During our recent day in LA, we made a brief visit to Hollywood Boulevard and Madame Tussauds Hollywood wax museum (see Just a Little Bit of Hollywood). After escaping the insane crowds of Hollywood and Highland, we made our way to peaceful Los Feliz for lunch at the Sidewalk Grill. The food was delicious, but I wish we had ordered a bit of a variety. All four of us got the chicken (three with chicken skewers and one with chicken souvlaki)! I think it was the heat, hunger and exhaustion that clouded our judgement and sense of adventure. But, I can say with complete conviction, the chicken is good! And the cafe is a lovely stop on the way to Griffith Park. I was insanely jealous of the people enjoying their pints on the patio…but we drank Diet Cokes inside. (again, delirium!) The people watching is fun because Los Felix is one of those places where the cool people live: not the fancy celebrity people, but still pretty cool people. I would use the word “hip”, but my tween says that only old people use the word “hip” these days…so I guess I’ll have to find a different word.
After fueling up, we headed to the Griffith Observatory. Our original plan was to park up at the observatory, hike to the Hollywood Sign, grab a snack, watch a planetarium show, and see the exhibits. Once it got dark (assuming that it would after we had done all of that), we would go look through the observatory telescopes. Well, so much for planning because the rest of the day did not go that way.
First of all, as I mentioned in the previous blog, it was a holiday weekend in the summer. So, obviously, it was crowded. And, we were arriving at about 2pm at the edge of the park. There was pretty much zero chance we would get parking in the small lot up by the observatory. As we drove in on Vermont, traffic slowed dramatically at the Greek Theater (which is at the base of the hill where the observatory sits). There was parking at the Greek Theater because there were no showings that evening (hint…don’t go to the observatory on days there are concerts at the Greek). So we parked at the Theater with the other crowds.
The next challenge was actually getting to the observatory. It turns out, for 50 cents, a “Dash” bus will give you a ride up the hill to the observatory. Sounds great, right? Well, my husband, being the ambitious outdoors man that he is, declared that we could easily hike to the observatory. Ha! In all fairness, he was right; there are several trails in the area to hike up to the observatory. But, just because they are there doesn’t mean that you should hike them! The trail we found was below the Greek entrance and across from the Roosevelt Golf Course. The trail head was just beyond (to the right of) the picnic benches in the park area.
It is called the Boy Scout Trail which totally shamed me into agreeing to follow it. Those scouts are clearly in good shape because the first part of this trail is straight up…and the vertical climb lasts for several minutes before it levels off. Once I stopped complaining, I realized that the trail gave us some beautiful views of downtown and Beverly Hills (and got a bit easier after the initial ascent).
After arriving at the observatory no one was in the mood to hike further. So we scrapped out Hollywood Sign hike and just enjoy the views of the sign from the observatory.
We went inside to catch a Planetarium show. The show schedule is posted on the observatory website. They only sell tickets for the next possible show (not several hours/shows in advance), so we just went with the next showing that was minutes away. We did get a tip to bypass the ticket line and use the ticket kiosks to buy the tickets. We were able to waltz right into the showing and get our seats.
After the show, we grabbed a snack in the cafe and enjoyed the deck and the views. Then we went to the ground floor for the planet exhibit that does side-by-side comparisons of Mercury through Pluto. Weigh yourself on Pluto…it will help your ego!
Overall, it was a really fun visit to the observatory. We may try to hike to the sign another time when the weather is not as warm. Also, in the winter, we won’t have to stay late to wait for darkness and use the telescopes!