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Want to get the most out of Los Angeles culture without getting out of your car? Of course you do. So we’ve distilled some of the best local lore down to a couple sentences to remember the next time you’re driving an out-of-towner somewhere. Read on to find out seven crazy-cool facts hidden in plain sight.

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Capitol Records

It’s famous for being one of the world’s few circular office buildings as well as the place where Frank Sinatra recorded, but it has a secret: The light at the top of the building spells out “Hollywood” in Morse code, and has since the building’s opening in 1956.

1750 N. Vine St.

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Hollywood Bowl

Love this Art Deco amphitheater in the Hollywood Hills? Hate the crazy traffic snarl when there’s a performance? So just drive by on a quiet weeknight and point out the dramatic concrete-and-marble statue--most people don’t know it was designed by the late George Stanley, who also designed the Academy Award Oscar statuette.

2301 Highland Ave.; 323-850-2000 or

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Laurel Canyon

Next time you’re driving between West Hollywood and the Valley, take a look to your right at “The Mansion,” a sprawling estate that’s got serious rock-and-roll cred. It’s supposed to be haunted by ghosts, which maybe is why musicians like to record there. Most notably, the Red Hot Chili Peppers lived and worked there in the early ’90s to record their breakout album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and Jay Z recorded “99 Problems” there.

2451 Laurel Canyon Blvd.

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Venice Canals

Right off 25th Street, you can enjoy a quick look at the manmade waterways built by real estate developer Abbot Kinney in 1905. He wanted to create a waterway-lined town mimicking Venice, Italy. Instead, by the 1950s the area was in disrepair due to neglect from the city, which continued to snowball. However, it’s all been cleaned up and now a two-bedroom cottage--if it comes on the market--can cost in the millions. Well, at least you can walk around safely now.

RELATED: The 8 Most Beautiful Streets in Los Angeles

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Hollywood Sign

Yup, we know it was built a long time ago (1923) to promote a real estate development that was called “Hollywoodland.” The sign was supposed to last only 18 months, but it’s been hanging on for nearly 100 years, thanks to a campaign in the 1970s led by Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner to raise $250,000 to replace the original wood-and-sheet-metal construction with steel letters.

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Oil Wells

It will come as a surprise to out-of-towners that we still have working oil wells more than a hundred years since the 1892 discovery of gold in L.A. by prospector Edward L. Doheny. In fact, more than 3,000 active oil wells are pumping away now, and you can see them right off the freeway near the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Center.

4100 S. La Cienega Blvd.; 

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Viper Room

You probably know this spot as the ’90s-era club where then-owner Johnny Depp booked the coolest bands. But most people don’t know it’s actually been around since the 1930s. In fact, it started as a nightclub, catering to mobsters like Bugsy Siegel until the 1960s when The Doors played there.

8852 Sunset Blvd., W. Hollywood; 310-358-1881 or

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