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Hidden Los Angeles

19th April 2023

Los Angeles is a sprawling Southern California city and the centre of the nation’s film and television industry. Near its iconic Hollywood sign, studios such as Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers offer behind-the-scenes tours. On Hollywood Boulevard, TCL Chinese Theatre displays the stars’ hand and footprints.

As well as the main tourist attractions, there are also a large number of quieter ‘hidden’ places to explore. Here are some we have chosen.

Century Park, at 2000 Avenue of the Stars, is a 14-acre statement development in downtown Los Angeles. It comprises a trio of “trophy” office buildings: 2000 Avenue of the Stars and the Century Plaza Towers. Occupying an entire 14-acre city block, it’s where a lot of Los Angeles’ legal and entertainment business gets done. Yet between these concrete and glass behemoths lurks an actual 4-acre park. Surprisingly lush and dappled with shade from maple trees, this is where lawyers, execs, and accountants come for a break or just to work outdoors for a change. The park is well hidden away, and the ideal place to escape from the noise and bustle of the city.

Also in Century Park, and not to be missed, is restaurant Clementine, a brilliant place for a true Californian breakfast, lunch or dinner created from the very freshest seasonal and local ingredients. Vegans, vegetarians, and others with dietary restrictions will enjoy a menu that is not only inclusive of their needs but also tastes delicious to boot. With a popular pastry counter and deli section plus imaginative breakfasts, specialty salads, heat-at-home options, and the cheesiest grilled cheese imaginable, everyone leaves Clementine thoroughly satiated. A walk in the park, followed by lunch – what more could you ask for?

Move out of downtown and visit The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. Famed for former Tonight Show host Jay Leno’s regular Sunday night performances, The Comedy & Magic Club also hosts similarly household-name comedians as well as its $25 “10 Comics” nights showcasing up-and-comers. This is a strictly 18 and over club where many shows sell out, so purchase tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment. There’s a two-item minimum per guest, but plenty of food and beverage options. Food is served before and during the performances, so arrive early, grab good seats, have a terrific dinner, and enjoy a hilarious show. Very much good value for money.

The Old Zoo in Griffith Park is a great example of old things finding a new use. The zoo was abandoned in 1966 and has since turned into one of the locals’ favorite picnic spots. You can explore the old, now covered-with-graffiti-cages, and even go in and see how it would feel like to see all the people wandering around from the animals’ perspective.

Being behind the local hiking trail, the zoo is located in Griffith Park but a bit difficult to find, which is probably the main reason why only a few tourists end up here. It’s worth the effort.

!n Malibu, Lechuza Beach is a little-known spot accessible to the public at the intersection of Bunnie Lane and Broad Beach Road. Visitors stroll through tree-covered paths that lead to the sandy beach. This amazing, beach property has unique, rock formations and notable kelp forests, making it ideal for a family day, friends hanging out, or even a romantic picnic date. It’s only a 40-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles… and a really good place to escape and relax.

More than a few bibliophiles would prefer that their prized possessions be kept in a bank vault as opposed to a bookshelf, but few actually get to see their dream in action. The Last Bookstore, at 453 South Spring Street, is an iconic Los Angeles bookshop with a not-so-subtly symbolic name that is housed in the grand atrium of what was once a bank.

The marble pillars and mile-high ceiling remain from the old bank, but in place of patrons and guarded stacks of cash, bookshelves line the walls and artful displays of books abound. There is a section of hardbacks arranged by colour. Most of the fiction is purposefully unarranged, meant to inspire treasure hunts among shoppers. In short, every inch of the place is designed to make book lovers fall in love with it, and it succeeds.

And finally a trip to The Museum of Neon Art on Brand Boulevard in Glendale. Even if you’re not a big museum fan, we’re sure you’ll like this one-of-a-kind museum. As the name suggests, this museum focuses on art produced by neon. Some examples include the iconic Brown Derby rooftop sign, the roadside-Americana neon signs, etc. The museum has its permanent collection but in addition to this, it also organises night-time bus tours of historic neon sights in Glendale. It really is something quite different.

Enjoy your tour of hidden places in Los Angeles, and don’t forget our list of 10 Great Books set in the city!

Tony for the TripFiction team

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