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Weird Tourist Attractions in Southern California

Weird Tourist Attractions in Southern California

By California.com
November 07, 2020

As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.

The spectacular coastline, California burritos, famed attractions, and laid-back surfer vibes of SoCal beckon to tourists and locals alike. But that's definitely not all. California's weird places to visit are also major draws and belong on your bucket list. So, the next time you're road-tripping through the state's southern half, don't miss out on these weird tourist attractions.

Unusual Landmarks In L.A.

Head to the oldest children's theater in L.A. for a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience. Photo courtesy of Bob Baker Marionette Theater.

Bob Baker Marionette Theatre

Founded in 1963, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is the oldest children’s theater in Los Angeles. It's the perfect place to bring the kids; a quick pit stop to refresh, reengage, and entertain the youngsters is priceless. Step back in time and watch a delightful puppet show—this theatrical experience is unlike any other. These shows are quite popular around the holidays, so make sure to plan your visit accordingly.

Wurstkuche

Wurstküche is an exotic sausage joint located in downtown L.A. and is fondly known as the go-to place for weird and unique meats. The restaurant’s menu boasts everything from rattlesnake and pheasant to buffalo and rabbit—and much more. Whether you're in the mood to indulge in an unusual meal or are just passing by, the food here is a must-try.

Soap Plant & Wacko

Find everything from soap and books to decor and toys at this eclectic shop. Photo courtesy of Soap Plant Wacko.

Soap Plant & Wacko's name pretty much sums it up—it's the epitome of L.A.'s eclectic vibe. The shop is only 20 minutes away from the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills and 10 minutes away from downtown L.A. While you will find handmade soap here, you can find various other items, too. From books and greeting cards to home decor items and a Batman pennant flag, this store surely has it all.

The Bunny Museum

Los Angeles is known for its exquisite art galleries, but nothing comes close to the wonders of The Bunny Museum. As its name implies, this Altadena museum is dedicated to everything rabbit. The unique landmark opened its doors in 1998 and now has more than 35,000 bunny-related items. The couple that owns and runs the museum has been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records and Smithsonian. The fun doesn’t stop with the rabbit memorabilia—you also get to meet several real bunnies during your visit.

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Discover the 11 miles of underground tunnels tucked beneath the bustling streets of Los Angeles.

Underground Tunnels

Every time you walk through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, keep in mind that you're strolling above abandoned underground tunnels. (Spooky? Perhaps. Exhilarating? Definitely.) One of L.A.'s strange places to visit, the tunnels were originally built for an early subway and transporting goods underground. During the 1920s, they were mainly used by alcohol smugglers running speakeasies. Take a tour to see these tunnels for yourself.

Phantasma Gloria

California's all about art installations, and one of the best is found in Los Angeles' Echo Park community. Phantasma Gloria is a masterpiece created by Randlett Lawrence and is known for raising a few eyebrows, thanks to its sparkling colors and vibrant features. The glittering glass sculpture attracts visitors during the morning, especially when the sun shines through it, making the colors dance to life.

When in Hollywood, exploring the Magic Castle is a wonderful way to spend the day.

Magic Castle

Another weird travel destination in L.A. is the Magic Castle. This extravagant Hollywood chateau was constructed in 1909, but things became rather mysterious in 1963 when it officially became home to the Academy of Magical Arts. Wander the castle and discover something new at every corner; get lost in its wacky maze complete with secret passageways and false bookshelf doors, and meet and greet cowboys doing awesome card tricks.


Unusual Landmarks
Near Palm Springs

Gawk at 50-plus lifelike dinosaurs by heading to the desert town of Cabazon.

Cabazon Dinosaurs

Originally built to attract customers to a nearby diner, the 150-foot-wide and 65-foot-tall Cabazon Dinosaurs now attract visitors from around the country. Pay a visit to Dinny and Mr. Rex for an up-close look at the creatures that once roamed the earth. You can even step right into the belly of the beast and take an insider tour of the dinos.

Robolights

An epic backyard display of lights and sculptures, Robolights is the creation of artist Kenny Irwin. The super-quirky statues are festooned with bright paint and colorful lights. The art display is a huge hit during the holidays, so be sure to bring the kids along for the show; it's definitely one of the weird desert attractions you must see.

This building is rumored to have anti-gravity capabilities, so come here to experience the unusual. Photo courtesy of The Integratron.

Integratron

A strange tourist attraction near Joshua Tree National Park, less than one hour from Palm Springs, Integratron is a 38-foot-tall, 55-foot-wide dome-like structure designed by ufologist George Van Tassel. He claimed that the building was capable of rejuvenation, anti-gravity, and even time travel. The blueprints were allegedly delivered by aliens from Venus. 


Strange Places To Visit
In San Diego

The historical Whaley House Museum is a haven for history buffs as well as ghost hunters.

Whaley House Museum

The Whaley House Museum once served as a barn and later became a home designed by Thomas Whaley in 1857. The site now operates as a museum housing a general store authentic to the times, a theater, and a courthouse—oh, and ghosts. Rumor has it that the spirits of previous occupants haunt the hallways of the Whaley House; in fact, the Travel Channel dubbed it "the country's most haunted house." From Mr. and Mrs. Whaley to their daughter Violet, many have claimed to see the former owners still roaming in the home.

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

For Indiana Jones fanatics, this bridge will make your dreams come true. Built in 1912, the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge stretches 375 feet across Kate Sessions Canyon. The bridge was designed by Edwin Capps and built with the help of 2,186 people. Swing by whenever you're spending a weekend in San Diego—just make sure not to look down.

The San Diego Model Railroad Museum

One of the most unique museums in San Diego, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum spans 27,000 square feet and is packed with miniature constructions of rail cars and trolleys. There are plenty of interactive exhibits at the museum, too, such as the Centennial Railway Garden, which was inspired by Balboa Park. The museum also boasts a library containing 10,000 titles related to trains and railroads.

Take a tour of the majestic Sunny Jim's Cave, a century-old smuggler's tunnel hidden among the cliffs of La Jolla Cove.

Sunny Jim’s Cave

Found in La Jolla, Sunny Jim’s Cave is a fun activity for all ages. You can walk through the historic sea cave and explore the wonders of the man-dug grotto, which was created in 1902 by entrepreneur Gustav Schultz. Legend has it that rumrunners used the cave to smuggle alcohol and opium to San Diego during the Prohibition era. Reserve a tour with the Cave Store to get the full story behind the cave.

Harper’s Topiary Garden

One of San Diego’s strange places to visit is Harper’s Topiary Garden, which is situated in the city’s Mission Hills areas. The garden is a work of art and love, created by the couple who lives in the house right above the garden—they certainly transformed their mundane yard into an eye-catching masterpiece. Gawk at over 50 life-sized figures, ranging from animals to surfers. Many visitors go out of their way to get a close-up look at the fun and quirky bush sculptures.

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