Hidden Gems of Hollywood

Explore Tinseltown like a local

Hollywood Museum | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Hollywood Museum | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

There is never a shortage of things to see and do in Hollywood. Even if you're in Los Angeles for a long stay, it might seem as if there isn't enough time to check out all that this world-famous L.A. neighborhood has to offer. When you're in Hollywood, it's best to keep your eyes on alert for the local gems. If you get swept up in the crowds on the main drags, you might miss the Egyptian Theatre or the Hollywood Museum. While the neighborhood's massive dance clubs are a big draw, don't overlook more intimate spaces on Cahuenga Boulevard.

Take some time to head down to Melrose Avenue or veer west to La Brea or head east on Santa Monica Boulevard for a performance on Theatre Row or an outdoor movie at Hollywood Forever. Read on for Hollywood hidden gems that you don't want to miss.

Bar Lis at Thompson Hollywood
Bar Lis at Thompson Hollywood | Photo: @barlisla, Instagram

Bar Lis - Thompson Hollywood

The rooftop lounge at the Thompson Hollywood, Bar Lis transports guests to the French Riviera with a chic design that includes a retractable roof, water fountain and plush banquettes.

Sip the spirit of the Cote D'Azur with a glass of champagne or signature cocktails like the French Riviera (Bombay Sapphire Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, Pineapple Gomme, Lime) and La Vie en Rose with El Tesoro Blanco, Ketel One Peach and Orange Blossom, Cointreau, Lime, Hibiscus, and Sparkling Rosé.

Former Bar Temps chef Lincoln Carson serves up canapés like Blistered Shishitos, Croquettes, Smoked Salmon Dip, Kusshi Oysters, and decadent Regiis Ova Caviar. Save room for coupe glacées like Chocolate Profiteroles and Bananas Foster. On Tuesdays, Bar Lis hosts live modern jazz starting at 8pm.

Catalina Jazz Club | Photo: Catalina Jazz Club, Facebook
Catalina Jazz Club | Photo: Catalina Jazz Club, Facebook

Catalina Jazz Club

For more than 30 years, Catalina Jazz Club has been a low-key hub for jazz fans. Catalina Popescu's supper club has hosted an array of music legends, including Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea and Max Roach. Their calendar is heavily booked - you can enjoy a performance on many nights of the week. (Sometimes, there are even two shows in one night.) Make reservations and note that, in addition to a cover charge, you'll have to either order dinner or two drinks.

Egyptian Theatre | Photo: Salina Canizales
Egyptian Theatre | Photo: Salina Canizales

Egyptian Theatre

The landmark Egyptian Theatre isn't exactly hidden - it's located in the heart of Hollywood and designed to look like it came straight out of the age of the pharaohs. Still, the movie theater's location on Hollywood Boulevard and eye-catching facade might lead people to think it's a tourist trap - and it's far from that. With programming by American Cinematheque, the Egyptian is known by movie fans for an eclectic calendar that ranges from advance screenings to film festivals, retrospectives and Q&As.

Currently undergoing a renovation and retrofit by Netflix, the Egyptian is scheduled to reopen for its centennial in 2022, with programming by American Cinematheque on Friday-Sunday.

Ford Theatres

The Ford

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, The Ford is an intimate 1,200-seat outdoor venue that began its life as the home of a single event, "The Pilgrimage Play," which ran seasonally for years. Today, its summer season is packed with an eclectic calendar that ranges from world-class musicians like Rodrigo y Gabriela to showcases for local artists.

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Gallery1988 is the art destination for pop culture fanatics. The Melrose Avenue gallery is known for big group shows that tackle TV shows, videogames and movies. Recent exhibits include "Good Day, Sir!" to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory; and "Fake Gig Posters" for concerts that you'll wish are real.

The gallery also supports artists that lean into illustrative and narrative work, with solo shows like "Sun-Kissed: The Art of George Townley." Keep your eyes open for the latest exhibit openings, or swing by to check out what's in the gallery.

Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery | Photo: Cinespia, Facebook

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Hollywood Forever earned its notoriety as the final resting place of generations of celebrities. The list of stars buried here is long (and searchable if you check the cemetery's website), but there are plenty of non-famous folks here as well. Perhaps it's the celebrity connection, though, that makes Hollywood Forever a popular gathering spot in Los Angeles. During the warmer months, the Cinespia outdoor film series draws large crowds to the Fairbanks Lawn. (Yes, both Douglas Sr. and Jr. are interred here). Concerts take place on the lawn, and musicians perform at the on-site Masonic Lodge year-round. Hollywood Forever also hosts a massive Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Hollywood Museum | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa
Hollywood Museum | Photo: Yuri Hasegawa

Hollywood Museum

What was once the headquarters for the famed makeup artist, the Max Factor Building is now a lovingly restored Art Deco building and home to the Hollywood Museum. Here, you'll find a treasure trove of artifacts from the films and television shows that have captured our imaginations over the decades.

The Superhero Legends exhibit features the original Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve in the 1978 movie, and screen-accurate replicas of costumes from the 1960s Batman TV series and Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman. Other must-see exhibits include the extraordinary Marilyn Monroe collection and "Max Factor's World Famous Makeup Rooms," which are separated by hair color and pay homage to Factor's techniques and legends like Monroe and Lucille Ball. For horror fanatics, make sure you head down to the basement, where you'll find Hollywood frights galore.

The Hotel Cafe | Photo: The Hotel Cafe, Facebook
The Hotel Cafe | Photo: The Hotel Cafe, Facebook

The Hotel Cafe

If you like music in intimate venues, The Hotel Cafe is the place to visit. This Cahuenga Boulevard haunt packs its calendar with a mix of up-and-comers and established artists with an emphasis on singer-songwriters. The main stage is a small venue, but the second stage is so tiny that it feels as if you're watching friends play in their living room. Pro tip: If you want to scout a table, arrive early. Also note that the venue often hosts multiple shows in one night, so check their ticket guidelines beforehand.

Photo courtesy of Station1640
Photo courtesy of Station1640


Located in the heart of the ever-growing Cahuenga Corridor, Station1640 is a premier cultural nightclub and Hollywood staple. Formerly known as Couture, Station1640 has emerged from a complete overhaul inspired by the underground subways of New York City with an all-encompassing artistic takeover by some of L.A.'s most notable graffiti artists, who installed murals throughout the venue. Featured artists include RETNA, Shepard Fairey, RISK, Spanto, WRDSMTH, SlICK, Sebastien Walker, Phobik, Jim Evans aka Taz, ALOY, Teachr, Page One, Cre8, David Flores, and GuerinSwing.

"Salvage" at The Hudson Theatres in Hollywood
"Salvage" at The Hudson Theatres | Photo: Ed Krieger

Theatre Row Hollywood

Hollywood may be better known for movies than theatre, but the neighborhood is home to its own Theatre Row, where you'll find venues like The Hudson Theatres, The Complex and Sacred Fools. Located on and around Santa Monica Boulevard between McCadden and Lexington, this neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood received its official city designation in 2015, but it's been home to small theatres and up-and-coming talent for years. During the summer, Theatre Row and other Hollywood venues become the center for the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.