Griffith Park is a 4,000 acre wilderness park in the city of Los Angeles, originally donated to the city by Colonel Griffith J. Griffith in 1896 to avoid paying taxes on it. He probably had no idea how much his gift would be enjoyed. Griffith Park is essentially a playground for more than five million people each year. Geographically, it is situated in the Santa Monica Mountains, explaining its rugged and hilly terrain.
Even though Griffith Park is located in the middle of a smoggy, car-infested Los Angeles, it has hiking trails that lead to an untouched wilderness within 10 minutes of walking. Sierra Club members offer interpretive nature hikes through the park, which boasts 52 trails. The same plants and bushes that supplied the Native Americans with soap, medicines, and seasonings are still blossoming today along the trails. At night, you can take hikes in the dark amid sparkling city lights from a distance. The Ranger Station has free maps for those interested in doing self-guided hikes. In three hours, trekkers can hike six miles up to the summit of Mount Hollywood where the views of the city are impressive and the breezes benevolently sweep away the smog.
At the center of Griffith Park is the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium with its copper dome sticking out from the side of Mount Hollywood. The views of the city from the observatory are sweeping. Everyday, astronomy and laser shows explaining the constellations are held. On clear evenings, the stars can be viewed up close through the lens of one of the largest telescopes in the world.
Los Angeles Zoo
Griffith Park is home to the Los Angeles Zoo, which has over 2,000 mammals, reptiles, and amphibians living in natural habitats. Creatures from around the world are represented fairly well by the zoo. The Children’s Zoo is home to baby animals, some of them are made available to the public for petting. A children’s favorite is the 1926 carousel, the Merry-Go-Round, with its screeching calliope and colorful wood steeds. The Pony Rides nearby provide toddlers and tykes the opportunity to ride the backs of horses at a snail’s pace. Close to the Merry-Go-Round is the area where the old zoo used to be before it was closed in the 1950s. The site is now used for picnics.
Travel Town is a transportation museum in Griffith Park where kids can explore vehicles and conveyances including various trains and plains. The alfresco museum is the place where young adventurers can live out their travel fantasies.
Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum
The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum is close to the Los Angeles Zoo. This museum has a collection of American West tools, firearms, toys, furniture, clothing, and conveyances with historical value. On display are the works of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, the most famous artists of the Old West. There is also a mini-screen test that allows you to picture yourself as a cowboy.
LA Equestrian Center
The LA Equestrian Center at Griffith Park is home to horses that are “a cut above the usual stable nags”. Over 40 miles (65 kilometers) of bridle trails can be explored on horseback. The golf facilities at the center include a 36-hole Wilson-Harding course, two 9-hole executive courses (the Roosevelt and Los Feliz), and a pitch-and-putt field. Bike lanes throughout the park’s road make it an enjoyable place in Los Angeles to spend some time in the outdoors.
Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills
The Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills bounding Griffith Park’s northwest at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive is a cemetery of buried stars with pretentious gravestones and fancy memorials. Here, you’ll find the graves of Liberace, Stan Laurel, George Raft, Buster Keaton, Andy Gibb, among others.
Baker, Christopher, Judy Wade, and Morten Strange. California. New York: Macmillan General Reference, 1994. ISBN: 0671879065.
Dickey, Jeff. Los Angeles, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides, 2003. ISBN: 1843530589.
 Baker, 125
 Dickey, 95