Los Angeles has plenty of well-known landmarks, but it also offers a tonne of attractions that are hidden gems located off the beaten track and are must-visits. These include quirky private art installations, abandoned buildings, interesting and unique independent shops, and even odd and offbeat museums. You can spend days exploring the various areas of the LA sprawl and finding fun and memorable things to do that most people don't know are there. Check out some of the best things to do off the beaten track in Los Angeles, from abandoned areas to walks through fantasy kingdoms.

    1

    Abandoned Zoo/Griffith Park

    Check out the paths and cages that once housed animals

    The Old Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park offers a behind-the-scenes look inside cages and restricted areas of a real, but no longer occupied, zoo. This experience is unique and, as you walk the cages and exhibit areas, you'll also view brightly coloured graffiti and catch some truly Instagram-worthy photos. The zoo is actually part of the park, so there are no concerns about exploring the many areas, and it's as fun for kids as it is for adults to check out the now-open cages and formerly restricted areas. You'll also find picnic areas and hiking trails.

    Location: 4801 Griffith Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

    Open: Daily from 5.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 323-913-4688

    Map

    photo by Junkyardsparkle (CC0 1.0) modified

    2

    Museum of Jurassic Technology

    Explore the advancement of art and technology through the ages

    The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a staple of the LA museum scene and showcases early human inventions and the history of human advancement. Here, you can see some ideas and innovations that may have been ineffective or lost and forgotten as well as those that are responsible for the industry of today. Many of the exhibits are also hands-on so you can actually touch and engage with some of these ancient arts, crafts, and technological creations. That alone makes it a fun and offbeat place to visit. It's located on Venice Boulevard in the heart of Culver City.

    Location: 9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232, USA

    Phone: +1 310-836-6131

    Map

    photo by Tore Danielsson (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Hollywood Forever Cemetery

    See a concert or film amongst the graves of celebrities

    The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is your opportunity to catch a live concert or classic film screening in a working funeral home and crematory. This unusual events centre is located in the heart of Hollywood in one of the city's oldest cemeteries and includes the final resting places of many seminal figures in the entertainment industry, including Judy Garland, Jerry Siegel, Mel Blanc, Cecil B. DeMille, Fay Wray, and Bugsy Siegel. Today, it doubles as a cultural events centre that operates in honour of the legacy of the stars buried there. Amongst these events is the annual Dia de Los Muertos festival with 5 stages of arts, crafts, music, and dance, including traditional Aztec dancers and altars.

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    Location: 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8.30 am to 5 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 323-469-1181

    Map

    photo by Matt Lingard (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Watts Tower

    Witness a tower of broken glass

    Watts Tower is a massive art installation that is amongst the most recognisable landmarks of the city, towering just 6 inches below the city's limit on structure height. It's located right in the backyard of the creator, Simon Rodia, and was made entirely out of broken bottles, plates, and glasses. It's free to visit and easily accessible by the metro. Building the structure took 30 years, and the artist had no prior knowledge of architecture whatsoever. It's an ambitious accomplishment that's bursting with colours and was a real community effort; many of the items used were donated by local friends, family, and neighbors. It's just about a 19-minute drive south of central LA.

    Location: Unnamed Road, Los Angeles, CA 90002, USA

    Map
    5

    The Last Bookshop

    Shop new and vintage books and vinyl

    The Last Bookshop is the place to go for new and vintage books or vinyl records and is a unique space filled with works from local up-and-coming artists. It's located along Pershing Square in city centre LA and offers an airy and open space with a wide selection of current bestsellers and out-of-print classics. The store is housed in an abandoned bank building and is as unique in its setup as in its eclectic collection. Shelves are arranged haphazardly, and even the books are in disarray to encourage patrons to actively spend time browsing and treasure hunting. You'll spend a lot of time here, but you just may walk away with a great find.

    Location: 453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 213-488-0599

    Map

    photo by vagueonthehow (CC BY 2.0) modified

    6

    Museum of Death

    Learn about executions, serial killers, mummies, and death

    The Museum of Death offers a macabre but fascinating look at the world beyond life, from homicides to funeral homes and cannibalism to executions. The museum is dedicated to documenting death in all of its forms and facets throughout history. The museum may not be kid-friendly, as it has tonnes of explicit photos and films of death throughout the ages. The exhibits, however, are all tastefully presented in a purely educational and historic context and, while disturbing, they can be equally fascinating. It's located on Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood and should appeal to anyone looking for something truly weird and different.

    Location: 6031 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028, USA

    Phone: +1 323-466-8011

    Map

    photo by Arienne McCracken (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    Garden of Oz

    Take a walk through a miniature Munchkinland

    The Garden of Oz is an art installation and garden dotted with dozens of thrones and completely inspired by and patterned after L. Frank Baum's Oz novels. The installation is nestled in the Hollywood Hills and started as a plot of roses, but it grew into something magical and stunning after the contractor decorated it with glass tiles and beads. The original structure reminded the owner of "The Wizard of Oz," so she took it to the next level and dedicated the whole garden as Munchkinland, complete with a Yellow Brick Road winding through it to a Wall of Toys and dozens of whimsical thrones, each with its own dedication and back storey.

    Location: 3040 Ledgewood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068, USA

    Map
    8

    Time Travel Mart

    Take a shop (yes, a shop) back in time

    Time Travel Mart is an entire shop that's all about the experience of time travel, from caveman ads to dinosaur eggs and other quirky items from the past and future. The store is right in the heart of Echo Park along the lakeside. All its offerings are humorously quirky, like machines that only work yesterday and staff who insist they're already here tomorrow. Best of all, this store forms a part of a nonprofit that's dedicated to helping students who need assistance with literacy skills. When you shop here, you're not only having a fun time, you're supporting an important cause.

    Location: 1714 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 6 pm

    Phone: +1 213-413-3388

    Map
    9

    Wacko

    Find that ideal, yet bizarre, souvenir or gift

    Wackos is a store that bills itself as the second-happiest place on earth and offers humour books, quirky and offbeat items, and esoterica appealing to the hipster culture. The entire store is like the weird kitsch and books sold at Urban Outfitters but in a local small business. Wackos is located right on Hollywood Boulevard and exemplifies the quirky difference of Hollywood in its book section, art gallery, and "weird stuff" section. It's worth a visit to see vintage posters, postcards, goofy books, and unusual toys and oddities. The art gallery alone with its bizarre exhibits will both shock you and make you laugh.

    Location: 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA

    Open: Monday–Wednesday from 11 am to 7 pm, Thursday–Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm, Sunday from noon to 7 pm

    Phone: +1 323-663-0122

    Map
    10

    Phantasma Gloria

    See a brilliant cascade of coloured glass refracting the light

    Phantasma Gloria is a sculpture designed as the artist's homage to the sun, and it continues to grow as the artist adds to it constantly. It's located in front of a home in front of Echo Park known as Randyland and is crafted of wires, glass bottles, and coloured water. It refracts the sunlight to create a stunning prism of light and colours. While the artist, Randy, is known to be very friendly and passionate about what he does, he welcomes visitors by appointment only and offers tours when the light hits the glass at the perfect time. It's worth the tour, however, because the whole sculpture can't be seen from the street.

    Location: 1646 Lemoyne St, Los Angeles, CA 90026, USA

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm (closed Monday–Friday)

    Map

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