The Beverly Hills Hotel. Chateau Marmont. The Ivy. Malibu Country Mart. While these are all fine places in La-La Land to partake in stargazing, for the real celestial deal, you must ascend Mount Hollywood and pay a visit to the Griffith Observatory.
The magnificent art deco crown jewel of Griffith Park, L.A.'s iconic astronomical observatory has been open to the public, for free, since 1935. The observatory’s planetarium and telescopes, including a historic 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope, remain top draws although it's not so much what's in the (light-polluted) night sky that keeps tourists and native Angelenos alike coming in droves. Even through layers of smog and haze, the sweeping city views commanded from the observatory grounds are nothing short of breathtaking. The building is perched 1,134 feet above sea level atop one of America's premier urban parks, so hiking is also a popular activity around the observatory, which is also home to a Tesla coil, Foucault pendulum and Wolfgang Puck-helmed café. Also not to be missed are Hugo Balin's murals. And in terms of the other stars that populate Los Angeles, you might have a decent chance of seeing them, too, as Griffith Observatory is used for chi-chi industry events and as a frequent filming location that’s appeared in hundreds of films and TV shows including, most famously, "Rebel Without a Cause." The observatory’s association with the 1955 teens-gone-wild melodrama is immortalized with a monument featuring the bust of star-crossed actor, James Dean. Visitors will find the monument on a terrace that offers full-on views of the observatory's most popular non-astronomical sight: the Hollywood Sign.