628 Alamitos Ave, Long Beach • 562-437-1689 • Open 11am–5pm Wed–Sun • Adm (free for under 12s) • www.molaa.org
Part of Long Beach’s emerging East Village Arts District, this lively museum is the only one in the western United States dedicated to showcasing the modern and contemporary works of Latin American artists. A permanent collection of 1,500 works, traveling exhibitions, and a sculpture garden instruct and inspire.
711 New High St, Chinatown • 503-309-9299 • Open 11am–6pm Wed–Mon • www.velveteria.com
Quirky and fun, this museum has on display hundreds of velvet paintings curated from a collection of nearly 4,000 pieces. While never accepted in the art world as legitimate art, there are serious works here, such as the Polynesian art of Edgar Leetag. Less serious is the Hall of Elvis.
453 Spring St • 213-488-0599 • Open 10am–10pm Sun–Thu, 10am–11pm Fri–Sat, 10am–9pm Sun • www.lastbookstorela.com
An abandoned bank has transformed into a world devoted to the love of reading and books as art. It’s not just another bookstore, but a Downtown destination where devotees come to explore 250,000 titles, pass through a book tunnel, or wander the adjacent art galleries.
1765 E 107th St, Watts • 213-847-4646 • www.wattstowers.org
This folk-art masterpiece is a whimsical trio of spires, adorned with rainbow-colored pieces of tile, glass, pottery, shells, and other scavenged materials. The sculpture, completed in 1954, represents the life’s work of Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. The high-crime neighborhood is best avoided after dark.
Stations throughout the Metro Rail system exhibit delightful murals, sculpture, artwork, and photography reflective of the local neighborhood around the stop. These award-winning installations represent the work of 100 different artists. Be sure to download, or request in advance, the Art Guide: A Tour of Metro’s Artwork before setting out.
Berth 84, at the foot of 6th St, San Pedro • 310-548-7618 • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Sun • www.lamaritimemuseum.org
This museum celebrates LA’s seafaring tradition through displays of nautical models and memorabilia. A highlight is the exhibit about the USS Los Angeles, a navy cruiser that fought in China and the Korean War. Adjacent is the battleship USS Iowa, which transported Roosevelt across the Atlantic to meet Winston Churchill during World War II.
9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City • 310-836-6131 • Open 2–8pm Thu, noon–6pm Fri–Sun • Adm (free for under 12s) • www.mjt.org
The doors of this bizarre yet fun museum open up a parallel universe, where the seemingly mundane becomes extraordinary. A throwback to the natural science museums of the 19th century, exhibits include Cameroonian stink ants and a display of stereo floral radiography.
2903 Cornell Rd, Agora Hills • 805-370-2301 • nps.gov
The mountains surrounding LA have provided a natural backdrop for Westerns since the 1920s, and the old buildings of Paramount Ranch have featured in many of the productions. Aside from an occasional film shoot, the ranch is open to explore, as are the adjacent hiking trails of the scenic Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Just east of Pasadena, Sierra Madre is the type of old-fashioned town you can’t imagine existing in the LA urban landscape. It is home to many of LA’s creative artists, and a delightful mix of boutiques and cafés line the town center. Residential streets hold a number of original Craftsman houses. Come in March for the annual Wisteria Festival.
10700 Escondido Canyon Rd, Agua Dulce • 661-268-0840 • www.parks.lacounty.gov
On the National Register of Historic places for its significance in Native American prehistory, this 1.5-sq-mile (3.8-sq-km) natural desert park with its distinctive rock formations has found fame as a film location site for over 100 movie, TV, and music video productions from Star Trek to The Flintstones. Wear hiking boots and bring along a picnic.