An Insider’s Guide to the 100 Hidden Gems of L.A.

You could live here for decades and still never see it all. That’s the beauty of our city

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You are Magellan. You are Jacques Cousteau. You are the entire crew of the starship enterprise blended into a single being. You love this city to your very core and are committed to exploring its furthest reaches and uncovering its deepest secrets.

62. California Institute of Abnormalarts
So, they have a mummified clown and host freakshows for a very specific clientele.

63. Holyland Exhibition
The treasure hunter who inspired Indiana Jones never did find the arc of the covenant, but he did come home from the Middle East with enough tchotchkes, artifacts, and an genuine sarcophagus to pack out this Silver Lake house museum.

64. Case Study House #22
The elegant glass-walled home in Hollywood Hills is one of the most iconic mid-century modern buildings.

65. White City ruins
The crumbling remains of an Alpine resort are still accessible on Echo Mountain

66. Dapper Cadaver
Need fake corpses, terrifyingly realistic monster masks, or other horror props? You’ve come to the right place.

67. Plaque marking the supposed “exact center” of Los Angeles
Located at the coordinates 34.12448, -118.40778 in Franklin Canyon Park, the concrete marker was put in place by one Allen Edwards of the US Geological Survey. Edwards claimed that it you printed a map of L.A. on cardboard and then balanced it on a pin, that center of gravity would be the location of his plaque.

68. Rubble of the Saint Francis Dam
When the dam sprung a leak in March of 1928, William Mulholland said “nah, it’ll hold.” And then that it broke and 140-foot wall of floodwater swept across the basin to the ocean, leaving a two-mile-wide path of destruction in its wake. Some of the rubble of the dam remains in San Francisquito Canyon.

69. Tio’s Tacos
This back patio of this Riverside restaurant is packed with wild found object sculptures. Also, tacos.

70. International Printing Museum in Carson
You know you want to see an old school printing press in action.

71. County Cemetery for the Forgotten Dead
A small corner of one of the city’s oldest cemeteries is devoted to unclaimed bodies that are left behind at the morgue.

72. UCLA Meteorite Gallery
See space rocks that are older than earth itself.

73. Old Trapper’s Lodge
A truly bizarre assortment of folk art statues inspired by Wild West lore on the campus of Pierce College in Woodland Hills.

74. Lummis House
In 1884 Charles F. Lummis walked to L.A. from Cincinnati and then built himself a literal castle by hand.

75. World’s Largest Wisteria Vine
It’s one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world—up there with giant Sequoias and your nephew’s backyard marijuana operation—and you can attend an annual viewing.

76. Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum
Scientologists hate psychiatry, and they built this museum to prove it.

77. Martial Arts History Museum
Time to expand your knowledge of martial arts beyond Kug Fu Hustle.

78. Dinner on a Pan-Am jet at Air Hollywood
Relive those halcyon days when airplane food was good.

79. Ruins of the “Outpost” sign
The giant red neon letters once rivaled the Hollywood sign, but all that’s left of them are twisted metal scraps along a trail in Runyon.

80. Norton Sales Inc.
Rummage through bins of gauges, valves, rocket parts, and other aerospace props in the Valley equivalent of the junkyard from Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. Not that we’ve ever seen or heard of or acknowledge the existence of that film.

81. Shambala Preserve
Actress Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marni, etc.) is the president of the Roar Foundation, which runs the preserve preserve for lions and tigers, For $3,000 you can sleep there in a safari tent and hang out with Hedren, but otherwise there’s $150 sunset safari option.

82. Nethercutt Museum
Their collection of antique cars and mechanical instruments is vast. Bet you’ve never seen an orchestrion—a complete mechanical orchestra in a huge wooden cabinet.

83. Beach Boys Historic Landmark
It’s built on the site of Brian, Dennis, and Carl’s former home in a nondescript neighborhood in Hawthorne.

84. Nuclear escape tunnels of Shoemaker Canyon
The road up through the canyon was supposedly intended to be an escape route out of L.A. in case of attack, but it was never completed.

85. Wigwam Motel on Route 66
It’s an icon of Americana.

86. Marilyn Monroe’s Orphanage
For almost two years of her childhood, Norma Jean bounced between foster care and Hollygrove Home for Children.

87. Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Museum
Yes, it’s a real place, and you can call the Joint Journeyman and Apprentice Training Center—(213) 747-0291—to set up a visit.

88. Oceanic Arts
These legendary Whittier tiki outfitters have been carving tikis for decades, and they’ve supplied decor for such institutions as Trader Vic’s, Don the Beachcomber’s, and Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room.

89. Bhagavad-gita Museum
An assortment of wild dioramas and animatronics enact the story of the Hindu scripture.

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90. Chicken Boy gift shop
The towering, fiberglass figure of Chicken Boy looms over Figueroa Street and has developed an ardent fanbase.

91. Greenspan’s
Buy a classic Pendleton board shirt at the OG South Gate store that was frequented by members of N.W.A.

92. Abandoned Topanga radio-relay tower
AT&T microwave towers like this one once transmitted phone and TV signals across the US, before they were rendered obsolete by fiber optics. (Plug in 34.083889, -118.638444 to find it) There’s another tower like it on a building downtown.

93. Justice Brothers race car collection
Push the buzzer at the door and tell them you’re here to see their surprisingly expansive museum.

94. Musical Road
If you drive 55 miles per hour over the grooves in the left lane, you’ll hear the William Tell Overture (aka the Lone Ranger theme song). It’s just west of 30th Street on Avenue G in Lancaster.

95. Porn Star Karaoke at Sardo’s
Every Tuesday night this Valley institution a loyal turnout of porn industry members gathers to sing Lady Gaga after a hard day’s work that just happens to involve having sex on camera.

96. Dearly Departed Tours
Any old TMZ tour will show you the homes of living celebrities. But what you really want to see are the homes where celebrities have tragically died.

97. Oldest McDonald’s
TBT to the days of Speedee, a waaaay less unsettling mascot than Ronald McDonald.

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98. Rainbow Mealworms
While you’re touring the Compton bug farm, pick up some grasshoppers for Guelaguetza-style chapulines tacos. Do it.

99. Prey Taxidermy
Master the art of stuffing animals. We’d recommend starting with Birds 101 before you move up to weasels and foxes.

100. Oldest building in Los Angeles
The nondescript Sanchez Adobe in Baldwin Hills was built over 200 years ago.

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