Carey Shaw

5 Surprising Things About LA That'll Make You Visit ASAP

Los Angeles: Everyone has an opinion about this city. To the people who've never visited, it's the stuff of cinematic dreams. To the people who have been there, it's...also the stuff of cinematic dreams.

There's just no denying it — LA is a pretty magical place.

But as glamorous as it sounds, the city is so much more than just movie studios and celebrity sightings.

Don't get us wrong: We're all for touring film sets and spotting famous people, but what keeps us coming back to the west coast is a little bit more under the radar.

And because we believe that sometimes even the best-kept secrets are meant to be shared, we're gonna let you in on our favorite things about Los Angeles.

1. Farmers' markets are a way of life.

When you think of a major city like LA, organic farms and fresh produce might not immediately come to mind. So it may come as a surprise that the city has some of the best farmers' markets in existence.

Between urban farms, local bakeshops and authentic food from every culture imaginable, you could literally spend an entire day hopping from one market to the next.

And we're not talking about run-of-the-mill outdoor markets — Studio City's comes complete with pony rides and a petting zoo, while Santa Monica's offers live cooking demonstrations from expert chefs.

2. The architecture will blow you away.

A lot of (totally clueless) people write off LA's architecture as a mix of McMansions and skyscrapers.

PSA: This couldn't be farther from the truth. LA is home to some of the most diverse architecture in the country.

From Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall to a handful of iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes and the unparalleled Union Station, LA architecture has something for everyone.

3. The art scene treads the line between classic and cutting-edge.

There's a lot more to the LA art world than one might think.

Between the street art and modern galleries of the downtown arts district, Van Gogh and Monet classics on display at the Getty and outdoor sculptures like the fabulously strange Watts Towers, Los Angeles redefines what it means to be an art-friendly city.

4. Nature is hiding in plain sight.

Getting back in touch with nature is a must, even when you're visiting a big city. The good news is that in LA, you don't have to go far to embrace the natural world.

If winding hikes and city vistas are your thing, Runyon Canyon Park spans 160 acres right in the center of Hollywood. In the mood for some oceanside meditation? Head up the Pacific Coast Highway to Zuma Beach and enjoy one of the biggest (not to mention most breathtaking) beaches in Los Angeles County.

5. Abandoned sites make for next-level urban exploring.

Sometimes the best places in a city can be found where the people aren't. And LA is no exception.

If you're the explorer type, you can weave your way through the 11 miles of tunnels that run under downtown LA — service tunnels that once served as prohibition-era passageways to speakeasies all over the city. Or check out the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo (which officially closed in 1966) and find your way around the crumbling animal enclosures that are now covered in graffiti.