Los Angeles is a huge city with plenty to do and explore, but what's an LA vacation without a little bit of weirdness? From exploring quirky stores and lesser-known cities to checking out some mind-blowing art and history, there's plenty of offbeat fun to be had in this eclectic city.
Here are 15 unusual things to do in LA that will add some spice to your trip!
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The Bradbury Building is a unique architectural landmark in downtown Los Angeles. Built in 1893, the five-story office building features a Romanesque exterior and a stunning interior with a Victorian court decorated with open cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings. The building was commissioned by gold mining millionaire Lewis Bradbury, who wanted to create a safe place for his workers to conduct business.
The Bradbury Building has been used as a setting in many films and television shows, most famously in the movie "Blade Runner". Today, the building is still used for office space but is open and free to the public. However, visitors are only allowed in the lobby and on the first set of stairs.
Address: 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Visiting a live studio taping is a fun and unusual way to see your favorite TV shows up close and in person. And it's not as hard (or expensive - tickets are often free!) as many visitors think. It’s possible to be an audience member for talk shows, reality shows, game shows, sitcoms, and children's shows.
Start by checking the show's website or call the ticket hotline to find out how to get tickets. Many times, there will also be last-minute tickets available or standby options. Otherwise, there are more general sites such as On Camera Audiences (provides audiences for talent shows such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "America's Got Talent") or 1iota (offers tickets to shows such as "Jimmy Kimmel Live!").
The Last Bookstore is a must-visit for any book lover. Located in downtown Los Angeles, it’s the largest new and used bookstore in California. The store is adorned with local art and features the world-famous book tunnel.
In addition to its impressive selection of books (including a collection of rare books and collectibles), the store also offers a cafe, event space, and plenty of comfortable seating for customers to enjoy. Whether you're looking for your next great read or just want to browse, the Last Bookstore is worth a visit.
Address: 453 S Spring St – Ground Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Looking for an adventurous day out? Sender One Climbing is a unique rope climbing and bouldering gym located right near LAX airport. Not only can you rope climb and boulder to your heart's content, but you can also explore the interactive climbing space known as Sender City. Sender City features very unusual climbing walls, such as the Gear Wall, Web challenge, and Trembling Towers. Jump, climb, slide, and embrace your inner child at this exhilarating adventure spot in LA!
Address: 11220 Hindry Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Los Angeles is filled with world-renowned museums, from the Getty Center to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. However, the city also has several smaller, more obscure museums that are well worth a visit. The Medieval Torture Museum, for example, offers a unique look at the grim instruments used to extract confessions and inflict pain during the Middle Ages. The La Brea Tar Pits, meanwhile, offer visitors a chance to see the fossilized remains of Ice Age animals that have been preserved in tar for thousands of years.
This quirky fairytale-style garden is covered in glimmering mosaic tiles, features a Wall of Toys, and there’s even a little mailbox intended for sending letters to Oz. While most of the time you can’t tour the garden (someone actually lives here), you can always drive past and view it through the gate. Either way, you'll be enchanted by what you see and are sure to enjoy this unusual LA activity!
Address: 3040 Ledgewood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
The next time you're in Los Angeles, be sure to set aside some time to explore the South Bay. This lesser-known area is home to a couple of beach cities, each with its own unique atmosphere. You can stroll along the piers (Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan), browse the boutiques, and enjoy a drink at one of the beachside bars.
Try biking along the strand or playing beach volleyball for something a bit more active. No visit to the South Bay would be complete without spending some time on the Redondo Beach Pier.
This landmark pier is known for its scenic oceanfront dining, shopping, and nightlife, as well as its music and festivals. So, whether you're looking to relax or have some fun, be sure to add the South Bay to your list of unique places to explore in LA.
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in California
The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a must-see for anyone visiting Los Angeles, especially if you have kids. Founded in 1963, it’s the oldest children's theater company in the city, and its collection of over 2,000 marionettes is simply amazing.
All the marionettes are lovingly handcrafted, and each performance at the theater showcases about 100 of them. The shows are suitable for all ages and a great way to learn about the history and art of marionette puppetry. If you're looking for a fun and unusual experience, check out the Bob Baker Marionette Theater!
Address: 4949 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042
Los Angeles is a city full of hidden treasures, including a few speakeasy-style bars. If you're looking for a Prohibition-era experience, check out No Vacancy. This intimate hideaway is located in an old Victorian house and features live jazz and classic cocktails.
Established in 1915, the oldest saloon in Venice (and once a real Speakeasy in the Prohibition Era) is known as the Townhouse Bar. This bar has a library-themed décor with a menu featuring creative drinks and unique ingredients. Plus, you can enjoy live music down in the basement.
Whether you're a seasoned surfer looking for the perfect waves or a complete beginner looking for an introduction to the sport, Los Angeles is the ideal place to catch some waves. Malibu is world-famous for its surfing, and the long stretches of sandy beach are suitable for beginners.
Venice Beach is the place to be if you're looking for a more traditional surf experience. The beach is home to a vibrant surf culture, and plenty of lessons are available if you're just starting out. If you’re a visitor looking for a unique southern California experience, spend an afternoon trying out a lesson at one of the epic surfing spots in LA.
Murphy Ranch was once a self-sufficient refuge for Nazi sympathizers, built in the 1930s in anticipation of World War II. The abandoned buildings were later transformed into an artists' colony in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the grounds of Murphy Ranch are uninhabited, dilapidated, and covered in graffiti.
Despite its eerie past, Murphy Ranch is a popular hiking destination with stunning views of Rustic Canyon. The hike begins at the residential end of Sullivan Ridge Fire Road and is a 3.85-mile out-and-back trail with 325 feet of elevation change. It's well worth the effort for the chance to explore this unique piece of history.
Address: Sullivan Fire Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
If you’re a fan of Janis Joplin, you may want to consider spending a night in room #105 of the Highland Gardens Hotel in Los Angeles. This is the same room where Joplin tragically died of a drug overdose in 1970, and it has since been turned into a makeshift shrine to the singer.
The closet contains a small brass plaque to commemorate Joplin’s life, and the walls are heavily decorated with fan art and notes, creating an always-changing shrine to the late singer. While some may find the idea of staying in such a historic room morbid, others see it as a chance to connect with one of their musical heroines. After all, it’s still just a rentable hotel room – albeit one with an interesting backstory.
Address: 7047 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90028
Soap Plant / Wacko is known as the wackiest store in LA, and it's easy to see why. The large shop offers an eclectic range of pop-culture ephemera, novelties, housewares, and gifts. Whether you're looking for a quirky gift for a friend or a conversation piece for your home, you're sure to find it at this unusual store.
Expect to find anything and everything from tarot cards and postcards to jewelry, games and toys. Even if you don't find anything to buy, visiting Soap Plant / Wacko is sure to be a fun, unique experience.
Address: 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Although it may seem morbid to some, paying respects at the graves of Hollywood celebrities can be a surprisingly moving experience. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for countless past Hollywood stars, including Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Burt Reynolds.
The cemetery is also home to five cat colonies, which helps to create a surprisingly peaceful atmosphere. The cemetery is open daily from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, and visitors are welcome to wander among the graves at their leisure.
Address: 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038
The Heritage Square Museum is a beautiful collection of eight historic structures built during the Victorian Era. The structures were saved from being demolished, providing a fascinating glimpse into the settlement and development of Southern California.
Each building has been restored to its original appearance, and the museum offers guided tours that explain the history of the area. In addition, the museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including holiday celebrations and hands-on workshops.
Address: 3800 Homer St, Los Angeles, CA 90031
If you're looking for something different to do in LA, there’s everything from quirky shops and museums to hidden bars and not very well-known towns.
Los Angeles is a city full of unique activities and people, and you will surely find some pretty unusual things to do here if you’re looking for them!