Griffith Park is a large municipal park located in Los Feliz and is the second largest city park in California. In July 2010, the Cahuenga Peak was further added to the park which is just west of the Hollywood Sign.
The park houses many attractions including the Griffith Park Observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo, and Greek Theater. Activities includes, but not limited to, hiking, golfing, and picnicking.
A couple of places are worth mentioning and worth visiting:
1. Travel Town Museum: Located on 5200 Zoo Dr., the FREE museum is filled with locomotive trains and exhibits relating to trains. The museum’s mission is to educate the public about the railroad history as it pertains to the development of the Southwest Region of the US, particularly in the LA area. You can go on the trains, check out the trains, or even ride a small (kiddie) train around Griffith Park. Hours are from 10 am to 4 pm (Mon to Fri) and 10 am to 5 pm (Sat to Sun).
2. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to more than 1,100 mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. It is located on 5333 Zoo Dr. The LA Zoo is not as big as the one in San Diego, but good enough.
Every Christmas, Griffith Park would put up lights and a lot of people would drive through its parks and check them out. Back then it was free and it was not in a zoo. It had a short hiatus and last year (2014) was the first year that it came back. However, not in the same location but at the Los Angeles Zoo.
It’s not something you expect when you go to the Zoo. You do see animals but they’re not real and they’re covered in lights. The Zoo is closed off only 1 section of the park to accommodate these lights. All the real animals are asleep or put somewhere else for the wondering eye. The only animals you might see are the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles) and some reindeer that don’t really pay much attention to you.
It’s something that adults and kids would enjoy. However, do not come with high expectations. If you’re expecting lots of animatronics, this place isn’t for you (try checking out the various neighborhoods in LA).
It also doesn’t take that long (at least an hour maybe) to get from the beginning to the end and back again ~ if it’s not crowded and depending on how many pictures you take.
3. Old LA Zoo: Don’t want to pay for the Zoo, want something more free and more adventurous? Get yourself over to the Old LA Zoo site. Originally named the Griffith Park Zoo, it opened with only 15 animals and only a few miles away from the current zoo. This site has been abandoned since the new Zoo was built. The walls are covered with graffiti and grounds are dilapidated, but for some reason it just makes a really good picture opportunity. It’s also a reason to go off the beaten path.
How to get there? Start on the entrance of Griffith Park on Riverside Dr and Los Feliz Blvd. Riverside Dr turns in Crystal Springs Road. Turn left on Griffith Park Road (You’ll see a sign for Wilson Harding Clubhouse). On this road you’ll see a children’s park called Shane’s Inspiration on your left. Keep going straight till you hit a “dead end” or a trail; don’t continue on Griffith Park Road since it goes to the right. You can park here. The Old Zoo is straight ahead; either walk on the “slope” or the stairs. You can also go the long way and go through that dead end trail since it loops around to the Old Zoo.
If there’s no parking here you can park at the Griffith Park Merry Go Round Parking Lot which is located in the Park Center between the Los Angeles Zoo and the Los Feliz park. The Merry Go Round parking entrance is by Fire Rd. (There’s like 3 small lots. The first one is when you enter and the other two on the other side of the Merry Go Round. If you want really close, I’d go with the 2nd lot). You might as well take a picture here too or ride the carousel! However, it’s only open during the weekends throughout the year and weekdays during the summer from 11 am to 5 pm.
Walk from the Merry Go Round Parking lot and turn left. Go up the slope or the stair case on the left hand side that goes to the Old Zoo. Google can help you if you search Griffith Park Zoo.
4. Griffith Observatory: Every time I think of the Observatory, I think of the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle Movie where they jump off from the second story. It’s pretty amazing on what they did after the renovation. All of the lower level of the Observatory was built from scratch below the original Observatory. You can check out the free Documentary at the Observatory on how they did it! But I really like that you can weigh yourself through the Solar System at the Depths of Space Hall.
The photo opportunities at the Observatory is amazing as well! The Observatory is very photogenic and you can see the Hollywood Sign and Downtown Los Angeles from here. Admission to the building and ground of the Observatory is free of charge. However, there is a nominal fee for the Planetarium shows. There is a small parking lot next to the Observatory. However, if it gets full, patrons usually park on the steep road leading up to the Observatory.