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Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Sep 26 , 2011
Griffith Park is like Central Park, but with a few famous Hollywood twists: ghost stories, natural disaster, and a tale of murder. Catch a live show at a Greek amphitheater, hike Mount Hollywood, ride a train, golf, visit a zoo and a western museum, and stargaze at Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.
After Colonel Griffith J. Griffith (his real name) got spooked by the supposed ghost of a former landowner, the ostrich farmer donated over 3,000 acres of land to the city of Los Angeles in 1896. Griffith had a vision for the park to include an amphitheatre, an observatory, children's camps, and a planetarium. Griffith was also obsessed about flying and wanted something at the park to pay tribute to aviation.
In 1903, Griffith shot and killed his wife. Griffith attempted to pay for the construction of everything he'd envisioned for the land, but the city would not take his money. Some of what Griffith wanted was built over time without him.
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Over 250 species of animals and 800 species of plants call the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens home. The 133-acre zoo campus features Asian elephants, harbor seals, gorillas and chimpanzees, koalas and wallabies, snow leopard, flamingoes, komodo dragons, and a hands-on children's zoo where kids can explore a cave and a desert trail filled with animals of the deserts and plains. The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the most treasured and beloved places within Griffith Park.
Autry National Center of the American West
Gene Autry founded the Autry National Center of the American West at Griffith Park in 1988 to help preserve artifacts from the US expansion into the west. The center boasts a collection of over a quarter million pieces of Native American artwork, including woven baskets, textiles, ceramics, and jewelry. See objects from the gold rush era, Billy the Kid's rifle, iconic cowboy costumes and pieces, and a gallery of Colt revolvers.
Outdoor Sporting Recreation
Ride horses and hike through the Santa Monica Mountains, swim in an outdoor pool, and play tennis or basketball on the park's courts. Enjoy golf on two different 18-hole and one 9-hole courses or take advantage of the wide open green spaces on the multiple athletic fields. Or, just explore the grounds and enjoy the sweeping view of the valley where LA lives.
Where to Eat
At the Griffith Park Observatory in the park, the Café at the End of the Universe offers soups, salads, wraps, and sandwiches. The Wilson Harding Clubhouse at the Los Feliz golf course provides an elegant dining room with full meal service. If you're at the park early, try Roosevelt Café at Roosevelt Golf Course for breakfast or burgers/veggie burgers for lunch.
Where to Stay
Griffith Park couldn't be in a more central location within LA. Universal City, with dozens of hotel choices, borders the park to the west. To the north, the Tangerine and a Best Western are close Warner Brothers Studios. If you are looking for a deal, there are reasonably-priced motels within a mile or two east of the park.
See some of the other great things to do in L.A.