Griffith Observatory is one of the most popular Los Angeles attractions among locals and tourists alike. A Hollywood Hills landmark, it can be found overlooking the LA Basin from its perch on Mount Hollywood. The views of the city are what attract most visitors to Griffith Observatory, though there's more to do here than just savor the views. For starters, the observatory boasts an excellent, 300-seat planetarium that offers hourly screenings of its space documentary. Visitors can also enjoy the numerous space and science exhibits, and taking advantage of the free telescopes can satisfy that inner Galileo. Reopened in 2006 after extensive renovations, Griffith Observatory has no trouble attracting visitors, and when the sun goes down, there may be no finer place in town to enjoy a romantic moment. The Griffith Observatory sunrise is also enchanting, warranting at least one early wake-up call during your Los Angeles vacation.
It doesn't cost anything to access the Griffith Observatory, and visitors can also use the Zeiss and solar telescopes for free. Three bronze domes help to call attention to the attractive structure, and the central dome is where the Samuel Oschin Planetarium can be found. The hourly films that are shown in the Planetarium offer excellent insight into the universe, and while they cost extra, the fee is more than reasonable. In addition to enjoying the views of the city, taking advantage of the free telescopes, and watching the documentary in the planetarium, those who are looking for things to do at Griffith Observatory Los Angeles can also see what's showing at the 200-seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater or learn about the sun, the moon, and the stars at the new Gottlieb Transit Corrider. When it comes time for a break, grabbing something to eat at the Wolfgang Puck café is always an option as well.
While there is never a bad time to visit the Griffith Observatory, arriving just before sunrise can be especially rewarding. The Griffith Observatory sunrise is renowned in Los Angeles, as visitors can literally watch the sun come up over the City of the Angels. The views of the city combine with the views of the surrounding mountains to present a breathtaking panorama. While you're enjoying the Griffith Observatory sunrise, you'll be able to make out some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including the world-famous Hollywood Sign.
Learning about the history of Griffith Observatory can only serve to enhance a visit, and while the building owes its existence to one man, that man's reputation almost resulted in its never being built. Griffith J. Griffith, who was a Welsh-born entrepreneur who made his fortune in the mining industry, eventually made Los Angeles his home. Upon traveling to Europe, Griffith was impressed by the beautiful city parks that he saw in destinations such as Paris, and he decided that his home city needed a park to make it great. After returning to the States, Griffith donated more than 3,000 acres to the city of Los Angeles, and this plot of land became Griffith Park. This is where the history of Griffith Observatory gets really interesting.
In 1903, Griffith J. Griffith was charged with shooting his wife in a hotel in Santa Monica. Though she was not killed, she was seriously injured, and Griffith ended up spending a couple of years in San Quentin State Prison. Money can buy good attorneys, and Griffith certainly benefited from his deep pockets when it came time for sentencing. As is to be expected, Griffith's reputation was seriously damaged as a result of the shooting. When he first proposed donating money to the city for an observatory, the city declined. After Griffith's death in 1919, however, the city decided to take the still standing offer, and work began on the Griffith Observatory. The history of Griffith Observatory, much like the history of Los Angeles itself, is a storied one, and it involves many elements that would make a good movie plot.
The Griffith Observatory started to come into form in 1930. Some of the leading scientists and astronomers of the day set to work planning the layout and features of the structure, and by 1935, it opened to the public. The opening came approximately one year after the original project manager was killed in a car crash. While the process was a relatively rocky one, Griffith J. Griffith's dream finally became a reality, and the observatory has been a smashing success ever since. It was made famous by the 1955 film, Rebel Without a Cause, and this attachment to Hollywood only cements its place as a top Los Angeles attraction.