5 Places You'd Never Expect to Find in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the most ubiquitous urban landscapes in the United States, and not just because it's been the setting of countless movies and TV shows. Whether you're doing the tourist thing along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, closing business deal in downtown, or trying to make a name for yourself in Hollywood, you already know a thing or two about the City of Angels.

It would be easy to assume there are no stones left to turn over anywhere between the shores of Malibu and the crystalline swimming pools of Palm Springs, but even if you consider yourself an L.A. expert, I'm willing to bet you've never heard about these five places.

  • 01 of 05

    A Different Kind of Holocaust Museum

    Murphy's Ranch
    ••• Matthew Robinson via Wikimedia Commons

    Los Angeles is the picture of diversity and tolerance, and thankfully Adolf Hitler's followers were not welcome here when they tried to set up camp on a wooded hillside just east of Santa Monica during the Second World War, a commune colloquially known as "Murphy's Ranch." Many questions still remain about these eerie structures which were abandoned after a police raid but never demolished.

  • 02 of 05

    Venice of the West

    VeniceCalifornia Canal
    ••• Just a few steps back from the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk, you'll find these canals. Roger Howard via WIkimedia Commons

    Speaking of Los Angeles beaches, few are better known by tourists than Venice Beach, famous for its boardwalk and the particular brand of characters that call it home. One thing you might not know is that Venice Beach's name is not merely coincidental, or at least it isn't anymore.

    You can find several canals throughout Venice Beach, even if you are unlikely to find world-class Italian pizza or a gondolier to give you a ride through them. The good news, when comparing California's Venice to Italy's, is that sea level rise isn't as likely to submerge the former during your lifetime as it is the latter.

  • 03 of 05

    California's Answer to Atlantis

    Long Beach
    ••• California's Atlantis is just a short distance away from Long Beach. Christophe Pinot via Wikimedia Commons

    To be sure, while California's Venice might fare better against a sea level rise than Italy's, one part of the Golden Coast has unfortunately succumbed to the same fate as Atlantis. Located in San Pedro, California's proverbial lost city isn't shrouded in nearly as much mystery as the actual Atlantis – a landslide sent a small portion of the Long Beach neighborhood plunging into the Pacific.

    Nonetheless, it gives you an idea of what certain coastal cities might look like in a century or so due to sea level rise, or if a catastrophic tsunami ever makes its way across the Pacific to SoCal. Who knows? Maybe in 1,000 years, when humanity has moved beyond 21st century surf culture, San Pedro will have a similarly legendary status to what Atlantis does today.

  • 04 of 05

    A Walk in The Park – Yes, That Park

    Echo Park Lake
    ••• With a view like this, it's hard to imagine Echo Park Lake ever have a bad reputation. Sterling Davis via Wikimedia Commons

    Echo Park is about as far from the posh hotels of Westwood as you can get, both in distance and, up until very recently, in terms of its ambiance as well. The effort to revitalize the park and the neighborhoods around it is an ongoing one, but you can already put to rest any rumors you've heard about its reputation.

    Rent yourself a swan-shaped paddle boat and take in the Southern California sun on Echo Park Lake, before everyone else beats you to it, or at least while everyone else still believes that Echo Park is dangerous.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    A Zoo for Ghosts

    Griffith Park Zoo
    ••• Can you believe this place used to be a zoo?. Eli Duke via Wikimedia Commons

    The Los Angeles Zoo frequently pays second fiddle to San Diego's more famous (and, frankly, better) one, but thankfully, it's not the only zoo game in town. Griffith Park might be more famous for its observatory these days, but many of its former tenants couldn't care less about the cosmos.

    The animals of the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo have long since vacated their former homes, but cages and various other structures remain, allowing you to step into the role of an animal (albeit in a far less humane time) for a day. Can you imagine all the amazing photoshoot opportunities available here?