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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

Hollywood Sign

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.

Hollywood Sign

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.

James Dean Monument

As you approach the observatory, you can’t help but marvel in the beauty of the building.

Griffith Observatory

Inside Griffith Observatory

The inside of the building is even more beautiful!

Inside Griffith Observatory

Here is the inside of the dome.

Inside Griffith Observatory

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.

Inside Griffith Observatory

Kristin enjoyed the interactive exhibits. Here is one that explains how the Earth orbits the sun.

Inside Griffith Observatory

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!

Inside Griffith Observatory

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.

Downtown Los Angeles

You’ll also be able to see some of the hiking trails of Griffith Park from the observation deck, as well.

Griffith Park Trails

One of the last things we saw was this enormous telescope.

Griffith Observatory Telescope

This one is located inside one of the domes.

Griffith Observatory

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!

Griffith Observatory
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39 Comments

  1. One of my all-time time favorite places to visit when I’m in the Burbank area for business! Not only are the views amazing but the history is also amazing to learn about!

  2. You have lovely photos! My girls love anything to do with space, and observatories are always at the top of their wish-list of places to visit. We keep talking about taking a trip out there. We’ll have to add this to the list!

  3. Haha when I went, I totally saw the sign from afar! We tried the hike thing but were no where near prepared so we turned around and went to the observatory. Still the sign looks amazing from there!

  4. Great information- we are in So Cal a few times a year. This would be great to do,

  5. I had no idea this place was even here. I’ll add it to my bucket list! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lisa Manderino Reply

    I have not been but that looks like a great view! Next time I will have to visit!

  7. Ashamed to admit that I never knew that was a working observatory. How very cool! I have seen that building so many times on TV and in movies and now I know what it truly is.

  8. I haven’t been here since I was a young child growing up in SoCal. I enjoyed your photos and other reminders of what’s up there – hoping I can take my grandson one of these days!

  9. We just watched Rebel Without a Cause a couple of months ago for the first time! We actually commented, “hey that observatory is the same one from La La Land!” How cool that you got to visit. Also, I couldn’t read your excited first few sentences without singing Party in the USA in my head 🙂

  10. This looks amazing! We will put it on our bucket list! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Wow! Looks like such a fun place to visit…and to see the Hollywood sign?! Awesome!

  12. What a beautiful building! The inside of the dome is gorgeous. Is there any way to get closer to the sign or is this as close anyone can get?

  13. I was just out that way in November of last year – not sure why I didn’t try to make time to go check out the Observatory. My sister has been talking about it and bugging me to come back to visit ~ so I guess I’ll just have to make it a point to make this a priority next trip.

    • Stacey Reply

      I think you’d like it. It added to our Hollywood experience, for sure. 🙂

  14. I’ve seen this on TV but wasn’t sure exactly what it was. Shame… because I LOVE planetariums. Next time I see it, I’ll think of you… and wish I was there. Thanks for sharing.

  15. This looks really cool! I will have to keep this in mind for the next time I am in LA! I didn’t even realize you could see the hollywood sign from there!

  16. How cool! I had never heard of this place. I will for sure be going there when I head that direction. Thanks!!

  17. What a cool place to visit, especially the observatory. I would definitely hike the trails to get a great view.

  18. Very detailed. We visited LA last year and stopped by Griffith for an hour or so since we were on a tight schedule. Museum was almost closed so could not spend enough time indoors. But the city night view from deck was so beautiful. My kids loved using the telescope to see some stars.

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