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Visiting Los Angeles

6 Hidden Gems to see When Visiting Los Angeles

The Hollywood Sign. The Santa Monica Pier. The Rose Bowl.  You’ve probably heard of, seen pictures of, or maybe even been to all of those famous Los Angeles attractions.  If you’d like to add a little more excitement to your vacation, check out these six hidden gems to see when visiting Los Angeles.

Eagle Rock Canyon

If you’re looking for something free, leisurely, and beautiful, look no further than Eagle Rock Canyon.  Located near Pasadena, Eagle Rock Canyon offers an easy, fairly low elevation hike and gorgeous views.  It has a clearly defined trail where you can hike to the top and picnic or simply take in the view.  There are tons of hikes to find in LA, but if you’re looking for a lesser-known hike when visiting Los Angeles, Eagle Rock is definitely a hidden gem you don’t want to miss.  


Sunken City

This gem looks and feels post-apocalyptic because, well…it sort of is.  Traveling to this cliff-side 1920s neighborhood in the community of San Pedro is worth the trip. It was devastated by erosion and slid into the ocean in 1929.  The remains of the neighborhood are still around.  Although technically off-limits to the public, these remains are still explored by many today.  If you don’t mind a little adventure on your visit to Los Angeles, definitely check out the Sunken City.


Wayfarers Chapel

Wayfarers Chapel is located just north of the Sunken City in beautiful Palos Verdes.  It sits atop a hill with beautiful ocean views.  The drive up to the chapel alone will take your breath away with stunning landscapes.  The Wayfarer’s Chapel website describes it best as “The natural sanctuary of Palos Verdes [that] sits nestled in a grove of towering redwoods on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Designed by renowned organic architect Lloyd Wright, the stone and glass structure gives unique expression to the sacred space that welcomes all Wayfarers along life’s path.”  



Ojai is just a couple of hours outside of LA proper, but it is nothing short of relaxing in luxury.  With stunning landscapes and endless activities, Ojai is a vacation (or staycation) you’ll never want to end!  Eric Stoen from Travel Babbo says, “There are plenty of places to stay. Our favorites (very different but both family-friendly) are the hip Caravan Outpost and the luxe Ojai Valley Inn and Spa.”  If you’re looking for a perfect family vacation, Ojai is great for kids!  Stoen goes on to say, “We love Ojai for nearby family getaways…every restaurant in town is kid-friendly. For activities you can go horseback riding, hiking or cycling, and the playground right in the middle of town is a great place to relax while your kids play.” For more on what Ojai has to offer see the Top 3 Ways to Relax When Visiting Ojai.


Solstice Canyon

If you are an outdoorsy type, there are more challenging hikes than Eagle Rock Canyon.  Take a hike up Solstice Canyon when visiting Los Angeles for a more physical workout.  Located in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu, Solstice Canyon has tons of trails for all levels of hikers as well as landmarks to see along the way.  Of course almost nothing can surpass the beauty of Malibu. So, you’re sure to see nothing but scenic beauty on your upward journey.  


Arena Cinelounge

When in the holy mecca of cinema, what kind of article would this be without mentioning one of LA’s many theatres?  Arena Cinelounge supports independent film makers by screening them exclusively.  Located in the heart of Hollywood it doesn’t get more LA, or more hipster, than that.  With its cool exterior, smooth interior, and heart-centered support for the arts, Arena Cinelounge is a must-see hidden gem when visiting Los Angeles.  

Venice Beach

Venice Beach – Eclectic and Elegant

Los Angeles’ vibrant Venice Beach has a shade of color for everyone!   If the eclectic shops and iconic boardwalk doesn’t excite you, the elegant beach views will.  Here are some great sources of entertainment when visiting Venice Beach.


Totally Rad Art

Venice Beach’s bohemian boardwalk has a lot to offer.  Just walking up and down the eccentric walkway is enough to keep you entertained all day.  In the 50s & 60s, Venice beach was the center of the Los Angeles art scene and its colorful culture still thrives today. The local artists – street performers, painters, musicians, knick-knack makers – are what keep Venice alive and spirited.   When visiting Venice Beach, keep a piece of this wild culture with you by purchasing a uniquely-Venice art piece.

Muscle Beach Venice

If you’ve had your fill of psychedelic art for the day, stop by the trademark training center for all of LA’s most muscular men & women – Muscle Beach.  This famous, outdoor gym is right on the boardwalk with fabulous views of the beach.  Many famous athletes, notably Arnold Schwarzenegger, trained at this gym when it had its original name of The Venice Weightlifting Pen.  This name distinguished it from the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica before its current title, Muscle Beach Venice.  A popular spot for fitness folks and observers alike, Muscle Beach Venice is a must-see when visiting Venice Beach.

Venice Canals

A stark contrast to its urban boardwalk, the Venice Canals is a side of Venice, CA usually only seen in Venice, Italy.  Built specifically to resemble Venice, Italy, the Venice Canals are man-made canals which can be toured via gondola.  A gondola reservation can be made through sites like getyourguide.com.  The canals wind through opulent California homes while transporting you to an Italian adventure.   On your Los Angeles vacation, be sure to treat yourself and see a more elegant side of Venice Beach.


There is no doubt that groovy Venice has tons of activities to entertain anyone.  If the neighboring city of Santa Monica is on your list of places to visit, check out this post on what to do when visiting Santa Monica.  When visiting Venice Beach, come for the radical reputation and stay for the welcoming, colorful culture.


Hollywood vacation

A Local’s Guide to Your Hollywood Vacation

Summer is officially upon us. That means many tourists will enjoy a sunny Hollywood vacation in the coming weeks. Hollywood can be a bit challenging to navigate if you’ve never been there – or even if you live in SoCal. But take it from this Los Angeles resident, there is plenty to do in Hollywood that will take you off the beaten path.

Check out the Wisdom Tree Hike

The Wisdom Tree hike is a beautiful, less crowded alternative to the traditional Hollywood sign hike.  In addition to the breath-taking panoramic views of Los Angeles at the top of the hike, the Hollywood sign is still visible at different stopping points along the hike.  At the top of this three mile hike grows the solitary tree. The area is complete with sitting areas and stunning views of Los Angeles.  It is tradition to write your “wisdom” and leave it in one of the designated places near the tree. You can also read what wisdom others have left at the tree.  This practice is what makes this Hollywood hike so special and why you’ll definitely want to check it out on your next Hollywood vacation.  If you love the great outdoors, do both hikes!

The Grove

Okay, so The Grove will be flooded with tourists this summer, but The Grove Mall is still a must-see when visiting Hollywood.  It is actually just outside of Hollywood, between Beverly Hills and Central LA. The mall has beautiful architecture, coupled with a huge variety of places to shop and eat.  The Grove’s aesthetics alone will keep you wanting to simply walk around it all day.  Whether you are interested in specialty stores like Michael Kors, more popular stores like Nordstrom, or you just want to peruse the farmer’s market, The Grove will have you entertained for hours.

Barnsdall Art Park

If you’re looking for something fun, unique, and kid-friendly during your Hollywood vacation, check out Barnsdall Art Park.  The park has tons of events including family art days and outdoor movies.  And, for adults, the occasional wine tasting!  Barnsdall organizes tours of the Hollyhock house built in 1919 – Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles project.  The website notes, “Built between 1919 and 1921, it represents his earliest efforts to develop a regionally appropriate style of architecture for Southern California. Wright himself referred to it as California Romanza, using a musical term meaning “freedom to make one’s own form.”  Barnsdall Art Park is a local spot that provides a unique Hollywood experience.

Hollywood Heritage Museum

Los Angeles is full of awesome museums including The Natural History Museum, The Getty, and The Museum of ToleranceThe Hollywood Heritage Museum is a piece of Hollywood history all its own.  It is home to historic movie memorabilia sacred to the heart of Hollywood’s story of becoming the world’s hub for film and media.  If you find yourself near the Hollywood Bowl on your Hollywood vacation, swing by the Hollywood Heritage Museum. You won’t be disappointed.

When visiting Los Angeles, Hollywood is a must-see and these locales will give you a little glimpse of local culture.  If you’re planning to visit the area for multiple days during your summer getaway, check out Santa Monica.  Whether you’re looking to catch a little piece of fame, catch the eye of a celebrity, or catch a wave at the beach, Los Angeles has what you’re looking for. And, Hollywood embodies one of the best parts of the quintessential Los Angeles vacation.