griffith observatory

for your la la land dreams

Considering how few tourist attractions LA has to begin with, Griffith Observatory is one of the only worth visiting, even as a local. It’s like the antithesis to Hollywood (the boulevard and the sign, which ironically, you get a great view of from up here). It’s the redeeming part of this generally nondescript city. Something stunningly beautiful in itself, and offering a rare perspective of the city that, when glowing in golden hour, can truly take your breath away. The art deco monument watches over LA like a reminder of the golden age for this glittering city. Pretty enough to make you feel like you’re in a movie.

The Griffith Observatory is technically, a planetarium. But to Angelenos, it’s so much more. It’s an institution. It’s where you take the kids to on a weekend, where you bring visitors. But it’s also where you go on a cheesy but still kind of romantic date. And where you hike up before brunch. And where drag yourself up to on a morning run. Let’s be real. Most of the time we don’t actually make it in the observatory itself. We just like to spend time around it, living our La La Land dreams in this endless love story to a city so difficult to like.

the details

Address2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles
HoursObservatory: 12p-10p Tuesday – Friday, 10a-10p weekends, closed Monday
Park: 5:30a – 10p every day 
Pricefree entrance into the observatory and grounds, with ticketed events in the planetarium ($7 for adults)
Aestheticdreamy art deco with a side of sunny panoramic views

good to know

Go here for: a peaceful weekday hike, or a not-so-peaceful weekend hike

Don’t miss: if you’re coming with kids, you can make it an educational field trip, check out the programming schedule online 

Amount of time to spend: about an hour if you’re looking for a quick hike up to the observatory and back down, if you’re driving up for the views, at least 30 minutes. If you actually want leisurely time to explore and do less direct hikes, you could spend half a day here.

When to come: ideally right before the sun rises, but otherwise weekday mornings are nice, sunsets get crowded, but if you can find your inner peace, it’s too beautiful to miss golden hour

Parking: is available in a paid lot at the top (be sure to pay at a pay station), as well as for free along the street up (not recommended unless you’re v comfortable with parallel parking). Can be harder to find parking on weekends, but weekdays are usually easy to snag a spot at the bottom and hike up. 

Other things to note: 

  • The park is open from 5:30a to 10p, and even when the observatory is closed, you can still drive up to the top and walk around the outside of the building.
  • There are two quick trails that go directly up to the observatory (East and West observatory trails), they both start near the entrance to the park (right across from The Trails Cafe), and take about 25-30 min to walk up at a leisurely pace and drops you right at the foot of the observatory.
  • They also have a cafe (a Wolfgang Puck establishment) for grabbing a quick bite, and a large gift shop for astronomy and LA souvenirs.

Last visited: March 2019

Last updated: July 2020

while you're here