Los Angeles’ Griffith Park is huge. Among other amazing features for nature lovers, it’s home to the Griffith Observatory, a national leader in public astronomy.
When I began planning my first visit to the Observatory, I had no intention of taking The Big Explorer. I figured he was too young to find much there of interest. But my step-mom was convinced there’d be something he’d enjoy. And if not, no big deal; entrance is free.
Sometimes, I love being wrong. In case you’re like me and think the Observatory is no place for kids, here are 6 things for a 6-year-old to do at the Griffith Observatory.
1. Weigh yourself on Jupiter.
Or Mars, for that matter. Where do you weigh the most? The least? Head to the “Gunther Depths of Space” exhibit for side-by-side comparisons of the planets and find out.
2. See the sun through a solar telescope.
Three different views of the earth’s star are available for viewing. It’s a telescope kids can use during the day!
3. Watch a star show.
The fancy, schmancy 285-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater features a star projector, laser digital projection system, a state-of-the-art aluminum dome and theatrical lighting. Choose from one of a few different 30-minute shows and the kids are sure to be entranced. (Children under 5 can only attend the first show of the day.)
4. Touch a meteorite.
Head to the “Edge of Space” exhibit area and ask permission at the Information Desk to touch an actual meteorite. If you miss out, no worries! There are other meteorite fragments available for touching at the adjacent display.
5. Get some planetary perspective.
Don’t miss the scaled-down version of the solar system just outside the main doors to the Observatory extending out to the front lawn (look down – it’s on the ground). See where each of the planets is in relation to each other by standing on one while someone else stands on another.
6. Enjoy the view!
The Observatory offers some of the best views of the city you’ll find anywhere. Plus, you’re guaranteed an unobstructed look at the Hollywood sign.
- Griffith Observatory is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 10 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed on Mondays
- Admission to the observatory is FREE
- The Samuel Oschin Planetarium theater offers half-hour long shows for a small fee; check here for the latest shows & pricing
- Restrooms & drinking fountains are located on every level
- The Observatory has a Café (operated by Wolfgang Puck) offering both pre-packaged & fresh-daily meals
- Public telescopes are available for use every evening the Observatory is open & skies are clear
- Public star parties are offered once a month – a family-friendly way to look at the sun, moon, stars, planets & other objects
- Parking at the Observatory is free but extremely limited, so much so that the Planetarium highly recommends a number of other options
- Busiest times are weekends & holidays
Griffith Observatory is located at:
2800 E. Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027