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You simply can’t go to Hollywood without seeing the sign up on the hill. On our arrival day, we couldn’t contain our excitement as we drove our rental car towards our home for the next two nights–Magic Castle Hotel. Just ahead of us, we could see the Hollywood sign for the first time. We certainly looked like the ultimate tourists as we tried to capture our first picture. Oh well. We were tourists!
The next morning, we checked out the sites in West Hollywood. After lunch, we knew we wanted to try to get a better view of the Hollywood sign. Our time was limited; we were heading to San Diego the next morning. Sure, we could’ve hiked up to the sign, and I’ve heard that’s a pretty cool experience. But since our schedule was tight, and our nine-year-old was with us, it made sense to check out Griffith Observatory. Located at the top of Griffith Park, this observatory boasts views of the sign and downtown Los Angeles. If we could’ve made time for it, I would’ve rather planned a visit for sunset. But if you can’t make it then, just know that Griffith Observatory is worth it any time of day.
Arriving at Griffith Observatory
It will take a few minutes to drive up to the observatory. I was a little nervous about parking; I’d read that during busy times, you may be parking along the road up to the parking lot. But I needn’t have worried. During the afternoon on a weekday in June, we were able to park in a parking lot near the observatory. There is a fee to park, but there is no charge to walk the grounds or visit the observatory itself.
As we strolled up to the observatory, we took some obligatory pictures with the sign. It’s pretty far off in the distance, but you have a clear shot.
Along your walk to the observatory, you can also see the James Dean monument known as the Rebel Without a Cause Monument. The plaque states that several movies have been filmed at Griffith Observatory, including Rebel Without a Cause. Apparently James Dean requested that a bust be made of him. When Dean was killed in a car accident in 1955, the sculptor, Kenneth Kendall, began work on it. Recently, the bust was restored and moved to its current location.
You can angle you photo just right so that the sign was in the background, but when we were there, there was a small crowd trying to get pictures here. We snapped one and went on our way.
As you approach the observatory, you can’t help but marvel in the beauty of the building.
Inside Griffith Observatory
The inside of the building is even more beautiful!
Here is the inside of the dome.
In this main room, you can purchase tickets for one of their shows, including shows in the planetarium. The tickets weren’t expensive. I think at the time of our visit, adults were $7.00 and children’s tickets were $3.00. Kristin had never seen a planetarium show, so we decided to see one. There are several times offered during the day. We purchased our tickets, and then we checked out the exhibits.
Kristin enjoyed the interactive exhibits. Here is one that explains how the Earth orbits the sun.
One thing to note–the queue for the planetarium show is outside. It was getting pretty warm, but the line was covered. It can be a little confusing to know where to go to enter the show, so be sure you’re clear because they don’t let people in late to the shows!
Once inside for the show, everything is dark and cool. Perfect!
There’s a lot of seating, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a good spot, especially since the show is overhead. Kristin loved it!
The Observation Deck
The observation deck is another cool feature of Griffith Observatory. You can get some pictures of downtown LA if it’s not too smoggy.
You’ll also be able to see some of the hiking trails of Griffith Park from the observation deck, as well.
One of the last things we saw was this enormous telescope.
This one is located inside one of the domes.
The observatory hosts a party once a month in the evening for star-gazing. If you’re nearby, be sure to check out any special events they offer. When we were there, guides presented all kinds of demonstrations throughout the day. Be sure to note what is being offered during your visit.
After a couple of hours, it was time for us to move on. We still wanted to see a beach or two, and we wanted to get there before dark. I’m glad Griffith Observatory was part of our adventure in Hollywood. We made great memories!