There is a myriad of activities that you can take in while on a weekend excursion in Los Angeles. If you are interested in the darker side of the City of Angeles, there exists a number of sinister, macabre destinations that you can visit over the course of a weekend in Los Angeles. Keep in mind that some of these destinations most definitely are not for the faint of heart.
My husband and I spent a weekend taking in some of the grimmer, haunting sites in Los Angeles. We can say without reservation that an excursion around the dark side of the city is well worth the time.
The Museum of Death
The first stop my husband and I made during your weekend excursion in Los Angeles was the Museum of Death. Located on Hollywood Boulevard, the Museum of Death is considered by many to be a must-see destination for a person who wants to take in the macabre of Los Angeles.
The proprietors of the venue contend that a visitor must be prepared for a “good dose of reality. The staff states that more than a few visitors have passed out viewing the exhibits at the Museum of Death. We made it out without fainting. But, the Museum of Death definitely left us chilled.
The Museum of Death features crime scene photos from the Charlie Manson murders as well as the morgue photos from the Black Dahlia murder. There is an extensive collection of artwork created by serial killers. The venue has a coffin and body bag collection.
The Museum of Death features videos of autopsies and visitors can view up close an assortment of autopsy instruments. There are full-scale replicas of execution devices.
After visiting the Museum of Death, we do agree with the staff that it is not for the squeamish. It’s also safe to say the sensationalism overtakes information at this destination. With that said, having a chance to true thrill, based on relief life displays, truly makes you stop and think – while giving you a scare at the same time.
The museum tour is self-guided. Plan on spending about an hour on site.
Museum of Death
6031 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
Dearly Departed Tours: The Tragical History Tour
We’d heard about Dearly Departed Tours before we planned out Los Angeles jaunt. What we didn’t realize is that Scott Michaels, the founder of Dearly Departed Tours, is considered the foremost authority on the macabre in and the dark side of Los Angeles. The tour focuses on Hollywood and a number of iconic stars that died under unfortunate circumstances. The tour also features lesser known members of the Hollywood community that died in truly horrible ways.
The tour features the deaths of Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Marilyn Monroe, among others. The venture took us to the final resting places of celebrities like Monroe, Farrah Fawcett, Natalie Wood, and others.
As part of the tour, we also had the chance to spend time in the Dearly Department Museum. (You gain admission to the Museum with an upgrade of your bus tour ticket, which does cost a bit more – but, it’s worth it.)
There also more focused tours offered by Dearly Departed, although we elected to take the more general one to get a broader look at death and dying in LA. For example, Dearly Departed offers the Helter Skelter Tour, a disturbing trip that focuses on the Manson Family murders.
The Dearly Departed Museum has gleaned onto some highly interesting artifacts. These include the very car that Jayne Mansfield was riding in on the night of her death as well as Rock Hudson’s deathbed. There is also part of the fireplace from the home in which actress Sharon Tate was killed by the Manson Family.
Although Dearly Departed certainly is designed to shock, at least to some degree, there is a commitment on the part of the proprietors to provide hard information about the deaths of renowned (and even not so well known) people in Hollywood. The tours provide a wealth of interesting anecdotes and details that my husband and I had not yet heard (and we considered ourselves fairly well up to speed on the demise of more than a few Hollywood legends).
If you intend to take the general bus tour and visit the museum, plan on blocking out about three to four hours on your weekend excursion schedule. You’ll be pleased that you did.
Dearly Departed Tours (and Museum)
5901 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Haunted Los Angeles on Your Own
My husband and I wanted to do at least some exploring of the darker side of Los Angeles on our own – and that can be one. While guided tours were an invaluable part of our weekend, we spent an afternoon on our own on a self-guided tour of haunted LA. Here are several of the destinations we selected and that continue to stand out in our minds.
6233 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028
In 1990, vagrants broke into the Pantages Theater and disturbed things on the second floor. Since that time, reports have paranormal activities abound at the site. The theory? The second floor is where Howard Hughes maintained offices. After the break-in, those associated with the theater have come to believe that Hughes has become disturbed an is haunting the premises.
Pantages is a fully operational movie theater. After checking out its hauntings, we returned to catch a flick after a day of our macabre sightseeing.
1741 Ivar Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
A number of Hollywood legends lived in the Knickerbocker, although it is a retirement home today. These legends include iconic director D.W. Griffith, who is said to make appearances in the building after he died on the premises. Check in at the front desk in the lobby and you will be able to spend time looking around that area. There is a plaque in the lobby in memory of Griffith.
A lesser-known person, costume designer Irene Lentz, jumped to her death at the Knickerbocker an is said to haunt the halls. We learned that she was despondent over the death of Gary Cooper. William Frawley, from I Love Lucy fame, had a heart attack in front of the building, was brought inside, and he died.
Harry Houdini was so convinced of the active presence of spirits from the great beyond at the Knickerbocker that he frequently held seances on site. (I admit I felt particularly unsettled at the Knickerbocker, particularly after hearing about Houdini spending so much time at the location trying to commune with the dearly departed.)
Hollywood Pacific Theater
6433 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
Built at the start of the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Hollywood Pacific Theater was owned by Warner Brothers. I enjoyed the visit and had a bit of a chuckle when I learned that legend has it one of the Warner brothers haunts the joint – but no one seems very certain whether it is Harry, Albert, Sam, or Jack.
The building currently is closed and has been for some time. However, we enjoyed a walk about the perimeter and had lunch in the neighborhood. There is speculation that the site may be restored to a “grand movie palace” at some point in the future. Perhaps then we will be able to figure out which Warner brother walks the grounds.
My husband and I visited this trio of sites, together with the Hollywood Tower and Create Nightclub (next door to the Museum of Death), and spent a morning doing so.