A Shameful, Embarrassing Admission

I’ll warn you now: the title of this post is a complete exaggeration. But it stems from a truthful place – a little nugget of shame that actually exists within me. And that little nugget is this:

In the nearly 12 years that I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I’ve never been to the Griffith Observatory.

Shocker, right?! The Griffith Observatory is a landmark museum and planetarium that’s built on top of a mountain in the Hollywood Hills. It’s been seen in tons of movies and TV shows, including “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” “Transformers,” and, most famously, “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Griffith Observatory is about 20 minutes away, and yet I’ve never been. I’ve been close – I’ve hiked in the vicinity once before (and took a few pictures to prove it – see them in this post from 2010). The other day, I came even closer, when I hiked up to the Observatory with my friend Stephanie.

We started at the bottom of the mountain, looking up at the Observatory in the distance. It was an overcast day, but that was okay, because that meant it wasn’t super hot:


As the trail rose higher, we started seeing the Hollywood sign in the distance:


Soon we were much closer to the Observatory…


..and before we knew it, we were on the big lawn out front!


The hike up to the observatory is about a mile, and despite a nice elevation change and some steeper portions, it’s a pretty easy hike. And the hike is worth it for the views. The Observatory itself is absolutely gorgeous…


…as is the city below. I love this picture with the downtown skyline in the distance:


Don’t think I didn’t pick out which skyscrapers I’ve raced up! Because I do that every time I see the skyline!

A stranger took this photo of Stephanie and me and the Hollywood Sign:


And then we checked out the positively creepy bust of James Dean. The sculptor left out his eyes, so there are just holes where his eyeballs should be, along with voids in his nostrils and mouth. It was like someone dipped a Halloween mask in metal. Plus, he looks like he’s in pain. I don’t care for this piece of art, and think James deserves better.


Stephanie and I didn’t venture into the Observatory – we decided to save that for a day when we weren’t in the middle of exercising, but we did wander up on the roof (yes, it’s permitted), where one of the domes was open. Inside was the Zeiss 12-Inch Refracting Telescope, which was very cool:


It looks like a giant version of the machine at the eye doctor’s office that they use to determine if your vision has changed (“Which is clearer, 1 or 2? 1… or 2…. now, 1… or 3…”)

We wandered for 10 or 15 minutes on the Observatory grounds and then headed back down to our cars. It total we hiked 2.2 miles in a little over an hour (including wander time). Stephanie and I parted ways, and I headed for Part Two of my workout: stairs!

The trail head was only a few blocks from the St. Andrew Stairway, a 153-step public stairway in Hollywood that I used frequently when training for the Aon Center climb a year ago. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been on these stairs, but they felt familiar and welcoming within seconds.


My goal was to climb the stairs four times, with a moderate break between each climb (nothing too excruciating). I was feeling good during the climbing, so I ended up ascending and descending them five times, for a total climb of 765 steps (around 35 flights). Not too shabby for a Sunday morning!

Keep it up, David!

10 Responses to A Shameful, Embarrassing Admission

  1. SarahGarcia77@yahoo.com says:

    I like the M Hat!

  2. I was there a couple weeks ago! 🙂 We drove up, though, didn’t hike. You should definitely go into the observatory and take in one of the shows sometime… their planetarium is AMAZING. And the voiceover artist who does the show is just phenomenal.

  3. mburton0214 says:

    Proud to say as a relatively new resident of LA that my family and I went to the Griffith Obs last year (on a day much like you did). It’s gorgeous but it looks like a hike is tough. Will need to try it one of these days (along with the infamous Runyon Canyon).

    We have friends coming to visit soon so who knows what other tourist spots I’ll get to tick off my list soon!

    • David says:

      Hike isn’t that tough, Melissa. And it’s pretty short, too, as hikes go. I’m not a huge fan of Runyon myself, but I’ve been a couple times and it’s pretty. Also crowded.

  4. Linda Starkey says:

    Can’t believe Stephanie would have a picture taken with someone in a Michigan hat and blue shirt!

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