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Palomar Observatory

35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
+1 760-742-2119
Review Highlights
“A gem of science with a lot of tales about its travels deep in the Universe...AWESOME!”

It makes me proud and happy of having visited it. It was in my bucket list. The mountain is... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Parkland, Florida
Beautiful drive up the mountain

The road up the mountain to the observatory was a very nice drive. The walk to the observatory was... read more

Reviewed 3 weeks ago
Read all 128 reviews
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Palomar Observatory, located atop Palomar Mountain in north San Diego County, California, is a center of astronomical research owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Observatory is home to three active research telescopes: the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope, the 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope, and the 60-inch (1.5-meter) telescope. The research is conducted by Caltech faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and students, as well as by researchers at collaborating institutions. Conceived of almost a hundred years ago, Palomar Observatory has been at the forefront of astronomical research since mid-century. Today, the observatory operates every clear night and is an iconic facility for scientific advancement, instrument development, and student training. The Observatory is a popular destination in Southern California and receives tens of thousands of visitors a year from all over the world. Most come to see the famous 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope-for decades the largest effective telescope in operation. Whether you are an astronomy, history, or engineering enthusiast, or simply curious about the Observatory, you will enjoy visiting our museum and taking one of our guided tours of the facility. All are welcome at the Palomar, but we ask that all visitors respect our rules and procedures. Public, guided tours of the 200-inch (5.1-meter) Hale Telescope are available to visitors on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday, start times are 11:00 am and 1:30 pm) spring through fall-typically from the first weekend in April to the last weekend October. The tours are roughly one hour long, and limited-availalbility tickets (sold exclusively on a day-of and first-come, first served basis) are required. Please plan accordingly.
  • Excellent51%
  • Very good40%
  • Average7%
  • Poor2%
  • Terrible0%
Travellers talk about
“guided tour” (18 reviews)
“gift shop” (20 reviews)
Closed Now
All hours
Hours Today: 09:00 - 15:00
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA 92060
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Reviews (128)
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1 - 10 of 123 reviews

Reviewed 2 weeks ago

It makes me proud and happy of having visited it. It was in my bucket list. The mountain is gorgeous, the air clear and pristine (unbelievable in Southern California!). The dome is huge. Parking is ample, and they sell delicious Mount Palomar Spring H2O for...More

Thank alberto927
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

The road up the mountain to the observatory was a very nice drive. The walk to the observatory was not too far and make sure to read the signs about the rattle snakes. There are steps up to the restrooms and to see the actual...More

Thank cherylsU6752DF
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

Went there on a weekday, it's a nice half-day trip from Oceanside. Absolutely nothing going on at the main telescope building. The museum has all kinds of interesting exhibits and explanations and fun souvenirs. Booking a tour of the main scope seems smart. Best air...More

Thank greggo8
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

I was fortunate to be part of a school group that had a private tour of the observatory. The guide was excellent; a retired engineer and amateur astronomer, he was able to provide an in-depth explanation of the observatory, its construction, the manufacture of the...More

Thank Dale W
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Worth the winding, scenic drive up the mountain. The observatory itself is quite impressive as is the small museum that's packed with informative and interactive exhibits and videos. (It's free and open daily 9-4PM.) It's makes for a great field trip for people of all...More

Thank onthelooselive
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

The Observatory is a great place to visit even more so if you're a science junkie. Even getting to this place is an adventure. We drove here from Valley Center. The ride up is breath taking. The actual Observatory is not open to the public,...More

Thank willkommenhof
Reviewed 26 October 2017

This is my first visit back since being in Grammer School. I would highly recommend this to anyone or family. The information available both in the Observatory and the information center is vast. To be able to see the telescopes up close is amazing. Beautiful...More

Thank Marilyn S
Reviewed 23 October 2017 via mobile

This place is far out up in the mountains. The route to the observatorium is very sceneric and is surely a part of the visit. To be where so many discoveries have originated is out of this World. Pun intended.

Thank Lars P
Reviewed 14 October 2017

Quite a windy drive up to the Observatory. The title above is from one of the road signs you will see while driving up there. Nice museum no interactive projects and I doubt kids would be interested at all. They would like the tiny gift...More

Thank KathyTX
Reviewed 30 August 2017 via mobile

The biting flies/gnats around the area were atrocious! Small museum with models and placards of history. Short walk to telescope (several stairs) viewed through a glass wall. Long winding road to get to location. Just ok.

1  Thank cdblanchard
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Questions & Answers
Irene H
17 October 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from Palomar O | Property representative |
Hi Irene. I'm afraid you cannot. In fact, no one can look through it anymore since all eyepieces were removed decades ago. Hardly any research telescope allows anyone look through it (astronomers work behind computers since... More
29 April 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from 296pat | Reviewed this property |
I don't think so the only think that may be difficult is to climb up the observatory theres a lot of stairs to climb. But it is a nice area for walking around maybe check out the shop there.
Virginia R
11 February 2017|
AnswerShow all 3 answers
Response from Palomar O | Property representative |
To our knowledge, there are no major closures scheduled by the observatory (when we do, we post those on our website). However, the state is planning to begin roadwork on route 76 and Valley Center Road, which may affect... More