The real magic of Los Angeles is that it is always full of surprises.
While the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood continues to delight visitors, more magical adventures await here in the City of Angels. From the new Skyspace downtown to a Los Feliz perfumery where you can make your own potions, there are plenty of destinations in the city to inspire your inner witch or wizard.
A quick note about COVID-19:While we quarantine Los Angeles to flatten the curve, many locations listed here may have adjusted hours or more limited availability than usual. But I visited each of these beautiful witch sites before the pandemic, and I promise they'll be on your must-see list for future travels.
Let's start now. Here's your guide to 11 truly magical places in LA.
1. Visit the unusual home of an eccentric heir.
In witchcraft, hollyhocks are a symbol of growth and rebirth. They have had a wide range of medicinal uses throughout history, making them a favorite flower of eccentric oil industry heiress Aline Barnsdall.
When Barnsdall commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design her Olive Hill home and art center more than a century ago, she insisted that Wright break his habit of naming designs for their patrons and honor her by naming themHollyhock House.
Wright agreed, although Barnsdall fired him before the house was finished. Other renowned architects gladly took over the project. Many years later, his son, Lloyd Wright, oversaw a renovation and added his own touch.
A tour of Hollyhock House reveals the importance of the flower to Barnsdall, while carvings throughout the house recall ancient runes. Design choices respect the four elements: water, earth, fire and air. It's a good idea to call ahead to get tour schedules and check for concerts or special events.
2. Maybe potions are your new thing? Try mixing it yourself.
We all know the importance of a good scent when mixing drinks, and who says perfume doesn't have a little magic?
A short walk from Barnsdall Art Park,Opus Oils Jitterbug Parfumesalonis the workshop of Hollywood's master perfumer Kendra Hart. In the good old days of shopping hotspot Barneys New York in Beverly Hills (a famous department store, now closed), Hart was one of the creators of the boutique apothecary, a celebrity favorite for custom fragrances.
Today, she receives the same critical acclaim with her own perfume school. Classes, fragrance events, and custom blending parties are available year-round, but for a truly enchanting experience, stop by to browse or schedule a private consultation.
3. Step into a world of wizardry at Universal Studios.
This one is worth its own LA day trip.
A snow-covered tower is not something you would expect in the Hollywood Hills, but there it is, thank youUniversal Studios Hollywoodand the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Hogwarts Castle, complete with these towers and an astronomy tower, houses The Forbidden Journey, an advanced flight on an enchanted couch that takes you inside the movie. Watch out for steam-breathing dragons, giant spiders, flying sentinels and your favorite Gryffindors.
After surviving the journey, head to the Three Broomsticks for a butterbeer or dance with the Beauxbatons Academy witches at a Tri-Wizard party. If you've forgotten your wand, don't worry, the Ollivanders staff know what you need.
The magic continues beyond the gates of Hogsmeade. Look for Draco Malfoy's owl among Universal's animal superstars and dare to stare at zombies in "The Walking Dead" attraction.
4. Prepare for time travel in Echo Park.
There's a pretty sweet back story to this one.
When acclaimed author Dave Eggers noticed a need in his community for tutoring centers to help students write, he explained something that should have been obvious. No child wants to enter a building labeled "learning center".
So he got creative.San Franciscohas a Pirate Supply Store.Brooklynseemed like the right place for the Superhero Shop. But in my opinion, Los Angeles has the best of the bunch: aTime travel March.
From the outside on Sunset Boulevard it looks like your average grocery store, but inside it has all the equipment a time traveler could need. There are guides on how to obtain time travel and treasures brought back by adventurers from the past.
It's worth perusing the shelves and letting the sales staff answer any questions you may have about time travel. It is also a good stopover for families. Merit badges are available to reward young time travelers for tasks such as creating myths, managing crypts, caring for prehistoric pets, and preparing for extinction.
Insidertip:Echo Park happens to be a good place for onespectacular LA sunset, another magical sight in the city.
5. Dine nearby in your very own enchanted greenhouse.
Don't leave without exploring the Echo Park neighborhood. The owners of the nearby Lady Byrd Café responded to the COVID crisis by installing private greenhouses in their dining garden. It's pretty magical. You are in a transparent miniature house surrounded by greenery inside and out, floating in nature, a world away from the busy city.
And the food isn't bad either. Love their signature spicy pulled pork sandwich, or maybe try something new from the juice bar. There are ready-to-eat farm treats, but it's a nice place to linger. Lady Byrd Café also has an impressive children's menu with not-so-standard dishes such as Egg & Cheese Burrito and Nutella Monte Cristo.
6. Then find a secret.
If you have time to explore further, don't miss the charm of the nearby Silverlake neighborhood. Sunset Junction, in the heart of Silverlake and off the beaten tourist path, is one of the best places to live as a local.
It's easy to get lost for hours in the laid-back atmosphere of eclectic shops like The Secret Headquarters, a haven for fans of graphic novels and indie comics.
7. Then find your favorite brew in a hangout loved by the locals.
Another Echo Park favorite, Mohawk Bend offers excellent pub food, vegan desserts and is known for California craft beer. The lively decor and laid-back, eclectic crowd are the perfect nod to modern LA.
Insidertip:If you have received a parking ticket in the past 24 hours, the Mohawk Bend staff will feel your pain. Bring your parking ticket and a bartender will serve you your first beer for a penny - just a little local magic.
8. Collect spellbooks and more at The Last Bookstore.
The last bookstore is a reader's utopia. Housed in the former Crocker Citizens National Bank, it is a beautiful 1914 Art Deco building designed by Parkinson and Bergstrom. (These are the well-known architects whose downtown jewels formed the backdrop for scenes in classic movies like "The Big Sleep" and "Double Indemnity"). The bookstore offers visitors 22,000 square meters dedicated to new, used and rare books, such as as well as such vinyl records and local crafts.
Huge vaults contain mystery, thriller and occult sections. Walk through a tunnel made entirely of old books to reach a former office space with floor-to-ceiling shelves offering used books for a dollar each.
Elsewhere, an art gallery displays rare and out-of-print coffee table books. Oversized sofas in the center of the store await gatherings of feminist, gothic, horror and dystopian book clubs. And poetry readings and live music are common in the atrium below.
Insidertip:Don't miss the gallery on the second floor. I spoke to customers who believe it is haunted. (Listen for the jingle of the keys.)
Upstairs, you'll find the Spring Arts Collective, which displays and sells works by downtown artists, along with vintage cameras and posters. There's also a yarn shop here that offers walk-in knitting classes - because yarn bombing never goes out of style in LA.
9. Draw the moon in DTLA.
You are already in downtown LA, the heart of the city and a perfect place to end your day. From The Last Bookstore, it's a short 10-minute walk to Grand Central Market, the city's famous gathering place and collection of food vendors.
Whether you're in the mood for delicacies from Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand or Vietnam, or just fancy a classic sandwich shop, you'll find a chef who does it here. Try La Tostaderia's Octopus Tacos; Adobo Fried Rice from Sari Sari; or a prawn Scottish salmon dish. But do your best to make room for a bowl of McConnell's Turkish Coffee Ice Cream. I highly recommend it.
Just past the market is California Plaza andAngels flee, the shortest railway in the world. Not the train to Hogwarts, but it has its own magic.
10. Fly over the city on the Skyslide.
Of course, no visit to downtown Los Angeles is complete without a visit toOUE Skyspace Los Angeles. Located on the 70th floor of the US Bank Tower on West 5th Street, it is the highest observation deck in Southern California.
After enjoying panoramic views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, the famous Skyslide invites visitors to soar 300 feet above the city, this time without a broom. At night or during the day, it's a wild ride. The Skyslide, made entirely of glass, is 14 meters long with an entrance 1.20 meters wide. It descends from the outside of the tower's 70th to 69th floor. And the view is extraordinary - shouting is definitely allowed.
11. Put on your wings to show your angelic side.
Don't miss the striking angel wing mural by artist Colette Miller. There is one right by the observation deck to remember your flight with the perfect picture.
LA has several of these murals around the city if you want to show your angelic side to Instagram.This cardshows you where to see them, from the Arts District to Koreatown.
Witchy fun and more: always magical here in LA
From sea to skyscrapers, this city is always an adventure. It transcends its own boundaries, defies classification, and honors the cheeky and haughty as well as the nice.
On one of mineeat ture i LA, I noticed that someone once left a note at the entrance to the Skyslide calling it "exciting and not for the faint of heart".
I like that. It is an apt description of the trip – as well as the enchanting charm of Los Angeles.