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“Mountain top observatory”
Review of Lick Observatory

Lick Observatory
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Historic observatory, with the second largest refractor telescope in the world. Open for tours.
Sunnyvale, California
Level 6 Contributor
91 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Mountain top observatory”
Reviewed June 27, 2013

Nice view of San Jose from the summit of Mt Hamilton. Body of James Lick is buried under the telescope.

Thank meerams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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64 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Naperville, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
129 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 119 helpful votes
“If you have kids/teens who are not science geeks, the best bit are the views.”
Reviewed June 5, 2013

The drive up and down are quite extraordinary and I have done quite a bit of mountain driving in my life, in many different countries. I put my automatic in low and high gear for some of the hairpins at 20 degrees, especially on Quimby, which is the route you take out of San Jose, before it joins the California 130. To note, our GPS did not take us all the way to the top or even the right direction upon joining the 130, so make sure you know where to go before starting off.
There are many great views both up and down, although we drove on a June afternoon and there was a heavy "smog" over San Jose and the Silicon Valley. We could not see to the Pacific or up as far as San Francisco. There are a couple of parks on the way up with Trailheads for walking and also some wildlife sightings to be had. We saw vultures, hawks, some little deer and squirrels. The telescopes and observatory are interesting for adults and science geek kids, but there is nothing "hands-on". It's really an old fashioned look and learn location, with a museum area in one location and the large telescope a few hundred feet up the road (you park at the roadside and than walk a few hundred yards to the large telescope). Most of the information is given in the form of short videos, a film, some photos and if you are lucky a guided tour (we weren't lucky). Nevertheless, this is a remarkable historic location - the 5th Jupiter moon was first discovered here - and overall it is worth the trip if you are looking for something different and have exhausted the main tourist sights. The other thing to point out is that this is virtually the only "attraction" on the east side of San Jose, so it is simply to get to see the " dry" hills and mountains and see how their vegetation differs markedly from the redwood forests on the west side of San Jose.

Visited June 2013
Thank diversitylady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Truly amazing for a telescope that size being built 125 years ago!!”
Reviewed May 28, 2013 via mobile

Well worth the drive up the very beautiful mountain and valleys. Free to get in and see the telescope built 125 years ago. Great views too of skyline of San Francisco and bridges!!

Visited May 2013
Thank Onehappynanana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fremont, California
Level 5 Contributor
48 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“A lot of SF Bay Area Historic Connections”
Reviewed April 30, 2013

The whole observatory was a work of love. Getting the equipment and reasources to the top of Mt Hamilton in the early 1900's was quite the ordeal. From up there, you see the valley before you, but generally air conditions make it less than you might hope for. Also, traffic up to the top can be pretty tough with the steep turns and narrow roads. Once there, parking is an issue on busy days. If you get past that and can tour the facility, it is really nice to se the dedication to sciences and the contributions of many American visionaries.

Thank s2global
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, California, USA
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great Observatory”
Reviewed April 1, 2013

This is one of the world's great observatories,boasting one of the largest refracting telescopes (36 inch) in the world and one of the largest reflecting telescopes (120 inch), as well. A great educational destination.

Visited January 2013
Thank Eldon G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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