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.
|Hours||Observatory: 12p-10p Tuesday – Friday, 10a-10p weekends, closed Monday|
Park: 5:30a – 10p every day
|Price||free entrance into the observatory and grounds, with ticketed events in the planetarium ($7 for adults)|
|Aesthetic||dreamy art deco with a side of sunny panoramic views|
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:
Last visited: March 2019
Last updated: July 2020