Southern California has never really been known to have the best locations for stargazing. With tall buildings and blinding freeway lights, sometimes it seems impossible to pick out even a single star in the night sky. In fact, those who are quite serious about their stars will typically travel north in order to find a better view.
For most people, however, there are places in the southern realm that work just as well. Places to look up and watch for shooting stars, airplanes, and satellites. Places to look for constellations and to stare at the moon.
Here are a few of our favorite spots:
Head inland, buy some snacks and set up your tent. Or don’t set up your tent. Maybe just sleep out under the massive expanse of sky that awaits any stargazer who visits Joshua Tree. Here, noise and light pollution only occur in the forms of loud climbers camping next door and lanterns on the camp table.
“This park has a stark beauty about it… If you can stick around for the nighttime, the dark sky bulleted with stars is breathtaking.” – Michael S.
A full-size bronze statue of Albert Einstein sits on a bench near the Leonard Nimoy theater and the Foucault Pendulum swings in the same place it has been since 1935. Telescopes are free to the public and there are educational, interactive games for everyone to learn a little something new about the sky. Surrounded by miles of hiking trails too, the Griffith Observatory remains one of the foremost places for stargazing, and right in L.A. too!
Source: Flickr/Frank Steele
“Griffith Observatory is quite beautiful. I also get a sense of calm from this place. You get to see Los Angeles from above where it’s quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of the city.” – Natalie L.
With roughly 58-acres to peruse, it would seem almost impossible to not find a perfect place to watch the stars go by. Tucked up near the Anaheim Hills Golf Course, the Oak Canyon Center is a favored place for nature-lovers, as it is a good distance removed from the light and noise pollution of the city – making it an ideal spot to stargaze!
Source: Flickr/Tracie Hall
“…It really gives you an idea of what the surrounding environment used to be like.” – Michael T.
Whether you’d rather stay at a little resort or hike into a campground, Catalina Island is a surprising oasis right in Los Angeles County. Really, the ferry takes you just far enough away from the lights and the smog to see something really special.
Source: Flickr/David Wilson
“Breathtaking sunrise and the ocean view is amazing! We saw a hundreds of dolphins just having fun! Beautiful island to visit!” – Cathy L.
Located in Mono County, there’s a rather large chance that this is the only stargazing spot in Southern California that offers the option to gaze while sitting in hot springs. Honestly, what sounds better than that?
Source: Flickr/wendEwho! Thompson
“Nothing is better than having your own hot spring at your camp. It’s always quiet, clean and relaxing.” – Kristi N.
Once utilized by renowned astronomers like Edwin Hubble and Harlow Shapley during much of the first halt of the 20th Century, Mount Wilson Observatory remains an intuition of learning and exploring. Schedule your own special tour or participate in one of the open guided tours. Not to mention, don’t forget to stop and take a look through the 100-inch telescope!
Source: Flickr/Doc Searls
“While the Mount Wilson Observatory may not be as accessible or famous as its kid sister in Griffith Park, let’s not forget it was this location that made Griffith J Griffith exclaim: ‘If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world.’” – Katrina W.