Hidden Gems of Hollywood: Explore Tinseltown Like a Local!

Some of LA's best kept secrets are in plain sight. Hidden gems in LA range from neighbourhood stairs to get your heart rate up to that taco stand in Highland park that's only open on Fridays (there's a line). Check out our guide to where the locals hang, create, relax and eat

Some of LA’s best kept secrets are in plain sight. Hidden gems in LA range from neighbourhood stairs to get your heart rate up to that taco stand in Highland park that’s only open on Fridays (there’s a line). Check out our guide to where the locals hang, create, relax and eat.

There is never a shortage of things to see and do in Hollywood. Even if you’re in Los Angeles for a long stay, it might seem as if there isn’t enough time to check out all that this world-famous L.A. neighbourhood has to offer. When you’re in Hollywood, it’s best to keep your eyes on alert for the local gems. If you get swept up in the crowds on the main drags, you might miss the Egyptian Theatre or the Hollywood Museum. While the neighbourhood’s massive dance clubs are a big draw, don’t overlook more intimate spaces on Cahuenga Boulevard.

Take some time to head down to Melrose Avenue or veer west to La Brea or head east on Santa Monica Boulevard for a performance on Theatre Row or an outdoor movie at Hollywood Forever. Read on for Hollywood hidden gems that you don’t want to miss.


What was once the headquarters for the famed makeup artist, the Max Factor Building is now a lovingly restored Art Deco building and home to the Hollywood Museum. Here, you’ll find a treasure trove of artifacts from the films and television shows that have captured our imaginations over the decades. Currently on view through Sept. 2, 2018, BATMAN ’66 is an exhibit devoted to the iconic TV show that is still seen today in the U.S. and around the world. BATMAN ’66 features original costumes and props from the show, many of which have not been seen since it was originally broadcast from 1966-68. The exhibit is organised into four sections: Wayne Manor, The Batcave, Gallery of Guest Supervillains, and The Collectibles of Batman ‘66. Highlights include everything from the Batmobile and Batcycle to the Dynamic Duo’s original costumes, the Batphone, and collectibles like action figures, comic books, lunch boxes, board games and much more.

Other must-see exhibits include the extraordinary Marilyn Monroe collection and “Max Factor’s World Famous Makeup Rooms,” which are separated by hair color and pay homage to Factor’s techniques and legends like Monroe and Lucille Ball. For horror fanatics, make sure you head down to the basement, where you’ll find Hollywood frights galore.


Located in the heart of the ever-growing Cahuenga Corridor, Station1640 is a premier cultural nightclub and Hollywood staple. Formerly known as Couture, Station1640 has emerged from a complete overhaul inspired by the underground subways of New York City with an all-encompassing artistic takeover by some of L.A.’s most notable graffiti artists, who installed murals throughout the venue. Featured artists include RETNA, Shepard Fairey, RISK, Spanto, WRDSMTH, SlICK, Sebastien Walker, Phobik, Jim Evans aka Taz, ALOY, Teachr, Page One, Cre8, David Flores, and GuerinSwing.


For more than 30 years, Catalina Jazz Club has been a low-key hub for jazz fans. Over the years, Catalina Popescu’s supper club has hosted an array of music legends, including Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea and Max Roach. Their calendar is heavily booked – you can enjoy a performance on many nights of the week. (Sometimes, there are even two shows in one night.) Make reservations and note that, in addition to a cover charge, you’ll have to either order dinner or two drinks.

Gallery1988 is the art destination for pop culture fanatics. The Melrose Avenue gallery is known for big group shows that tackle TV shows, videogames and movies. They recently hosted an exhibition in connection to the release of IT as well as a tribute to Bojack Horseman. In addition, they show work from artists whose work leans towards the illustrative and narrative. Keep your eyes open for the latest show openings, or swing by to check out what’s in the gallery.


The landmark Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre isn’t exactly hidden – it’s located smack in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard and it’s designed to look like it came straight out of the age of the pharaohs. Still, the movie theater’s location and eye-catching facade might lead people to think it’s a tourist trap, and it’s not. With programming from American Cinematheque, the Egyptian offers an eclectic calendar that makes it a favourite amongst locals. Revival screenings range from classics to B movies. New releases are indie-minded and may feature special guests for Q & A sessions. Plus there are occasional film festivals like the Cinecon Classic Film Festival and Etheria Film Night, the latter of which focuses on genre films directed by women. The Egyptian also offers building tours.


Hollywood Forever earned its notoriety as the final resting place of generations of celebrities. The list of stars buried here is long (and searchable if you check the cemetery’s website), but there are plenty of non-famous folks here as well. Perhaps it’s the celebrity connection, though, that makes Hollywood Forever a popular gathering spot in Los Angeles. During the warmer months, the Cinespia outdoor film series draws large crowds to the Fairbanks Lawn. (Yes, both Douglas Sr. and Jr. are interred here). Concerts take place on the lawn as well and throughout the year, musicians perform at the on-site Masonic Lodge. Every year, Hollywood Forever hosts a massive Dia de los Muertos celebration.

If you like music in intimate venues, The Hotel Cafe is the place to visit. This Cahuenga Boulevard haunt packs its calendar with a mix of up-and-comers and established artists with an emphasis on singer-songwriters. The main stage is a small venue, but the second stage is so tiny that it feels as if you’re watching friends play in their living room. Pro tip: If you want to scout a table, arrive early. Also note that the venue often hosts multiple shows in one night, so check their ticket guidelines beforehand.

Right across the 101 freeway from the Hollywood Bowl is the John Anson Ford Theatres. This small outdoor venue recently underwent a major renovation to modernise the historic L.A. venue while retaining its old Hollywood charm. The Ford began its life as the home of a single event, “The Pilgrimage Play,” which ran seasonally for years. Today, its summer season is packed with an eclectic programming calendar that ranges from lease events to the Artists Partnership Program, which spotlights locals.


On its surface, Space 15 Twenty is a hip shopping centre anchored by Urban Outfitters and featuring a salon, an Umami Burger, Free People and Pharmacy Boardshop. What makes this more than a shopping destination, though, is the event space that is home to frequent pop up events. The events range from art shows, like the recent “MS.RPRSNTD” photo exhibition that highlight female skateboarders of colour, to record release parties to shopping events. Check Space 15 Twenty’s website for an updated calendar of events.


Hollywood may be better known for movies than theatre, but the neighbourhood is home to its own Theatre Row, where you’ll find venues like the Hudson Theatres, The Complex Theatres and Sacred Fools. Located on and around Santa Monica Boulevard between McCadden and Lexington, this neighbourhood-within-a-neighbourhood only received its official city designation in 2015, but it’s been home to small theatres and up-and-coming talent for years. During the summer, Theatre Row and other Hollywood venues become the center for the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Courtesy of by Liz Ohanesian of discoverlosangeles.com