Griffith Observatory — So Cal side trip

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Griffith Observatory

If you plan to take a day off from Disneyland to visit attractions in the Los Angeles area, I’ve got the best way to end your LA day. Griffith Observatory has great view of the city, cool exhibits, and best of all, it’s FREE! Take a tour to see why this stop should make it onto your itinerary.

Griffith Observatory can be found at the peak of Griffith Park, Los Angeles’ “Central Park” that also includes the Los Angeles Zoo and other facilities, including Walt Disney’s Carolwood Pacific Railroad. In his will, Griffith J. Griffith donated the park and observatory to the city 100 years ago.

The Observatory

Foucault pendulum in the lobby

The observatory houses a good collection of science and space exhibits. It’s smaller than most science centers, but very well done. A few exhibits can be found outside, including a scale model of the solar system on the front lawn.

Earthquake monitoring station — and yes, we did all jump together to see the lines move!

The Tesla Coil comes alive each day at specific times

The Samuel Oschin Planetarium (famous recently in the movie “La La Land”) presents a rotation of several live narrated shows throughout the day. Planetarium shows are the only things Griffith Observatory charges for, except for parking. Ticket prices range from $3 to $7, and are only sold at the observatory for that day’s shows.

After dark, free public telescope viewing is available each evening skies are clear and the building is open. The observatory building is closed on Monday, but the grounds are open every day.

The view

Griffith Observatory

I would recommend arriving at Griffith Observatory two or three hours before sunset, depending on how much the exhibits interest you and whether you plan to see a planetarium show. The area at the top of the hill gets busy on weekends and closer to sunset, so arrive early for the best parking and chance to enjoy the area.

Griffith Observatory

View from the parking lot — one of the best places to see the famous Hollywood sign without hiking

The city views at sunset are spectacular, since you have a 270-degree vista to enjoy. Watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean from this height is one of my favorite views, and seeing the lights wink on all over Los Angeles is magical.

Los Angeles is enormous, so you could spend your whole day driving between attractions if you don’t plan carefully. Griffith Observatory pairs well with a trip to Hollywood, the Los Angeles Zoo, or the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, with all close by. It gives you a beautiful, inexpensive way to end a great LA day!

Have you visited Griffith Observatory? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter!

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