Los Angeles is mecca when it comes to the wacky and weird. That’s part of what makes LA so enchanting. Whether you’ve come here to pursue your biggest dreams, are just passing through on vacation, or scouting the City of Angels as a place to call home, there’s something here for you.
This list will reveal many places you must see, most of which happen to be off the beaten path.
- L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition
Hubbard was the founder of the Church of Scientology. When you think movie stars and spirituality in the same sentence, you’re just as likely to think of scientology as any other religion. They are notorious for recruiting up-and-comers, and celebs to their church.
However, not that many people actually know very much about scientology. You might enjoy the exhibition or, as others have reported, come out of it feeling like you were being watched by Big Brother 1984 style. Either way, it’s a story.
The museum displays info about Hubbard’s life, beliefs and accomplishments, and houses a collection of theaters, awards, and individual galleries and exhibitions.
- Museum of Death
If macabre is your thing, you’ll feel at home in the Museum of Death. From cannibalism to funeral homes, to homicides and execution, this place has all the dark details.
Crime scene photographs. Serial killers. Original documents. This museum has it all. If you can stomach it, check it out. Poe would have seriously loved it.
- Motown Mondays at Shortstop
In the heart of Echo Park, this local dive and dance spot is a stone’s throw away from Dodger Stadium.
Guests and regulars mingle around the dance floor, and pull of their best moves to the tunes of the jukebox or whatever the DJ is spinning. If you don’t feel like dancing, the pool tables and arcade games might tickle your fancy. Additionally, drinks are cheap and street food vendors and food trucks wait to catch you on your way out during baseball season.
But the real reason to go is for Motown Mondays. Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Jackson Five, The Temptations, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and other legends will be there in musical proxy for your entertainment.
- The Electric Dusk Drive-In
Channel your hipster and catch flicks on the big screen, while grubbing on a selection of BBQ and homemade cookies.
Every other Sunday throughout summertime, viewers can watch weekend showings from all decades of movie history.
The AstroTurf seats will give you a front-row taste of the action. Plus, this drive-in movie venue is pet-friendly so you can bring your furry friend along for the show.
- Lake Shrine Temple
Boasting ten acres of land, perfectly architected gardens, and a serene lake, sheltered from the wind by hillside, Lake Shrine Temple is the ultimate place of zen. Not to mention, there are waterfalls, and plenty of opportunity to practice mindful meditation.
- Abandoned Nazi Compound
The Murphy Ranch Trail leads down to an abandoned Nazi compound tucked away in the mountains. Nazi sympathizers right here in the U.S. believed Germany would prevail — thankfully, they were wrong.
Nowadays, however, this formerly sinister stronghold is a crumbled, graffiti-covered, perfect-for-instagram type of ruins. Between the engine parts, 40’s VW bus, rusted silo, and the compound itself, there’s more than enough to see here.
- Paramount Ranch
From 1927 onward, Paramount Ranch was an homage to the Wild West, serving as a filming set for dozens of classic films.
While being outside of LA (located in Agoura Hills), this is about as Old Hollywood as it gets. The setting is now a national park, allowing visitors to stroll through old movie sets.
The area is also dog plenty and picturesque, so make sure to bring a camera to take advantage of all the cool photo-ops.
- Mariachi Bands at Boyle Heights
Donning traditional Mexican horseman suits, mariachi players carry on the eighty-year tradition that started in the 1930s.
Mariachi bands play in Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Often times, this is even how they’re found for hire to perform in restaurants or parties right here in Los Angeles.
9. Olvera Street
One of my personal favorite areas to peruse, Olvera Street will transport you back to another time. Arguably the true birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street is like walking into old-world Mexico.
The restaurants are spectacular. The shops are full of Mexican candies, souvenirs, handmade items, and there’s plenty of opportunity to sample foods from our neighbors in the south.
- Sunken City
While “The Ghetto By the Sea” title belongs to the Dogtown area of Venice and Santa Monica, this ruined San Pedro neighborhood has no shortage of graffiti.
The ocean claimed much of the neighborhood in a 1929 landslide that caused a few blocks to crumble into the sea. Head over there today, and you’ll find graffitied remnants of buildings, streets, and a town that once was, and no longer is.
It’s considered illegal to get to the site, given the somewhat precarious way you have to go under a fence to get there. However, no one actually cares to stop you — truly. In broad daylight you’ll most likely be joined by a dozen or so others, including families, looking to enjoy the Sunken City.
- Griffith Park Night Hike
Originally a Native American settlement, this area is LA county’s largest public green space. While the views are mostly the same as they were in the days of yesteryear, a wide variety of enjoyable activities have popped up since then, including hiking trails and a fully-functioning Tesla coil.
The best part, however, is the Griffith Observatory. You can see the entire city in all of its sprawling glory. The night hikes will allow you to get one of the most incredible views you might ever see in your life — and it’s certainly one of the most stunning ways to actually see Los Angeles in its entirety.
- Venice Canals
Nestled in the middle of The Ghetto By the Sea, the Venice Canals are a picturesque and quaint little area to stroll.
Once you step onto the canal-lined paths, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a European village. The arching pedestrian bridges, wildly eclectic mix of modern and beach-style properties, and the occasional kayaker or canoer rowing their way through the canals — all of these things make this one of the premier leisure places to frequent around LA.
- Amoeba Music
Amoeba Music is the largest indie record store in the United States. It has outlasted countless others as music has gone digital. The prices are right, the staff are informed, and this placed has earned its landmark status for good reason.
- Museum of Neon Art
Neon changed the advertising game. Like moths, our eyes are attracted to light. Neon merges the best of art and science into a chemical romance that puts our minds on ecstasy the moment those bright lights hit.
Glendale’s Museum of Neon Art houses unique masterpiece light installations. The detail and medium ranges, but this is certainly a sight worth seeing.