The Griffith Observatory is located on top of a hill in Griffith Park. While it is possible to get there by walking, the better bet is by car, as these are the only ways to get there on the weekdays. But on the weekend, there is the DASH Observatory Shuttle, a bus that takes people between the observatory and the Red Line Metro stop of Vermont / Sunset station. I prefer the bus option, as it can be a pain to deal with traffic, and find parking, if going at night.
The Griffith Observatory opened in 1935, and named after a guy named Griffith J. Griffith (I know, how strange). It has always been a tourist attraction, for people to look to the heavenly skies. And admission has always been free as well. It did close in 2002 for renovations, but reopened in 2006, where people can continue to enjoy looking at the skies to this day. It has also been used as a filming location for a lot of movies.
There is quite a lot to do, especially if you are an astronomy buff. But if you have limited time, and need to pick a time to visit, definitely come after sunset, to look to the night sky. There is the Zeiss Telescope, which is the oldest one in one of the giant domes, pointing to the night sky. It may be pointed at a different object in space each day. But warned, that the lines can be very long, and that the doors close 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the observatory. Still, it was very much worth looking through that telescope, like the way it was done for years.
There is the other option of the smaller telescope on the front lawn, with little to no lines at all. Definitely a nice option, and the views are just as good. There are also solar telescopes, that look at the sun.
Around the observatory grounds, there are terraces that give very nice views of Los Angeles area, especially at night. And a nice view of the Hollywood sign, if you come during the daytime. Sometimes, you can see the Pacific Ocean, but that is dependent on the smog.
Inside the building, there is a museum that tells the history of skywatching, as well as that of Griffith Observatory. There are old telescopes on display, including one that I believe, belonged to Italian astronomer, Galileo. Also, there are displays on various things within astronomy, whether it is about the planets or the moon or meteorites. Some parts are interactive, like seeing how much you weigh on various planets. Very extensive, and very interesting.
There is the option to watch a show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, but this is not free. Check ahead of time to see which shows interest you, and decide for yourself whether it is worth the money.
Regardless, a visit to the Griffith Observatory is very much worth it, and should not be missed by any visitor to LA. Not only for the astronomy part, but also for very nice views of downtown LA at night, as well as the Hollywood sign, among other parts.
Did I mention that it is free at the observatory? Looks like I have a new LA tradition, as I would definitely return to this place.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.