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GRIFFITH PARK

Griffith Park is a 6-sq-mile (16-sq-km) natural playground of rugged hills and gentle valleys, draped with native oak trees, manzanita, and sage. As well as hiking and horseback trails, there are picnic areas, golf courses, tennis courts and an outdoor pool. The country’s largest urban park owes its existence to the Welshman Griffith Jenkins Griffith (1850–1919). In 1896, Griffith donated a large portion of his estate to the city with the proviso that it become “a place of recreation and rest for the masses.”

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Map of Griffith Park

NEED TO KNOW

prac_info Griffith Park: open 6am–10pm

prac_info Griffith Park Ranger Station: 4730 Crystal Springs Dr

prac_info Griffith Observatory: 2800 E Observatory Rd; 213-473-0800; open noon–10pm Tue–Fri, 10am–10pm Sat & Sun

prac_info Autry Museum of the American West: 4700 Western Heritage Way; open 10am–4pm Tue–Fri, 10am–5pm Sat & Sun; adm

prac_info Travel Town Museum: 5200 Zoo Dr; open 10am–4pm daily (to 6pm Sat & Sun)

prac_info Bronson Caves: Take Canyon Dr to the end, then take the path past the gate east of the last parking lot

prac_info Southern Railroad: open 10am–4:30pm Mon–Fri (to 5pm Sat & Sun)

Google Map

  • The Crossroads West Café at the Autry Museum of the American West serves breakfast and lunch.
  • Sunset Ranch Stables (3400 Beachwood Dr) leads Friday night horse rides through the park.

1. Autry Museum of the American West

Google Map

This great collection of art and artifacts covers the history and mythology of the American West. Star exhibits include a Colt handgun collection.

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An exhibit at the Autry Museum of the American West

2. Los Angeles Zoo

Google Map

Some 1,200 animals are found here (see Los Angeles Zoo), including koalas and chimps. The breeding program has brought the California condor back from near-extinction.

3. Mount Hollywood Trail

Google Map

The popular trek to the top of Mount Hollywood, the highest point in Griffith Park, rewards hikers with plenty of exercise and sweeping views of Los Angeles.

4. Travel Town Museum

Google Map

A fleet of vintage locomotives, freight and passenger cars, and several cabooses (goods trains) draw railroad aficionados to this outdoor museum. Children love riding the miniature train.

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A vintage train displayed at Travel Town Museum

5. Greek Theatre

Google Map

A favorite LA outdoor concert venue, the 5,700-seat Greek Theatre presents a summer season of top musical talent in its leafy natural bowl setting.

6. Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Hollywood Hills

Google Map

Buster Keaton and Bette Davis are among the celebrities interred in this parklike cemetery dotted with patriotic art and architecture.

7. Griffith Observatory and Planetarium

Google Map

The observatory has been the park’s chief attraction since 1935. A renovation project added 40,000 sq ft (3,716 sq m) of public space.

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Aerial view of Griffith Observatory and Museum

8. Merry-Go-Round

Google Map

A slice of nostalgia in the midst of futuristic LA, this beloved 1926 Spillman carousel has 68 exquisitely carved horses with real horse-hair tails.

9. Bronson Caves

Google Map

Scenes from Star Trek, Batman, Bonanza, and countless other film and TV productions were shot in this former rock quarry and caves, tucked away in a remote corner of Griffith Park.

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Scenes from famous TV shows were shot at the Bronson Caves

10. Griffith Park and Southern Railroad

Google Map

Generations of children have boarded the three miniature trains that chug along a 1-mile (1.6-km) track past pony rides, a Wild West ghost town and a Native American village, moving over a bridge, through a tunnel, past grazing goats and a cactus garden.

JAMES DEAN MEMORIAL

James Dean was one of Hollywood’s big stars when, aged 24, he died in a car crash on a lone highway in Central California. A bronze bust outside the Griffith Park Observatory honors the actor, who filmed the famous knife-fight from Rebel Without a Cause on the steps of the building. The scene’s intensity stems partly from the fact that the actors used real switchblades, though wearing protective vests. The bust is on the west side of the lawn.

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