Top 18 Unique Things to Do in Los Angeles
Looking for unique things to do in LA? Los Angeles is a magnet for seekers of fame and fortune. It also happens to attract thousands of visitors each year — visitors hoping for a glimpse at one of their favorite celebrities. You could spend your entire trip hanging out with other tourists. Or, you could see the other side of Los Angeles. These 18 unique Los Angeles activities will get you off the beaten path and exploring a whole new side of the city.
Unique Tours in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is known for being home to the macabre, fantastical and somewhat bizarre. A destination for immigrants, fame-seekers and dreamers alike, it’s no wonder that this city is full of stories, history and culture. These tours will take you to a side of Los Angeles you never dreamed existed.
Can’t decide where to eat first? Sidewalk Food Tours can help you navigate Los Angeles’s overwhelming food scene and explain a little history of the City of Angels along the way.
Learn about the many cultures that have made Downtown Los Angeles the melting pot it is today. Sample artisanal cheeses, take a bite out of an Asian fusion burrito and savor some of the best meat tacos in the city.
Did you know that Los Angeles has its own Filipinotown? If the idea of navigating the ins and outs of this area of the city makes you so overwhelmed you want to take a vacation from your vacation, you’re not alone. Luckily, you’ve got a guide who will take you to all the must-see spots, including a seafood market, vegetarian café and the Filipino Christian Church. The best part? You’ll get shuttled around the neighborhood in a colorful open-air jeep.
In a town full of so much drama, it’s not surprising that there are a few murders that have gone unsolved and a few spirits that are still hanging around Hollywood. Dearly Departed specializes in the macabre. Tour themes include the Helter Skelter Tour, the Homicide Tour, the Black Dahlia Mystery Tour and James Dean’s Death Trip.
For those not so interested in the darker side of Hollywood, they also offer the Nellie Olson Tour (led by Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie on “Little House on the Prairie”). There’s also the Rock N’ Roll Circus Tour and Harlow’s Hollywood Tour.
By now it should come as no surprise that Hollywood is full of some weird stuff. Esotouric Bus Adventures is your Sherpa for discovering some of the wackiest facts about La La Land. They specialize in literary and music tours — as well as true crime tours.
Literary legends featured on their tours include Bukowski, Huxley and Chandler. Tom Waits fans will love Crawling Down Cahuenga, a tour that navigates guests through his musical career.
Take a tour of the oldest public cafeteria of its kind (and the largest in the world) with
Clifton’s Living History Tour. Discover the world and stories of the heavy hitters who built LA.
If you’ve ever wanted to know the ‘real’ backstory of this iconic restaurant, your tour guide, Kahlil, won’t disappoint.
Want to see the real Los Angeles? Los Angeles Hood Life Tourz will take you on a tour of the city that you won’t find with any other tour company. On these tours, you’ll learn all about the history of hip-hop in Los Angeles — while checking out all the famous sites and celebrity homes.
Unique LA Attractions
Yes, the Getty, Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign are must-see attractions. But we won’t judge you if you bypass all three to head to these unique Los Angeles attractions instead.
The Museum of Death has become such a popular Los Angeles attraction that we considered not even including it on this list. The reason it made the cut? It’s so weird and dark that it didn’t seem right not to include it on a Unique LA list.
Established in 1995, its goal is, “To make people happy to be alive.” How many museums can tout that?
This nonprofit market sells everything you need for a time-travel journey. Except maybe a flux capacitor. Goods include items from the past and future, including Barbarian Repellent and Time-Freezy Hyper Slush.
They also offer tours to creative writing students to help get their creative juices flowing (possibly with one of those Hyper Slushes).
One of the things we love about Los Angeles is that you’ll find attractions that serve not just one — but two — purposes. For example, the California Institute of Abnormalarts is both a museum and a nightclub.
By day, you can check out movie screenings and performance art. By night, it’s all performance art, burlesque and sideshows.
It originally ran as a speakeasy back in the 90s before being shut down by the cops. Today, it has all its proper permits and reopened in the early 2000s.
Founded in 1988 by David Hildebrand Wilson and Diana Drake Wilson, the Museum of Jurassic Technology celebrates the advancement of knowledge of the Lower Jurassic — or, unexplained objects.
Some of the highlights include the cabinets of curiosities, the story of an ill-fated opera singer, a collection of microminiature sculptures and the decomposing dice of magician Ricky Jay.
After your visit, head up to the rooftop for one of the best (and little-known) views of the city.
The International Society of Krishna Consciousness of Los Angeles is a Hindu temple in Culver City. A small donation gets you into the Krishna Experience, the Bhagavad-Gita Museum that features dioramas of the famed prayer.
This 45-minute display includes 11 dioramas. You can take a tour of the exhibit or explore on your own.
This soap plant/art gallery/bookstore and toy emporium is known for its bizarre setting and being the self-described, “Second happiest place on earth.”
It opened in 1971 and has been attracting curious clientele with its colorful exterior ever since. You’ll find comic books, soap, gifts and one-of-a-kind toys here. Plan on spending at least 30 minutes here, though you’ll probably need an hour to sift through all this ephemera.
Unique LA Experiences
If there’s one thing we know about Los Angeles, it’s that it needs to keep reinventing itself.
And every time it does so, it seems to raise the bar even higher on its interesting experiences.
Idle Hour makes you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. If a fairy tale took place inside a giant beer barrel. The building dates to the 1940s and was named a historic monument in 2010. A tree grows through the center of the patio that’s reminiscent of a beer garden.
Despite the obvious beer theme, this bar is known more for their cocktails than their brew.
When it comes to unique activities in Los Angeles, the Bob Baker Marionette Show takes the cake. Bob Baker has been entertaining kids of all ages with his marionette shows for over 55 years.
After checking out a puppet show in 1930, Barker decided to spend the rest of his life entertaining Los Angeles natives and visitors with puppets. He worked as an animation adviser at Disney and has worked on films such as “Bewitched,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “Star Trek.”
Forget the wax museum! StarPop Hollywood Holograms is the new way to get selfies with all your favorite celebrities — right on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This company uses hologram technology to create impressions of Jimmy Kimmel, Eddie Murphy, Tom Cruise and many more. You can Tweet your photos directly to the celebs and send photos to surprise your family and friends.
This old power plant gets a second life as a cocktail bar and speakeasy. Many of the old fixtures remain in the dining room and bar spaces and add to the ambiance. Burlesque dancers shimmy their hips nearly every night of the week, and bartenders try out their latest concoctions on customers to see if they’ll win a spot on the extensive cocktail menu.
There’s something just so Los Angeles about a hipster speakeasy — and this one is the most hipsterest of all the speakeasies in this city. You start by entering the bar through a freakin’ 1950s icebox. That’s right, the door is a refrigerator. Once inside, you’ll feel like you’re in your best friend’s parent’s rec room. If that rec room existed in the 1970s. Also on the menu are themed cocktails, a DJ and an outdoor area.
Clifton’s Cafeteria is what we imagine a park ranger’s cafeteria in heaven would look like.
This kitschy restaurant has been around since the 1930s and is the oldest cafeteria of its kind on the city. It also just happens to be the largest cafeteria in the world.
Half the reason to head here is the eclectic décor. A redwood tree “grows” in the center of the dining room, and taxidermy animals are mounted on the walls.