10 Hidden Gems Near Los Angeles
Los Angeles is massive. Whether it’s your first visit or you’ve lived here for your entire life, it’s challenging to get around to all of the fantastic attractions in LA. From the Walk of Fame to Rodeo Drive, the city’s top tourist destinations are with the visit when you travel to LA.
Still, if you’re looking for something different, something off the beaten path, you need to know where to look. These 10 Los Angeles hidden gems include hard-to-find neighborhoods, unique spots concealed in plain sight, and everything in between. Get ready to see the side of Los Angeles you won’t find in your everyday tour book.
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Coastal San Pedro
Coastal San Pedro is tucked away at the southernmost tip of the 110. This unique community is recognized as an LA neighborhood, but it has as many things to do as an independent city. Located about 30 miles away from Downtown Los Angeles, this part of the city doesn’t get as much attention from tourists. San Pedro offers a much different vibe than its metropolitan neighbor, and people who are willing to make the drive are well rewarded.
Highlights of Coastal San Pedro
Koren Bell of Friendship – Nestled in Point Fermin Park, this beautiful sculpture is a must-see. The sculpture itself is impressive, but the views of the coast are even better. In addition to the bell, the park also includes the Fort MacArthur Museum, the Point Fermin Lighthouse, and The Sunken City.
Battleship USS Iowa Museum – This is the only battleship museum on the West Coast, and it’s located right in San Pedro. The museum offers tours of the ship, as well as a chance to explore WWII history.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – This aquarium is all about education, with a focus on the marine life of Southern California. After your visit, you can unwind on the adjacent Cabrillo Beach.
Hollywood gets more than its fair share of attention from LA travelers. There’s no disputing that this is a must-see area, but North Hollywood deserves some of that spotlight too.
This San Fernando Valley neighborhood has a lot to offer, from boutique shopping to great food. It’s only about a 15-minute drive from the many fun things to do in Burbank, but it offers plenty of attractions of its own. North Hollywood is located north of 101’s convergence with 170. It also borders Franklin Canyon and Griffith Park, making it even more secluded from the most visited places in Los Angeles.
North Hollywood Highlights
NoHo Arts District – This is the perfect spot for a day of shopping and exploring. The area is home to more than 20 art galleries, as well as a variety of unique shops. In addition to household names like Starbucks and Amazon Fresh, NoHo features a host of locally beloved restaurants and bars.
California Institute of Abnormal Arts – This one-of-a-kind museum is dedicated to the strange and unusual. It’s perfect for anyone who loves the macabre, and it also doubles as a go-to venue for Los Angeles nightlife.
The El Portal Theatre – This historic theatre was built in 1926 and has since been renovated. It’s now a performing arts venue with mainstay productions and one-off performances.
The Verdugo Mountains serve as a beautiful backdrop to the Glendale community, providing natural scenery and a sense of seclusion from the hustle and bustle LA’s known for. At the same time, Glendale features upscale shopping areas and high rises that rival anywhere in Hollywood. If you’re looking for hidden gems, Glendale is full of them.
Museum of Neon Art – This museum is dedicated to, you guessed it, neon art. It’s one of the few museums of its kind in the world, and it’s located right in Glendale. The museum features a rotating selection of exhibits, so there’s always something new to see.
Alex Theatre – This historic theatre was built in 1925 and has been fully restored. It’s now a popular performing arts venue, and it’s also available to rent for private events.
The Americana at Brand – This multi-level shopping center is one of the most popular places in Glendale. In addition to high-end retailers, the Americana features a movie theatre, restaurants, and a beautiful central.
Los Feliz is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and it’s easy to see why. The area is home to a number of celebrities, as well as some of the city’s best shops and restaurants. Despite its popularity, its funky, offbeat character is well-preserved. It borders neighborhoods like Little Armenia and Silver Lake and is just a short drive across the 101 from Hollywood.
Los Feliz Highlights
Shakespeare Bridge – This bridge is one of the most photographed places in Los Angeles, and it’s located right in Los Feliz. The bridge spans a canyon that’s home to a small stream, making it a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers.
Walt Disney’s First House – In 1932, Walt Disney purchased a home in Los Feliz. He lived there with his family for about 20 years, and it’s now a historic landmark.
Hillhurst Avenue – This is one of the best shopping streets in Los Angeles. Unique boutiques and delicious local restaurants line both sides of this extra-wide road. Exploring it all can take days.
Sure, many people have heard of Pasadena, but how many people have really explored Pasadena? Old Pasadena is the perfect spot for a day (or two) of shopping, dining, and people-watching, while the Rose Bowl Stadium packs out every year for an epic college football championship game. There’s still so much more to explore about this seemingly low-key area, though.
Bungalow Heaven – This historic neighborhood is one of the most charming places in Pasadena. The area is home to more than 800 bungalows built in the first half of the 1900s. It’s the perfect place for architecture lovers to indulge for an afternoon.
The Bunny Museum – As one of the most unique museums in LA (and possibly even in all of the world), the museum is exactly what it sounds like: a collection of more than 6,000 bunny-related items.
The Cobb Estate – The Cobb Estate is a popular hiking spot located, but visitors beware: it’s claimed to be haunted. The plot of land was last owned by the Marx Brothers, but there’s nothing funny about the reports of ghostly sightings.
Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America. It’s more than four times the size of New York City’s Central Park, and it’s home to a variety of attractions, from an observatory to a world-famous merry-go-round. The park also offers some of the best hiking and mountain biking trails in the city. Even though it’s a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike, the park holds many secrets in its sprawling 4,200 acres.
Griffith Park Highlights
Old LA Zoo – The Old LA Zoo is an abandoned zoo that’s now open to the public. It’s a somewhat hard-to-find hiking destination. People who make the trek can enjoy a rare view of the long-unused cages.
Bronson Caves – These man-made caves were used in a number of films and TV shows. It’s most famous for being the entrance to the Bat Cave in the 1960s Batman series.
Amir’s Garden – A hidden oasis located in the middle of Griffith Park, visitors can find Amir’s Garden by following a set of stairs that lead up from the parking lot near the Greek Theatre. Its beauty is on par with the best Los Angeles botanical gardens.
San Fernando, Sylmar & Pacoima
Most tourists are unlikely to make it far enough into the San Fernando Valley to explore the underrated neighborhoods in Los Angeles County’s northernmost neighborhoods. Pacoima, Sylmar, and San Fernando join forces east of Interstate 5 and provide many exciting attractions to explore. The neighborhood offers quiet seclusion (thanks to its proximity to Angeles National Forest) with convenient access to the rest of the city.
San Fernando, Sylmar & Pacoima Highlights
Mural Mile – One of the best ways to experience Pacoima is by taking a walking tour of the Mural Mile. This project was spearheaded by a local non-profit, and it led to the creation of dozens of murals throughout the neighborhood.
Discovery Cube Los Angeles – This is a great spot for families with young kids. The hands-on science museum offers a ton of fun, educational exhibits.
Hansen Dam Wildlife Preserve – The Hansen Dam Wildlife Preserve is a great place to go for a hike or a bike ride. The preserve is also home to a number of events throughout the year, including a popular fishing derby. The on-site rec center features a pool, a skatepark, and sports fields.
No visit to Los Angeles is complete without spending some time in Little Tokyo. This historic neighborhood is one of the most vibrant and lively places in the city. It’s a great spot for food lovers, with countless restaurants and cafes serving up delicious Japanese cuisine. Little Tokyo is also home to a number of art galleries, museums, and authentic architecture. Little Tokyo is located south of the 101 in Downtown’s northeast corner. It occupies several square miles, filled with pedestrian-friendly streets begging to be explored.
Little Tokyo Highlights
Japanese American National Museum – The Japanese American National Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Little Tokyo. It’s dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Japanese Americans. The museum features a number of rotating exhibitions, a research center, and a library.
Japanese Village Plaza – Japanese Village Plaza is an outdoor mall with a number of shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs or grab a bite to eat. With two levels, it’s easy to get lost exploring everything this area has to offer.
James Irvine Japanese Garden – The James Irvine Japanese Garden is a serene oasis located in the heart of Little Tokyo. The garden features a waterfall feature, stunning landscape architecture, and a variety of plants and trees.
The neighborhood of Mar Vista is located on the west side of Los Angeles, just south of Santa Monica. It’s a quiet, residential area with a number of great local businesses. Mar Vista has been changing a lot in recent years, with new bars and restaurants popping up all over the neighborhood. The neighborhood offers a convenient midway point between Culver City and the Pacific Ocean.
Mar Vista Highlights
Time Travel Mart – The Time Travel Mart is a quirky convenience store that sells items like “dinosaur toothpaste” and “barbarian repellent.” It’s a great place to pick up a unique souvenir or browse the strange and wonderful selection of items—all proceeds from the shop support 826LA, an organization that teaches creative writing to LA Students.
The MarVista Farmers’ Market – The Mar Vista Farmers’ Market is open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors can enjoy the freshest local produce, buy raw dairy, or simply relax and listen to live music.
Mosaic Tile House – Located on the neighborhood boundary line between Mar Vista and Venice, the Mosaic Tile House is an Instagram-worthy spot that’s definitely worth a visit. The exterior of the house is covered in over 4,000 brightly colored mosaic tiles.
Mt Baldy is a small community located in the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s a popular spot for hiking, camping, and winter sports. Mt Baldy’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s the tallest point in Los Angeles. The community is hidden just outside of Los Angeles. It’s about an hour’s drive from Downtown Los Angeles, making it suitable for day trips and weekend getaways.
Mt Baldy Highlights
Hiking Trails – Mt Baldy is home to a number of hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. The most popular trail is the 6-mile out-and-back Bear Canyon Trail, which promises a quiet yet stunning hike.
Mt Baldy Ski Resort – Would you believe that it’s possible to go skiing and snowboarding near Los Angeles County? Mt Baldy makes snow dreams a reality with rentals and several fun trails.
The Bridge to Nowhere – The Bridge to Nowhere is a popular hiking spot located where a bridge is seemingly built into the side of a mountain. Originally constructed as a railway gap over the river, it’s now a well-known spot for bungee jumping.
The city of Santa Clarita is located in northern Los Angeles County. It’s best known for being the home of Six Flags Magic Mountain, one of the most popular amusement parks in California. Santa Clarita is also a great spot for shopping, with a number of malls and outlet stores.
Santa Clarita Highlights
William S Hart Museum – The William S Hart Museum is a Western history museum that was once the home of Hollywood cowboy actor William S Hart. The museum features a number of rotating exhibitions, a research center, and a library.
Santa Clarita River – The Santa Clarita River is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and picnicking. The river runs through the city of Santa Clarita and runs for miles into the Angeles National Forest.
Six Flags Magic Mountain – As one of the most popular amusement parks in California, Six Flags Magic Mountain needs no introduction. The park features a number of roller coasters and other rides and draws thousands of visitors to the town.
Explore LA Off the Beaten Path
There are countless hidden gems to discover in and around Los Angeles. The next time you’re looking for something new to do, consider exploring one of these lesser-known spots. From quirky stores to abandoned buildings, you can always find something you’ve never seen before in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Image by David Mark from Pixabay</a