What should we do during one day of activities in Los Angeles?
December 16, 2022 3:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm wondering about feedback on a list of places to visit around Los Angeles (included on the more inside). Is there anything you would give a strong thumbs up to or say to skip, since we won't be able to do all of it?

Also, if there is anything else near any of these places, or in a similar vein, please feel free to recommend them. Main topics of interest include plants/garden, gay, death, weird, food, art, off-beat museums, etc.

Here is the list:
Museum of Jurassic Technology https://www.mjt.org/
Watts Towers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Towers
Echo Park Time Travel Mart https://timetravelmart.com/
Phantasma Gloria https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/phantasma-gloria
Mosaic Tile House https://cheripann.com/
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Crypt Mausoleum https://olacathedral.org/
Los Angeles Cactus Store https://cactus.store/
Miniature Garden of Whimsy https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/miniature-garden-of-whimsy
Wat Thai Temple Food Market https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/wat-thai-temple-food-market
UCLA Mildred E Mathias Botanical Garden https://www.botgard.ucla.edu/
Tom of Finland House https://www.laconservancy.org/locations/tom-finland-house
Museum of Death http://www.museumofdeath.net/
posted by andoatnp to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, CA (23 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Is it gonna be a weekend day? Because I can just start with the fact that the Wat Thai food market is only open on weekends.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:12 PM on December 16, 2022

Response by poster: Yes, a weekend.
posted by andoatnp at 4:15 PM on December 16, 2022

Very strong thumbs up to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Never seen anything like it.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 4:32 PM on December 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you are able to book a tour at the Tom of Finland house, you will also be in fairly easy walking distance to the Cactus Store, Phantasma Gloria and Time Travel Mart.

Sometimes on the weekends lowriders gather on Elysian Park Drive (nearby).

A little further away there is a shrine on the edge of Elysian Park in Solano Canyon you could check out. It fits with the vibe of the rest of your list.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:15 PM on December 16, 2022

I quite enjoyed the La Brea Tar pits.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 5:26 PM on December 16, 2022 [7 favorites]

Good timing on the Watts Towers if you do want to visit them - they've literally just restarted tours after having been closed down for about 5 years for preservation/restoration. The visitors' center has nice other art exhibits as well and the whole place is well worth a visit.

But since it's just one day the Museum of Jurassic Technology would also be my choice off your list - it's the weirdest and most singular place to me. If you do go, you should also step into the Center for Land Use Interpretation right next door- it's also offbeat, though more serious? than the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and it's free to visit and has a really interesting selection of books for purchase. You can also walk around downtown Culver City, which is massively gentrified but still kind of cute, and has lots of good food options and a couple great bookstores - The Ripped Bodice for romance, and Village Well Books & Coffee for more general interest. Also, if you'll have a car, there's a Mar Vista Time Travel Mart which is much nearer to the Museum of Jurassic Technology than the Echo Park branch is. It's like a 10 or 15 minute drive down Venice Boulevard, or if you happen to be doing public transit, it should be a straight shot on a bus like the 33 (or the 733 Rapid variant if that runs when you need it) which is about the best you'll ever get in LA.

On preview mandymanwasregistered also summarized the other thought I was having, which is that you could bundle a number of the Echo Park places on your list together into one nice day. LA is very spread out, and places that look very near to each other in terms of plain mileage may take forever to transit between, involving either a long time sitting in traffic or an absurd number of public transit connections. I think it can ruin people's experiences visiting if they try to do too much that's too widely separated in a short time so would definitely recommend focusing in on one area for less stress.
posted by sigmagalator at 5:28 PM on December 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

Another vote for MJT.
posted by dobbs at 5:43 PM on December 16, 2022

Response by poster: We will have a car.
posted by andoatnp at 5:52 PM on December 16, 2022

Yeah, my high level feedback is that a lot of these places are frankly of pretty brief interest, so the key is to find a geographic area to concentrate on so that you're not repeatedly driving 40 minutes to look at something for 10 minutes. These are mostly places to pop into when you're already nearby rather than destinations, really.

MJT is, without question, head and shoulders above everything else on your list.
posted by kickingtheground at 6:11 PM on December 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

I also recommend staying in one area if you can...near-ish the Museum of Jurassic Technology, I like the old Japanese nurseries on Sawtelle, eg Yamaguchi Bonsai, Bergamot Station, the canals in Venice, the camera obscura in Palisades Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean (it's nice to walk around there), Pacific Palisades Beach up the coast, the Getty Villa, the Lake Shrine on Sunset Blvd, and the Eames House in Pacific Palisades.
posted by pinochiette at 6:24 PM on December 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I find the cathedral and the mausoleum fascinating, and always enjoy taking visitors, but you should know that they are both profoundly unlike any other cathedral and mausoleum I’ve ever been to. The architecture is utterly unique, but if you are looking for a kind of European crypt experience you won’t find it here. The mausoleum is very…clean and bright. Kinda shiny? I mean, it’s extremely interesting from a historical perspective and there’s some beautiful stained glass from the original cathedral, but it’s probably not what you would initially be imagining.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 6:25 PM on December 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Enjoy the pigeons!
posted by atomicstone at 6:39 PM on December 16, 2022

Museum of Death is, uhm, dead. If you dig cactus and have time to visit the San Gabriel Valley, go to the Huntington and turn immediately left at the main road for the most spectacular collection in the west. For retail plants, California Cactus Center is nearby in Rosemead.
posted by Scram at 8:34 PM on December 16, 2022

Seconding not trying to do much outside of one central location unless you want your memory of the day to be driving around.

The Getty isn't terribly weird or off-beat, but it is a huge art museum with a great array of topics and I'd at least recommend seeing if their special events/exhibits when you'll be there tickle your fancy. If you want unusual, I'd nth MJT.
posted by Candleman at 8:55 PM on December 16, 2022

unless you want your memory of the day to be driving around

... or worse and more likely, sitting in slow-and-go traffic. Weekend is a good idea, maybe; get an early start.

The Watts Towers are the only match between your list and my own, when I was first a tourist, several years before I moved to LA. Prominent on my list was JPL but after working there, not so much -‌- I would go out to Pasadena instead to see the Norton Simon art museum...much more realistic for the day-tripper than the Getty, which requires almost a whole day and special transportation arrangements just to get up there.
posted by Rash at 9:32 PM on December 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

MJT and Watts Towers, for sure. I absolutely adore the Watts Towers.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:28 PM on December 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've always been fascinated by interesting personal architecture and building, and am happy I visited Watts Towers.

Plan your driving carefully; LA traffic can be a beast.
posted by theora55 at 10:58 AM on December 17, 2022

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is not to be missed. There's really nothing else like it and you can easily spend your entire afternoon there without getting bored.
posted by jesourie at 12:49 PM on December 17, 2022

MJT and Watts Towers definitely, skip Time Travel Mart, it's just kind of a pointless uninteresting retail experience unless you are interest in going to the 826 things in every city for some reason.
posted by kensington314 at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2022

If you end up doing the Echo Park version of the trip, might be worth seeing if the Neutra House in Silver Lake is doing tours now.
posted by kensington314 at 1:20 PM on December 17, 2022

If you’re there on a Saturday, you may be able to catch a tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:04 PM on December 17, 2022

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Official Site
Petersen Automotive Museum Official Site

The Two museums are literally across the street from each other, at S. Fairfax Ave. and Wilshire Blvd.
posted by Homer42 at 5:51 PM on December 18, 2022

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