The Griffith Observatory is perched on top of Mount Hollywood in the hills above Los Angeles. The observatory has been a popular California landmark since it was built in 1935.
The grounds surrounding the observatory feature many points of interest including an Egyptian sundial and a memorial to James Dean. On a clear day, visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of the Los Angeles basin.
Inside the Griffith Observatory
Admission to Observatory is absolutely free making it a fun and affordable day trip. 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 Planetarium has a star projector, laser digital projection system, 290 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. Tickets are only a few dollars. Students and seniors get a discount.
Main Entrance Hall
The first thing you will see as you enter the Central Rotunda is one of the original exhibits, the Foucault pendulum. High above on the ceiling of the rotunda is an amazing mural by Hugo Ballin. There is also a tribute to Griffith J. Griffith the man who donated the land that is now Griffith Park.
Also in the original section of the Griffith Observatory is the Wilder Hall of the Eye. With state of the art exhibits, a Tesla Coil, and a Camera Obscura. Directly across from the Wilder Hall is the Ahmanson Hall of the Sky. The Ahmanson Hall feature numerous exhibits old and new. Plus three solar telescopes that allow visitors to see a live view of the sun.
Griffith Observatory Lower Levels
Below the main building are two floors of fascinating exhibits. This area of the observatory was completed in 2006 as part of a $93-million project to expand and renovate the Griffith Observatory. In this section of the observatory, you will find the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon, Gunther Depths of Space Exhibits, The Cosmic Connection, and the Edge of Space Exhibits. A gift shop and The Café at the End of the Universe are also on the lower levels.
Griffith Observatory in Movies
Completed in 1935, it has always been a popular location for Hollywood shooting, beginning with the classic Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean. A bronze bust now pays homage to the highly regarded actor and stands just outside the domed building. Griffith Observatory has also appeared in numerous other movies including Terminator, Transformers, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, The Rocketeer, and Earth Girls Are Easy.
Before you leave the Observatory be sure to take a picture of the Hollywood sign which sits just behind the Griffith Observatory. The Roof Deck and Terraces Observatory offers a magnificent view of downtown Los Angeles and on a clear day and you can see all the way to Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.
Nearby attractions include Hollywood which is just down the hill, Griffith Park which surrounds the observatory and the Los Angeles Zoo. For a unique perspective of Griffith Park, Sunset Ranch Hollywood offers one and two-hour horseback trail rides into Griffith Park.
Getting To Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith Observatory has a small parking lot that fills up fast on weekends. f 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. See the Observatory Website for details. Griffith Observatory is open six days a week. Closed on Monday. 2800 East Observatory Road Los Angeles, California.