L.A. is a massive, sprawling city absolutely chock full of attractions featured on "Top 10" lists and other tourism advertisements. Everyone knows about the La Brea Tar Pits, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Venice Beach Boardwalk but what about the lost sunken city in Long Beach or the Time Travel Mart in Echo Park? There's a lot about Los Angeles that you probably don't know about, off the beaten path attractions that you can explore with your student group on your next trip.
Lost Sunken City - As the story goes, in 1929 a large section of a neighborhood in San Pedro started slipping into the sea. For years, the neighborhood slipped and slid, sometimes as much as 11 inches a day, until the mid-1930s. Luckily, the sliding was gradual before eventually toppling into the waters of the Pacific and the homeowners had time enough to move. This geological phenomenon was determined to be a "slump" and also occurred a few miles up the coast in Rancho Palos Verdes. The sunken city, as it is now known, is viewable by several streets surrounding the disaster zone although the area is demarcated with closed chain link fencing.
Museum of Jurassic Technology - On Venice Boulevard in the Palms neighborhood, you'll find a very odd sort of museum. Likely you plan on visiting the Getty Center but perhaps you haven't heard about this strange cousin, filled with examples of early technological and scientific advancements. Piled high with an odd assortment of "artifacts," the Museum of Jurassic Technology almost gives off the air of a Ripley's Believe It or Not! with a slightly more believable atmosphere. Here you're likely to find exhibits on early studies on echolocation in bats, on stink ants in Cameroon, and featured artifacts such as the Fruit Stone, an oddly beautiful stone carved front and back with images.
Time Travel Mart - Billed as the "Convenience Store for Time Travelers," the Time Travel Mart is definitely not an educational museum. This off the beaten path destination is filled with strange products one might need when traveling in time like a 50-year calendar, a Christmas card from 2010, or even replacement parts for your time machine. Walking through this "convenience store," in either of their two Los Angeles locations, is a wonderfully fun and imaginative way to spend an hour - and pick up souvenirs! Where else are you going to get an Emergency Mummy Kit?
Angeles Crest Highway - This scenic byway is literally off the beaten path as in it takes you outside Los Angeles and, seemingly, into a wonderland of landscapes that look nothing like the city. Pack in the car and escape over the San Gabriel Mountains through the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Angeles National Forest, some of Southern California's most beautiful land and vistas. The highway travels 66 miles from Los Angeles to Wrightwood, its summit climbing to a stunning 7,903 feet making it one of the highest roads in SoCal. Take a break from walking around town and escape into the mountains for a change, there won't be as many people that's for sure.
Electric Dusk Drive-In Movie - In exciting Downtown L.A., there's an ongoing 1950s era novelty, a drive-in movie theater. Pull in and park your car facing the downtown skyline, settle in with a bag of popcorn or a hot dog, and turn on your car speakers to enjoy a classic film in the heart of Tinseltown. This October they're playing such Halloween classics as The Amityville Horror and Rosemary's Baby, moving into other holiday favorites like Love Actually for December. The Drive-In has its own concession stand to satisfy your munchies and if you don't have a car, don't sweat it. There are outdoor astroturf seats so you can enjoy the movie under the stars.
Vincent Price Art Museum - Located on the campus of East Los Angeles College, one of the few community colleges in the U.S. with an operating on-campus museum, the Vincent Price Art Museum houses the extravagant collection of art once owned by the actor. Beginning with a 90 piece donation in 1957, the Vincent Price Art Museum was up and running and began collecting to its current 9,000 pieces. Currently, roughly 2,000 pieces of those 9,000 once belonged to Vincent Price. You'll find collections from Pre-Columbian history, Native American and European artwork, Mexican Modernism, and much more.
Bergamot Station - Dating back to 1875 when the location was a railroad station, Bergamot Station is a premier housing facility for several art galleries in Santa Monica. After servicing the railroad industry, the station was used for the Santa Monica Airline and then as the manufacturing headquarters for American Appliance water heaters. A strange history, the building was converted into an art gallery in the early 1990s and is now a burgeoning popular art scene. Probably the least "off the beaten path" attraction on this list, Bergamot Station deserves a visit for its extensive array of galleries (free, by the way) both quirky and intensely skilled.
Wildlife Learning Center - So maybe you don't like the crowds at the L.A. Zoo, and we understand that. Or maybe you want to tour someplace strange and exotic, we get that too. So if you love animals but not crowds, look to Sylmar's Wildlife Learning Center where you can find a lovely collection of exotic, rare, and rescued animals. The Wildlife Learning Center cares for dozens of rescued animals including a kinkajou (a Latin American relative of the raccoon) named Chiquita, a bald eagle called Denali, a few squirrel monkeys, a couple of macaws, seven American alligators, an adorable Arctic fox named Nanuk, and many more.
Abandoned Griffith Park Zoo - Opened in 1912, the Griffith Park Zoo had 15 animals and a dream. The animals were donated from a film producer's movie studio who wanted to convert the area into an animal theme park. As it happened, over the years the zoo earned a lot of flack for being, as it was stated repeatedly, inadequate, ugly, and poorly designed. You can only imagine the state of animal care. In any case, the zoo closed its doors in 1966 and the animals transferred to the Los Angeles Zoo which opened only three months later. The abandoned zoo still exists with rusting animal enclosures and cages, graffiti lined walls and buildings left to become ruins. As creepy as it may sound, it's actually a pretty neat place to visit and has been featured on several TV shows.