By Ross Mihalko
Lots of people come to Hollywood hoping to see celebrities. But when I want to see some real stars, I go to the Griffith Park Observatory.
I know you’ve seen it, the cool, white, domed building sitting high atop the Hollywood hills. It’s been right there, open to the public, since 1935, but have you ever really been there yourself? If your answer is no, then you better get going, cause you’re missing something really cool. And if your answer is yes, but maybe you haven’t been there in a while, it’s time to change that, like now.
First off, the drive up to the observatory is gorgeous! It’s just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood and Vine, but as soon as you slip into Griffith Park, and trade the grey buildings for green trees, you leave life in L.A. behind.
The twisting, turning road through the park offers lots of wonderful views with plenty of sneak peeks at California wildlife ranging from hawks circling the skies to hikers hitting the trails. And once you’re at the top, you’ve got a great view of Los Angeles stretched out below you. On a clear day you can almost see forever, or at least catch a great glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. It’s that combination of the hills and the ocean always that always makes me so happy to be living in L.A.
Parking can be a bit crowded at the observatory lot, but there are always some nearby spots by the side of the road, and it’s a great excuse for an impromptu hike to the observatory. Plus it’s the perfect chance to stop and enjoy the nearby Hollywood sign – a big hit with the kids or anyone visiting from out-of-town. But we’re here to see the real stars of Hollywood, so onward and upward we go to the observatory!
Now, speaking of kids, this is a great place to visit with them. Not just because admission is free, but because it looks great inside and out since it’s extensive four-year renovation and reopening in 2006. I tell you, the place still has that new museum smell!
There are lots of wonderful exhibits on science and space inside the observatory’s two main floors. Many of the exhibits are hands on and interactive, which the kids just love. My own kids also enjoyed the wide-open floor plan that allowed them to run around. (This wasn’t a huge hit with me, but I did enjoy their napping afterward in the car.)
If you don’t have kids, the observatory is still a really cool place to stroll around with your sweetie. There are plenty of secluded nooks with opportunities for … scientific exploration. None of them better than the darkened theater of the planetarium show.
Actually, the planetarium show is a great stop for all visitors, and well worth the small price of admission. Sit back, relax and enjoy the greatest show that’s not on Earth!
Take it from me, after years of living in L.A., there’s no better way to enjoy the real stars of Hollywood than with a trip to the Griffith Park Observatory. And who knows, you might even see some celebrities there.