Los Angeles Hidden Gems
Saint Vincent Court DTLA
This small square is named for its original owner, St. Vincent’s College which was the first institution of higher learning in Southern California in 1868.
The Alley was initially used for deliveries by Bullock’s department store. Over the decades this alley became a popular spot for congregating. So much so, that the store let it out to small businesses such as Italian restaurants and espresso bars. In 1957 the alleyway was decorated like a traditional European lane and a brick-paved street adding to its charm.
Today, St. Vincent Court is mostly Middle Eastern restaurants and this quaint alley feels like you’re traveling through Italy instead of downtown LA. The umbrella-covered outdoor dining is lively and welcoming, unlike anywhere else in the city.
We highly recommend venturing to St. Vincent Court to experience an extremely unique experience within the city of Los Angeles. It feels like an entirely different time and place that one needs to see for themselves.
While plenty of locals will know about the LACMA Lights, this location generally isn’t on everyone’s radar. Located on Wilshire Boulevard, just outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), this is actually a work of art titled Urban Light by Chris Burden. This large-scale installation consists of more than 200 street lamps from different time periods – mostly the 1920s and 1930s – arranged together in a grid-like format.
The columns of the lamp give the impression of wandering through an ancient Greek or Roman temple, and the way that the light and shadows interact in various ways makes this an ever-changing work of art that’s perfect for photo opportunities. Unlike many other large and imposing public works of art, Urban Light has been well-received critically as well as by locals. It’s a real hidden gem in Los Angeles, and will only get more and more popular as the years go by. Come see it while it’s still cool!
El Matador State Beach
Located in Malibu County, about a 45-minute drive from LA’s west side, El Matador State Beach’s stunning rock formations and sprawling vistas make it worth the adventure. El Matador State Beach is accessible via a trail down the cliff from the parking area, and is well suited for families, couples and anyone who can appreciate a gorgeous stretch of sand and ocean. The beach is also home to a series of sea caves — and some of the best sunsets on the west coast.
Los Angeles Chinatown is located just north of the Music Center, City Hall, El Pueblo de Los Angeles at Olvera Street, and Union Station, so it’s easy to fit in a visit while seeing other Downtown Los Angeles attractions. If you’re coming from another part of the city, the nearby Chinatown metro station on the gold line is a convenient entry point to avoid driving in.
Chinatown encompasses less than a square mile bordered by Main Street to the East, Yale Street to the west, Cesar Chavez to the south, and Bernard Street to the north.
Also known as New Chinatown, the current neighborhood was relocated in 1938 from a few blocks east where the original LA Chinatown was razed to make way for Union Station. The only remaining building from the original Chinatown is the Garnier Building, now located within El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site, which is home to the Chinese American Museum. It’s about a block southeast of the current border of New Chinatown and helps to round out an experience exploring the neighborhood with the historical backdrop of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles.
Rodeo Drive II
Everyone should visit Rodeo Drive at least once, maybe venture into one of the stores and pretend you’re Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” Plus, beyond the luxury stores, there’s more to see on and around this swanky street.
The reputation of Rodeo Drive as an upper-upscale shopping destination started when a luxury boutique named Giorgio Beverly Hills opened in 1961. The guy who opened it, Fred Hayman, was later known as “the godfather of Rodeo Drive” — for good reason. Gucci and other luxury stores followed after, and all of that helped give Rodeo Drive the classy reputation it has today.
Battleship USS Iowa Museum
Battleship USS Iowa served our country proudly in WWII, Korea, and the Cold War. Today, the historic U.S. Navy ship is an iconic Los Angeles landmark and considered one of the region’s best outdoor museums for families and visitors of all ages. Follow in the footsteps of sailors and our mischievous mascot Vicky the Dog and experience firsthand why she is known as the “Battleship of Presidents”, “The Grey Ghost”, and “The Big Stick”. Add-on a behind-the-scenes guided tour to explore areas off-limits to the public and hear firsthand accounts of service, commitment, and bravery. You and your family will make lasting memories during your visit to the Battleship USS Iowa. You are able to enjoy the museum with both virtual and in-person tour options. The in-person options comply with current health department guidelines for Covid-19.
Heritage Square Museum
Heritage Square Museum explores the settlement and development of Southern California during its first 100 years of statehood through historic restoration and preservation.
The eight historic structures located at the museum, constructed during the Victorian Era, were saved from demolition and serve as a perfect background to educate the public about the everyday lives of Southern Californians from the close of the 19th Century into the early decades of the 20th Century. From the simplicity of the Longfellow-Hastings Octagon House to the opulence of the William Perry Mansion, the Museum provides a unique look at the lifestyles of the people who contributed so much to the development of modern Los Angeles.
VENICE CANALS, VENICE BEACH
One of the most peaceful hidden places in LA happens to be the Venice Canals. You’d most likely find gravitating towards these homes whenever you need to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The canals that make up this LA suburb were handmade in 1905, by the developer, Abbot Kinney. His vision was to recreate the look and feel of Venice, Italy. Although the canals aren’t exactly like their Italian counterpart, they remain one of the best-hidden places in Los Angeles to enjoy an afternoon stroll.
Santa Ynez Falls
One of the easiest trails for people of all skill levels for hiking in Los Angeles, Santa Ynez Falls hike ends with a cascading waterfall having shallow pools at the base. The shady hiking trail runs along massive crevices in the canyon walls, laden with chaparral, oaks and Californian wildflowers. These walls close in towards the Santa Ynez Falls gorge, which is accessible after a short climb at the end of designated hiking trails. Prepare to jump and waddle over the running creek on your hike.
On an unassuming plot of land, spitting distance from the train tracks that run through the center of Watts, you’ll find one of the most stunning and improbable works of public art anywhere in the United States. Seventeen sculptures rise like giant, inverted ice cream cones toward the sky. The openwork spires are embedded with shells, tiles, soda bottles, mirrors, shards of pottery and two grinding wheels. It remains an island of whimsy in the middle of an urban landscape.
The Watts Towers are more remarkable when you know they were the vision of one man, an Italian immigrant who worked – with no outside help and only the most elemental tools – nearly every day for 34 years to build a monument at once impenetrably personal and joyously communal.