Go on a magical escape without leaving SoCal.
If international travel seems a little out of reach right now, allow us to turn your attention to the spectacular wonders that are right in our own backyard. It’s no secret that Los Angeles is utterly brimming with diversity and creativity, so why not take the time to discover and rediscover local gems—even if they fall a little outside of the city’s edge? Every corner offers a new adventure, from tiled gems to enchanting structures based on fairytales.
Here are some of our favorite weird and wonderful places across Los Angeles that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world.
Embark on an extraordinary journey at this dreamy ‘Bubble World’ experience that will sweep your senses to another world! Traverse more than 10 immersive spaces, each with a unique and imaginative theme, perfect for the most epic photo ops.
Discover firsthand why this limited-time experience stands out as one of the most exceptional immersive adventures in L.A. Whether you plunge into the ball pit or partake in the hot air balloon flight simulator for a spectacular date night, one thing is sure. This world is not to be missed, as it’s fun for all ages!
📍 Location: 1345 N. Montebello Boulevard, Montebello, California, 90640
The iconic pink universe comes to life in Santa Monica where you can hop in a full-size DreamCamper, lounge around the Dreamhouse, explore the Milky Way on the Barbie Interstellar Rocket or sing your heart out in the Sound Studio. This magical, interactive experience is definitely one way to escape reality in L.A. Reserve you your World of Barbie tickets here.
📍Location: 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401
If you had plans to go to Japan this year, this would offer you some consolation. This breathtaking, authentic Japanese garden blends aesthetics and philosophical ideas to create an explosion of natural fragrances and sights. It features three different gardens to create one surreal experience. Begin with the Zen meditation garden, then wander along the Chisen or “wet-strolling” garden and end at the Shoin Building with an authentic tatami-mat teahouse. Find out more here.
📍Location: 6100 Woodley Ave, Los Angeles
Santa’s SoCal hood is a true holiday adventure throughout the year. Around 65 years ago, the Big Guy in the red suit set up camp in Lake Arrowhead and turned it into a Christmas wonderland complete with gingerbread homes, giant candy canes, a grand old sleigh, a gleaming tree and faux alpine dwellings. It’s one of the original theme parks on the West Coast and after all these years, it’s still as magical as it was then.
Find out more here.
5. Pyramid Lake
Soak up the sun and scenic beauty of the Angeles and Los Padres National Forests near Castaic, California. It’s a popular place for outdoor folks thanks to the endless recreational activities to Pyramid Dam on Piru Creek forms the Pyramid Lake (a reservoir). It’s located in the Angeles and Los Padres National Forests near Castaic, California. In case you were wondering, it takes its name from the unmissable pyramid-shaped rock carved out by engineers building the Old Highway 99.
📍Location: 35800 Camino Del Lago, Castaic, CA 91384
Missing Europe? Well, luckily, L.A. has small pockets dedicated to recreating life in Italy. St. Vincent Court alleyway is made up of colorful shopfronts, cobbled brick paving, and charming cafes. It’s home to an eclectic mix of delis, cafes, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants, jewelry shops, a flower shop, and a tiny espresso bar.
📍Location: St Vincent Ct Los Angeles, CA 90014
The Italian getaway that won’t leave you bankrupt and still has all the charm you could ask for. Both the Venice in L.A. and Naples canals in Long Beach have drawn inspiration from Venice, Italy’s stunning aquatic networks. In Long Beach, you can even take a trip on a gondola.
Find out more here.
Why travel to another city when you can be whisked away on a storybook adventure? This whimsical ‘Witch House’ brings fantasy to life through flawless attention to detail. Wandering past this stretch of the Beverly Hills neighborhood and stumbling upon this surreal architectural fantasy, you might think you’ve accidentally landed up in Disneyland.
Find out more here.
9. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
This ornate Hindu temple may seem like it’s in an ancient Indian city, but it is, in fact, right up the road in Chino Hills. It’s one of five traditional Hindu temples in North America, and it is absolutely magnificent.
📍Location: 15100 Fairfield Ranch Rd, Chino Hills, CA 91709
10. Heritage Square
Why escape the city when you can escape the decade at the grounds dedicated to preserving Victorian-era structures and traditions? Its Gothic architecture offers a mysterious adventure into a completely different time as well as being a brilliant lesson in history.
📍Location: Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St
How could we not include the obvious but surreal world of Buena Vista Street? While attractions are closed, the quaint street beam with old-world charm immediately transports you to a simpler time reflecting Walt Disney’s early years in SoCal.
Find out more here.
12. Victoria Beach
The famous Victorian Pirate Tower on the North end of the beach goes into full fairytale mode at sunset. While it’s not quite in L.A., this magical spot is filled with wonders, from the beautiful houses and tide pools to the reefs. There are also tons of activities to keep you busy, like kayaking, volleyball, and tennis. There’s both paid and metered parking available along the Pacific Coast Highway.
13. Farou Food
14. Hsi Lai Temple
15. Garden of Oz
When you follow this yellow brick road, you won’t land up in Oz. Instead, you’ll find yourself in a mosaicked oasis filled with lush greenery. This Oz-inspired garden in the Hollywood hills is a magical place created by local wizard Gail Cottman. Guests that are lucky enough to have a key will get a taste of Gaudi’s tiled gems in Barcelona.
📍Location: 3040 Ledgewood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068