Hidden Gems in Culver City

Learn about destinations worth seeking out in “The Heart of Screenland”


From its inception and then incorporation by Harry Culver in the early 1900s to the renovation and revitalization of its downtown that began in the 90s, Culver City is a city rich with motion picture, television and aviation history. Metro Goldwyn Mayer built their studios there in the 1920s; the facility later became Sony Pictures Studios. Howard Hughes opened his Hughes Aircraft plant in 1941 - at one time it was the largest employer in Los Angeles. Sony Pictures Entertainment is Culver City’s largest employer to date.

Iconic films such as "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone with the Wind," a portion of "Grease" and the Tarzan series were filmed in Culver City. By the early 2000s, parts of the Hughes empire had been purchased by or merged with General Motors, Boeing, NewsCorp and Raytheon, but Culver City’s imprint on aviation is evident throughout Martin Scorsese’s biopic, "The Aviator."

Read on to learn about the lesser-known destinations worth seeking out in “The Heart of Screenland.”

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

 |  Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook



The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook offers an urban retreat with a 511-foot peak and beautiful city views. Accessed via hiking trails or concrete stairs, the steep ascent is well worth the effort - the reward is spectacular views of the Los Angeles Basin, Pacific Ocean and surrounding mountains. Browse the visitor center, where history exhibits tell of a time when the land was once drilled for oil, but is now a site of restoration and conservation. Parking in the lot costs $6. No pets.

Blind Barber, Culver City | Photo: Blind Barber

Blind Barber



Need a cocktail? How about a haircut? The Blind Barber has you covered in one visit. If you’re opting for a great cocktail, go back in time by stepping through the door in the back of the barber shop, then follow the long hallway to the secret bar. The space has all the Prohibition-era trimmings of an underground speakeasy, complete with dance floor. And you don’t have to settle for just one service. In fact, a haircut, shave, trim or beard trim comes with a complimentary beverage. The bar is closed on Sundays.

Cognoscenti Coffee | Photo: Cognoscenti Coffee

Cognoscenti Coffee



Some call it third wave coffee, but most call the caffeine-laced beverages served at Cognoscenti Coffee delicious. Boasting coffees from multiple, highly regarded roasters from all over the States, this small, angular shop also carries the spectacular pastries and sweets from the owner’s first pop-up coffee-bakery outpost, Proof Bakery. Just look for the gray storefront in the Clive Wilkinson Architects complex.

The Corner Door | Photo: Marmol Radziner Architecture

The Corner Door



This Culver City favorite offers top-notch comfort food paired with stellar cocktails by Beau du Bois, recently named Bartender of the Year by Eater LA. The Corner Door is a cozy local hangout that has something for everyone. Whether you sit in one of the cozy booths or at the beautiful bar surrounded by the brick and dark wood walls, you’re in for a treat. There’s a Burger R&D night every Sunday as well as a great daily happy hour with $7 cocktails, $5 wine, discounted beer and food. They’re also open pretty late, so night owls can partake.

Jackson Market | Photo: Chris Giza, Twitter

Jackson Market



Dubbed “The Secret Garden,” the 80-year-old Jackson Market and Deli is located on a residential street. For breakfast, choose from an array of pancakes, crepes and egg dishes. Lunch options include unique sandwiches, wraps and salads - all made with Boar’s Head deli meats as well as fresh cheese, fine French breads and local produce. The back patio, complete with a mini waterfall and koi pond, is a beautiful setting to enjoy your meal.

Kirk Douglas Theatre | Photo: Steve Lyon, Wikipedia

Kirk Douglas Theatre



The 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre is the newest and most intimate of Center Theatre Group’s three venues. Originally built in 1947 as a movie palace in the Art Moderne style, the former Culver Theatre received an $8-million renovation, with most of its exterior preserved, including the box office and the signature mezzanine tile. Today, a diverse set of plays are performed at the Kirk Douglas, a perfect setting for an intimate audience experience.

“Rotten Luck: The Decaying Dice of Ricky Jay” at Museum of Jurassic Technology | Photo: Sgerbic, Wikipedia

Museum of Jurassic Technology



Visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology for its collection of bizarre but fascinating exhibits which stretch the limits of credibility, causing you to forever question what you really know and believe. The dimly lit museum has a maze-like floor plan that sets the stage for a diverse array of exhibits covering art, science, anthropology and philosophy. It’s a quirky set of artifacts, trinkets, holograms and taxidermy complete with telephone receivers providing narration. An homage to an era when natural history was just beginning to be charted, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is indeed a marvel.

Ramen Yamadaya | Photo: Ramen Yamadaya, Facebook

Ramen Yamadaya - Culver City



The Japanese soup noodles known as ramen have hit their peak of popularity – and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. So you’ll be happy to know that you can get your very own bowl in Culver City at Ramen Yamadaya, where the noodles are on the thinner side and the pork tonkotsu broth is created by simmering for over 20 hours. Add in extra slices of chashu (pork meat) or menma (bamboo) for a bowl that’s very much your own.

Sony Pictures Studio Tour | Photo: Sony Pictures Studio Tour

Sony Pictures Studios Tour



A two-hour walking tour of Sony Pictures Studios is available only on weekdays. No two tours are alike, so you’ll get a customized experience every time you walk through the former MGM Studios property. You might see the site where Dorothy followed the yellow brick road, Vanna White turns letters, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith fought aliens, and more. Tours book up ahead of time, so reservations are highly recommended.

"Cats Home," by Cinta Vidal at Thinkspace Projects | Photo: Thinkspace

Thinkspace



A gallery dedicated to the dissemination of young and emerging art, Thinkspace has been a pillar of Culver City’s art scene since 2009. The New Contemporary art scene can be observed as it evolves in present day through the curated graphic art, design, street art and popular culture pieces showing at Thinkspace. With its reputation as a catalyst for this generation’s art movement, you can be sure that what you’re viewing in the gallery is on the cutting edge.

The Wende Museum of the Cold War | Photo: Marie Astrid-Gonzalez, Wikipedia

Wende Museum and Archive of The Cold War



Named after the German word for “turning point” and the corresponding transition period between the toppling of the Berlin Wall (1989) and collapse of the U.S.S.R. (1991), the Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War is a cultural museum and educational institution containing more than 75,000 objects from East Germany and the former Eastern Bloc. The museum is a leader in promoting exploration of the Cold War era and the conflict between the United States, its NATO allies and the Communist world led by the Soviet Union. The Wende Museum commemorated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by installing ten original segments at 5900 Wilshire Blvd. Measuring 40 feet, it’s the longest stretch of the monument outside of Berlin.