Old Zoo Picnic Area – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

Old Zoo Picnic Area

The abandoned zoo enclosures offer a perfect place to experience the other side of the bars. 


In a quiet area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles, you can picnic in a bear grotto and climb inside abandoned monkey cages. If you have ever wondered what you appear like to the animals in the zoo, this abandoned LA zoo is your chance to find out.

The site of the first Los Angeles Zoo, it opened in 1912 with 15 animals. Many of the enclosures were built in the 1930s by Works Progress Administration crews and were made in the iron bars/pacing animal-style that was standard for zoos of that era. The zoo was abandoned in 1966 when the current LA Zoo opened.

Today the cave enclosures are outfitted with picnic benches and grills. A trail leading up from the caves gives you a zookeeper’s view of the lion’s den and leads to ever more abandoned cages, offering an eerie feeling of what it is like to be on the other side of the bars.

Know Before You Go

The picnic area is just a little hard to find, helping to preserve this historic site. From Crystal Springs Drive/Griffith Park Drive, turn west at Griffith Park Drive (this is not a typo, heading north, the name Griffith Park Drive makes a hard left as the pavement continues straight and changes name to Crystal Springs Drive. If going south, watch for the Griffith Park Drive sign and turn right). Watch closely for the sign a few hundred feet after the turn. The parking area is on the left. Dropped Pin near 5400 Griffith Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027https://goo.gl/maps/6NiaakNZeit This is the exact location of the parking lot to the old zoo if you have trouble finding it!

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