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How many times did you go to Griffith Park? Did you relax in Amir’s Garden or observe the Sun amphitheater at the Garden of Oz? These are some of the hidden gems I proposed to explore with this article. Let’s treasure hunting!
A pinch of history
- In 1896, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith gifted 3,015 acres of his land to create a public park.
- Spread over 4,210 acres, it is the largest public park in the United States.
- In 1913, Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick was the 1st woman to parachute from an airplane descending in Griffith Park.
- The narrow green path at Los Feliz Boulevard and N. Vermont entrance is the remain of the Pacific Electric Railway project which was supposed to go through the park.
Amir’s Garden is an oasis for hikers and equestrians.
In 1971 a fire destroyed this park hilltop. Hiker Amir Dialameh volunteered to plant trees and flowers to beautify the park. Over 32 years he developed and nurtured five acres of garden.
Did you know? Some plants are water-bearing hence prevent this area from fire.
“This country was built by volunteers. I believe everyone should do something for his community… I built a garden.” Amir Dialameh
I did the short hike from the Golf course, a 0,8-mile sandy uphill path to reach the garden (there are nine different access trails). On the top, explore this quiet and shady place. Then you will discover this lush vegetation while relaxing on one of the hidden benches.
Did you know? There are two other gardens like Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park. Amir volunteered to these before creating his.
Address: Amir’s Garden, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90027
– Grab water, hiking or tennis shoes, and sun cream. It is a sandy path with a really limited shade to access the garden. On the top, there is a fountain, tables, and benches to rest.
– Protect and respect the garden, and do not steel plants.
Garden of Oz
The Garden of Oz is a magical art-folk garden created in 1991 and developed since then by resident Gail Cottman. She was inspired by the concept of The Wizard of Oz: “everyone is their own wizard”. The garden is composed of colorful tiles, mosaics, thrones, plants, and flowers.
The Garden of Oz is not open to the public, whereas you can have a quick glimpse from the street. Luckily, when I visited it, I was welcome by Mrs. Cottman to discover her Land of Oz.
It stretches along with the property and includes a Sun Amphitheater, a chapel erected in homage to the Sagrada Familia (Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona, Spain), and different thrones like the one honoring Elvis Presley. It was beautiful, colorful, relaxing, and quiet. I enjoyed this unique crafted garden.
Did you know: In 2011, the Garden of Oz was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, No. 996.
Address: Garden of Oz, 3040 Ledgewood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
– Park next to Hollywoodland’s Gates and walk up to the Garden of Oz (parking permit only in this residential area).
– Be cautious as it is a narrow, heavily trafficked street especially on weekends. Indeed, the road leads to the Hollywood Sign.
– Photos are not allowed inside the garden, however I was allowed to take one through the gate.
The Old Zoo
The Old Zoo was the original Los Angeles zoo built in 1912. In 1966, the current LA zoo opened two miles north and this location was abandoned.
Today, you can look on the other side of the bars, climb the abandoned cages, explore grotto, and look behind the scene as a zookeeper. There are also picnic areas and large grass fields. During summer nights you can enjoy Shakespeare in the Park, free Shakespeare play performances.
Did you now? When it opened, LA old zoo was home to 15 animals.
Address: 4801 Griffith Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Tip: A few trails are leading up to some cages
Walt Disney, the birthplace of magic and wonders
Discover Walt Disney’s inspiration to create amusement parks as well as his passion for railroads.
Originally, Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round was a carousel built in 1926 for an amusement park in San Diego. Take a ride on one of the 68 hand-made horses listening to one of the 1,500 songs from the organ.
It is believed that Walt Disney sat on these benches and while looking at his daughters riding was inspired to create an amusement park for both kids and adults. Disneyland was born.
Did you know? The carousel appeared in different movies, TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Melrose Place, Beauty and the Beast for instance) and video clip (like “Don’t Forget” from Demi Lovato)
A couple of miles from the carousel, you will find Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn. Train lover, Walt Disney built a 1/8th scale live-steam railroad in his garden located in Holmby Hills (when the property was sold, Walt Disney’s daughter preserved it by transferring it to the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society located in Griffith Park). He built miniatures and models in this barn. Step inside his workshop to look at numerous pictures and artifacts. You can also enjoy a short train ride.
Did you know? Walt Disney named his barn Carolwood after his residence’s street in Holmby Hills.
Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn 5202 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round at 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, CA
– These locations are currently closed due to COVID-19
– The Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn is only open the 3rd Sunday of the month (11 AM-3 PM)
Make your entrance to Hollywoodland crossing the official two stones gates. Built in 1923 by architect John DeLario, these French Norman-style towers marked the entrance of the original real estate.
If you walk up Beachwood Drive, you will also find hidden stairs. There were also constructed in 1923 to make this hillside community more accessible.
Did you know? Armed guards were supposed to watch the gates
Did you know? The gates and staircases were built with granite from the Bronson Cave (see below).
Address: Located at the intersection of North Beachwood and Belden Drives (2695 N Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles, California)
Tips: Street parking (limited) next to the Hollywoodland’s gate. If you drive further, it will be a permit parking area.
The Bronson Cave is a rock cave well known for its appearances in different movies and TV shows, especially westerns, science fiction, and Batman (the 60s Batman series)!
A short 0,6-mile trail will lead you throughout this short tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel, look at the scarves and crushed rocks. Back in 1903, it was a quarry operated by the Union Rock Company to construct the city.
Did you know? After the tunnel, there is a nice view of the Hollywood Sign.
Address: Bronson Cave, 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Tips: Be cautious for snakes and bats
Ready to unlock these gems?
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