Activities & Resources
Griffith Park353in Los Angeles, CA 90027
about Griffith Park:
Most of the park's 4,213 acres are remarkably unchanged since the first Spanish explorers looked west across the Los Angeles River at what was to become the nation's largest municipal park. The wooded and hilly land first became part of the Rancho Los Feliz land grant from the king of Spain, then fell into the hands of Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, the mining tycoon whose bronze statue now graces the Park's main entrance, and who deeded the land to the city in 1896.
A hundred years later, the park is still mainly uncultivated; coyote, deer, raccoons, hawks, woodpeckers and, of course, rattlesnakes abound, and the wildflowers in the spring make for glorious vistas.
There are countless reasons to visit:
Griffith Observatory is a good first stop, for its views, its Planetarium, and for its trail maps, available for $2 in the Hall of Science. The famous Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail leads up the hill from the Observatory parking lot; there are 53 other miles of hiking trails in the entire park. A lot of the landscape will look familiar, even to a first time visitor; hundreds of movie and television crews have used Griffith Park as a backdrop and continue to do so.
Another Griffith Park day can be spent exploring the Los Angeles Zoo and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, next to one another on the eastern side of the Park.
A favorite destination for children and adults, on the northern side of the Park, is the Travel Town Transportation Museum. Ride on, climb on, marvel at the Museum's wonderful collection of trains, fire engines, and automobiles, of all sizes and vintages.
You can enter the park on horseback, too, along the many miles of equestrian trails, well maintained by the park rangers and well-used by the region's many horse owners and lovers. It's a great way to see the Park. On the Burbank side, try Circle K Ranch Stables,, or Bar S Stables; they both have horses and guides available for rent. On the Hollywood side of the Park, Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables takes riders out for daytime and evening rides.
Smaller horse lovers can try the Griffith Park Pony and Wagon Rides, by the main entrance at Los Feliz Boulevard and Riverside Drive. Also in that complex, at the southeast corner of the Park, the beloved Griffith Park & Southern Railroad is where millions of Los Angeles children have experienced their first train ride.
A little golf? The Park has four golf courses. Wilson/Harding features two 18-hole courses, a driving range, several putting greens and a Pro Shop. The Los Feliz Municipal Course is a nine-hole, three par course, highly recommended for younger golfers. And Roosevelt Municipal is also nine-holes, but more difficult, and not usually recommended for children. Golf lessons are available at the Tregnan Golf Academy and the Griffith Park Golf School.
Tennis? Non-fee tennis courts are available in several locations throughout the park, and Griffith Park-Riverside Tennis takes court reservations for peak hours, and offers lessons and rent-a-pro sessions.
The enormous and beautiful swimming pool is open from mid-June to mid-September in the Griffith Park-Riverside Recreational Complex, at the corner of Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Boulevard. The fee is $1. Call 323.665.4372 for information about hours and lessons.
Crystal Springs Ranger Station is another place to get information about hiking trails, park regulations, and nature walks. Call 323.913.7390 for information.
Behind the ranger station, find the Crystal Springs Bike and Skate Rental, open Mon-Fri 3pm-8pm, and Sat-Sun 10am-8pm. Call 323.662.6573.
Pote Field is the baseball field. Call 323.913.4372 for information about permits.
For soccer, try the John Ferraro Soccer Fields, at the northeastern corner of the Park, near the intersection of the 5 and the 134. Call 323.485.7611 for information about reserving one of the five regulation-size fields and two practice fields at this popular and newly renovated area.
The shaded Crystal Springs picnic area, which can accommodate hundreds of people, can be reserved ahead of time, for a fee, through the ranger station. But most of the picnic areas are available for picnics, birthday parties, and whatever, on a first-come, first-served basis; you'd better get up before the birds if you want a good spot on a Saturday in June.
Worth a stop is the Old Zoo picnic area, off Griffith Park Drive - a slightly eerie, but fascinating, spot. The tiny old cages that once housed the zoo's lions, tigers and monkeys, now contain picnic tables, outdoor grills, and graffiti.
A bit further up Griffith Park Drive is the Mineral Wells picnic area with outdoor grills; it's a bit smaller, more out-of-the-way, and therefore sometimes less crowded, spot. It can be a popular trysting area; exercise discretion.
Pecan Grove is another pleasant picnic area with outdoor grills; it's off the Zoo Drive, between Travel Town Museum and the Zoo. A a bit close to the freeway, it can be noisy.
The Park Center picnic area, near the intersection of Griffith Park Drive and Crystal Springs Drive, is, as its name suggests, in the center of things. It's big, with a lot of different table and grill areas, but it fills up quickly on weekends.
Nearby is the marvelous Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, with its 68 splendid horses. It's open 11am-5pm, Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays. Tickets cost $1.
An old-fashioned organ plays LOUD waltzes, and the horses go round FAST; as merry-go-rounds go, this may not be the most gentle experience for a sensitive toddler, but older children and adults will love it. Call 323.665.3051 for information.
Also near the Park Center is the trail head for the Fern Gull Nature Walk, an easy, yet unusual, climb that winds along a gully, going back and forth across some bridges, and up and down some short hills. It's a good walk to do with younger children, and is often where the rangers take school children on weekday morning field trips. Call 323.913.7390 for information.
There are seven playgrounds in Griffith Park. The newest, on Griffith Park Drive, near the Park Center picnic area, is called Shane's Inspiration.
If you need a playground inside the Los Angeles Zoo, take a long walk from the entrance - or jump on the Zoo Shuttle - and go to the northern end, past the bears and tigers. This one has two large play structures, one for toddlers, one for older kids, picnic tables, a bark-covered surface, and a bathroom.
Across from the Park's main entrance, near the public pool and Griffith Park-Riverside Tennis is a pleasant, breezy, playground with sand, toddler and regular swings, and two play structures, both safe for toddlers. This one is popular because it is completely fenced-in, and has a water fountain, but the bathrooms are hundred of yards away and are often locked. Portable toilets have been installed, but do urge the kids to go before you leave home! A snack-bar is open on weekends, and there are picnic tables and outdoor grills.
Another playground is on the Los Feliz side of the Park, off of Fern Dell. This one is small and a bit dusty, but it does have an unusual roller-type slide, picnic tables, outdoor grills, and bathrooms. This is another notorious trysting spot, though, which may be why it is usually empty of children.
The other two playgrounds are on the Hollywood side of the Park. One is in Bronson Canyon, where Canyon Drive heads north from Franklin Avenue, and dead ends in the Park. It's small, shady, and popular with the neighborhood's toddlers and their nannies. There are picnic tables, but no bathrooms. In the spring Bronson Creek goes burbling by, a great attraction for those who enjoy sailing toy boats and wading.
The last one is in Beachwood Canyon, the next canyon west from Bronson. The so-called Hollywood Sign Dog Park is a challenge to get to, but worth the trouble. It's on Mulholland Drive, at the very top of Beachwood Canyon, overlooking the Hollywood Reservoir. Here's where you can fly a kite, throw a frisbee, let your dogs run free, and play in the small, but well-equipped and fenced-in playground. This area offers as close a view as you can get - legally - of the famed Hollywood Sign. Turn around, and you can see the Pacific glinting in the distance. There are no bathrooms, but there is a water fountain, (rather heavily used by dogs). Watch out for the poop; this is the only area of the Park where dogs are allowed off leash.
Bicycles are allowed on any of the paved park roads, but not on the equestrian and hiking trails up in the hills. The best bike path runs along Crystal Springs Drive and Zoo Drive, then turns back along the Los Angeles River and ends on Los Feliz Blvd near the main entrance.
Bird-watchers can have good luck all over the park; there is a bird sanctuary, off the Vermont Canyon Road, just past the Greek Theatre. It's open from 10am-5pm daily.
Explore and enjoy!