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Things To Do

17 Offbeat, Kinda Weird, But Totally Cool Things to Do in L.A.

October 29, 2015 by Brian Champlin

Last year I wrote a list of weird, offbeat type stuff you can do in Los Angeles and I guess not everyone hated it, so for this Halloween I decided it would be a nice time to revise that list, subtracting a few items off and adding in a few new ideas for the ultimate compilation of weird (but still fun) things you can do in L.A.

So what have I learned after even more hours of research and a few missions out in to the field?

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Los Angeles is a strange place full of fascinating, unique, and altogether absurd things to be done and seen.

And we love like it.

Here are a few favorites (listed in no particular order).

[RELATED57 Fun & Free Things to Do in L.A. Every Angeleno Needs to Try Once]

Old LA Zoo Griffith Park

The Old LA Zoo. Credit: Omar Bárcena via flickr

1. Explore the Old Zoo at Griffith Park

L.A.’s original zoo location in the heart of Griffith Park is a shell of its former self, but still a nice little treat if you’re looking for a bit of history, a nice photo locale, or maybe just a lovely walk in the park. Check out Tom Carroll’s exploration (Tom Explores Los Angeles) of the ruins embedded below for an excellent overview. -> More information

2. Visit the Holyland… In Silver Lake

Did you know there’s a museum literally a stone’s throw from the 2 freeway that houses the collected artifacts of a man some say might have been the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones? See for yourself at the Holyland Exhibition in Silver Lake. -> More information

3. Spend a Night at the Magic Castle

Kind of like a big clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts, the Magic Castle is a filled with hidden chambers, sliding bookcases, and mysterious stairwells, making it one of the most unusual buildings in all of Los Angeles. Of course to gain entry to the castle you either have to be a member, get an invite from a member, or book a room at the Magic Castle Hotel. -> More information

Magic Castle in Los Angeles

The Magic Castle. Credit: Minnaert / Wikipedia Public Domain

4. Explore a Murderous Past on the Helter Skelter Tour

There might not be a more authoritative figure on the dark, sordid history of Hollywood than Scott Michaels (creator of The Dearly Departed Tours, which are pretty cool in general btw), and on the Helter Skelter Tour he personally guides you on a 3.5 hour exploration of the locations and history of the Manson Family murders. Definitely not for children, or anyone squeamish in general. -> More information

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5. Do Some Holiday Shopping at the L.A. Coroner’s Gift Shop

From dead body chalk outline coffee mugs to ‘Medical Examiner Koozie Coolers’ and everything in between, you’ll find it all at Skeletons in the Closet, the official gift shop for the Los Angeles County Coroner. -> More information

Skeletons in the Closet

Skeletons in the Closet Gift Shop. Credit: Chuck Coker via flickr

6. See Bukowski’s Los Angeles on an Esotouric Bus Tour

Want to see Los Angeles through the warped perspective of novelist/alcoholic/Angeleno Charles Bukowski? Yeah, there’s a bus tour for that. -> More information

7. Piece a Day Together at the Mosaic Tile House

Imagine an entire house covered floorboard to roof beam entirely in tiny colored tiles. Robert Hemedes of Atlas Obscura calls it like “walking into a coral reef.” We’ll just say that the Mosaic House in Venice is one of the most unique living architectural / art installations in the entire L.A. area. -> More information

Mosaic Tile House Interior

The Mosaic Tile House interior. Credit: Amatullah Guyot via flickr

8. Peruse the Museum of Jurassic Technology

It’s hard to explain this satyrical collection of random fake (and a few real?) historical objects and curiosities. No where else in the city will you find paintings of Russian space dogs paired with collections of holographs, radiographs, and pretty much any other type of weird graph you can think of. If you’re in the mood for the bizarre, this will quell your appetite. -> More information

9. Check Out the Watts Tower

“With steel girders, with wire mesh, with concrete, with a bucket, a shovel a hammer, a chisel, and with his own two hands, Simon Rodia [sic] built, inch by inch, the huge and complex structures that look down from their heights upon the plains.”

If that quote piques your interest, the Watts Towers are for you. For more info, check out the embedded documentary below. There are 17 sculptures in all, and they are definitely worth the trip. -> More information

10. Visit L.A.’s Oldest Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery d the final resting place for mayors, war-vets, actors, musicians, religious leaders, and everything in between all dating back to the mid 19th century. You’ll see names that include Lankershimm, Bixby, Van Nuys and others that you’ll surely recognize as some of the most influential early residents of Los Angeles (or at least names of streets you’ve driven on).

Hell, there’s even a jogging path that cuts right through it if you’re looking for an excuse to exercise somewhere incredibly creepy. More from Tom Carroll embedded below. -> More information

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11. Take a Trip to the Time Travel Mart

You might have asked yourself at some point, where in Los Angeles can I buy dinosaur eggs, a conquistador helmet, and an evil robot memory eraser? Well rest easy because there is an answer, and it’s the Time Travel Mart.

Best part? All proceeds go to 826LA, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Two locations, one in Mar Vista and the other in Echo Park. -> More information

Time Travel Mart in Echo Park

photo credit: 826LA

12. See a Show at the California Institute of Abnormalarts

A divey, grimy, dimly lit venue slightly bigger than a broom closet that hosts music shows, puppetry, underground movies, and more. Very punk rock and very against the grain. If you’re into that sort of thing (apparently people seem to love it) then I’d recommend checking it out. Keep in mind there’s a monthly ‘freak show’ on the last Friday of every month. -> More information

13. Go Wacko at Wacko Soap Plant

A wonderful mishmash of unique toys, rare books, magazines, and art. Their customer service is outstanding, and despite the relatively modest size, don’t be surprised if you end up spending an entire afternoon here browsing through the wares. -> More information

14. See How They Used to do it at the Original In-Out-Burger Replica

On October 22, 1948 at 4:15pm the very first In-N-Out location opened its doors to the public at the intersection of Francisquito and Garvey in Baldwin Park, CA, and while that spot has long since been relocated, a vintage reconstruction of the original stand was erected back in 2014 complete with a cigarette machine, the original potato dicer, frying station, and other unique historically accurate fixtures.

Do yourself a favor and hit up the fully functional In-N-Out location on the other side of the freeway after your trip down memory lane. -> More information

The In N Out replica at a glance. Credit: Brian Champlin

The In N Out replica at a glance. Credit: Brian Champlin

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15. Have a Late Night at Jumbo’s Clown Room

Technically not a strip club, but then again, there isn’t much technical about Jumbo’s. Part burlesque, part bar, part pole dancing extravaganza. The experience at this joint is difficult to explain, impossible to replicate, and definitely worth having. -> More information

16. Encounter the Dark Side at The Museum Of Death

If you’re looking for a museum that has a ‘serial killer’ room as well as an ‘autopsy room’ with real life crime scene photos, then this will be your cup of tea.

Definitely gory, definitely not for everyone. -> More information

17. See Something Unique at The Velveteria

An entire museum dedicated to the art of velvet paintings featuring hundred of works from the collection of the couple that runs it together, Caren Anderson and Carl Baldwin. Great excuse to make it over to Chinatown. A $10 admission fee gets you in. -> More information

Have any weird, funky, or otherwise obscure things to do you’d like to suggest? Let us know in the comments below!

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