BY: KARINA ANASTASIA ROCHE
There’s certainly no shortage of unusual, funky, or whimsical things to do in Los Angeles, but the sites of Topanga Canyon are definitely at the top of the list. Topanga is well-known in the area for its funky and bohemian background, as the serene and beautiful canyon has attracted actors, artists, and musicians for years. The flying pig saluting drivers on Topanga Canyon Boulevard is a testament to this, and captures the “dream the impossible” spirit of the community. To this day, exploring the nooks and crannies of Topanga often feels like an instant time travel trip back into the 1970s. It truly is a unique oasis in the middle of Los Angeles, leaving much to be explored–even for locals. For the Angelino scavenging for overlooked gems, or travelers from out of town looking to make memories off the beaten path, we’ve compiled this list of Topanga’s best-kept secrets.
1. Hidden Treasures
We loved Hidden Treasures before it found the attention it deserved, so we were flattered when an actress Kate Hudson revealed it as her style secret. But it hasn’t lost any of its unusual and delightful charm. You’ll know it by its distinct décor: the wooden pirates outdoors, a painted circus cart, and bright costumes on display behind the window. This is the perfect place to find a prize-winning costume for Halloween or to add a unique bohemian or 1930s flair to your wardrobe. Hidden Treasures truly espouses the heart of the hippie movement that made the canyon famous and attracted creatives. Visit soon, as it is growing in popularity–some of our guests have stayed with us just to go see this eccentric vintage store!
2. The Great Wall of Topanga
If you’re looking for perhaps the most whimsical and hippie-inspired location in Los Angeles, the Great Wall of Topanga is hard to beat. About a mile and a half from the Topanga Pine Tree Circle Village, the wall suddenly appears as you make a curve along Topanga Canyon Boulevard. Described by L.A. Weekly as Topanga’s “drive-through art gallery,” the medium itself speaks volumes about Topanga’s unique culture. Why put art on your wall when you can make the wall your art? That’s Topanga. The canyon’s own Rick Denman covered the wall beneath his property with murals, a giant rat trap, sculptures, and words made from repurposed materials in response to the incessant graffiti that plagued the wall. You’ll be tempted to drive slowly and take your time to study the objects that make up each work of art–just know that unless you pull over, you’ll likely get honked at by faster local drivers!
3. Public journal in the cave at Elephant Rock
Elephant Rock (also referred to as Eagle Rock due to its proximity to Eagle Springs) is the main attraction in Topanga State Park, and our most favorite hiking spot, conveniently located just a 30-minute walk from the inn. The majestic natural wonder hangs over a yawning canyon, overlooking the ocean and gazing out towards the San Fernando Valley. But hidden from sight is a small cave on the south-east face of the rock, fairly easy to access if you hike up the flat back of the elephant. This cave has a history of being visited by creatives. For many years, the interior was beautifully painted. Today, sadly, the cave has been covered with graffiti, but a new charm has taken place of the old: a public journal left behind by a local. Read previous entries and enjoy these little windows into the lives of others, or add a story of your own for the next wanderer to discover.
4. Haunted abandoned house
Topanga is not known for strict aesthetic codes or uniform architecture–you’ll find a mishmash of all sorts of styles and strange and unusual dwellings here (lately, the hottest trend is yurts: portable, Mongolian style onion-domed tents). But perhaps no structure is more unusual than the house partially built and abandoned in the location where, allegedly, Canned Heat band member Alan Wilson met his untimely death. Crumbling, sagging, colorful with graffiti but partially hidden behind trees growing on the creek bed, this eerie structure will make you do a double take and wonder if you actually saw it. Naturally, rumor says it is also haunted. Peer and wonder at this mysterious place from the roadside on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, but don’t go inside–a gate prohibits visitors. It may not be haunted, but it certainly feels like it!
5. Topanga Days festival
If you’re looking for Los Angeles’s ultimate hippie fest, look no further than Topanga Days. Less than five minutes from the inn, the Topanga Community Center hosts the annual Topanga Days in May. Funky music, dancing, face painting, boho skirts–again, you’ll feel like you’ve returned to the 1960s or 1970s, when Topanga was at its hippiest! The community center also attracts locals and travelers with its farmer’s markets, frequent dance fairs, and other music and lifestyle fests. You can visit their site to browse for more events, although many occasions are announced with a colorful and funky painted roadside sign on Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Whether you’re looking to escape to the free-spirited hills of the canyon, seeking those unique photos to add to your travel collection, or desire something quirky and unexpected, Topanga has much to offer. Complete your special getaway and book now with us at the Topanga Canyon Inn–then unplug, explore, and discover. Maybe you’ll find treasures even we haven’t uncovered yet.