California Dreaming: Griffith Observatory

When visiting California, Los Angeles in particular, one of the must visit places has got to be the Griffith Observatory and seeing the Hollywood sign. 

This was most certainly the one place in Los Angeles that we just HAD to visit. 

There are other ways to see the Hollywood sign, but with four children, I don’t think they would enjoy hiking in the heat, and we didn’t want to be one of those tourists driving around back roads to try and get a glimpse of it – especially as we were in a rather large SUV. 

The Griffith Observatory is open from 10am, so we managed to get there early. There is permit parking nearby, but we discovered that you can park in the car park of the Greek Theatre for free on days they do not have any shows. You do have a slight walk, up hill, but it is such a lovely view – I would recommend parking here for anyone wanting to visit. 

There’s also plenty of green space nearby so you can have snacks and a rest once you’ve finished your visit. There are also plenty of hiking trails, if that’s your thing. 

About Griffith Observatory

MISSION: Griffith Observatory inspires everyone to observe, ponder, and understand the sky.

Griffith Observatory is an icon of Los Angeles, a national leader in public astronomy, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California’s most popular attractions. The Observatory is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood. It is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin. The Observatory is the best vantage point for observing the world-famous Hollywood Sign.

Griffith Observatory is a free-admission, public facility owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks in the middle of an urban metropolis of ten million people. The Observatory is one of the most popular informal education facilities in the United States and the most-visited public observatory in the world (with 1.5 million visitors a year). Griffith Observatory is a unique hybrid of public observatory, planetarium, and exhibition space. It was constructed with funds from the bequest of Griffith J. Griffith (who donated the land for Griffith Park in 1896), who specified the purpose, features, and location of the building in his 1919 will. Upon completion of construction in 1935, the Observatory was given to the City of Los Angeles with the provision that it be operated for the public with no admission charge. When it opened in 1935, it was one of the first institutions in the U.S. dedicated to public science and possessed the third planetarium in the U.S. 

Since opening, the Observatory has welcomed over 81 million visitors. Open late nearly every evening, Griffith Observatory’s audience is “the general public,” and it is one of the rare places where you will see people from every part of the region and from all parts of the world. 

Fulfilling the Observatory’s goal of “visitor as observer,” free public telescope viewing is available each evening skies are clear and the building is open. More people (8 million) have looked through the Observatory’s Zeiss 12-inch refracting telescope than through any other on Earth. More than 17 million have seen a live program in the Observatory’s Samuel Oschin Planetarium.

The building operated continuously from 1935 until January 6, 2002, when it closed for a comprehensive renovation and expansion. This ambitious $93-million project renewed the Observatory’s world-class standing and restored and enhanced the Observatory’s ability to pursue its public astronomy mission, all driven by a commitment to excellence and enabled by a successful public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles and Friends Of The Observatory. Four goals guided all planning for the project: 1. Renovate all elements of the existing building; 2. Develop a state-of-the-art, immersive planetarium environment; 3. Expand public space to improve the visitor experience; and 4. Design and develop an inspiring new exhibit program. The renewed building reopened to the public on November 2, 2006.

(taken from Griffith Observatory website.)


The Griffith Observatory is such an amazing site and the views across Los Angeles are breathtaking. 

You can visibly see the Hollywood sign and there are telescopes around so you can see the views more clearly. Although, I was surprised at how smoggy the city was. It certainly never looks like that on films, does it! 

Even though we arrived before 10am, there were lots of tourists around taking their pictures. When the doors opened, there was a bit of a scramble and the children got knocked around a bit by grown adults barging their way in – it took a lot for me to not go all out Mama Bear on them! 

I had to zoom in on my phone so the picture looks totally dodgy!

The children loved visiting Griffith Observatory and it’s full of so many things to see and facts to find out. 

As you enter the North doors, there is a swinging pendulum in the forecourt that shows you the time. There were several corridors and rooms off there with various things to see, such as; Tesla Coil, Solar Telescopes, Eclipes, Tides and Moon Phases. 

My personal favourite area was the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. They had tonnes of information about each planet, and beside each one was a weighing scale, that when you stood on would tell you how much you would weigh on that particular planet. I’m heading off to Venus! 

I would definitely recommend taking some time out and visiting here. It’s Free admission and fun for all the family.