The City of Angels may be chock full of stars, but the Griffith Observatory gives families the best opportunity to see the ones in the sky. Between the mesmerizing planetarium shows that take kids on a journey of cosmic exploration and discovery, fascinating exhibits, and telescopes that provide the most amazing views of LA and the stars above, the Griffith Observatory is the perfect pitstop for all the astronomers in your family.
Samuel Oschin Planetarium
The Samuel Oschin Planetarium is a truly magical and memorable experience for families. As the Zeiss Star Projector and digital projection system transform the dome into the night sky, visitors are transported to worlds beyond their wildest dreams.
Presently, the planetarium offers three shows to choose from that are presented by a live and engaging storyteller: Centered in the Universe takes visitors on a journey of cosmos; Water is Life leads the audience on a search for water and possibly life beyond Earth while Light of the Valkyries (their 75th anniversary show) reveals the magic of the Northern Lights.
Live presentations are scheduled every 60-to-90 minutes. Note that children under 5 are only admitted to the first show each day (12:45 p.m. on weekdays and 10:45 a.m. on weekends).
Insider Tip: It gets quite dark in the planetarium at the beginning of the show, so prepare your astronomers, especially those that may be afraid of the dark. Tickets may only be purchased on-site at the Observatory for that day’s shows—no advance purchases are available.
Within the Griffith Observatory, there are two floors of incredible exhibits waiting to spark the imaginations of visitors and encourage them to ponder their own relationships to the universe.
Don’t miss: Scales that tell guests how much they would weigh on each planet and our moon, the Foucault Pendulum—one of the largest scientific instruments in the world that proves Earth is spinning on its axis, and the Tesla Coil which discharges sizzling lightening sparks to the walls of its alcove.
The main highlight for every Griffith Observatory visitor is getting to look through the famous Zeiss telescope on the roof. More people have looked through this telescope and learned about the movements of the heavens than any other telescope on Earth! After checking out this viewfinder, make sure to check out the other telescopes located on the vast terraces that provide more earth-bound, breathtaking views like the Hollywood sign, DTLA, and the Pacific Ocean.
Special events occur all year long at the Griffith Observatory, but little ones will especially love the “Let’s Make a Comet” presentation in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater during holiday breaks and summertime. During the 30-minute show, visitors help create a comet out of household ingredients.
Once a month, the Observatory hosts a Star Party where kids of all ages can look through dozens of telescopes on the lawn and interact with astronomy enthusiasts from local astronomy clubs, as well as Griffith Observatory employees.
Insider Tip: If you plan on visiting the Griffith Observatory on a Sat. or Sun., try to arrive right as close to 10 a.m. when they open to the public. Crowds will be lighter, and there should be available parking (with the exception of holiday weekends which can get a little crazy to say the least). If you become a member of Friends Of The Observatory, you can reserve parking ahead of time and even book tickets to the planetarium shows.
Where to Eat: Hungry star watchers can grab a bite on the lower level of the Observatory at Wolfgang Puck’s Café at the End of the Universe. A vast menu (including meals for kids) is available with everything from soups and salads to sandwiches and sweet treats. Visitors will find plenty of seating inside or outdoors on the terrace with stellar views of the city and Hollywood sign.
2800 E. Observatory Rd.
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