A local’s guide to secret spots in Los Angeles
You might wonder how there could possibly be any secret spots left in Los Angeles, a city overrun with bloggers, tourists and social media monsters. La La Land wreaks of publicity, which means it unveils any secret in its vicinity. Looking for a quaint local coffee shop tucked away from prying eyes? Forget it. Social media has already exposed the rose cardamom lattes and housemade pastries. Want a clandestine date with your new crush? The whole city will somehow find you, regardless of how enormous the population gets.
The dense sprawl of Los Angeles doesn’t have secrets so much as an endless list of places you haven’t yet discovered. Even locals can’t know all the restaurants and shops. Just avoid tourist traps and bustling areas and you’re sure to find the nooks and crannies of Los Angeles. If you need more guidance or you’re pressed for time, scroll through our list of secret spots in Los Angeles. Sadly, Adam Tenenbaum’s beloved Chandelier Tree closed in 2018 due to disputes with the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services, but it deserves an honorable mention.
St. Vincent’s Court
If you’ve already explored the Venice Canals of America, try this European-esque alley. St. Vincent’s Court is reminiscent of Diagon Alley, but less magical, more colorful and plopped in the center of downtown Los Angeles. Decorated like a tiny French town in 1957, St. Vincent’s stretches along a brick lane sandwiched between striped awnings and plaster walls. Bring your significant other for a warm night of al fresco dining featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. There’s even a fountain that looks like it belongs in the town square of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
Spoke Bicycle Café
Cyclists, joggers and dog walkers – gather ‘round. In an attempt to pursue a more bikeable and walkable Los Angeles, Spoke Bicycle Café has set up shop along the LA River Bike Path in Elysian Valley. They offer bike repairs and rentals, community events and a delicious menu. The vibe is dominated by a lively art and music scene that spills onto their spacious outdoor patio.
The cafe menu features local producers and includes an array of breakfast foods, snacks, bowls, salads and sandwiches. Go for the avocado toast crammed with greens, tomatoes, feta cheese, egg, fire-roasted corn and pepitas. Spoke Bicycle Café features Trystero Coffee, but you’ll want to come back to try the chai and matcha lattes.
Kensington Presents began as a string of intimate concerts hosted in Echo Park, but has since grown to include various indoor and outdoor venues around Los Angeles, including The Viaduct, The York Manor and Resident. The Sixth Street Viaduct or Sixth Street Bridge was opened in 1932 and has since been demolished. While reconstruction has temporarily paused concerts at The Viaduct, LA locals have high hopes that the music under the bridge will return. Three white male hippies began the tradition. If you need proof of their West Coast hippy status, just read their bios on Kensington Present’s website. Check out past concerts to get a feel for the kind of artists that participate in Kensington Presents.
The Iliad Bookshop
North Hollywood hosts The Iliad Bookshop’s 5,000 square feet brick-and-mortar location. Don’t let the name fool you, it isn’t a Greek bookstore. As one of the largest used bookstores in Los Angeles, The Iliad carries a myriad subjects, though they specialize in literature and arts. With over 150,000 books in stock, The Iliad has something for every reader.
They offer free parking and bike racks for convenience as well as the company of two friendly cats. Perch on the couches and pet a furry friend while you browse through your selection of literature for the day. Though often overlooked in favor of The Last Bookstore and its book tunnel, The Iliad has previously been compared to the world-famous Powell’s, and thus deserves a special place on any bibliophile’s Los Angeles bucket list.
Culver City Stairs
Looking for a climb up to a great view of the greater Los Angeles area? The Culver City Stairs, or The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook California State Park, is an outdoor staircase blended into trails leading up to said view. Book it up the stairs for a pre-brunch Sunday morning workout, or hike up for a hazy Los Angeles sunset.
Museum of Jurassic Technology
The Museum of Jurassic Technology dedicates itself as an educational institution to furthering the public’s appreciation of the Lower Jurassic. To this day it’s unclear what exactly the founder meant by “Lower Jurassic.” Declared the strangest museum in Los Angeles by Smithsonian Magazine, the Museum of Jurassic Technology displays objects like the rotting dice of Ricky Jay and collections from Los Angeles Trailer Parks. Take your nerdy date to this assemblage of oddities.
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