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Explore the Universe at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

By Edited Jul 9, 2016 3 4

View the Galaxies

In the Oschin Planetarium

Nearly everyone tends to believe at times that they are the center of the universe. Although we know that it isn't literally true, we often feel that the world revolves around us. Nothing can be more humbling than a trip to the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory. It is an opportunity to learn just how large the universe truly is, and how much there is to discover outside our tiny planet.

Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory was built in the 1930's after amateur astrology buff Griffith Jerkins Griffith, a wealthy mining magnate, donated the funds to establish it. (That was not a typing error: His name really was Griffith Jerkins Griffith!) The spectacular art deco building that was designed to host the observatory now features a planetarium and several science exhibits. It is also surrounded by a network of hiking and bicycling trails. Tens of millions of people have visited the Griffith Observatory over the years.

Quick link to Amazon books about the Griffith Observatory and the stars.

Samuel Oschin Planetarium

While you lean back in comfortable chairs and gaze upwards, a Zeiss star laser digital projection system projects the universe onto the domed ceiling above you. In addition, a live presenter will explain the wonders of the universe, as background music enhances your experience. The Planetarium at the Griffith Observatory is considered by many to be the best planetarium in the world.

There are several different shows that can be watched in the planetarium theater, so visitors have plenty of reasons to come back again and again. The various planetarium shows will help viewers think about important issues such as: Where did we come from? Is water available in other parts of the universe? If there is water on other planets, does that mean life could exist there, too? What causes the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights?

Show tickets can only be purchased at the Observatory, for that day's shows exclusively. They sell for under $10, with the specific prices depending on whether you are a child, senior or eligible for other discounts. The Observatory is currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. For specific, up-to-date information about shows and times, you can check out their website at griffithobservatory.org.

Other Events at the Griffith Observatory

There are other events that go on at the Griffith Observatory, as well. For example, you can watch a film about the history and future of the observatory. You can stroll through their science exhibits. On the first Friday of each month, you can attend a lecture about current events that are happening in space. Periodically there are other special events and lectures held at the observatory.

In addition, you may want to stroll around the patios and outdoor areas and gaze out across the Los Angeles Basin for a spectacular view of "The City of Angels!"

The Café at the End of the Universe

While you are strolling around the Griffith Observatory, the café on the premises is the ideal spot to stop for lunch or something cool to drink. The Café is operated by world-famous chef Wolfgang Puck. It offers salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups and daily specials. It is the only place inside the Observatory where food is allowed. However, if you are hiking or biking in the area, you can stop at the café to get take-out food.

Quick link to Amazon books about the Griffith Observatory and the stars.

The Stellar Emporium Gift Shop

No trip to the Griffith Observatory would be complete without a stop at the gift shop and book store. Not only can you purchase souvenirs of your visit, but it is also an excellent place to buy books related to astronomy as well as gifts, clothing, toys and similar items designed to enhance and prolong your memories of the time you spent at the observatory.

Hiking and Cycling Near the Observatory

There are a number of hiking and biking trails that traverse the hills around the Observatory. If you are interested in using the trails, you are encouraged to park near the trailheads that are located by the Greek Theatre or the Fern Dell. If you are riding your bicycle to the Observatory, you should use the paved park roads to reach the trails, not the park trails or fire roads. If you visit the Observatory, they have several bike racks where you can lock up your bike during your visit.

Visiting the Observatory

Visiting the Observatory is easy. There is no admission charge to enter the Observatory, and a nominal fee to watch the shows in the planetarium. You can park free in the parking lot or on the adjacent roads. Disabled parking is available. Group tours can also be accommodated, without advanced notification or appointments. However, no special tours or advance ticket purchases are available, either.

There is a formal school program for fifth grade students. Other school groups are welcome to visit at any time. Museum Guides are located around the building to help answer questions.

Here's the address and phone number for the Observatory:

Griffith Observatory

2800 East Observatory Road

Los Angeles, CA 90027

(213) 473-0800

Observatory Rules

The Griffith Observatory is truly a treasure that the public is encouraged to enjoy. However, there are a few rules that guests need to observe:

Absolutely no smoking is allowed inside or outside of the Observatory; nor is smoking allowed anywhere else in Griffith Park. (In addition to health issues, this area is prone to wildfires. Everyone appreciates your thoughtfulness in protecting this fabulous resource.)

No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the building or on the Observatory grounds, parking lot and nearby roads.

No food or beverages are allowed inside the building, except those purchased and consumed in the Café.

No balloons, skateboards, scooters, "wheelie" shoes or similar items.

No animals are allowed in the building, with the exception of service animals.

Guests are asked to be quiet and not disturb others during the planetarium shows.

Enjoy the Griffith Observatory, and help others to enjoy it, as well!

If you are in the Los Angeles area, you may also be interested in visiting some of the spots mentioned in the articles below:

Take a Ferry to Catalina Island

Top 10 Things To Do in Newport Beach California

Top 10 Things To Do In Laguna Beach

Top 6 Things To Do Near Disneyland

Come Explore the California Tidepools

Learn More About the Observatory and Surrounding Park

Griffith Park (Images of America)
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This is a wonderful place to spend a day. Fun for the entire family!


Jun 6, 2011 7:35am
since my first visit to an observatory (teenager) - have always loved them (and planateriams). The Griffith Observatory would definitely be on the bucket list under "visit Cali again." THank you for the information.
Jun 7, 2011 10:57pm
The Griffith Observatory deserves to be on the "bucket list" of anyone who enjoys learning about the stars. It is an incredible planetarium and a wonderful asset to the people of Los Angeles.
Jun 15, 2011 12:15pm
Thanks Debbie! This is really useful information. I can't believe I've lived here all this time and have never visited the Griffith. Like Venetia, I'm putting this on my list!
Jun 15, 2011 1:17pm
I love just about anything having to do with stargazing. Thanks for this - now I have more to see when I next visit LA.
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