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Top 10 Hidden Gems in Los Angeles

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
For this list, we’re looking at underrated attractions in and around this ultra-famous West Coast metropolis. LA can be an overwhelming city for tourists, but we’ve got you covered. Welcome to MojoTravels and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hidden Gems in Los Angeles.

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Top 10 Hidden Gems in Los Angeles

LA can be an overwhelming city for tourists, but we’ve got you covered. Welcome to MojoTravels and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hidden Gems in Los Angeles.

For this list, we’re looking at underrated attractions in and around this ultra-famous West Coast metropolis.

#10: Karaoke in K-Town

One of the things that makes LA such a challenging city to visit is just how many neighborhoods there are. If you just stayed in the downtown core, you’d miss everything the city has to offer. One of the areas that tourists typically skip is Koreatown. This neighborhood is of course great for finding Korean BBQ that rivals what you can get in Seoul. But once you’ve had your fill, you have to stop by one of the area’s many bars for some late night karaoke. Grab a private room with some friends and feel free to belt out whatever embarrassing tune you want, without worrying about strangers judging you.

#9: Vasquez Rocks

For this hidden gem, we’re going on a little road trip. Just outside the city of LA, you’ll find the Vasquez Rocks; and even if you’ve never heard of them before, it’s very likely you recognize them from some of your favorite movies or TV shows. This otherworldly location has been used as a filming spot for westerns, space movies, and prehistoric films because of the distinct look of the landscape. Depending on traffic, it should be less than an hour’s drive from downtown LA, and it’s totally worth the trip to feel like you’ve gone back in time . . or flown into space!

#8: Echo Park Lake Pedal Boats

Another one of the neighborhoods that may be beloved by locals, but often overlooked by tourists, is Echo Park. This residential area is home to plenty of trendy bars and restaurants as well as the lovely Echo Park Lake. The lake has always had pedal boats but as of early 2018 they added some adorable swan-shaped ones to their fleet. This is perfect for an old-school romantic date night and is of course very Instagrammable. Get to this one before it becomes crazy popular!

#7: Rose Bowl Flea Market

If you’re into thrifting, this one is for you. Hitting up this attraction will take a little bit of planning because it only takes place on the second Sunday of every month. We’re talking of course about the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena. Whether you’re into vintage clothes or furniture or retro knick-knacks, there’s truly something for everyone here. Make sure to arrive early because it can get really packed. Hopefully you packed an extra suitcase to bring home with you because it’s going to be hard to leave all these treasures behind.

#6: Bradbury Building

Any architecture or film buff won’t want to miss out on this much-overlooked location in downtown LA. Not far from popular tourist attractions like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and contemporary art museum The Broad sits the Bradbury Building. Built in 1983, you could walk by the exterior without ever knowing what lies inside. But it’s the interior that’s really special, because of the intricate ironwork in the atrium. Many Hollywood filmmakers have taken note; it was one of the major sets in the original “Blade Runner” and also featured in the final scenes of “500 Days of Summer”. You can pop in for free, but unfortunately can’t go higher than the mezzanine.

#5: The Last Bookstore

Bibliophiles, get ready to be impressed. You probably won’t find this spot in any tourist guides, but if you love to read, you could easily get lost in here for hours. The Last Bookstore is not simply a bookstore, but rather a massive temple of books and reading, hidden in plain sight in downtown LA. They have several permanent installations made out of old books, and regularly host artists’ works in the upstairs spaces. Of course, they do also sell books, both new and used, and if you want to support a great brick and mortar bookshop before they’re all gone, you’ll feel great putting your money down here.

#4: The New Beverly Cinema

There are plenty of old movie theaters in LA where you can pop in to watch a flick and feel like you’re in old Hollywood. This one may not be as grand or elegant, but it has been reimagined into something wholly modern. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino bought the building in 2007 to save it from redevelopment, and now shows regular screenings there of films from his own collection. They’re typically 35 millimeter and they range from oldies to more current picks. It’s not rare for Tarantino to make an appearance himself, so keep your eyes peeled!

#3: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Nuart Theater

Let’s do the Time Warp again! Many cities will offer showings of this classic ‘70s movie musical around Halloween, but in LA, you can see Rocky Horror any week of the year. At the Nuart Theater on Santa Monica Boulevard, it’s always a midnight showing, and even if you’re a “virgin”, they’ll accept you. Brushing up on your audience participation cues beforehand would be prudent, though! Whether you’re a longtime fan of the movie or not, this is a fun and unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

#2: Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway (or PCH) isn’t exactly a secret. But it is a hidden gem for tourists who wouldn’t otherwise venture further a bit further afield; and when visiting LA, you’ve got to take the time to fully immerse yourself in driving culture. The central city is great, but some of America’s most beautiful landscapes are located along California Highway 1, which hugs the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Whether it’s driving a bit up to Malibu or down towards Orange County, there is a ton to see here. And if your rental car happens to be a convertible, all the better!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

The Getty Villa

Wayfarers Chapel

#1: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

When you’re traveling, going to a cemetery may not be on your to-do list, but hear us out on this one. Located just behind the Paramount lot is the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, a true vestige of old Hollywood that will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Famed members of the entertainment industry like Cecil B. DeMille, Judy Garland and Johnny Ramone are all buried there. Not only that, but in the warmer months, Cinespia puts on an outdoor film series that takes place in the cemetery . . . and we can’t think of anything better to do on a hot summer night.


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