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Jolene goes to Griffith Observatory: A Mental Health Day

Famously depicted in Hollywood favorites such as Rebel Without a Cause and La La Land, the Griffith Observatory is an iconic Los Angeles landmark that draws tourists and locals alike. So, when I found out one of my besties of 13+ years (Christine) would be in that area, I suggested we include it in our LA-day.

Recently I've been battling with some mental health issues, all triggered by recent negative personal and professional experiences. I got to a point where I basically broke, and I've been trying to get on the mend ever since. For some, they need time, space, and reflection time alone, but I've learned that going out with my supportive friends has offered me the positivity and fun I've needed to heal, little by little. Local travel has been like a special antibiotic, giving me new experiences to cling onto instead of being overwhelmed by the negative thoughts and feelings going on in my head.

We began our day by meeting at Wanderlust Creamery (Atwater Village location) - I left work a couple hours early, endured an hour of traffic, and finally arrived at the popular ice creamery. There was plenty of parking in the back, and plenty of parking on the adjacent side streets. We walked through the doors and into the minimalist, no-frills ice cream shop. I'd seen so many cutesy Instagram posts about this place, so naturally, I already had an unnecessary aversion to this place. The good news? I was pleasantly surprised by it's authenticity and unique flavors.

I absolutely love ice cream, and I've been to some really amazing ice cream spots, so I had high expectations of this travel-themed ice cream shop. I tried a handful of flavors but ultimately settled on Violet Marshmallow, marshmallow creme ice cream infused with Parma violets + laced with candied violet pieces inspired by the South of France, and "The White," a seasonal flavor inspired by Chinese White Rabbit candies AKA my entire childhood. Both were light and airy, but still creamy enough for me. I loved the unique flavors that were strong but not overwhelming. You can tell that a lot of thought, hard work, creativity and care goes into every ice cream. The travel theme is real, not just an attempt to be trendy.

We grabbed two seats by the large window facing the eclectic mix of colorful shops Glendale Blvd, I vented about my recent troubles, and we thoroughly enjoyed our ice cream.

Next, we made the winding trek up to Griffith Observatory. We got very lucky and found a parking spot not too far down the road. As we walked up to the Observatory, we admired the ghostly silhouette of Downtown LA in the distance, contrasted with the deep green of the hillside we were on.

The Observatory is perched on the South side of Mount Hollywood, its panoramic view drawing over 70 million visitors since its opening in 1935, including hikers, outdoor enthusiasts, tourists, locals, and ~influencers alike.

We made our way inside, skimmed through the various astronomy-themed exhibits, contemplating the giant universe we live in. The exhibits are colorful, some are interactive, and all are very informative if you want to learn about the galaxy we live in. We joke about Star Wars and watch countless Fantasy/Sci-Fi films, but we don't often spend much time contemplating the real-life space that exists beyond the blue skies and fluffy clouds.

Although I'd visited the Observatory before, I'd never spent too much time inside, and I'd surely never seen a show at the Planetarium. So of course we went over to the ticket counter to purchase tickets for the upcoming Planetarium show.

We caught the 5:15PM showing of "Light of the Valkyries," a multimedia show complete with a live narrator, examining the history of the Vikings, their relationship to space, and of course, the amazing Northern Lights. Photos weren't allowed, and I'm not sure photos/videos would have done this presentation justice. I had zero clue what to expect, but what I got was a wonderfully educational experience, stunning visuals, and a unique experience. Yes, the animations are dated, but I personally love to learn about the wonders of our world, and Light of the Valkyries taught me just that.

Eventually we wandered back out and around the Observatory - there are several observation points and plenty of perfect locations for great photos. Sometimes, living so close to LA, I forget how beautiful it is to visit and admire the scenery. People visit from all over the world to see the iconic Hollywood Sign, and I forget how surreal it is to be privileged enough to see it often.

Sometimes, when we are down, a great antibiotic is a change in perspective. While I am still nowhere near 100%, visiting the Observatory made me take a step back, in a good way, and take a look at where I am. We live in a crazy universe, and many of us are privileged enough to live in a place like Los Angeles. It's humbling but also gratitude-inducing. I was so happy to step out onto the roof and chat with one of my best friends in such an iconic place, with the Hollywood Sign in the background.

Once we were done, we decided to grab dinner at a place we have now deemed as our new tradition. Off of Sunset Blvd, past the tourist traps and the bustle of Hollywood sits The Electric Owl. If you read my post about the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, you already know about this lowkey Hollywood spot.

Unfortunately (at least in my opinion), the change in menu wasn't a great one. The dishes weren't as exciting as the last time, but we had a good time nonetheless. I do recommend this spot if you're in the Hollywood area but don't want to be caught in a tourist trap. If you like low lighting, cozy candlelights and intimate seating, The Electric Owl is for you.

Sometimes, you don't need to spend much money or go very far to have a fun "trip." Travel is a privilege, and you should grab it how and where you can. Where are you going to visit locally?

Until next time,

Happy wandering!

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