Stargazing in LA usually requires lurking around movie premieres, back lots, and alleged celebrity hangouts (and sometimes households), but you're lucky if you see any real stars in this perpetually illuminated city. But sitting atop Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park is the newly refurbished Griffith Observatory, showing you in high resolution what your eyes can't see on their own. The observatory houses some of the most advanced astronomical equipment in the world and offers a number of space-related exhibits. Explore the history of human observation and contemplation of the sky in the Wilder Hall of the Eye, learn about the convergence of mythology and science in the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda, and look through one of the largest public solar telescopes in the United States in the Hall of the Sky.
The recently rebuilt planetarium dome provides an incredibly realistic, immersive experience of space. Recline in a plush chair and let yourself be transported into an accurate simulation of space exploration—so accurate that it was used during World War II to train pilots in airborne navigation and again in the 1960s to prepare the Apollo 11 astronauts for their jaunt on the moon.
Renovations also resulted in underground expansion, adding a gift shop and café to the observatory's attractions. Run by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck, the café is wittily named The Café at the End of the Universe, alluding to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (the second book in Douglas Adams's Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series), and one of the largest accurate astronomical images in the world is featured on a restaurant's wall, providing the effect that you are actually dining with an exceptional view of space.
Guests can park along the street or in the observatory parking lot, or take a shuttle that runs from the Vermont/Sunset Metro Red Line station to the observatory from 10am to 10pm on Saturdays and Sundays only. The best part: admission to the Griffith Observatory is free!
- Tuesday through Friday: 12pm to 10pm
- Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 10pm
- Monday: Closed
- Tickets to individual shows can be purchased at the Observatory box office
- Location: 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA
- Phone: 213-473-0800
- Website: www.griffithobs.org