Spend a Day in Griffith Park for Your Trip to L.A.

Spend a day in Griffith Park while visiting Los Angeles, and this guide has everything you need to plan your awesome day.

Los Angeles is an amazing destination, and this Californian city is home to a bunch of green spaces.

I know, right? That isn’t exactly what Los Angeles is famous for.

And guess what? Its largest city park is Griffith Park!

So, in this guide, I will share tips and ideas on the many beautiful places you can visit during your day at this incredible place.

How to Spend a Day in Griffith Park

How to Spend a Day in Griffith Park

How do you spend a day in Griffith Park? The best way to spend a day at Griffith Park is to visit its many attractions, including the observatory, Hollywood sign, and Zoo.

The park is also home to other attractions, such as the gorgeous Old North Church, the unique Bronson Caves, and the historic Griffith Park & Southern Railroad.

I will describe how to get to each of these places, as well as more detailed information, including their address, in their sections below.

Meanwhile, something I know helps a lot is knowing a little bit more about the background of this massive park.

Griffith Park History

Griffith Park was established in 1896 through a generous donation and has since evolved into a cultural and recreational hub in California.

The park gets its name from Griffith J. Griffith. He was a man who invested in mining and bought Rancho Los Feliz, later donating land to Los Angeles in 1896.

He was convicted of shooting his wife in 1903. Posthumously, his trust funded the Griffith Observatory and Greek Theatre.

Griffith Park housed Japanese Americans and POWs during WWII, and it faced fires in 1933, 1961, 1971, and 2007.

Cahuenga Peak was added in 2010.

Meanwhile, Griffith Park’s geology includes Neogene and Quaternary sedimentary formations, Miocene intrusive rock, and andesitic extrusive bodies.

In other words, this is a park featuring faulting and distinct rock contacts.

Outdoor Exercise

By far, the most popular thing for the locals to do at Griffith Park is to enjoy outdoor activities.

Angelenos love going to the park in the early morning or late afternoon and doing a lot of fun stuff, including hiking.

You will see them going in and out of the park on their own, with family or friends, and even with their active pets.

They do this because you really can’t believe how beautiful the payoffs are. At any of its top sections, you get to see gorgeous views of the city.

So, you can join them by going on your daily walks, hikes, or even runs going up and down these green hills.

I even think you should use this opportunity to see different parts of the park rather than all at once.

Now, hear me out. I know that isn’t exactly what you had in mind when you thought of how to spend a day in Griffith Park, but I really think it’s worth considering.

For instance, you will be exhausted if you do every single thing I’m recommending in this guide in one day.

Therefore, I think it would be in your best interest to use the park as part of your daily exercise (or use the opportunity to get into outdoor exercising).

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is probably one of the main things people love doing at the park. And why wouldn’t they? It’s amazing!

The property sits on the top of the park, overlooking the entire city. You will be able to learn the history by going inside.

Alternatively, you may decide to walk around and use this spot to admire the city below.

Plus, you will get incredible selfies and videos from this attraction.

Bronson Caves

Bronson Caves is a popular attraction in this park. It’s famous for its cinematic history.

Notably, it served as a backdrop for Westerns and science fiction films and T.V. shows.

Initially a quarry, it gained fame for its cave-like formations, often depicted in movies as remote wilderness.

Recognizable as the Batcave from the 1960s Batman series, its compact size belies its expansive portrayal on screen.

As a result, visiting is kind of a celebration of how it left an indelible mark on the collective imagination of film enthusiasts for over a century.

Personally, what makes Bronson Caves, also known as Branson Canyon, one of the best ways to spend a day in Griffith Park is that this is a natural way to celebrate the city!

Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood Sign is probably the most iconic landmark in this park. Basically, the sign is in the Hollywood Hills.

It consists of large white letters spelling out “HOLLYWOOD” and is situated on Mount Lee.

Many visitors go there to take photos and selfies with the sign in the background, although access to the sign itself is restricted to prevent vandalism.

That said, though, there are various viewpoints and hiking trails nearby where you can capture photos with the sign.

Discover Los Angeles, the city’s official tourism board, recommends several locations to view the Hollywood Sign.

One of their recommendations is actually at the park, Griffith Observatory.

Another recommendation is hotel rooftops like Bar Lis and The Highlight Room.

Hiking trails on Mt. Hollywood and tours by Bikes and Hikes LA or Sunset Ranch Hollywood also have unique perspectives.

Helicopter tours provide extravagant aerial views.

So, yeah, it’s definitely worth grabbing that photo or video! By the way, this is a great place to enjoy some Korean BBQ takeout with a view, too.

Old North Church

By far, this is one of the most unique attractions in Los Angeles because it simply doesn’t feel like something from California.

And it isn’t.

Old North Church is a replica of Boston’s historic church and is within Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.

The church was built to resemble the one from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

It houses historical rooms displaying documents and mementos from the colonial period.

To get there in Griffith Park, you can access it by following the directions to Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

One quick way is to get to Ventura Way (Highway 134) and get off on Forest Lawn Drive.

Then make a left on Memorial Drive and keep going until it turns into Magnolia Drive.

By then, you will see the church.

Los Angeles Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo

If you love furry friends, then this attraction will definitely make you happy. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is part of the park!

I would say it’s by far one of my favorite ways to spend a day in Griffith Park.

It was established in 1966, sprawling over 133 acres, and has evolved from earlier incarnations, including the Eastlake Zoo (1885) and Griffith Park Zoo.

Home to over 800 plant species and various animal exhibits, you can expect to see a diverse range of creatures.

Everything from chimpanzees and gorillas in the Campo Gorilla Reserve to Asian elephants in Elephants of Asia.

So, the zoo supports conservation efforts and has educational programs, too.

To fully experience the zoo’s attractions, I would say plan to spend at least a few hours exploring its exhibits, shows, and activities.

Now, to get there, you should know the zoo occupies the northeastern portion of the park.

From Ventura Way (Highway 134), get off on Zoo Drive, and you will see the signs leading you to the zoo.

Finally, adults (13-61) tickets cost $22, while seniors (62+) pay $19, children (2-12) are $17, and infants (0-23 months) enter for free.

All tickets require date/time reservations.

But yeah, this is a fun place!

Crystal Springs Picnic Area

After you go through all the ways to spend a day in Griffith Park, you are probably exhausted. So, why not rest?

That is where Crystal Springs Picnic Area comes into play. 

Basically, this picnic area is awesome. It has amenities like barbecue pits, an unlighted baseball diamond, a children’s play area, picnic tables, and unlighted volleyball courts.

Operating hours are from 5:00 am to 10:30 pm daily.

So, how do you get there? If you’re leaving the zoo, make a right on Crystal Springs Drive until you see the sign to make a left.

Final Thoughts

Whew! What a great way to spend a day at Griffith Park, right? This park really has so many options.

Of course, there are a lot of things I left out simply because it would be too much to do all in one day.

Some memorable mentions left out include Griffith Park & Southern Railroad, The Last House on Mulholland, and the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum.

If you have even more time, check out The Greek Theatre, the Wisdom Tree, and the Hollywood Reservoir.

Enjoy your day at Griffith Park!

AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.

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