Los Angeles, also known as the City of Angels, has so much to offer residents and tourists alike. Every year, millions of tourists flood the city to see popular attractions like the Hollywood sign, the walk of fame, the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, Universal Studios, Disneyland, and more. While these places certainly have a lot to offer, not everyone wants to compete with the tourists for fun things to do.
Rather, they want to see and do new activities that aren’t necessarily mainstream or the typical cliché tourist sites. Thankfully, there are many popular activities in LA that are off the beaten track. Here are the top 8 hidden gems in LA that we recommend.
The Top 8 Activities for Unique LA Fun
Los Angeles is chock full of fun activities that aren’t the typical tourist traps. You just need to know where to look. These are the top 8 activities for off the beaten track fun in LA, numbered in no particular order.
1. Time Travel Mart
For a quirky shopping experience
Located near downtown in the heart of Echo Park right by the lake, this store consistently makes the top LA attractions list for its funky vibe and unique contents. Yes, the Time Travel Mart actually sells time travel paraphilia from the past, present, and future. You can buy Dolly the Sheep’s own anti-cloning fluid or time travel destination tickets. The employees are even in on the act!
The store claims that employees are present, just aren’t quite sure what time period or dimension they’re from. Also, the convenience store is the headquarters of 826 LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping LA students with their creative and expository writing and helping teachers inspire their students to write.
2. Museum of Jurassic Technology
Check out the Museum of Jurassic Technology for a collection of curiosities
Dubbed the strangest museum in Los Angeles, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is like no other place in LA. Located in the Palms district in West LA, visitors get to explore the advancement of technology across time with more than 30 exhibits. It is a vast collection of unique artistic, scientific, ethnographic, historic, and unclassifiable exhibits and objects.
Much like Renaissance cabinets of curiosity, the museum curates a mood of familiarity while remaining purposefully unsettling, with carefully placed exhibits, informative text, low lighting, and a collection of cultural curiosities. Due to the pandemic, visitors will need to make advanced reservations. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is truly a one-of-a-kind museum worth visiting.
3. Garden of Oz
Wander through the incredible Garden of Oz
For Wizard of Oz fans, LA has an enchanting treasure of a garden that is entirely devoted to Oz. The Garden of Oz was built in the 1990s and contains a collection of mosaics, plants, and statutes, including “Dorothy’s Throne” and a Yellow Brick Road.
All pieces in the garden came from different artists. It is only open to the public two hours a week so appointments are required. An email address is posted on the front gate. No cameras or phones are allowed inside, so its mysteriousness (and keeping out any habitual Instagrammers) is maintained.
The garden was designated a Los Angeles Cultural Monument in 2011. If you want a mix of hidden gems and popular tourist attractions, this garden can be visited in the Hollywood/Beachwood neighborhood while exploring more touristy parts of Hollywood located nearby. You can even see the famous “Hollywood” sign from the garden.
4. Get physical with an afternoon of axe throwing
LA also offers activities off the beaten track that involves physical exercise – axe throwing being one of the most sweat-inducing! For those who love getting exercise and playing games, axe throwing is an entertaining option for an afternoon.
Similar to darts, axe throwing is a fantastic activity to do with friends, family, and even work colleagues. Participants throw axes at a wooden target, attempting to hit the red bullseye in the middle. Each ring around the bullseye has certain point levels. Players accumulate points and have ten throws each. Whoever has the highest number of points at the end of the ten throws wins (or goes to a tiebreaker!).
Not everyone in LA thinks to go axe throwing, particularly since it is still a relatively new activity in the U.S. Don’t forget to stretch before participating!
5. Hike to The Bridge to Nowhere
Much like experiencing a post-apocalyptic movie scene, walking the Bridge to Nowhere, located in the San Gabriel Mountains, is an activity that is a relatively short drive from the city. When the bridge was originally built in 1936 there was a road leading to the bridge, but it was washed out by flash flooding and never rebuilt.
This 10-mile hike zigzagging along the San Gabriel River is known by every LA local as a must-do activity for its spectacular views. It ends at the 120-foot-high bridge, which is also a popular bungee jumping spot.
6. Engage the brain with escape rooms
People love playing games, especially those that create a shared experience. Since their introduction to the LA scene in 2014, escape rooms have become popular in LA for their immersive adventures and team bonding. Whether you head to one with friends, family, or colleagues, escape rooms are a guaranteed good time.
They challenge participants with tough puzzles and tantalizing clues. Team members must collaborate in order to win, and there’s really no bonding experience quite like being trapped together in a room for an hour! Escape rooms make quite the fun adventure and offer a great indoor adventure for the rare rainy day in LA.! Plus in true LA style, many escape rooms in LA have creative Hollywood movie themes. You get to be a part of a story that you’ve only seen on TV or at the movies.
7. Experience history by exploring the Bradbury Building
As the oldest commercial building in LA, the Bradbury Building is a masterpiece of engineering and décor. Constructed in 1893, the rather modest-looking brown brick and sandstone 5-story building is known for its extraordinary skylit atrium, intricate ironwork, and marble staircases.
Once you enter the building, the small and dark entryway opens up into the brilliant atrium that is filled with natural sunlight. The building features numerous works of fiction, movies, and TV shows, and is only one of four LA buildings to be designated a National Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Bradbury Building is open daily and close to other downtown LA landmarks, so it’s easy to check out along with other popular tourist attractions.
8. Little Tokyo and Koreatown
Explore the culinary and cultural wonders of Little Tokyo and Koreatown
While LA’s Chinatown is very well-known as a tourist destination, far fewer people visit Little Tokyo and Koreatown. The former boasts excellent dining and shopping options as well as a Buddhist temple, a museum, and public artworks.
Believe it or not, mochi ice cream was invented in Little Tokyo! Also, Koreatown is one of the most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods in LA. Located west of Downtown LA and south of Hollywood, K-Town – as it’s lovingly called – boasts one of the highest concentrations of 24-hour restaurants and businesses and nightclubs in the country, in addition to amazing spas and markets.
If you’re in the mood for shopping, K-town has many malls with stores focused on skincare products, food, and home goods as well as some of the best K-Pop stores in LA.
If visiting or living in LA, tourists and residents alike can find fun activities in LA that are off the beaten track. You just need to know where to look! So next time you’re looking to escape the crowds, use this guide to give you some ideas for your next LA adventure.