A trip to Griffith Observatory doesn’t feel complete to me without a stop at Trails Cafe. In fact, the rustic snack shack on Fern Dell Dr. is a destination unto itself. The Eastside-hip staff serves up fresh, mostly vegetarian fare like avocado sandwiches, phyllo dough-wrapped veggie dogs (regular hot dogs are available as well), as well as homemade cookies, pies and pastries. With plenty of picnic benches and lots of open space for the kids to run around, as well as the Fern Dell walking trail a stone’s throw away, lunch spots don’t get much more idyllic (or kid-friendly) than Trails.
A stroll along the Fern Dell path is a great way to digest. The best way to reach it is to cross the street from Trails and head south until you see the entrance to the dell through the chain link fence (either on your right or on your left, depending on which path you took there). The path can feel almost magical with its babbling brook and thick canopy of leaves. And it’s enclosed, which is always nice when you’re with little ones (just make sure they don’t topple into the creek).
On other occasions, we get our food to go, drive the rest of the way up the hill, and then picnic on the lawn outside of the observatory. West enjoys climbing on the statue out front, and sometimes we wander a little ways up the trail to the north of the building, which is especially magical at sunset. If I’m feeling up for it, we might even check out the exhibits inside. The Planetarium show is super cool kids old enough to stay quiet for the duration of the show (if I recall correctly, it’s less than 45 minutes long). It’s also a romantic, unique and affordable option for date nights.