Besides the famous attractions in Los Angeles, there are also many unique and lesser-known places to explore. In addition to the Hollywood sign, Runyon Canyon Park, and The Getty, there are other hidden landmarks, hikes, restaurants, and museums that are just as interesting and beautiful.
If you enjoy going off the usual tourist path, you should definitely consider exploring these hidden gems.
Reading this article you will discover 8 hidden gems to visit in Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
1. The Regency Village Theater
The Regency Village Theater, formerly known as the Fox Theater, is located just outside the University of California, Los Angeles, in the picturesque Westwood neighborhood. It’s a wonderful alternative to the crowded TCL Chinese Theater on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A beautiful vintage movie theater, the Regency Village Theater was built in 1931 by Percy Parke Lewis. It contains over 1,400 seats and is renowned for its fantastic sound and display quality. As well as being a great place to take those last few photos, it’s a beautifully designed and historically significant building. Built in an Art Deco style, the theater features a white tower that rises above most of the surrounding shopping area. At the top, a big blue FOX sign is still there, a nod to past buildings.
In recent years, the Regency Village Theater has been chosen as the venue for two to three movie premieres a month. In Los Angeles, that means all 9 meters: red carpet, film crew, and actors. But whether or not there’s a premiere during your visit, you must stop by the theater to admire its architecture, catch a movie, or browse the nearby shops and restaurants.
2. Murphy Ranch
One of the strangest and most unique hikes in the Los Angeles area is a hidden Nazi sympathizer compound built before WWII.
While most stories about Murphy Ranch are unsubstantiated, legend has it that a colony of 40 Nazi sympathizers lived in this part of Rustic Canyon from 1933 to 1945. After Germany lost the war, the site was abandoned until a group of artists bought the property. Then, in 1973, the area was purchased by the City of Los Angeles.
The walk starts at the intersection of Casale Road and Sullivan Fire Road. About a mile down Sullivan Fire Road, a break in the fence will take you down steep stone steps to the bottom of Rustic Canyon. At the bottom, keep left to reach the abandoned powerhouse, machine shed, and terraced gardens. Most of the buildings are covered in graffiti, almost making them a work of art. Seeing the remains of the colony can be shocking, especially when you think about what may have happened in this isolated area of the canyon.
3. Shakespeare Bridge
The Franklin Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles is home to an unexpected gem: the Shakespeare Bridge. Franklin Hills is a residential area occupied by artists and performers, so most people never come across this beautiful architectural bridge.
Originally known as the Franklin Avenue Bridge, it was designed by JC Wright and built in the 1920s. The bridge was built over a deep ravine, connecting the east and west sides of the neighborhood. Due to its romantic gothic architecture with arches and turrets, people have always called it the Shakespeare Bridge. It became an official historic monument of that name in 1974.
The bridge is part of the neighborhood, so there are no fees or time restrictions. To avoid traffic and maximize views, visit the bridge during sunrise or sunset.
4. Rest Room 86
The Koreatown part of Los Angeles is known for its delicious food options, but it also has great nightlife. In addition to the popular bars, there is a hidden gem spot under the LINE Hotel. It’s called Break Room 86.
Around the corner, through the loading docks, you’ll walk through a maze of corridors until you reach a hidden entrance to the bar. Inside, you’ll be greeted with a dimly lit space full of ’80s memorabilia. You’ll see things like a DJ booth decorated with boomboxes, a hallway wall to the bathrooms lined with cassette tapes, and another wall lined with old-fashioned metal cabinets. The drinks menu features cocktails named after popular ’80s songs and artists. Most are around $14.
Be sure to grab a Moonwalker whiskey before the main bar wall comes down at midnight to reveal a stage. A Michael Jackson impersonator and other performers will dance and sing the night away. If you prefer to sing along rather than watch the action, Break Room 86 is also home to four private karaoke rooms.
5. Heritage Square Museum
The Heritage Square Museum, in the Montecito Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, is a living history museum comprised of eight well-preserved late 19th-century buildings, all furnished with period-appropriate pieces. It is a beautiful hidden gem that explores the settlement and development of Southern California from the Civil War to the early 20th century and offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of Victorian and Edwardian Californians.
The Heritage Square Museum is open Friday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm. You can explore the place on your own; however, you can only access the houses on a $10 guided tour. Tours run between 12:00 and 3:00 pm and last just over an hour.
6. Juquila Restaurant
There are over 29,000 restaurants in Los Angeles, so there’s always something new to try. It’s hard to pick just one hidden gem of a restaurant, but Juquila Restaurant, one of the best Oaxaca restaurants in the Los Angeles area, is known and loved by locals but not frequented by tourists.
Located on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Los Angeles, Juquila serves hot fajitas, tlayudas, burritos and enchiladas. A specialty of Oaxacan cuisine, the black mole is made with nuts, spices, and chocolate. Not only do you get a complimentary plate of black mole-topped corn chips when you sit down, but there is an entire mole section on the menu. Menu items range from tacos ($2.50) to mixed meat specials ($30 and up).
7. Lake Hollywood Reservoir
A less crowded area than Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon, Hollywood Lake Reservoir offers a peaceful and tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The reservoir, formerly known as the San Francisco Dam, was created by William Mulholland in 1924 to provide emergency supplies of potable water to Los Angeles residents.
A 3.3-mile hiking trail runs around the perimeter of the Hollywood Lake Reservoir. As the reservoir is man-made, the land around it is flat. The trail provides a great opportunity to take in the swaying eucalyptus trees, beautiful hilltop homes, and even the Hollywood sign.
While it is quite uncommon to see wildlife in sprawling urban areas, the Hollywood Lake Reservoir provides a haven for birds, rabbits, and deer. It is not uncommon to see several animals during a walk. The trail around the reservoir also sees a few selfie sticks and plenty of other residents participating in their exercise routines.
8. Great Wall of Los Angeles
The Great Wall of Los Angeles, led by Judith Baca, celebrates the history and culture of Los Angeles. A Chicano artist, Baca envisioned portraying a lesser-known history of California that included ethnic peoples, women, and minorities that were so invisible in conventional textbook accounts. It is still one of the largest facilities in the United States dedicated to interracial harmony.
Spanning half a mile (2,754 feet), the murals are painted on the Tujunga flood control canal in the San Fernando Valley. The project began in 1974, and it took five summers and 400 children and their families to complete murals covering California history from prehistoric times to 1910. The youth were from different socioeconomic backgrounds and were assisted by community members, artists, and several academics.
The project is still ongoing as it takes a year to research and prepare each mural. Once complete, the Great Wall of Los Angeles will be one mile long.