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Palomar Observatory, Palomar Mountain

4.5
#15 of 43 in Childrens Museums in California
Observatory Museum
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
115 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • If you thought that the Hubble telescope made ground-based observatories obsolete, you're in for a surprise! This historic observatory, whose 200-inch telescope was once the world's most powerful, is ...  more »
  • Informative excursion. There is a picnic area at the top of the mountain so pack a lunch. The telescope is impressive. Be aware though, you don't get anywhere near it really. You look at it through gl...  more »
  • The Palomar Observatory is definitely one of those interesting places you want to visit whether its a quick day trip or something you tack onto a bigger trip. You must drive up the windy road of Palom...  more »
Google
  • I've heard a lot of people recommend this place saying it was a fantastic observatory to visit. I've visited Griffith Observatory before and although I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as big and interactive as that, I felt like Palomar was a little anti-climactic. The grounds are nice and well kept, and we walked into the main dome that was open. There was no staff that we could see there except the woman in the gift shop. When you walk into the main dome, there are stairs that lead up to a second floor where you get to see the telescope through a glass wall and look up at the inside of the dome through the glass ceiling. There are several posters around the room with information on the telescope and its findings, but it's pretty basic and not a whole lot to do in there. I can't see being entertained in that room for more than 10 minutes. It is a fascinating telescope to look at, but there's just not a ton going on in that room. I think the visitor center/gift shop has more to look at than the actual observatory. There are a few interactive things to see in there and they got this really mellow ambient music playing that makes you feel like you walked into the future in a galaxy far far away. Besides the observatory itself, the drive up was beautiful. I think I actually enjoyed the journey up better than the observatory itself. We did ask the woman in the gift shop about the tours they have and they only run on the weekend, there are two tours a day, with a max of 30 people a tour, and it is first come first serve with tickets they sell at location only. So I would imagine there are quite a few people who drive all the way there on the weekends expecting a tour that end up not having being able to. The tours are 1 hour and include an extended walk around the inside of the observatory behind the glass wall. I guess I was expecting a little more from this place based on what others had said about it. It's not a bad visit, but it's also not going to keep you busy for very long, so I would suggest finding some other things to do in the area, or packing a picnic or going on a hike in the area.
  • Amazing to see it up close. Museum was very nice! A bit curvy going up the mountain but we took the back way on the way out (S7) which was less curvy and recommended by the owner of Mother's Cafe on the mountain. Good place to take family!!
  • A fantastic bit of scientific history and a beautiful scenic drive to go with it. Just be sure to bring a warm jacket if you go to see the Hale telescope in the dome because it is extremely cold in there! I was incredibly impressed by the drawings done by Russel W. Porter, a.k.a. "the Cutaway Man," who made over 1000 intricately detailed drawings of the 200" Hale telescope housed at Palomar. For the next astronomical event, it may be worth a trip back up the mountain to stay at the nearby campsite away from city light pollution.
  • The history, grace, beauty, and just plain cool factor is awesome. The only way it could be better is if I had a tech job there.
  • If you are interested in the history of astronomy and in telescopes this is the place to go. I first visited as a child back in 1959. It is worth the drive and you can also bring your own picnic to eat up there.

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