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

Level two: Intermediate

This is going to require some legwork. If you want to build up an intimate knowledge of this city, you’re going to have to put your back into it.

27. Bob Baker Marionette Theater
Delightfully charming or super creepy? Both. Definitely both.

28. Hyperion Water Treatment Plant
They offer free tours, and it turns out learning about sewage is surprisingly fascinating. Yep, that’s “sewage” and “fascinating” in the same sentence. Trust us on this one.

29. Velveteria: the Museum of Velvet Paintings
Velvet Elvises are just the gateway drug.

28. Laserium
Retro-ass laser shows in a Van Nuys office complex? Legal weed? You do the math.

29. Walt Disney’s Barn
In the ’50s, Disney built a barn in his backyard where he worked on his model railroad. The structure has preserved in Griffith park and is open every third Sunday of the month—it’s now a museum devoted to both Disney and train stuff, with an original coach from the Disneyland Railroad.

30. American Military Museum
That’s a lot of tanks.

31. Beverly Hills Witch’s House
Storybook-style houses are scattered all across L.A. (and may even have inspired Disney’s Snow White), but this is the only one handing out full-size candy bars and bags of cash on Halloween.

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32. LA96C NIKE Missile Control Site
Makes for a great hike and has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp (which is more than you can say for most abandoned missile control sites).

33. Phantasma Gloria
Randy Lawrence thought it would be cool to build a sculpture out of glass bottles full of colored water in his front yard. He was 100 percent right.

34. Velaslavasay Panorama
Back before there was virtual reality, people just looked at 360 degree panorama paintings and called it a day. The art form is preserved at this eccentric West Adams institution.

35. Necromance
A sinister shop for all your freeze-dried-animal-related needs.

36. Replica of the original In-N-Out
There is a person whose job is to sit in this fake hamburger stand and wait for you to show up so they can give you stickers. Don’t let them down.

37. Pasadena’s giant fork
It’s like a regular fork, but giant.

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38. Valley Relics Museum
Vintage neon, a fiberglass Big Boy, Old BMX bikes, a couple of Nudie Cohn’s cars—the whole collection is an affectionate tribute to the visual culture of the Valley.

39. Ruins of a railway and resort on Mount Lowe
The Alpine Lodge at the top was destroyed in a 1936 electrical fire, and it was all downhill from there.

40. Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club Cafe
Drink a cup of deep black coffee at the semi-secret diner where LAPD detectives get their bacon and eggs.

41. Alpine Village
This Bavarian-inspired market has been hosting one hell of an Oktoberfest for decades.

42. Sunken City
The fractured remnants of home foundations, roads, and a rail line left behind by a community that crumbled into the sea.

43. Museum of Death
They have the severed head of a French serial killer on display, no big deal.

44. Ruins of Tropical Terrace mansion in Malibu
Portions of the old house still sand, including the chimney, bomb shelter, and a bathtub.

45. Tom of Finland House
The house once belonged to master of gay erotica Touko Laaksonen, aka “Tom of Finland” (he was from Finland). He created a safe space for other erotic artists, and the house now functions as a museum devoted to the art.

46. El Segundo Butteffly Preserve blue butterfly
The preserve was established to protect the rare El Segundo blue butterfly around the ghost town of Surfridge—a community that was gradually vacated after LAX was built and the roar of jets became a constant.

47. Angeles Temple
Celebrity preacher Aimee Semple McPherson built the nation’s first megachurch in 1923 (and also faked her own kidnapping a few years later). The building is now houses a Foursquare Pentecostal congregation.

48. Museum of Neon Art
Take a class and learn to shape neon tubes.

49. William S. Hart Ranch and Museum
Experience an Old Hollywood version of the Old West. Hart starred in and directed some of the great Westerns of the silent era.

50. Mosaic Tile House
For more than two decades, artists Cheri Pann and Gonzalo Duran worked to cover their house in handmade ceramic pieces, and boy did it pay off.

51. S.S. Lane Victory battleship cruise
The the 1940s-era battleship periodically sets sail for Catalina Island (though it’s currently docked for boiler repairs).

52. Queen Mary propellor room
If you descend into the ship’s engine room, you may find a viewing platform where you can peer down through the water and see one of ship’s gargantuan propellors illuminated in eerie green light.

53. Homestead Museum in the City of Industry
It’s here that you’ll find the grave of Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of California.

54. Charles Phoenix slideshow
The dude knows his retro California and classic kitsch.

55. Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation
The burial site for 15 aviation pioneers is basically Burbank’s answer to the Arc de Triomphe (and was also part of a major instance of real estate fraud).

56. Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum
A handy Burbank spot for fortune telling, palm reading, and viewing monster specimens.

57. Church of Type
The guy who runs this, Kevin Bradley, is a master of woodblock letterpress printing. Yes, he’ll do your business cards.

58. Lincoln Memorial Shrine
There’s no such thing as too much Lincoln commemoration.

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59. Wayfarers Chapel
The glass building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright and blurs the lines between interior and exterior.

60. Jeepney tour of Historic Filipinotown
Hands down the best way to tour the city in a vehicle.

61. Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens
Make it a spiritual journey.

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