Discover the Unusual Side of California at These Obscure Attractions

If there is one thing true of life, it’s that experience makes it up.

Set aside some time to visit one of these unusual attractions, and come back with a story like no other.

If your friends and family don’t see you as a savvy traveller yet, they soon will!

The Last Bookstore

This Los Angeles bookstore was once a bank, but now it’s a place filled with the newest reading fare as well as used and vintage books that will keep you browsing for hours.

Explore the entire space, and look for tired or damaged books that have been transformed into literary sculptures. Be sure to check the vault, where well-read treasures await their discovery. Nearby hotels make this store convenient to visit.

Image via Flickr by Akos Kokai

Garden of Oz

Once upon a time, Gail Cottman planted a simple rose garden below her Hollywood home. She was less than happy with its plain look, so she enhanced the surrounding concrete with beads and tiles.

As she gazed at the yellow tiled path, an idea formed. Cottman’s yellow brick road wanders through a Wall of Toys, thousands of plants, tiled staircases, and dozens of thrones. Lost your ruby red slippers? You can mail a letter to Oz. 

Although there are no set hours to visit, the garden is visible from the street, and travellers advise a mid-week visit to beat the crowd.

The Sailing Stones of Racetrack Playa

What’s moving those rocks?

Inyo, California, is home to a mysterious phenomenon of “travelling” rocks that leave trails as they move. From small stones to 700 pound boulders, the site of their procession along the dried lake bed is wondrous to see.

Ice sheets are responsible for the rock movements, removing some of the mystery, yet it is no less amazing.

Be inspired by the stone’s endless movement, acquired an inch at a time, for as long as it takes.

Image via Flickr by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

If you’re into old Hollywood, look no further than this grand, park-like cemetery. Tour the final resting place of icons such as Cecil B. De Mill, Rudolph Valentino, and Jayne Mansfield. Filled with mausoleums and monuments featuring stain-glassed windows and high ceilings, restoration began in the 1990s to revive the cemetery.

If you visit in summer, bring a lawn chair or blanket and catch a screening of a Hollywood classic such as “It Happened One Night.” Don’t forget to pack your Zoot Suit and shoulder pads.

The Institute of Mentalphysics 

For a break from the whirlwind, look no further than the Institute of Mentalphysics, where the science of the mind is explored and studied. Built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946, the institute features educational and spiritual retreats for an extended stay. Or, you can visit a meditation space, enjoy serene vistas, or walk a labyrinth. Life just slowed down.

Exploring offbeat attractions not only enhances your journey but also opens up new ideas and experiences. Find your way out of the tourist trap, wander off the path, and take a lesson from those stones.

Richard Collett