Lonely Planet review
This landmark 1935 observatory opens a window onto the universe from its perch on the southern slopes of Mt Hollywood. Its planetarium boasts the world’s most advanced star projector, and astronomical displays touch on the evolution of the telescope, and the ultraviolet x-rays used to map our solar system. We loved the camera obscura on the main floor.
For more tangible thrills, weigh yourself on nine planetary scales (weight-watchers should go for Mercury), generate your own earthquake or head to the rooftop to peek through the refracting and solar telescopes housed in the smaller domes. The sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills and the gleaming city below are just as spectacular, especially at sunset. The public is also welcome to peer into the Zeist Telescope on the east side of the roof, and after dark staff wheel additional telescopes out to the front lawn for star gazing if you can’t be bothered to wait in line for the Zeist.
You’ll definitely want to grab a seat in the Planetarium – the aluminum-domed ceiling becomes a massive screen where lasers are projected to offer a tour of the cosmos, while another laser-projection show allows you to search for water, and life, beyond earth.
The observatory has starred in many movies, most famously Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean. Outside, have your picture snapped beside the actor’s bust with the Hollywood sign caught neatly in the background. The carless can hop on the LADOT Observatory Shuttle (35 minutes, 25¢) from the Red Line station on Vermont and Sunset Blvd.