Overall I loved this place, there's nothing like it.. Especially visiting at night definitely made the scenery worthwhile. However, parking was horrible! I paid for parking all the way at the top to be closer to the entrance, or so I thought. I ended up parking extremely far away. Come to find out if I had parked all the way at the bottom a shuttle would've picked me and my family up and I wouldn't have to walk all I did, and it would've been free! Made absolutely no sense to me to pay to be "closer" and still walk all I did.However, people who didn't pay for parking had a shuttle pick them up? Had the walk been close I wouldn't complain, but IT WAS FAR! I would say it was almost a mile.
This place is simply magical. Having visited both during day and night, it's amazing any time of the day, plus you get a wide view of LA. Docents are friendly and are excited to tell you about the telescope as they work here. If the sky is clear, you get to view the sky through the telescope, but if it's cloudy, you get to take a picture of the telescope itself, not normally possible. This is of course where one the iconic scenes of La La Land takes place. Parking is relatively cheap though it can be busy, we went in February evening and was almost full.
This is one the places that I would love to go on any day. I prefer to go a little before dusk so I can catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and also not have to wait too long for the darkness to descend and being able to see the beautiful lit city of Los Angeles. The view is mermerising. A quick note about the parking though, when I visited it a few years back parking was free on the sides, but now they have metered parking which is pretty expensive (if you think about it) since you'd need a few good hours to explore the whole observatory. I suggest on the way to descent there are a few spots off the road which are free parking. And yes, expect a lot of traffic on any time of the day on weekends.
Excellent experience! Love this place! Great for people all ages. A few words to describe would be: informative, educational, fun, scientific, astronomical. Beautiful views of: LA, the ocean, sunsets, cityscape, the Hollywood sign, the Hollywood hills, etc. Check out a video presentation of how the Observatory was upgraded at the Leonard Nimoy theater. Incredible! The Planetarium Show was cool as well. You can see a live demonstration of a Tesla Coil that produces wireless electricity. Lots of great exhibits to see. You can see a projection of our sun inside. Since it is a live projection, be sure to be here and see it while the sun is still up. (We missed it. Bummer.) At 7pm you can look through the 12” telescope on the roof. The line grows really fast and the wait time can be very long. A staff member mentioned that there are a couple 11” newer telescopes on the lawn available to look through. So we went down and had a look. Minimal line up and the image quality was really good. So if you don’t want to wait in a long line for hours, definitely check out the telescopes on the front lawn. ***** PARKING NOTICE: I’d recommend using the pay parking option closer to the Observatory. We parked at a “Free” lot farther down and returned to a $58 parking ticket on our rental car. There were no warning signs anywhere in the lot about not parking after sunset, but we received a ticket regardless. Therefore, the better cost would be to pay for parking at the top if you’re planning on returning to your car after sunset. *****
I took my future wife here on one of our first dates in 1978. She was a pretty, tall young lady with flowing long brunette hair. She had a sweet sense of humor and temperament. We came on a weekend when they were presenting the laser light show on the domed planetarium ceiling with accompanying music. One of the songs played was "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, which had become popular around that time. Virginia and I leaned back in our seats to watch the display and she soon fell asleep. She was weaving dreams to the psychedelic display and I was glad she was so comfortable. Later, we went out to the walkway that encircled the observatory and strolled along hand in hand and shared a kiss or two. The city lights of L.A. glistened below us like a magic carpet of sparkling gems. We had brought a few beers and drank them while leaning against the handrail, talking and laughing together. At that time there were no security cameras and things were a little more laid back. Some of you may recall the movie; "Rebel without a cause." with James Dean and Natalie Wood from the 50's and the scene where James Dean is in a switchblade fight with some hard guys in this very spot. Well, we can't all really be quite as cool as James Dean or Natalie Wood but you could weave a dream of your own while floating high above the twinkling sea of lights at the edge of the City of Angels.