San Vicente Mountain Park off of Encino Hills Dr and Mulholland looks like yet another scruffy LA park offering that classic nature-urban juxtaposition and hiking you can find all over the city. But if you look closer you’ll see remnants of the Cold War dotting the landscape, from when this was LA96C, a Nike-Ajax missile site. Sixteen of these sites dotted the LA area, with radar equipment used to detect possible air attacks from communists and the other bad guys people were really scared of back then. Anti-aircraft missiles were stored and ready to go down in the Sepulveda Basin, just a few miles north.
9. You can kayak… in Encino… in the LA River… legally
Wait, wuuuuuu? Right around where Balboa and Burbank cross, there’s a river underpass that looks like, well, the spot where Edward Furlong almost bit it in T2. But if you drop in and go north (with a tour group like the LA Conservation Corps), there’s an actually beautiful stretch (NO, SERIOUSLY GUYS!!!) full of natural foliage, birds, other wildlife… and the occasional bathing drifter. It’s a pretty amazing way to see a part of the city that feels completely undiscovered, and to realize that the river isn’t actually the run-off cesspool you were probably brought up to believe it was.