The Many Secrets and Hidden Gems of L.A.

Los Angeles is a top tourist destination, with many famous attractions that you've no doubt seen on TV or in the movies. The city has much more to offer, however, than just Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater and Sunset Boulevard.To get the most out of your trip to LA – or any destination for that matter – you must get off the beaten path and discover some of the nuances that make the city truly unique, places that maybe even some locals don't know about. Based on my experience, here are a handful of excursions and places to consider visiting during your next trip to LA.

A Taste of LA Noire

Some of the best of film noire shows the seedy underbelly of LA, and that still lives on to some extent.Los Angeles is home to a number of speakeasy-style bars, many of which have historic roots. One of the most intriguing spots is Crane's Downtown, a bar placed in an underground bank vault in historic downtown Los Angeles. The bar is the definition of intimate, with seating capacity for only about 80, making every section feel like VIP. Other options in this vein are the Next Door Lounge in Hollywood, which requires a password to get in, or Pour Vous, a Paris-themed speakeasy across from Paramount Studios.

Get Out and Drive

One of the great things about LA is that there is so much going on outside of the bustling city limits. There's no secret to the gem that is the Pacific Coast Highway, but a little pre-road-trip research to check out some of the best road trip destinations can make your drive even more unique. One good destination is Topanga Canyon, which in recent years has experienced a creative revival. The village of Topanga itself has a population below 10,000, and its main street features plenty stores, taverns and cafes. Another great option is the Malibu Creek State Park, which holds a bit of Hollywood history. The movie and TV show "M*A*S*H" was set in Korea, but few people know that a majority of the outdoor locations scenes were filmed at Malibu Creek State Park.

The Zen of Downtown LA

Driving or walking along the streets of downtown LA can be anything but peaceful at times, but it's good to know a touch of Zen is always just around the corner.Formerly known as New Otani Hotel & Garden and now a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, the downtown resting spot is home to the rooftop Kyoto Gardens, which recreates the ancient Japanese gardens of Tokyo.The garden is peaceful in its own right, but even more so when juxtaposed against busy downtown LA. In the old days you could take a walk through the garden after buying a drink at the hotel bar, but these days it's often used for private events – so plan ahead.

A Piece of Germany in LA

One of the little known facts about Los Angeles is that is contains the largest stretch of the original Berlin Wall in the world – outside of Berlin. Specifically, the segment is on display at the Wende Museum, installed in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the wall's fall.Berlin-based artist Thierry Noir is one of four artists to put new paint on the wall segment, significant because he was one of the first to paint the Berlin Wall when it was still up in 1984. Additionally, another smaller segment of the Berlin Wall rests in front of the museum's entrance.

Off the Beaten … Menu

Everybody knows about the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger, so much so that it's often called the not-so-secret menu. But, there are other restaurants that have secret menus as well, notably at The Apple Pan, in West Los Angeles.. The nearly 70-year-old restaurant is best known for its hickory burger, but it also has a number of off-the-menu items that have gained their own acclaim. Among them is a tuna melt, with grilled onions optional. The restaurant has a tuna salad sandwich on the menu, but if you ask your server, the kitchen will add a few slices of cheese to the mix and put it on the griddle until it's nicely melted.

Other off-the-menu items at The Apple Pan include a root beer float, cheese fries and a lettuce-wrapped version of the hickory burger.

Add one or all of these destinations to your itinerary the next time you visit LA – or come up with a few of your own – and it will no doubt enhance your experience. After all, how many people can say they've been on the set of "M*A*S*H?"


About the Author: Kacey Mya is a lifestyle blogger for "The Drifter Collective."  Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her.  Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Kacey can also be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.