This old optical contraption is a historical and offbeat place to find a quiet escape from the crowded Santa Monica Pier. Located only a few blocks away inside of a senior center, the oceanfront attraction seems like a Santa Monica secret: trade your ID for a set of keys and climb a short staircase and you'll find yourself in a dark chamber with a ship's wheel at the center. Natural light squeezes through a pinhole in the ceiling and onto a large white plate, projecting a live image of the adjacent beachfront in the process. Though the technology behind this rudimentary camera-like room is thousands of years old, it still feels like magic.
Have an hour to kill along Ocean Avenue? Find out more about the Camera Obscura.