12 Hollywood Hidden Gems
The bedrock of celebrity culture and the entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood and neighboring West Hollywood are home to some of LA’s most notable attractions, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Griffith Observatory. However, even Hollywood has its secrets. From subversive speakeasies to a hidden rooftop park, here are 12 spots you shouldn't miss on your next trip to Tinseltown.
Photo By: Shannon Cottrell
Photo By: The Kimpton Everly
Photo By: Adults Only
Photo By: Wonho Frank Lee
Photo By: Laure Joliet
Photo By: West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board
Photo By: jwpictures.com
Photo By: Musso & Frank Grill
Photo By: Rooftop Cinema Club
Photo By: Shannon Cottrell
Photo By: Cirque School LA
Photo By: Sayers Club
Hike the Hollywood Sign
Hiking probably isn’t the first thing you would associate with Los Angeles, but sure enough there are dozens of trails and parks to choose from, some of the best of which can be found in the Hollywood Hills. Set above the Hollywood Reservoir, Lake Hollywood Park is a dog-friendly park that’s not only a great place to post up for an afternoon, but it also offers some of the city’s best uninterrupted views as well as direct hiking access to the Hollywood Sign. It’s important to note that hiking to the sign is somewhat controversial these days and highly discouraged by neighborhood locals, so knowing where to go and the best route to take is key. From the park, it’s about a one-mile uphill trek that will put you behind the Hollywood sign itself. If you’re looking for a little guidance, Bikes and Hikes LA offers hiking tours around the Hollywood Hills starting at Griffith Park at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Check Into a Hollywood Hills Hideaway
Set at the foot of the Hollywood Hills and across the street from the iconic Capitol Records building, Kimpton Everly Hotel opened its doors last August and is as much a hidden Hollywood gem as it is a refuge for design lovers and weary travelers searching for a sense of respite amidst the Hollywood fray. By day, the lobby is transformed into an impromptu hangout and social space, thanks to its high ceilings, eclectic-meets-modern artwork and convivial atmosphere. Stick around for Ever Bar’s completely free "wine hour" from 5 to 6 p.m. with a variety of wines on tap, and don’t miss head bartender Dan Rook’s legendary Bananas in Pajamas, a rum-and-cognac-based cocktail that will have you crooning like a character in La La Land.
Sip a Cocktail at a Secret Speakeasy
Los Angeles has upped its cocktail game considerably over recent years, and there’s no better place to sample the fruits of that labor than in Hollywood. Home to some of the city’s most subversive speakeasies, the first place that should be on any cocktail lover’s list is Adults Only (pictured). Don’t let the name, or the looks of this place, fool you. Set behind a secret entrance in a nondescript strip mall off Sunset Boulevard, this upscale dive bar plays all your favorite cult classics while mixing up some of the best cocktails in town. For something with a little old-world Hollywood glam, located in a back alley just off Hollywood Boulevard, No Vacancy is set in a 19th-century Victorian and is easily LA’s best speakeasy in town. Head up the stairs and down the dimly lit corridor until you reach the three doors. With indoor and outdoor space, the bar regularly plays host to live music and theater performances including everything from jazz quartets to tightrope walkers and burlesque. Another recent addition to Hollywood’s bar scene, Employees Only, whose NYC outpost was voted one of the world’s best bars, opened in West Hollywood this April and has been an instant success. Also in West Hollywood, The Roger Room is a low-key hangout popular amongst celebs and visitors for its killer cocktails and cozy retro atmosphere.
Splurge at a Secret Sushi Spot
One of Hollywood’s most iconic hotels, Chateau Marmont has played host to everyone from Jim Morrison to F. Scott Fitzgerald over the years. While the infamous hotel needs no introduction, nestled in a once-abandoned bungalow behind Marmont, Chateau Hanare opened earlier this summer and is now serving as Marmont’s clandestine Japanese restaurant. At the helm are restaurateur Reika Alexander of EN Brasserie in New York and celeb chef Abe Hiroki curating the kaiseki (multiple course) Japanese-style menu.
Delight in Design Hotel Heaven
Set on a quiet side street in the heart of West Hollywood, La Peer Hotel opened earlier this summer and is an architectural feast for the senses. A good place to while the day away poolside in one of the back-patio cabanas, design lovers will revel in the subtle touches that can be found around the hotel living room and check-in area where a kombucha and cold brew station are on tap 24/7. However, the real star of the show can be found in the privacy of your bathroom, which comes with your very own bathtub butler and bath menu featuring a variety of salts and scrubs for your every bathing pleasure.
Escape to a Secret Rooftop Park
One of West Hollywood’s best-kept secrets sits just off Melrose Avenue at the top of Restoration Hardware. Journey up the stairs to the top of the store where a sprawling rooftop park awaits. Designed in the spirit of the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, the park and public garden space features olive trees, chandeliers and trickling fountains. At the heart of the space, a 40-foot-long table made of two planks of reclaimed pine wood is flanked by sofas running the length of the arbor trellis, culminating with a life-size angel statue keeping watch over the Hollywood Hills. It’s the perfect place to bring a laptop, or some lunch and a few friends and enjoy a little Hollywood Zen.
Behold an Architectural Masterpiece
Set on the east side of Hollywood, The Aline Barnsdall Hollyhock House, or Hollyhock House as it’s known locally, was the first Los Angeles project designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The former abode of oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, the house was donated along with its surrounding acres to the city of Los Angeles in 1927, and today the park is a great place to spend an afternoon. During the summer, you can partake in painting, sculpture or photography classes or take a tour of the grounds before strolling through Barnsdall Art Park, a popular spot amongst in-the-know locals, especially in the summertime.
Dine Like Hollywood Royalty
One of Hollywood Boulevard’s longest-running establishments, even predating the Hollywood sign, Musso & Frank Grill has been the restaurant of choice for celebrities from Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to literary titans such as William Faulkner, T.S. Eliot and John Steinbeck over its nearly 100-year run. Today it’s more of a neighborhood joint perfect for pre- or post-theater bites and a stiff martini (said to be one of the best stirred martinis in town). If you truly want to relive a piece of Hollywood history, you can actually make a reservation to sit and eat at Charlie Chaplin’s favorite corner booth. Chaplin, who was a Musso & Frank regular, was believed to order roast lamb kidneys or Irish stew, in case you want to take things one step further and dine like a star.
See a Movie Alfresco
Going to the movies may seem pretty intuitive when you’re in La La Land; however, there’s no better way to catch a flick than in the great outdoors. For lovers of everything from classic films like Casablanca and Dirty Dancing to all the latest blockbusters, check out the Neuehouse Rooftop Cinema Club (pictured). Set on the third-floor terrace of the former CBS studios turned Neuehouse building just off Sunset Boulevard, it’s a cinematic experience you won’t want to miss. If you’re looking for something a little more down to earth, Hollywood Forever Cemetery with Cinespia is a great place to catch a flick amongst the gravestones of some of Hollywood’s most notable legends. Hollywood Forever Cemetery has gained considerable fanfare over the years and is the final resting place for some of Hollywood’s most legendary actors including Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
Explore the Garden of Oz
Tucked away in the Hollywood Hills not far from the towering letters of the Hollywood sign in a residential neighborhood off Ledgewood Drive, Garden of Oz is one part private garden oasis and another part treasure trove of mosaic art installations that has become something of local legend over the years. The installation, which was designated a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in the early '90s, is actually a private residence only open to the public on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, so plan accordingly if you want to stop by and check it out. While no photos are allowed inside the gates, the whimsical pieces and beautiful landscapes are well worth the visit, even if you can’t snap it for the Insta.
Join the Circus
For anyone who’s ever wanted to run away and join the circus (hey, we’ve all been there), Cirque School is the place for you. Set in a 6,000-square-foot studio in Hollywood, the school offers dozens of classes on a daily basis ranging from aerial fabric to contortion and aerial 101. Plus, all classes are taught by trained circus experts from around the world. Due to the school’s unique setting in the heart of Hollywood, celebs the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz have trained here over the years.
Check Out a Live Show
Hollywood may be home to The Hollywood Bowl and Hollywood Palladium, but some of the city’s best live acts are just waiting to be discovered in lesser-known venues. Live at Sunset Marquis is a great place to see live music and art via the hotel’s "up and coming" artist series. Another not-to-be-missed spot, The Sayers Club (pictured) has played host to everyone from Prince to Stevie Wonder over the years and is easily one of Hollywood’s best spots to catch a show (and a glimpse at whatever celeb decides to show up that night).