Los Angeles is a major SoCal city well-known as a film and TV industry haven, from its iconic Hollywood sign to its famous studios such as Paramount, Universal, and Warner Brothers. There are countless ways to see the hustle and bustle of the busy Hollywood lifestyle, plenty of expensive boutiques and high-end eateries lining the Walk of Fame and celebrity sightings around every corner, but there are also numerous options to escape the urban buzz and see something less crowded, more unique, and more local L.A.!
Here are our choices for Los Angeles' top 10 hidden gems, ten of our favorite places that offer something less typical of Hollywood and more typical of a local neighborhood, one full of amazing natural views, unique experiences, and amazing food!
- Bronson Canyon
One of our favorite choices for top hidden gems in L.A. is hands down Bronson Canyon, an excellent and out of the way part of the city that served as the entrance to the popular 1960s television Batman series. This popular filming location, hiking hot spot, and bat-cave is accessible by Griffith Park along the fire road, a direct route to the hole in the 100-foot tall rock wall. Explore the 50-foot long tunnel from the inside or hike around and see some of the best L.A. essential vistas!
- Last Bookstore
While this next hidden gem is not actually the last bookstore in L.A., it is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the world! This 20,000 square foot establishment started in a downtown loft and has evolved into a key member of the Special Arts Tower in L.A., itself being a two-floor book and record filled wonderland. The Last Bookstore is one of the largest independent bookstores still standing, as mentioned before, and holds over 250,000 amazing books, novels, comics, records, and even amazing art within the onsite galleries!
- Carroll Avenue
If you happen to be out and about near Echo Park head over to Angelino Heights and see Carroll Avenue, the very first suburb in Los Angeles! This highly picturesque neighborhood is still intact from the Victorian Era and is a highly popular Hollywood backdrop today. See several Victorian manors from the 19th century and learn all about the history of the neighborhood, city, and the people who used to call Carroll Avenue home, from lavish merchants to well-known agents. This is also the spot where Michael Jackson's Thriller and the hit TV series Charmed were both filmed!
- Virginia Robinson Gardens
The Virginia Robinson Gardens are the essence of Beverly Hills, the land and surrounding gardens giving way to the very first mansion ever in Beverly Hills is built in 1911! Here at the gardens, you can learn all about the historic lavish parties and famous guests that frequented the home, a true historical crown jewel and a cultural landmark for the area. Many people consider this spot to be the birthplace of Beverly Hills as we know it, and today you can spend your day strolling through the exotic gardens and enjoying the various social gatherings that still happen today!
- Spadena House
Another amazing Beverly Hills hidden gem lies within the English Style yard, gardens, and household of the Spadena House. Sometimes known as the Witch’s House, this storybook English cottage-style mansion is highly detailed in design and in, of course, film legend. Here you will see twisted trees and a moat-like pond owned by Michael J. Libow, the man behind reviving this historic, sometimes spooky, and always lush iconic home. You may have even seen this local landmark on the 1995 classic movie Clueless.
- Automobile Driving Museum
The Automobile Driving Museum, or ADM, located in El Segundo is a highly unique museum experience found only in the hidden depths of L.A., an amazing place that preserves and educates guests about the cultural history of popular vehicles. Here you will see over 130 vintage, antique, and classic muscle cars and even have the option to take a Sunday drive in them. You can spend some time inside learning the history then get hands-on each Sunday with a chance to ride along in them! Enjoy such classics as their currently featured 82 Delorean and 56 Lincoln Convertible, or maybe just enjoy the onsite cafe and store full of car memorabilia.
- Paramount Ranch
If you like to hike, see nature up close and personal, yet still want to experience quintessential L.A. then this hidden gem spot is for you, the Paramount Ranch. This "Hollywood Ranch" is part of a National Park but was first purchased by Paramount Pictures in 1927, the land being the 2,700 acre Old Rancho Las Virgenes in the Santa Monica Mountains. Here you will find scenic hiking trails, an old western set, amazing vistas, and even an intact cinematic old western town. This gorgeous natural wonderland within the hills of Hollywood has seen several popular western TV series and movies, as well as the highly popular on location hit, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.
- San Vicente Mountain Park
High atop the Santa Monica Mountains, near Mulholland Drive, you will find a nicely tucked away attraction providing scenic 360-degree views from a former missile launch site, a unique sightseeing opportunity, history lesson, and local culture lesson all in one! Your group will find 10.2 acres of green space to hike, bike, or picnic, as well as the popular radar tower filled with military history lessons and views of the Encino Reservoir, San Fernando Valley, and L.A. Basin. Learn all about the Cold War while you take in one of the best scenic L.A. sunsets possible, all without the big crowds!
Escondite, aka the Hideout, is an amazing little dive bar located on the border of Little Tokyo in L.A., a great eatery that had to make our hidden gem list. Inside you will find an antique Western appeal and live music every other night, not to mention the amazing juicy burgers and outstanding views of downtown L.A.’s skyline. Try the Fat Albert while you’re here, a burger smothered in cheese, bacon, and syrup and put in between to glazed doughnut buns! This is truly a unique and amazing find in L.A., so be sure to save plenty of time for it!
- Abalone Cove Tide Pools
If you head to the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve you will find two beaches, tons of tide pools, a scenic bluff top, and countless trails within the massive 64-acre preserve. You will also find hidden points, caves, and coves chock full of plants and animals only visible during low tide! Catch a glimpse at L.A.’s sea life as you see sea stars, anemones, sea sponges, and even the million-dollar ocean view homes atop the bluff on the hills of Rancho Palos. This is truly a unique gem in L.A. that you aren’t going to want to miss!