One of the best weird places in L.A., the extravagant Hollywood mansion known as Magic Castle was initially built in 1909 by real estate investor, lawyer, banker, newspaper editor, and philanthropist Rollin B. Lane. But in 1962, it became home to the Academy of Magical Arts, which was founded by successful criminal attorney William Larsen, Sr., as an obscure community of magicians. The Academy officially became an international institution when it found its new headquarters at the Magic Castle in 1962.
Today, visitors can get lost in the castle's eccentric maze and discover hidden halls, bogus bookshelf doors, over-the-top cowboys showing off various card tricks, and much more. Not to mention, in order to enter you must meet the dress code standards—make sure to don your ties, ascot hats, jeweled collars, and ruffled collars.
The Underground Tunnels
Located far below the city streets is an 11-mile underground network of tunnels. Among the strangest things to do in Los Angeles with friends, these well-preserved tunnels were initially built to move horses, house an old subway, and transport goods undercover. During the 1920s, the tunnels were quite popular since they served as secret passageways for rumrunners and operating speakeasies. You'll find an entrance to the tunnels through the basement of the King Eddy Saloon—a storefront entrance for a piano shop dating back to the Prohibition era.
The Philosophical Research Society
Founded in 1934 by wisdom scholar and author Manly P. Hall, the Philosophical Research Society is dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom—and wisely serves as a repository of the world's wisdom. Hall collected manuscripts, rare books, artwork, and esoterica over many years. This scholar was inexplicably drawn to mysticism and obscure pedagogies; the property includes a historic, Mayan-inspired campus, art gallery, auditorium, bookstore, and lecture room. Hall's years of compilations are now on display for the public at the Philosophical Research Society.
The CatCafe Lounge
The CatCafe Lounge is the perfect spot for coffee and cat lovers. This eccentric yet endearing spot is actually a nonprofit, specializing in rehabilitating rescue cats. The café is dedicated to the socialization of cats and aims to increase the number of cat adoptions in Los Angeles. Guests can drink their delicious lattes in the presence of over 30 cats who are all available for adoption (yay, take one home—right me-ow). The spacious and open lounge provides plenty of space for the cats and their human visitors.
The Hobbit House
Building storybook houses—homes inspired by fairy tales—was a common phenomenon in L.A. during the 20th century. However, in the 1930s, the construction of these houses came to a halt; only a few of them survived over the next 90 years. The Hobbit House, created by former Walt Disney Studios artist Joseph Lawrence, is a peculiar cottage found right by Sony Studios in Culver City. In 1996, the Hobbit House was listed as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, so you don't want to miss it. This offbeat adventure is also the perfect getaway for J.R.R. Tolkien fanatics—the best part is that there’s a tree growing through the roof!
California Institute of Abnormal Arts
Los Angeles is all about eccentricity, especially given the strange laws and unusual places. The California Institute of Abnormal Arts is definitely another one of the weird places in L.A. Located in North Hollywood, the obscure locale offers underground entertainment such as musical concerts, performing arts, movie screenings, and more. But beware: The vast collection of freakshow memorabilia— which includes everything from mummified little people to two-headed babies—will make you feel as though you've stepped into a terrifying horror film (or nightmare) that's only getting worse by the minute. The institute takes circus shows to a whole new level. Take your date on an unforgettable adventure and head to this weird place in L.A.
Read on to discover more weird tourist attractions in Southern California.