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Photo Credit: Julie Cohn

My son is privileged to have traveled to some incredible places in his life.  He’s have been scalloping off the coast of Florida, skiing in Steamboat Springs, and island hopping in the Channel Islands.  He’s been to Disneyland more times than he can count, and stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels. Still, his favorite vacation day of all time involved a trip through the stars at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

We were visiting Los Angeles for one of our twice-yearly trips to see old friends. One of his friends was supposed to spend the day with us, but had to cancel at the last minute, and my son was sad. I suggested we have an “adventure” but would not tell him where we were going; the anticipation of not knowing excited him,  and lifted his spirits.  He begged me to tell him where we were going, but I just teased him with hints:  “We are going to the moon” and “We are going to soar through the stars.” He was giddy with anticipation.

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Photo Credit: Julie Cohn

We’ve been to several science museums/planetariums before, but there is nothing like the Griffith Observatory. There is so much to do and see there! The road to the observatory winds up around Mount Hollywood to the top, with a breathtaking view of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. (Bonus kid trivia: The tunnel to get to the observatory is the same one Marty McFly goes through in the movie, “Back to the Future”).

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Photo Credit: Julie Cohn

We meandered though rooms about the sun, the moon, and the universe. We mesmerized at the giant swinging pendulum, and marveled at the Tesla coil. The lower level was a smorgasbord of meteor and planetary madness, and my son, who owns a meteorite of his own, thrilled in talking to one of the scientists/observatory volunteers for 30 minutes. We took in a planetarium show, where we really did “soar” among the stars, and we peered through the telescope at the moon.   There is so much to do at the Griffith observatory, when I next checked my watch, we had been at the observatory for six hours! This was four years ago, and yet, even after all our newer adventures; he still considers this day “the best simple day ever.”

What to Know Before You Go to the Griffith Observatory

  • Admission to the Griffith Observatory is free; however, there is a fee for planetarium shows.
  • Parking can be difficult at the top, so be prepared to park along the drive and walk.
  • As you walk toward the observatory, look to your left. You will have a great view of the Hollywood sign.