Griffith Park Observatory
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, noon to 10 p.m.
Weekends, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
Perched on the side of Mt. Hollywood stands the newly renovated Griffith Park Observatory. This famous landmark integrates operational telescopes and mind-blowing views along with an astronomical museum that provides an entertaining, educational experience for tourists and locals alike.
Arriving at the Griffith Observatory
As visitors approach the north gate, they encounter a monument dedicated to the most influential astronomers of all time. This concrete sculpture dominates the manicured lawn and offers a prime photo opportunity. Across the grounds, inlaid throughout the sidewalks, is a model of the solar system showing the relative size of each planet’s orbit in relation to the sun. For those interested, the center of the solar system can be found just outside the front door to the museum.
The upper level of the museum houses the Foucault pendulum and Tesla coil, as well as several exhibits on the phases of the moon, tides, eclipses and an interactive display of the elements. Also on the top floor is the ticket booth to the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. This facility boasts one of the largest domes in the world and can seat 300 viewers per show. Ticket prices are a bargain, ranging from $3 to $7 per person. Visitors can choose from three different shows at varying times throughout the day and are treated to a live-narration performance accompanied by a state-of-the-art projection and sound system.
The lower level of the Griffith Park Observatory offers additional exhibits, one of the largest of which is dedicated to the planets. Children often flock around the scales built into the floor, which take into account each planet’s gravitational pull to calculate a person’s simulated weight, along with meteorite samples and vast pictures of our galaxy. The lower level also harbors the gift shop and “Café at the End of the Universe.” This cafeteria-style restaurant is operated by Wolfgang Puck and serves everything from beverages to complete meals. The futuristic eatery offers a large patio with ample views of the city and Hollywood sign.
The Observatory is a functioning facility with several working telescopes to study the skies. Its famous Zeiss telescope is located within the rooftop dome and is open on clear nights for public viewing. The Griffith Park Observatory also offers solar telescopes for filtered views of the sun, as well as several coin-operated, mounted scopes for people to take advantage of the panoramic views of Los Angeles and surrounding mountains.
A guide to the Griffith Park Observatory can only touch on the many wonders that await guests who visit these facilities. Visitors can spend hours wandering the halls, landscaped grounds and many hiking trails that branch out from its central location. Best of all, it’s free!
– Justin Hajj