Made world-famous in the film Rebel Without a Cause, Griffith Observatory's bronze domes have been Hollywood Hills landmarks since 1935. Closed for renovation for what seemed like forever, it finally reopened in November 2006 after a $93-million overhaul. The central dome houses the 300-seat Samuel Oschin Planetarium, where hourly screenings of a narrated 30-minute projection show called "Centered in the Universe" reveal the stars and planets that are hidden from the naked eye by the city's ubiquitous lights and smog.
The observatory also features 60 space-related exhibits designed to "sparkle your imagination," the highlight being the largest astronomically accurate image ever produced -- a 20*152-foot porcelain enamel dazzler that's cleverly called "The Big Picture." It supposedly encompasses a million galaxies, but I lost count after 11. There's also the 200-seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater (go Spock!), a Wolfgang Puck "Café at the End of the Universe," and several Zeiss and solar telescopes for public use both day and night.
Truth be told, most locals never actually go inside the observatory; they come to this spot on the south slope of Mount Hollywood for the unparalleled city views. On warm nights, with the lights twinkling below, this is one of the most romantic places in L.A.