To spare you from reading the rest of this blog, if you are looking for the answer to the titular question, it is Griffith Park.
As a student from New Jersey, prior to coming to USC I had never heard of Griffith until I had been accepted to the school. In part of my celebration of acceptance, I started to binge USC / Los Angeles related movies including but not limited to Boyz in the Hood, Love and Basketball and La La Land. With the latter, the city of Los Angeles was presented to me in a way that I had never seen before, having only prior been to Southern California for San Diego and Disney Land.
One of the most well-known scenes in La La Land is when both main characters travel to Griffith Observatory after there is an issue with the first location of their date. Watching this movie, I couldn’t wait to make my way to Los Angeles and more specifically, Griffith Park to see if the magic from the movie persisted in real life.
Of course, it did. Having been in Los Angeles for nearly 3 years now, I’ve had the chance to travel north on a few occasions, seeking different experiences, and I’ve loved them all. Of those adventures, these are my favorite three:
1) Griffith Observatory
As an engineer, I’ve always been fascinated by science museums, and can say that this one is one of the finest I have been to. Located at the top of the hill, after navigating the winding roads and tunnels you arrive at one of the best views of Los Angeles, from Downtown to the Hollywood Sign right next to you. Once inside of the Observatory, you are met with a plethora of unique exhibits detailing space travel, the history of planetariums and interactive electricity demonstrations. But, the highlight of the night is the planetarium show. I’ll spare the details so it is as epic for you as it was for me, but I can say that I left the show awe-struck, with a new perspective on life and a new appreciation for the beauty of our planet.
2) Sunset Ranch
It is the dream of many children to be a cowboy when they grow up, and at some point in my life I also shared this aspiration. So, to be able to ride horses through a ranch and the Hollywood Hills, I could feel this dream coming through finally. A couple of miles away from the Observatory, is Sunset Ranch, where you can get your own guided tour through the area on horseback. Along my tour, our guide showed us tricks on his horse and let us know some interesting facts about the are that I had never heard before. I was a bit wary that I would get thrown off the horse or hurt myself, but the guide quelled my fears and my horse, Shaggy, treated me well the entire ride. It was a relaxing ride, and I got another new perspective on the city and all it has to offer.
3) Mt. Lee Hike
When friends and family come to visit, one of the first things they want to see is the Hollywood Sign. On a clear day, I’ll say “Look over there” and the sign is present in all its glory, having a relatively good view from campus. When I don’t feel like being sarcastic, one of the best ways to answer the question is with an offer to hike. Most likely the most famous hike of Griffith Park is to see the Hollywood sign. While you won’t be able to snag a picture touching the letters or anything like that, following the listed trail to the sign will get you close enough to get great pictures and make it seem like you could have touched it if you wanted to. Fulfilling the dream in every tourist’s heart, the hike makes for a great attraction for those who aren’t afraid of heights and a little physical activity.
(Disclaimer: Not the close view like I described, just the only picture I had)
This is just the tip of the iceberg for what Griffith Park has to offer. With over 3000 acres, I have yet to explore a majority of the land. I know that everytime I choose to return, I will have a different experience to tell stories about, and this is what makes it such a great destination for any and everyone who has the pleasure of visiting me at USC.