A trip to the United States is not complete without dropping in on Los Angeles. There are so many popular places to visit and sights to see in LA, but have you thought about getting away from those tourist hotspots?
Did you know that there are plenty of hidden spots to explore that are off the beaten path and not included in the average tourist guide? Let’s check out some of the spectacular secret spots and lesser-known attractions so you can add them to your travel bucket list.
1. Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens
If the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles become a little too much, you can relax and unwind in the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens. It is the perfect place to connect, reflect, recharge, and renew spiritually.
It certainly is a sanctuary, where you can walk the labyrinth whilst unwinding your mind. Connect with the quiet and enjoy personal contemplation. The meditation gardens allow you to slow down, find balance and calm your anxiety. There is also running water from sixteen fountains. Those natural sounds will restore your soul.
It is open to the pub three times a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays between 1 pm and 4 pm. Admission is $6 per person and tickets must be booked in advance. They politely request that you are on time for your visit.
This ensures that there is enough time for everyone visiting to enjoy the labyrinth at their specified time. You w will not believe this slice of tranquillity is in the heart of LA. Find your own peace at the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens.
2. The Bridge To Nowhere
If you fancy a hike whilst visiting Los Angeles, you can not beat the walk to The Bridge To Nowhere. This ten-mile round trip is breathtaking and you will need a wilderness permit which is easy to acquire.
This is a much-loved local treasure, with a great story and plenty of history behind it! The bridge dates back to 1936 when it was built over the East Fork of the San Gabriel River to serve as a connection between Wrightwood and San Gabriel Valley.
Just two years later, a flood changed the landscape and washed out the road leading to the bridge. This was never restored and so The Bridge To Nowhere remains alone in the San Gabriel Mountains.
If the hike is not enough of a thrill for you, you can book a bungee jump off the side of the bridge too. If that is not for you, explore the area and take in the bridge from different angles. You can even cool down and refresh yourself in the nearby swimming hole.
You will need to put aside at least six hours for this experience. However, it is one of the coolest things to do and worth it for the views you will witness and the photos you will take.
3. The Abandoned Zoo
Do you know what they did with the old zoo when they relocated? Just left it there for people to explore. And explore you should! The Abandoned Zoo is a great place to wander around, with the addition of picnic tables for perhaps the most unusual picnic area to enjoy lunch!
The old Los Angeles Zoo has been adopted into Griffith Park. Some people refer to it as Griffith Park Zoo. You can enjoy multiple multiple hiking trails in the area. If you get up to Bee Rokck you can enjoy fantastic views of the area!
Throughout the old abandoned zoo you will see old animal enclosures and can even climb inside the old monkey cages. The large animal exhibits are well-maintained and fun to look around.
Whilst you w will not have the area to yourself, you can usually find a quiet spot to relax. Knowing there are other people nearby does help to keep the errieness that comes from abandoned places, at bay a little bit.
However, visit near Halloween and you might get a bit creeped out as decorations tend to find their way around the area!
4. The Bunny Museum
Hidden away in Altadena, you will discover the Guinness World Record-certified Bunny Museum. With more than 35,000 bunny objects of all different shapes and sizes, this really is the one-stop shop for rabbit fans.
This is the hoppiest place in the world and you do not need to pre-book tickets. There are thousands of bunny items to look at, including 9 original Rose Parade float bunnies. Visitors will discover the history of the bunny through art, advertising, entertainment, and more!
Remember though, it is a museum. So if you visit with youngsters, make sure they keep their hands to themselves. The owners want to preserve the collection for future generations to enjoy!
Expect to receive a Bunny Bump when you visit the museum. Which is basically the sign of the bunny, followed by a fist bump. You will show yourself to be a true fan if you offer one to the staff upon arrival.
5. Lighthouse Artspace
If you have ever wanted to step into a painting or work of art, a visit to Lighthouse Artspace is probably the closest you are ever going to get. This experimental entertainment multi-plex provides immersive experiences that are second to none.
With an aim to cultivate community and boost creativity, Lighthouse Artspace puts on large-scale events and exhibitions based on a plethora of art forms. Recently they have had immersive exhibitions for both Van Gogh’s and Leonardo da Vinci’s incredible works.
See the detail of every brushstroke. Be taken aback by the bold colours. Feel captivated, engrossed, and engaged by works that you have seen before, but not like this! It really is the best way to witness the marvellous and spectacular.
The 25,000-square-foot exhibition space can be found in the former Amoeba music store, which itself is an iconic building. Step into art on a completely different scale at Lighthouse Artspace, which can be found at 6400 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
6. Museum Of Neon Art
For any fans of neon art, there is a museum just for you! The Museum of Neon Art can be found in Glendale and is a one-of-a-kind space, dedicated to the collection, exhibition, and preservation of neon art for more than four decades.
Even if you are not obsessed with the art form, this is still one of the best places for the casual visitor.
There are permanent installations, as well as rotating exhibitions so every visit to the MONA will be unique. They say that these well-viewed signs are a combination of scientific principles and artistic expression.
We have all seen neon on the sides of buildings or advertising specific products. However, this is the next level. The museum wants to encourage education, curiosity, and expression through these works of art.
The collection contains hundreds of items of interest. There are also some great gifts to take home with you, to remind you of your visit. Opening days are Thursday to Sunday, with general admission costing just $10.
7. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
For a spectacular view of the city of Los Angeles, you simply have to climb up to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. To reach this vista, you will be climbing a 315 feet elevation, however, there are two ways to get up there.
For a quicker but more intense workout, you can take the 282 Culver City stairs that go directly to the summit. Otherwise, you can hike a steadier trail, which zig-zags its way up the hill.
On a clear day, you can see all the way from the San Gabriel Mountains in the east to Santa Monica Bay in the west. If it is open, you can also check out the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook visitors centre which gives plenty of insight into the history of the area, along with displays detailing information about the fauna and wildlife.
There is plenty of parking nearby and if you want a short walk, head to the upper parking lot that will take some of the height out of the hike to save your legs. The incredible views are well worth the effort though!
If you are a fan of geeky stuff, you are going to love a visit to iam8bit. It is an art exhibition space that specialises in all that was once seen as nerdy. From video games to retro film, there have been many collections featured over the years and it is a wonderful location to step into.
It all started back at a weekly games night between friends. Myspace pages were searched through for talent to include in the very first iam8bit gallery.
Now it is a massive exhibition space, along with a multimedia and marketing company that has worked with clients including Nintendo and Disney. The company was even a huge part of the resurgence of vinyl.
The connection to video game culture is paramount but there is a plethora of artists who have been featured in iam8bit galleries. The artwork is incredible and you will get lost in the worlds that are created. You can also pick up some merch to remember your geeky trip by! An absolute must-do for any gamer.
9. Boomers Santa Maria
If you are looking to have some fantastic fun, you can not go wrong with a trip to Boomers Santa Maria. There are attractions available for everyone, from laser tag to mini golf.
Have an inter-family competition on the go-karts – there are options for both adults and kids, and you can bash around on the bumper cars and boats.
If you fancy stepping up to the plate and having a swing with a baseball bat, check out the batting cages where you can do just that! Get served up a fast one and knock it out of the park!
See if you have the skill to join the Dodgers! There is also a fabulous arcade with a range of different games with something to suit each and every visitor.
There are plenty of food options for you to enjoy between activities. Attraction day tickets are cheaper if you book online and will cost you around $30+. If you are looking for some action and adventure on your trip, head to Boomers!
10. Mural Mile
Art galleries are great, but how about seeing some alternative artists? The grassroots and raw talent on the street of LA? If this is of interest to you, you must take a self-guided walk along Mural Mile. This mile-long riverside wall is something special.
Often used as a backdrop in Hollywood films, Mural Mile represents the culture of the city. The neighbourhoods and individuals who want to make a change, create an impact, and improve their city and community.
It started as a movement back in 2012 but has gone on to earn worldwide acclaim and as it grows, now has the backing of public commissions.
The best way to see all of Mural Mile is on a 7-mile, 2.5-hour guided bike tour of the district.
There are more than 50 murals to view along the route. This is artwork, unlike anything you have seen before. It is ever-changing, with a life of its own. Alternative and on another scale, be immersed in colour and talent at Mural Mile.
11. Korean Bell of Friendship
Inside a stone pagoda in Angel’s Gate Park, San Pedro, you will find the Korean Bell of Friendship. This huge bronze bell is 12 feet tall and weighs 17 tonnes!
It celebrates the relationship between the United States and South Korea and was gifted by the South Korean government to mark the U.S. Bicentennial.
The bell is not just for display. If you would like to hear it ring, you need to plan your trip. It officially rings five times a year, on Constitution Day, Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, Korean American Day, and Korean Liberation Day.
However, it also has a maintenance ring on the first Saturday of every month. This is open to the public and could be one of the best things to do with your day. The ringing of the bell is supposed to bring clarity, peace, and harmony to all those who listen. The location of the pavilion is also spectacular, offering fantastic views out over the sea.
12. Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry Museum of the American West was founded back in 1988 and has been showcasing the stories, culture, art, and history of the American West for 35 years. The museum’s mission statement is all about connecting the past with the present and inspiring the future.
Throughout the year there is a huge range of public events, encouraging people to get involved and enjoy the offerings of the museum, whilst finding out all about American West in different ways.
These include festivals, family activities, and lectures. With more than 50,000 artefacts and pieces of art, the world-class galleries have must-view displays including, paintings, cultural materials, and film memorabilia.
Entry into the Autry Museum of the American West is included with the Los Angeles: Go City All-Inclusive Pass. I’d highly recommend this pass if you’re looking to save money when visiting multiple attractions in and around the city.
You will find the Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park, on the other side of the park to the Griffith Observatory. Admission is $16 for adults and $8 for children. There are discounts available for students. It is closed on Mondays and on public holidays. There is free parking available for visitors.
13. Fork in the Road
Fans of public art will love discovering the Fork in the Road in Pasadena. Once upon a time, this intersection between two streets was nothing special. That is until a couple of local business owners decided to honour their city.
To do this, they decided upon a massive kitchen utensil that also doubles as a clever visual gag. The wooden fork (painted to look like metal) is actually 18ft tall and was once removed due to originally being installed without permission.
Proper guerilla art! After consent was granted, the site has become a beacon of well-being. There are regular food drives and other philanthropic efforts taking place here.
It is so much more than a giant piece of kitchen cutlery. It has turned a tiny piece of land in the middle of two roads into something with impact and meaning. The Fork in the Road is completely worth a visit!
14. Mosaic Tile House
Venice Beach is one of the most colourful and vibrant places in LA. However, there is a hidden house that takes things to the next level. The Mosaic Tile House is exactly what it sounds like. A large-scale art installation where people actually live. Almost every inch of the house is covered in tiles, with the passion project dating back to 1994 when it all began.
Husband and wife team Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran are responsible for the Mosaic Tile House and continue to work on it to this day. It really is a local wonder, a masterpiece hidden away for those who wish to discover it to enjoy.
The shimmering colours and vast use of broken tiles create an almost otherworldly feel, that certainly puts a smile on your face. Everything blends together so exceptionally. It is perhaps something that you would not ever think of seeing, but once you have you will certainly remember it.
15. Sunken City
If you like a bit of end-of-the-world exploration, the Sunken City could be for you. Firstly, all is well, everyone got out safely. Secondly, entering the area is considered trespassing and comes with big fines. It is though, perhaps one of the most intriguing and interesting alternative places in LA, steeped in history.
There used to be some beautiful cottages here, with incredible views to boot! However, back in 1929, a slow-moving landslide began and over the next couple of decades, huge areas of the land were lost to the ocean.
Moving as quickly as 11 inches per day, the pretty neighbourhood has to be abandoned and was lost to the waters below. People have entered the site to explore and artists have even begun to use the location as a canvas. It is an eerie hike through loss, sprinkled with modern art.
The Sunken City can be found near Point Fermin Park. Access is generally through large holes in the surrounding fences. Remember that you enter at your own risk, both in terms of your own safety and prosecution.
16. International Printing Museum
For a deep dive into the past, check out the International Printing Museum which has one of the biggest collections of antique printing presses in the USA. Dedicated to bringing the history of printing to life, through exhibitions and demonstrations, visitors can see exactly how these things work and operate.
Guests can see their own name cast in a metal type slug by a working Linotype Machine and witness History in Motion as the education about the impact of printing on civilization is shown.
There are regular events such as the Krazy Krafts Day for Kids which is full of creative family activities. You can even book onto a workshop such as Hardcover Bookbinding or Mothers & Makers Type Slam. There really is something for everyone to get involved with.
Admission is $12 for adults and the museum is open on Saturdays to the public. Upon arrival, tours are offered which take about an hour.
17. Battleship USS Iowa Museum
Located at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, you will find an incredible maritime museum. The star of the show is the USS Iowa, which is the lead ship of the Iowa battleships.
However, there are also plenty of other amazing things to witness and experience which is why it is regarded as one of the best outdoor museums for guests of all ages, including families.
The battleship has seen action in World War 2, Korea, and the Cold War. So it is steeped in history. However, now it offers something considerably different. A look behind the scenes and deep into the world of life as a sailor on the open water.
It offers insight for youngsters, highly focused on the education of the next generation. The museum also has a veterans program and helps the community, with 50 public safety exercises and 2000+ tickets given away every year.
I highly recommend purchasing your tickets for the Battleship USS Iowa Museum online in advance to avoid disappointment.
Open seven days a week from 10am to 4pm and general admission is $25.95 for adults. You can book a guided tour, that can be purchased on top of your admission ticket, such as the Gun Tour and the President’s Tour.
18. Lummis Home (El Alisal)
The Lummis House is operated by the city of LA and has a California Historical Landmark Marker, number 531 that reads:
Lummis Home – This building was constructed by Charles F. Lummis (1859-1928), author, editor, poet, athlete, librarian, historian, archaeologist, etc. He selected this site in 1895 chiefly because of a mammoth, ancient sycamore (El Alisal) which has since died and been replaced by four saplings.
The outside of the house is built out of river rock. It took about 13 years to construct and now opens as a museum for public tours. The interior includes a collection of artefacts and copies of his books. El Alisal actually translates to means “alder grove” in Spanish.
You would not believe that the house is so close to the 110 freeway, which was built in 1940. You will find the 3-acre site near Montecito Heights.
19. Bradbury Building
You might have seen the Bradbury Building before on the silver screen. Plenty of Hollywood films have incorporated this architectural landmark, including Blade Runner, Lethal Weapon 4, and 500 Days Of Summer.
When it was first built in the late 1890s, it towered above other buildings, quickly becoming the heart and home of the business district. It was commissioned by gold-mining millionaire Lewis L. Bradbury however opened a few months after his death.
The architecture of the building is simply spectacular, with the building being well known for the incredible skylit atrium of stairs, walkways, and elevators.
If you want to see inside the building, you need to book a 2-hour walking tour which takes in different sites, showcasing the city’s fine architecture. However, it is also fantastic to simply witness from the outside.
20. Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park
This destination might not be for everyone, however for fans of certain celebrities who are buried here, paying their respects might be on their bucket list.
It is important to remember that this is a place of rest, not an attraction. There are also lots of non-celebrities buried here. So stay respectful on your visit.
The site was first used for burials in the 1880s and is a working cemetery and mortuary. It can be found at 1218 Glendon Avenue in Westwood.
There are ten beautiful mausoleums throughout the park. Lots of wonderful people have finished their journey here at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park. These include Marilyn Monroe, Donna Reed, Kirk Douglas, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, and Carroll O’Connor.
21. Venice Canals Walkway
The canals near Venice Beach were created in the early 1900s to replicate the canals of Venice, Italy. Much of the network that was made has since been concreted over to create streets, however, there are still some waterways for you to enjoy.
You can access the canals right off 25th Street, and there are four of them in total. Each of them (Howland, Sherman, Carroll, and Linnie) is about a quarter mile in length.
This is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet in Los Angeles County. Many people do not even realise that the canals are there and you could quite literally walk right by them.
You can extend your walk by crossing over beautiful footbridges and continuing along another of the waterways. Take in the beautiful trees, colourful houses lining the canals, and hopefully plenty of blue skies!
The canals are just a short walk from the beach, so the perfect activity if you want a walk after enjoying the sands. This is a great and completely free experience and also a little slice of Europe in America.
22. Topanga State Park
This beautiful California State Park is located in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains. Topanga State Park features some of the best hikes in southern California, with miles and miles of trails to explore. There is so much to see here, from canyons to ocean views, and plenty of wildlife.
You could spend a couple of hours exploring a small area, or even a few days in the park. There is camping, cycling, and horse riding available! Musch Trail to Eagle Rock is perhaps one of the most popular hikes, which will take you on a four-mile loop.
The Parker Mesa route is slightly longer however you will reach great heights and witness some of the best views in North America, down the west coast, including Santa Monica Pier. If you love the great outdoors, Topanga State Park is an absolute must-visit destination when you are in Los Angeles.
23. The Last Book Store
For any book worms, The Last Book Store in downtown LA is an absolute dream. Going against the grain of large bookstore closures and the popularity of E-readers, The Last Book Store continues to gain popularity. It is the largest used and new book (and record store!) in California.
The store is around 22,000 square feet, and hosts more than 500,000 titles. Located in an old bank, the owners love to create visual merchandising to attract customers, including a plant wall and a book tunnel you may have seen on Instagram.
On our first trip to Los Angeles almost ten years ago now we purchased a Last Book Store tote bag. Today this $15 item remains one of our favourite LA souvenirs and is something we use regularly.
24. Bronson Cave In Griffith Park
You have probably already seen Bronson Cave in Griffith Park without having travelled there yourself. That is because it is featured in so many Hollywood motion pictures, from way back when to the present day.
These films include Lightning Bryce in 1919, The Lone Ranger in 1956, and The Scorpion King in 2002.
It was also Batman’s Batcave in 1966’s Batman: The Movie. The area has been featured in television shows including Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Twin Peaks, The A-Team, and multiple series of Star Trek.
No permit is needed to hike to Bronson Cave and you’ll also get a great view of the Hollywood Sign – one that is not usually that busy too.
If you are visiting the third secret spot we have mentioned, The Abandoned Zoo, you can easily take a stroll up to the Batcave to see if Bruce Wayne is in!
25. Wayfarers Chapel
If you are looking for a beautiful church to visit on your trip to Los Angeles, you have to drop in at the Wayfarers Chapel, also known as The Glass Church.
This is a Swedenborgian church that welcomes all faiths to worship services. They also undertake baptisms, weddings, and memorial services.
Located on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Wayfarers Chapel can be found in Rancho Palos Verdes, surrounded by red pines and a sense of peace. There are special events throughout the year including concerts, lectures, and holiday performances.
However, there are services every week for the public to attend. The chap grounds are also open daily between 9 am and 5 pm.
The combination of glass, wood, and stone in the architecture gives the building a unique look. Just a 35-minute drive south from LAX, the Wayfarers Chapel is well worth a visit. It’s one of the best hidden gems.
Los Angeles Travel Planning Guide
🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Trip to Los Angeles?
Yes, you should definitely buy travel insurance for any vacation to Los Angeles. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.
🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Trip to Los Angeles?
Whether you’ll want a rental car in Los Angeles will really depend on how long you’re visiting for and where you plan to go during your trip. The traffic in Los Angeles is notoriously crazy, yet, public transport is still somewhat limited.
If you do decide to hire a car in Los Angeles, then I’d recommend using Discover Cars to find the best car rental deals.
🏨 Where to Stay in Los Angeles?
The best place to stay in Los Angeles will really depend on what you plan to do most during your trip. If you’re planning to visit Disneyland, for example, then staying in a hotel in Anaheim is likely going to be best.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on exploring the city and visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, then I’d recommend Loews Hollywood.
If you’re looking for a little bit of luxury during your trip to LA, then a hotel in Beverly Hills is a great choice. However, if you’re looking for more of a beach vacation, then consider a hotel at Newport Beach.