Griffith Park

Edwin Lopez

For those trying to get away from the “glitz and glamour” of Hollywood, without going too far, there is a place you can go for sanctuary. A quick drive up to Los Feliz Boulevard will bring you to Griffith Park, L.A.’s patch of green in our world of gray.

You can start by the entrance near the end of Western Avenue, where you can find a statue of a baby bear taking what looks like his first steps. You can follow a little creek along the side of the road and hike the trail all the way up the mountain; over small pedestrian bridges and through underpasses, among new parents bringing their bright-faced babies to the park and lovers taking strolls hand in hand.

If you have the courage, eventually you will end up at the top of the mountain with a lovely, yet distant, view of the Hollywood sign. Just a little further up and we arrive at the newly renovated Observatory. Even without going inside, it has such a grand, scientific presence, that you can’t help but feel like an astronomer peering up at the heavens and looking out at the City of Angels.

Once the draw of staring at the skies has dwindled, your can continue your journey through the park, only this time you should take another way out. You can go through a long, dark tunnel and down the hill. As you pass the Bird Sanctuary, you might start to hear music in the distance. It just so happens to be that there is a concert going on at the Greek Theatre! It perfectly adds to your mood as you go on down your path.

With a few quick turns, you are now passing the lighted fountain and the statue of Col. Griffith, the namesake of the park. You will see the mini-train and children riding horses, as well as adults riding them along the various horse trails. If you are there on the right day, you may see the drum circle congregating and making their unique style of collective sounds. This is also where you can find the old zoo and the merry-go-round. There is also a child’s play area, known as “Shane’s Inspiration,” that is dedicated to allowing handicapped children to play along with the other children.

After you are done eating the carne asada and Gardenburgers you cooked in the barbecue pits, you can go past the golf course, and continue towards the Los Angeles Zoo. There is the smell of dozens of different types of animals intermingled in the air. There are always families coming and going from there, as well as the Gene Autry Museum. There is a person in full Native American garb standing outside handing out flyers. You can feel the Old West atmosphere just driving by; it has a very nostalgic character to it.

If you want to end your escape here, you can exit through the back roads and drive past the old train station. If you know your way from there, you can get back on the main roads where you will drive by Forest Lawn, where you will surely see someone bringing flowers for a dead loved one. From here it is not far from the Burbank television studios and Universal Studios, where you can get your fix of Hollywood again until the next time you tire of it.