The stars continue to shine brightly in California and not just in Hollywood, the seat of the US motion picture industry. Other communities within and without Los Angeles include West Hollywood, Burbank, Santa Monica, Glendale, and Alhambra, destinations worth exploring when visiting L.A. Likely, you are very familiar with many of the more popular area attractions, therefore we shall look at a number of off the beaten path places of interest that are still worth visiting. 

Griffith Park

Located in the Los Feliz neighborhood at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. Spanning 4,310 acres, Griffith Park was founded in 1896 and named for Colonel Griffith J. Griffith who started an ostrich farm there in the early 1880s. 

Griffith Park is frequently used for on-location filming and for some visitors that is the only reason why they head to it. But, the park has multiple features and attributes worth exploring including the recently renovated Griffith Observatory and planetarium, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Autry National Center and multiple golf courses. Griffith Park also houses a swimming pool, a merry-go-round, basketball courts and numerous picnic areas, and has numerous bike and walking paths for your enjoyment.

Nethercutt Museum

Head north on state highway 170 and pass through Hollywood Hills, North Hollywood and Panorama City on your way to the San Fernando Valley for your next treat. That stop will take you to the Nethercutt Museum, located 20 miles north of Hollywood.

If you have a fondness for all things automotive, then the Nethercutt Collection may suit your tastes. Founded by J.B. and Dorothy Nethercutt, the collection features American and European vehicles from 1898 to 1997, including more than 250 cars. Cars are grouped by collection including the antique era, the vintage era, the classic era and post-war through the 1970s. Also on site is a 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson locomotive and a 1912 Pullman private car. 

For hardcore enthusiasts, no visit to the museum should have you bypassing the library. The Nethercutt automotive research and library includes a huge database, technical manuals, promotional materials and sales literature throughout the age of motoring. You can also find biographies of industry greats, information available under one roof and for your review. And if you need research assistance, a researcher can help you out for the modest price of $25 per hour.

Venice Canals Walkway

You don’t have to fly to Italy to get a taste of Venice. The Venice Canals Walkway are located just south of Santa Monica at Marina Del Ray. Park your car on Ocean  Ave. and head in to the intriguing off the well traveled path of a park.

Founded as Venice of America  by Abbott Kinney in 1905, the tobacco tycoon drained hundreds of acres of marshland to put in canals. He also built a pier that later burned down. A contractor paved over numerous canals to build streets and homes, but many canals remain with their Venice-like bridges intact.

Watts Towers

Head down I-110, passing through the heart of L.A. and then you will head east on the Glenn Anderson Freeway. Your next stop is at Watts Towers, an unusual collection of 17 interconnected towers built by Italian immigrant Sabato Rodia beginning in the 1920s. 

Rodia used steel pips and rods, and enmeshed these with wire and coated them with mortar. He also used pieces of glass, tile and porcelain, and decorated them with numerous found objects including sea shells, scrap metals and ceramic tiles. Rodia was clearly ahead of his time, an architect and artist who reclaimed, repurposed and recycled materials that most likely would have been discarded or ignored.

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Ivy Harriss writes for Explore restaurants in West Hollywood on their comprehensive guide. Taste your way through West Hollywood and experience the best restaurants in LA.