When travel is a part of your life, you need…
The Eiffel Tower is boring. The Hollywood Sign, been there, seen that. The White House, more like the Yawn House. Sure, when you head out on your summer vacation this year, you could be a typical tourist. You could get packed tightly into an overcrowded museum, pay your way onto an expensive tour bus, or waste your time in a shop that only sells extra-large “I Heart NY” t-shirts.
Or you can be a real traveler and explore.
The world is filled with the unique, the weird, the off-the-beaten path, and the obscure. It’s just a matter of finding it. Vacations are the perfect time to go in search of the unknown in these exotic locales.
To make it even better, most of these places are quite cheap or, sometimes, even free!
Every week we will highlight a city across this great nation of ours and give you a few places that isn’t in the common tour guide.
So, grab your notebook, embrace your curiosity, and take the road less traveled. Let’s go on an adventure.
First stop, the City of Angels – Los Angeles, California:
9341 Venice Blvd.
Open Thursdays 2 pm to 8 pm, Friday – Sunday 12 pm to 6 pm
Admission – (Suggested Donation) – $8
This museum has nothing to do with dinosaurs, nor very little with technology. This isn’t your typical museum in that “facts” and “truth” are not necessarily part of the bizarre, fascinating exhibits on display.
In fear of spoiling the surprises that await the enthusiastic open-minded visitor, we will give you just the name of few of the exhibits: “Horn of Mary Davis of Saughall,” “Garden of Eden on Wheels,” “Lives of Perfect Creatures: The Dogs of the Soviet Space Program,” and “Tell the Bees… Belief, Knowledge, and Hypersymbolic Cognition.” Strange and vague to say the least, right?
When you are done exploring the exhibits and collections, make your way to the roof where a Russian tea room with tea and cookies (for a small donation) awaits. The rooftop itself is perfectly manicured and, off in the corner, is a room that’s home to a least two-dozen beautiful white real doves. Wonder and tranquility await you.
1218 Glendon Ave
Los Angeles, CA
Open 8 am to 5 pm, seven days a week
Everyone who visits Hollywood hopes that before they leave, they’ll see at least a celebrity or two. At Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park right off of Wilshire Blvd, there’s more star power per square foot than anywhere else in the world and they are just waiting for you to pay them a visit. Sure, they may be dead and are forever waiting, but that doesn’t diminish the star quality buried at this small cemetery hidden between two giant office buildings in Westwood. Don Knotts, Dean Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Farrah Fawcett, Ray Bradbury, and Marilyn Monroe are just a few that have made this memorial park their eternal crash pad.
As you walk the cemetery with your head down looking for your favorite Hollywood icon, it will become readily apparent that as much as these celebs loved attention in life, they desire it even more so in the afterlife. Many gravestones have jokes, funny anecdotes, or display a sense of humor, like this one from famed game show host Merv Griffin:
I Will Not Be Right Back After These Messages
July 6, 1925 – August 12, 2007
909 Ocean Front Walk
Open Saturday & Sunday, 11 to 7pm, Open weekdays during summer, but hours vary
Admission – $5
Venice Beach is full of oddities and eccentrics, but nothing tops the two-story, brightly-colored freakshow right off of the beach’s shoreline. You can’t miss this place, especially since Todd Ray, its ringmaster, is usually outside of his establishment barking at passer-bys to “walk right up to observe the wonders of our universe.”
This freakshow is the real deal with the largest collection of two-headed animals, shrunken heads, and mythical creatures anywhere. Plus, the “strangest performers on the planet” call the Freakshow home, including Wolf Boy, Morgue, The Creature, and Amazing Ali regularly performing and posing for their adoring audience. In recent years, the Venice Beach Freakshow has gained an even bigger following do to it’s reality show on AMC. Who knows, they could be filming for an upcoming episode of the show when you stop by. – A dose of Hollywood magic and a chance to get your freak on all in one place.
1933 Jefferson Drive
Open 365 days a year, but must call ahead to let them know you are coming
Admission – $5
Known as the “hoppiest place on Earth,” the Bunny Museum in a private residence Pasadena holds the Guinness Book of World Records as “having the most bunny items in the world.” The collection began in 1993 when Steve Lubanski gave his “love bunny” Candace Frazee a stuffed rabbit as a gift from a business trip. Over twenty years and 30,000 bunny-related items later, this odd, heart-warming collection is a testament to two people’s love for one another.
Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999, the museum is continuously growing and expanding. As should be expected, the couple has several real-life bunnies wandering the house in search of petting and kale (the preferred food of rabbits, not carrots). Bunnies that have since passed on are also here, memorialized and taxidermied in a glass case in the front hallway.
While this is only a few of the odd, curious, unknown places in Los Angeles, there are dozens upon dozens more waiting to be discovered. We strongly encourage you to do your own exploring and as you travel this summer. Who knows, you may just uncover the home of the real-life Indiana Jones. (Okay, we just gave you another one).
For more information on all of these, please visit Atlas Obscura, the online guidebook to the world’s most wondrous places!
Matt Blitz is the person you want to take on a road trip with you. He knows every obscure, odd, and downright awesome stop to make while traveling America. Based out of Los Angeles, he’s written for CNN, Atlas Obscura, Nickelodeon, The Smart Set, and Today I Found Out. He will also insist on stopping at every diner and waffle house on said road trip.