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Weird Things to Do in Los Angeles
Explore the other side of the City of Angels with this guide to weird things to do in Los Angeles. You may find that some of the most interesting things to do around the city aren’t found on the usual itineraries.
Time Travel Mart
The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park is a quirky Los Angeles spot with a cause. Proceeds from the market go to support 826LA, a nonprofit dedicated to helping local kids with their writing skills through workshops and literacy tutoring. The market itself is both a blast from the past with relics you may not even recognize if you’re not from a certain era and a focus on the future. You’ll find several items inside that should give you your best shot at time travel.
The shop is also a great place for unique gifts for that person you know who truly has everything. The best part is, any shopping you do in the shop goes to support the kids working on their writing in the back of the shop. You could be helping the next great science fiction writer get their start with a purchase of your time machine watch or Bigfoot memorabilia there.
Photo Credit: 826LA and the Time Travel Mart / facebook.com
Museum of Jurassic Technology
If you’re seeking hidden gems in Los Angeles, go to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in West Los Angeles, one of those weird things to do in LA that you have to see for yourself to believe.
The name of this place was left purposefully vague so that visitors don’t quite know what they’re getting themselves into until they’re inside. The front desk staff are even told to make sure things are kept vague if visitors ask questions at the start.
Exhibits in the 12,000 square foot space are focused on oddities, inventions long since forgotten and what may be considered more art installation than natural artifact. You’ll see mosaics made out of butterfly wings, displays about cures once believed by humans before modern medicine and an oil portrait gallery of dogs in space, specifically dogs who were part of the Soviet space program. It’s truly an attraction that sticks with you, especially if you’re in the mood for something quite strange.
Photo Credit: californiathroughmylens.com
The Tesla Coil
Griffith Observatory isn’t considered on most lists of hidden gems in Los Angeles, but there’s a feature inside that many miss when they’re distracted by the views up here. Yes, the views are spectacular, by the way, but certainly well-known in these parts. One of the exhibits inside the observatory, the Tesla Coil, gives visitors an impressive light show every hour on the hour.
If you time things right, you’ll see a demonstration of low voltage currents turned into high voltage electricity, likely received by oohs and aahs from the small crowds that gather here. The coil is named after Nikola Tesla, the inventor behind the first of its kind. The one on display here belonged to Dr. Frederick Finch Strong. The scientist and physician studied Tesla coils as part of his work on electricity and how it intersects with medicine.
You’ll need to purchase a ticket to watch any of the films they host there, but most of the intrigue inside Griffith Observatory is free to the public, including the Tesla coil.
Photo Credit: Griffithobservatory.org
If you have more time to spend in Griffith Park once you’ve explored the observatory, you’ll have access to even more hidden attractions in Los Angeles. Start with the Bronson Cave, or Bronson Canyon, a filming location for the old Batman television series and a number of science fiction movies and series since, like Twin Peaks. It’s also popular with location scouts looking for the perfect place to film a Western, as it certainly has those vibes once you’re there.
The tunnel system is man-made, so there’s no chance you’ll get lost here. That also means it isn’t very deep. You’ll also get a peekaboo view of the Hollywood Sign while you’re there, making this stop a great place for the best views around Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia.com
California Institute of Abnormalarts
The California Institute of Abnormalarts — yes, it’s all one word — is one part nightclub and one part museum, stuffed full of sideshow memorabilia. The focus here is on the creepy, so no matter where you look, you’re likely to lock eyes with shrunken heads, haunted paintings or the most popular exhibit here, a preserved clown said to be over 100 years old.
Shortened to CIA, the venue came to be thanks to two men who met while working in the funeral directing business. That story certainly fits the morbid themes you’re walking into here, a true testament to the power of our fascination with unusual things to do in Los Angeles. The venue also hosts live performances from local artists from time to time, and themed events depending on the season. You could then be treated to a magic show or live art demonstration on top of your visit to see the circus of your nightmares.
Photo Credit: California Institute of Abnormalarts | Facebook.com
The Bradbury Building is well-known among Los Angeles architecture buffs for its impressive staircases, atrium and open-cage elevators. It’s also one of only a handful of buildings in Los Angeles to have National Historic Landmark status, an honor that it received in 1977 after several years on the National Register of Historic Places.
How the building came to be is a story in itself, if not a little eerie. A young draftsman, essentially an apprentice, named George H. Wyman had the good fortune of being chosen by gold-mining millionaire and future owner of the building Lewis Bradbury to design the Bradbury. The legend goes that Wyman was so taken aback by the offer that he used a planchette, that era’s version of a Ouija board, to contact his dead brother for advice.
Apparently, through the powers of the afterlife or the power of suggestion, the brother’s ghost told Wyman to absolutely take the job if he wanted to become a successful architect. The rest is history.
That history and how unique it looks on the inside and out has made it a popular filming location over the years, starting with Double Indemnity and followed by Blade Runner, Lethal Weapon 4 and What Women Want, among many others. If you’re at all interested in movie history and filming sites, this one is a no-brainer for your Los Angeles itinerary.
Photo Credit: braydenlaw / unsplash.com
History enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Avila Adobe, the oldest standing residential property in Los Angeles. It was built in 1818 in the traditional style back then for the region: walls made of adobe bricks and beams made out of cottonwood plucked out of the nearby Los Angeles River.
Today, the structure is a historic home museum. Restoration efforts have been underway for some time now to give visitors a better representation of what life was like when the adobe structure was built. Find the Avila Adobe in the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District.
The district, a California State Historic Park, is well worth a stroll regardless to find your own secret spots in Los Angeles. If anything, you should come upon some delicious Mexican food and live mariachi music.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia.com
The best weird things to do in Los Angeles are the things that you’re naturally interested in. Someone’s weird may be your ideal attraction, after all. See the best of Los Angeles by digging a little deeper and finding what makes this city more than just a hub for celebrities and style.
Written by Agnes Groonwald for Knockaround.