A bronze bust now pays homage to the highly regarded actor and stands just outside the domed building.
Griffith Observatory History
When the observatory first opened, it was visited by more than 13,000 people in its first five days.
The first exhibit included a Foucault pendulum, a twelve-inch Zeiss refracting telescope, a triple-beam coelostat, and a thirty-eight-foot relief model of the moon’s North Polar Region.
Griffith originally requested that the observatory feature a display of evolution, and this was accomplished with the Cosmotron exhibit with narration from Caltech Professor Chester Stock.
During World War II, the planetarium was used to train pilots in celestial navigation.
The observatory was featured in two major sequences of the celebrated James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause (1955); a bust of Dean was subsequently placed on the west side of the grounds.
Griffith Observatory has also appeared in numerous other movies including Terminator, Transformers, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, The Rocketeer, and Earth Girls Are Easy.
Things to do at the Griffith Park Observatory
Inside the observatory, you will find the planetarium theater, a huge triple-beam solar telescope, and three levels of fascinating hands-on exhibits and displays.
The Griffith Observatory’s Planetarium has a new dome, star projector, laser digital projection system, seats, sound system.
There are eight shows each weekday and ten shows each weekend day. Show tickets may be purchased only at the Observatory, only for that day’s shows.
Before you leave the Observatory be sure to take a picture of the Hollywood sign which sits just behind the Griffith Observatory. The views of Los Angeles are magnificent on a clear day and you can see all the way to Santa Monica.
Nearby Attractions Griffith Park Observatory
Nearby attractions include Hollywood which is just down the hill, Griffith Park which surrounds the observatory and the Los Angeles Zoo.
Since opening its doors in 1966, the Los Angeles Zoo has always had a reputation among zoologists for having an unusually large series of mammals from around the world. The LA Zoo is not quite as big as the San Diego Zoo but well worth checking out while on a day trip to the Griffith Observatory.
With so much to see, do, and experience. Hollywood provides the perfect destination for a Southern California day trip any time of year. Hollywood Boulevard is only a short drive from the Griffith Park Observatory and well worth a look.
Sunset Ranch Hollywood offers riders a choice of a one or two-hour trail rides into Griffith Park. The staff is very friendly and will try to match you up with a horse that matches your personality. If you have never ridden horseback stick to the one hour ride.
Getting To Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith Observatory has a small parking lot that fills up fast on weekends so get there early for prime parking.
If you don’t mind walking you can park along the road and hike up to the observatory. There is no admission charge to enter the Observatory building.
Griffith Observatory is open six days a week. Closed on Monday.
Griffith Observatory 2800 East Observatory Road Los Angeles, CA 90027 General Information Line: 213-473-0800