Technically, Griffith Park (Los Feliz Blvd., Zoo Blvd., or Forest Lawn Dr., 213/485-5501, daily 6 a.m.–10 p.m.) is part of the city of Los Angeles , not of Hollywood . This huge park, sometimes called “L.A.’s Central Park” has an endless array of attractions and amenities to suit every style of visitor.
If you love the stars, visit the recently renovated Griffith Observatory (4730 Crystal Springs Dr.). Golfers can choose between two 18-hole courses and one 9-hole course located on the parklands. A swimming pool cools visitors in the summer. You’ll find a baseball field, basketball and tennis courts, and endless miles of hiking and horseback riding trails that thread their way far into the backcountry of the park.
Griffith Park has played host to many production companies over the years, with its land and buildings providing backdrops for many major films. Scenes from Rebel Without a Cause were filmed here, as were parts of the first two Back to the Future movies. Its use is appropriate to the park’s rich history. The land was donated by miner and Colonel Griffith J. Griffith (really). It has changed much over the years, but remains one of Los Angeles ’ great prizes.
The Hollywood Sign sits on Mount Lee, which is part of the park and indelibly part of the mystique of Hollywood .
If you prefer a more structured park experience, try the L.A. Zoo (5333 Zoo Dr., 323/644-4200, www.lazoo.org , daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m., adults $12, children $7). If the weather is poor (yes, it does rain in L.A.), step inside the Museum of the American West (4700 Western Heritage Way, 323/667-2000, www.autry-museum.org , Tues.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adults $9, children $5).
Kids love riding the trains of the operating miniature railroad in the Travel Town Museum (5200 Zoo Dr., 323/668-0104, http://traveltown.org , Mon.–Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.) and taking a spin on the park’s carousel.