Not all of Southern California’s beautiful and fascinating places are as well known as the Santa Monica Pier or Joshua Tree. Some of them are tucked away, waiting for an adventurous traveler to discover them. Here are seven hidden gems of Southern California, including the ruins of a socialist commune and a movie ranch you might recognize from your favorite Western.
Paramount began leasing this ranch to shoot Westerns in 1923, and the area is still used for that purpose today. Several scenes in Westworld were filmed here; specifically, fans might recognize this location from Dolores’s and Teddy’s flashbacks. Guests can visit the ranch for hiking and biking, and there’s a picnic area available for public use.
Paramount Ranch, 2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, CA, USA
In the 1920s, a six-acre neighborhood of bungalows stood in San Pedro, blissfully overlooking the ocean. Yet in 1929, the structures began to slowly slide into the ocean. It was so slow that most of the bungalows were successfully moved, sans two that were lost forever. Since the 1940s, the area has been fenced off, and behind the fences are the ruins of the former neighborhood, covered in graffiti, and a stellar view. There’s been some talk of reopening the area to the public, though as of press time, it’s considered trespassing to explore beyond the fence.
Sunken City, San Pedro, CA, USA
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
In 1911, lawyer Job Harriman was poised to become the first Socialist mayor of Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Harriman, he made the mistake of agreeing to defend John and James McNamara, two brothers accused of orchestrating the infamous L.A. Times bombing that killed 20 people. When the McNamaras, previously believed by many to be innocent, confessed to the bombing, Harriman’s chances of winning the election were shot. In 1913, Harriman took off for the desert to build his own Socialist commune, Llano Del Rio. The commune flourished for a while, but struggles over water rights and losing younger men to WWI diminished its success. Today, all that remains are ruins, which can be freely traversed by passersby. It’s a solid day trip from L.A. and offers a chance to visit the nearby Charlie Brown Farms for sundries and a date shake.
Pearblossom Road between E 165th and 172nd streets, Llano, CA, USA
The Dutch Chocolate Shop is unique because there is tile work, including 21 different tile murals, from Pasadena artist Ernest Batchelder lining the entire space. The shop opened in 1914, but it has had many alternate identities since. It was a cafeteria, a Metro PCS store, and an arcade where vendors hawked various wares. At one point, the tiles were mostly hidden from view. The current owner is struggling with the city on reopening the space, but guests can occasionally jump on the rare opportunity to take a tour of it in-person, or you can check out the video below or the virtual tour by photographer Craig Sauer here.
Dutch Chocolate Shop, 219 W 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Materials & Applications, founded in 2002, is a nonprofit that exposes the public to experimental architecture. They frequently pop up interactive installations that those in the know can stop by for both education and amusement. TURF was a nine-hole mini-golf course that explored various Los Angeles issues, while The Kid Gets out of the Picture was a climbable structure that played with the idea of the English picturesque movement. These exhibits seem to magically appear in the middle of the city, occasionally in the courtyard of M&A’s Silver Lake headquarters. Follow M&A on Facebook to see what they’re up to now.
Materials & Applications, 1619 Silver Lake Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is some 1,500 acres of gorgeous wilderness, yet it’s within the San Diego city boundaries. Because the area is a reserve and not a park, there are rules in place to ensure that it stays just as wild in the future as it is today. Guests who can follow those rules will witness a beautiful beach, stunning cliffs, and the trees from which this natural locale received its name. The cliffs can be dangerous, and experts warn to never sit beneath a fractured rock.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, 12600 N Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA, USA
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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