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The Bizarre Side of Los Angeles

The Bizarre Side of Los Angeles

Every place has its own eccentricities, and that makes it more interesting and worthwhile to visit (and re-visit). Los Angeles is no exception; in fact, many may say that the word “weird” is relative to L.A., which has its large share of off-beatness.

If you are tired of doing the same old stuff in Los Angeles and you think you have tried all what the city (and the rest of the county) offers, it still has got a lot more tricks up its sleeve. Here are the following examples of the more bizarre (but way cooler) side of Los Angeles:

1) Alpine Village
Somewhere in the sunny L.A. you’ll find a little slice of Bavaria. Yes, you’re right, and you can find it at the Alpine Village located in the city of Torrance in Los Angeles’ South Bay.

You don’t even have to fly to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest, because you can celebrate it right here at Alpine Village. In fact, this place holds the biggest Oktoberfest in the whole of Southern California. This shopping complex also houses a beer hall which offers a vast selection of imported and craft beers on tap. If you also crave for some entertainment, come to the village every Wednesday and Sunday for their broad and diversified selection of music and events. Don’t expect to find malls, though.

2) California Institute of Abnormalarts
A notorious sideshow museum and nightclub in North Hollywood which opened in 2001, the California Institute of Abnormalarts really stands true to its word. It is out-of-this-world, freakish, kinky — and there’s nothing else quite like it. Dimly lit and rather sleazy that’s deviating from the standard museum look and ambiance, the California Institute of Abnormalarts chiefly hosts music shows, performance art, underground movies, puppetry, burlesque, freak shows and more. Highly recommended for people who are into this kind of thing.

 

3) Velveteria
Bored with seeing conventional paintings and other blah artwork? Then check out Velveteria, located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown area. Its main attraction is the paintings which are done in black velvet, and that alone would keep you intrigued and engaged. Run and curated by a couple, Carl Baldwin and Caren Anderson, Velveteria features 450-odd black velvet paintings of classic and modern portraits of many known personalities.

A particular favorite of the visitors is the cool black-light room, where these spooky-looking artworks actually do seem to come to life as they glow in the dark.

4) Clifton’s Cafeteria
If you are a passionate foodie and you want to go to other places to eat other than those swanky five-star restaurants or conventional cafes, the absurdly big and iconic Clifton Cafeteria is the best way to learn a little more about American food and restaurant history. It is the one of the oldest surviving cafeteria-style eatery in Los Angeles and the world’s biggest public cafeteria. It used to be one of the eight restaurants run by a wealthy owner named Clifford Clinton (the name “Clifton” is a combination of his first and last names). Clinton was a devout Christian and his Christian philosophy was also applied to the restaurant’s policy – that no customer should be turned away hungry. Ray Bradbury, during his days as a struggling writer, used to eat there often because he had no money to buy food.

Now it doesn’t sound quite bizarre, right? But that’s not just about it. Nightclub operator Andrew Meieran bought Clifton’s in 2010, and had it renovated before reopening it in 2015. The new Clifton’s is now some sort of an exhibit as you will be dining in the company of several taxidermied wild animals which include a lion, a bison, a deer, a brown bear and many others, some of them encased in glass.

5) Devil’s Playground
If you want to see the best contemporary burlesque, you should check out Devil’s Playground, located on 901 E. 1st Street in downtown L.A.. It is best known for incorporating nerdy or geeky elements to their standard burlesque routines. This combination may seem inconceivable, but in reality, the formula proves to be a success for Devil’s Playground. One of their famous shows is their Star Wars-inspired “Star Girls,” which they perform frequently. Other bizarre and cleverly themed performances include “Comic Book Vixens,” “Video Game Girls,” “Tales from the Crypt,” the Harry Potter-inspired “Cherry Potter and the Wizards of Burlesque” and even a strange tribute to the ex-The Smiths frontman Morrissey.

Top Events and Festivals in Los Angeles

Top Events and Festivals in Los Angeles

If you are looking for the next city for some interesting, exciting and enlightening events, why don’t you try Los Angeles? The start of the new year in particular is the perfect time to check your calendar and plan for your next trip to the Los Angeles county and its similarly-named city, which has a lot of things in store for you in the coming months. If you are a fan of the movie culture in particular, you will find plenty of film festivals and other related events in Los Angeles, the home of the famous Hollywood. There are other events that cater to niche markets and audience as well.

The following are just some of the most notable events and festivals in Los Angeles that you should not miss:

Golden Dragon Parade
The Golden Dragon Parade has been going strong for more than a century. It attracts over 110,000 tourists and well-wishers each year lining the parade. This vibrant and colorful event is, of course, in line with the Lunar New Year celebrations which happen every the end of January or early February. The parade comes complete with a hundred-foot-long dragon, floats, marching bands and firecrackers.

Academy Awards
More popularly known as the Oscars, this famous event is staged annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize cinematic excellence. The iconic “Oscar” trophies are awarded to (arguably) the year’s best in acting, directing, writing, film editing, sound and other aspects of film-making.

Consider yourself lucky if you are connected to someone who works for AMPAS or who has worked in the nominated film, then chances are you will be able to get inside the theater where the ceremony actually takes place.

Otherwise, you have to be content to go to the red carpet area outside the theater. Usually, there are only 700 seats at the bleachers that line the red carpet. The good news is that the tickets for the bleachers are free – a golden chance and a dream come true to see your favorite movie stars walking down the red carpet. The bad news, though, is that getting those tickets are not that easy. Go to the Oscars’ official website and register months in advance. The Oscar organization draws these registrations like the lottery, so you have to rely on only your prayers, hoping that you will become one of the 700 lucky spectators at the red carpet.

Grand Prix of Long Beach
The Grand Prix of Long Beach is an IndyCar Series competition which is held on Long Beach’s street circuit. For most of its 40-plus-year history, this event is traditionally held every April. This is one of the biggest paid spectator events in Southern California. It attracts over 200,000 race car fans and curious onlookers who come to witness and enjoy the races which include the Indy Lights and the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Toyota has been a major sponsor of this event since its inception, that’s why it is sometimes known as the “Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.” If you are a serious race car fan, this is the one event you cannot afford to miss.

Doo Dah Parade
The fun, irreverent and flamboyant parade was conceived in 1978 as a farcical jab at the traditional and formal Rose Parade. The Doo Dah Parade, which is held every April in the city of Pasadena, follows the same route as the Rose Parade. But instead of floats decked with beautiful and well-arranged florals, the Doo Dah Parade features several wacky, outlandish and grotesque floats that are known for their deliberately bad taste. But the Doo Dah Parade is pure harmless fun and revelry, providing a perfect escapism from the world’s every day cares.

L.A. Film Festival
One of the most important film festivals in the world is the L.A. Film Festival, which has been annually held since its establishment in 1995. This nine-day festival, which is held every June, screens over 200 films that include features, short films and episodes, as well as world premieres, free screenings and panels with stars. It also showcases productions created by young film-making hopefuls.

July 4th Fireworks Spectacular
Some of the best, the biggest and the brightest fireworks displays every the Fourth of July happen in Los Angeles. Behold those fantastic and dazzling fireworks-filled spectacles, no matter where you are in the area. Among the popular fireworks-viewing sites in L.A. include the Hollywood Bowl (where it also holds its annual 4th of July party with a rock music concert), Long Beach, Disneyland and even Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Los Angeles County Fair
One of the biggest and oldest county fairs in the country, the Los Angeles County Fair has been held annually since its inception in 1922. Once a purely agricultural fair, the Los Angeles Country Fair has become a big extravaganza that hosts a variety of events such as wine-tastings, contemporary acrobats and musical performances, while maintaining its agricultural and rural appeal. The fair is held every August to September on fairgrounds and commercial/exposition complex, which is popularly known as the Fairplex.

L.A. Fashion Week
Los Angeles has grown to be a serious fashion hub in the West Coast and it rivals that of its East Coast counterpart, New York. In fact, Los Angeles has recently become the fifth fashion capital as big-name designers have set their foot in L.A. and new L.A.-based fashion names have been enjoying worldwide attention.

The L.A. Fashion Week is one of the big reasons why Los Angeles has become a bona fide fashion destination. Held only biannually, the L.A. Fashion Week devotes to raising the profile of home-grown fashion designers, fashion producers, stylists, artists and brands to the world stage. Find Los Angeles as one of the Most Fashionable Cities in the World.

Alternative Things to Do in Los Angeles

Alternative Things to Do in Los Angeles

You have gone to Los Angeles’ most popular attractions: Disneyland, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and beaches such as Venice Beach and Long Beach. You may have “shopped til you dropped” at the luxury stores along Rodeo Drive, screamed at the top of your lungs on one of those rides at Universal Studios, or peered into the telescopes to look for heavenly bodies at the Griffith Observatory.

But Los Angeles offers endless opportunities to explore and enjoy, including activities that seem to be not too mainstream, or otherwise “off-the-beaten-path” and un-”touristy.” They border on the weird and even somewhat on the morbid. These will certainly add to your bucket list when you plan to go on a holiday in the Los Angeles county and its most famous city of the same name. Sometimes when traveling, the greatest delights and rewards come from the unexpected.

To know more about the other side of Los Angeles that many people may not know, read this interesting article “Interesting Facts about Los Angeles.”

1) Visit the Evergreen Cemetery
Cemeteries may not be everyone’s idea of a tourist spot. However, many of the most popular cemeteries are quite scenic. Most of all though, these cemeteries’ tourist-drawing power comes from the fact that many of the notable historical figures are buried there. And Los Angeles’ Evergreen Cemetery seems to have these qualities.

Evergreen Cemetery is located in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights in downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 1877, it is the city’s oldest cemetery. A visit to this cemetery will matter more to you if you are an ardent devotee of some of the famous people buried here. Some of the well-known politicians (notably the city’s past mayors), war veterans, actors, musicians, sports figures, religious leaders and early American pioneers are interred at the Evergreen Cemetery. Among the most notable names include Bobby Nunn, Johnny St. Cyr and Van Nuys.

2) Explore Descanso Gardens
When you think that the popular Huntington Library gardens are too crowded (and too mainstream to your taste), Descanso Gardens would be an ideal alternative. This 150-acre botanical garden is located in the city of La Canada Flintridge in Los Angeles county. It is open all-year round and features several areas to explore such as the oak forests, the Lilac Garden, a Japanese garden, and probably the most popular the Rose Garden.

But the great thing about Descano Gardens is that it is less touristy, less crowded and much quieter, but just as gorgeous as the other botanical gardens in L.A. So enjoy the beauty and wonder of Mother Nature in relative peace and tranquility.

3) Discover the city’s “storybook architecture”
Los Angeles has an established reputation as the “city of dreams.” That’s why it’s not too odd that a style of architecture called “storybook” flourished in L.A. during the 1920s-1930s, but rarely became popular elsewhere in the United States.

As the name implies, this type of architecture is characterized by a sense of whimsy and playfulness. Mismatched doors and windows, deliberately uneven roofs and cobblestone-lined pavements are some of the most notable elements of the storybook architecture – just like the illustrations of houses that you find on storybooks. Some fine examples are the Hobbit House in Culver City, the Witches’ House and Harry Oliver’s Spadena House (both in Beverly Hills) and the Charlie Chaplin Cottages as well as the Snow White Cottages, (both located in Los Angeles city). If you want to live out your fairy tale dreams and fantasies, visit to any of these storybook houses.

4) Indulge your sweet cravings at Sweet!
If you are someone who has a sweet tooth, then Sweet! will be your ultimate candy paradise! Located along Hollywood Boulevard, Sweet! is not your ordinary candy store. Highlights include a chocolate lab where you can concoct your own sweet creations, and the Wonka Inventing Room which documents Willy Wonka’s bittersweet epic travels that inspired his famous chocolates. Visitors will be in for a delight by taking personal tasting tours, playing candy-themed games and of course shopping for lots of great variety of candies.

Sweet! is the biggest and the most extravagant candy store in the city, so if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth to the highest level possible, it’s certain that you wouldn’t want to miss this place.

5) Pig out at 626 Night Market
Los Angeles is not just a melting pot of cultures, but also a melting pot of different cuisines. The 626 Night Market festival, held only every summer, is the perfect event to gorge on a crazy array of food (predominantly Asian food) that you can ever think of. There are mouthwatering barbecues, yummy tacos, delectable seafood, the popular crazy milkshakes, and many more. It’s a paradise for every foodie and gourmand alike.