illustration of anxious eyes with cannabis pupils looking around on a black background.
(Jim Cooke / Los Angeles Times)

The 13 scariest places in L.A. to be when you’re high

There’s nothing as scary as being high and finding yourself in a place with absolutely terrible vibes. Perhaps you’ve experienced this at an overwhelming grocery store or a very crowded event. Or maybe you have a friend who stopped taking edibles after they went to Chipotle and felt like they were trapped in a fish bowl filled with steak and barbacoa.

Because it’s Halloween season, we set out on a quest to find the scariest places to be in Los Angeles while high. We skipped haunted houses and other obviously terrifying destinations — we wanted to be hilariously spooked, not forever traumatized — and visited sites around the city that you can check out well beyond October, even if you’re totally sober.

Visiting an L.A. cannabis dispensary for the first time can feel intimidating. This beginner’s guide explains everything you need to know to be prepared.

We humbly invite you to join us on a jaunt through the list of 13 spots. A few things to note before we blast off: First, many of the places we thought might be total buzzkills (Ikea, we’re lookin’ at you) turned out to be surprisingly fun while high. Second, we embarked on this adventure as a duo not just for creative reasons but safety reasons too; there was always one sober reporter behind the wheel while the other was behind the vape pen. And we recommend you take the same approach (or, better yet, call a rideshare so all parties can get stoned).

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And finally, despite what felt like Herculean efforts, we didn’t make it to everything on our wish list (shoutout to the Bloc’s corkscrew parking ramps and the slate of amateur improv shows in an East Hollywood strip mall that failed to materialize — improvisation at its finest). Still, we hope you enjoy these spooky and haunting thrills.

Showing  Places
A wax figure of Nicolas Cage at the Hollywood Wax Museum.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Hollywood Wax Museum

Hollywood Museum
Wax figures are creepy by nature, but the sculptures at the Hollywood Wax Museum feel especially uncanny. You can blame this partly on the terrible wigs they sport, with hairlines that would make any drag queen shiver, but a lot of them simply don’t look like the celebrities they’re modeled after.

Wandering through the labyrinth, you’ll find a Ken-dollish version of Nicolas Cage; a Marilyn Monroe with botched makeup and lifeless eyes; and a Selena absolutely unrecognizable except for her iconic purple jumpsuit. Yet the most overwhelming and disturbing part of the museum is undoubtedly the fuchsia- and purple-lighted hall of mirrors, where you’ll find off-kilter renderings of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Pink (but a pretty decent Prince).
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The warehouse-like aisles of an Ikea store's self-service area filled floor to ceiling with boxes
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

Ikea Burbank

Burbank Retail
Ikea can be an emotional and physical battlefield for even the strongest and most sober shoppers. There is no peaceful way to negotiate all the choices within the 456,000-square-foot space, and it is physically impossible to spend less than two hours there.

Entering the Burbank Ikea — the largest in North America — you’ll pass a dizzying map that links certain types of furniture to 27 numbered departments. I’m confident that no one has ever actually used it. Though the cafeteria may lure you into a false sense of safety, the winding maze that lies ahead will make you question everything you know about your own home. What’s alarming to those who boldly hit a vape pen in the parking lot is that at its most granular level, everything in Ikea is a sham. Sure, you expect the rooms to be oddly hollow re-creations of a Hot Topic-loving teenager or a grad student who exclusively reads terrible romance novels, but the lies go deeper than that.

My most alarming discovery was that the arrows that guide you through the showroom aren’t actually painted on the floor — they’re shaky light projections that could be changed at any minute. There are also inexplicable cat silhouettes on various shelves, fake pizza boxes that are taped shut, disembodied wooden hands hovering above model couches and gnome-ish beings called VINTERFINTs. By the time you make it out of the showrooms and into the marketplace, it starts to feel like déjà vu. Did you already grab that hand towel upstairs? Do you need another desk lamp? You’ll pass sections that have things you need, looping back over and over to find the short list of items you actually came here for.

Yet the worst part is still to come: the self-serve section. This, I believe, is where relationships go to die. Even if you’ve successfully agreed on a bed frame or desk, this is where you’ll be expected to look up those items and locate their boxes. Though I have no tangible proof, I believe this self-serve area has a sort of curse on it that ensures that the item you’ve worked so hard to agree upon will already be sold out. You’ll walk out defeated, lacking the things you need yet somehow still toting hundreds of dollars’ worth of candles, picture frames and assorted knickknacks.
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A grid of metal bars in front of a dimly lit, graffiti-covered stairway
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

Old Los Angeles Zoo

Griffith Park Point of Interest
The last vestiges of the old Griffith Park Zoo (which opened in 1912 and closed in 1966) seem innocuous on first approach. It’s only after you spend a few minutes gazing into the rusted metal cages or exploring the hulking grotto-like enclosures (part of a 1930s renovation by the Works Progress Administration) that the tickle of THC-tinged terror starts to take hold. The graffiti — even along the gated, seemingly impossible-to-access staircases — adds to the dark tone, as do the heavy iron rings and grids of rebar anchored in the walls and floors. There’s a palpable feeling — even in the bright midday sun — that something very, very bad has happened here. Or is just about to.

Pro tip: For an added level of uneasiness, step into the enclosures themselves to get the former animal residents’ POV.
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A narrow path in a field full of tall corn stalks
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Forneris Farms Corn Maze

Mission Hills Pumpkin Patch
If you’ve got someone with an unerring sense of direction on your squad, wandering the narrow dirt paths between towering stalks of corn won’t feel much scarier than navigating the Hollywood Hills — even if it is adjacent to a cemetery, as Forneris Farms’ maize maze is. But take away a confident corn captain and add in a little cannabis (which you’ve consumed before your agricultural adventure, since corn-adjacent smoking or vaping is not permitted) and the situation has the potential to be an exercise in mass corn-fusion. (You knew that was coming.) That’s because your only guidance is a postcard-sized two-dimensional map that traces the path (this year’s involves a barn, silo and windmill design that the Forneris Farms folks say takes the average group about an hour to conquer) through 4 acres of three-dimensional corn-stalked greenery that’s far too tall to see over and much too dense to see through.

Although all you’ll get for navigating your way out is bragging rights (especially if you master it in a cool 20 minutes, as a certain weed-addled trio did recently), if you locate, solve and log the 12 “CORNundrums” (visual puns) scattered throughout the maze, your name will be entered into a $100 grand prize drawing at the end of October.

Pro tip: Make sure to take the narrated tractor-pulled train ride to the pumpkin patch to fetch a free pumpkin to take home, a route that winds past scarecrows in rubbery presidential-candidate face masks and farm animals crafted à la “The Wicker Man” from dried branches, both unsettling visuals that’ll stay with you long after you’ve cleared the field. The cash-only corn maze and train ride cost $20 on top of a $5 fee for entering the pumpkin patch, which can be redeemed toward the purchase of a pumpkin costing $10 or more. (There is an on-site ATM.) The maze is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
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A person against a backdrop that makes it appear they are standing on the ledge of a tall building
(Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

World of Illusions

Hollywood Museum
We had high hopes (pun partially intended) that something in the building once occupied by the Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie museum would scare us, make us feel slightly uneasy or give us even the slightest passing tickle of vertigo. We just didn’t expect it to be the $75 admission fee to access three interactive experiences; Upside Down House (a house — only upside down), Giant’s House (you’re tiny, the Starbucks cup is massive) and the Museum of Illusions (things are not what they seem). We weren’t that high, so we settled for the last of the three, shelling out $30 per person — nonrefundable — after which we found ourselves wandering a series of mostly empty, gallery-like rooms painted with, you guessed it, illusions. Well, more precisely, what will appear as illusions once captured by a friend’s smartphone camera.

Among the illusory photo ops on offer: being encased in a giant soap bubble (not scary), almost being crushed by a massive doughnut against a postapocalyptic L.A. landscape (scary if you’re on keto), teetering on the narrow window ledge of a high-rise apartment building (fleetingly realistic from the photo taker’s POV, though not a bit scary for anyone) and getting in the boxing ring with a shirtless, pot-bellied Donald Trump (definitely six kinds of uncomfortable but not exactly scary). To be charitable, the experience could well sow the seeds for future freakiness in the appropriately fertile imagination. Case in point, the day after posing betwixt giant-size flowers under the watchful gaze of two massive hummingbirds, one of us had a vivid dream of thimble-size people flapping their arms like wings and drinking nectar from flowers.
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A photograph of a spider hanging upside down inside the Spider Pavilion.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Natural History Museum Spider Pavilion

Exposition Park Museum
There are many people who will never knowingly set foot in a room with hundreds of spiders in it, but we cannot say the same. At first, many of the eight-legged arthropods are hard to spot, but once your eyes adjust, you’ll see huge golden silk spiders dangling from the ceiling with a few of the pavilion’s former butterfly residents caught in their webs. The guides can also point you to jumping spiders (which jump on their prey), bright green orchard spiders, garden spiders and many other creepy-crawly variations. You’ll have a tough time shaking the feeling of tiny legs in your hair or on your skin for the rest of the day.
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Four people clustered around a monkey statue in a Jumanji-themed escape room.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Escape Room

Fairfax Escape Room
High people and puzzles are rivals as old as time itself. We found this one by Googling “hardest escape rooms in Los Angeles,” and it certainly puzzled us at certain points. Based on the plot of the 1995 movie where two kids play a supernatural jungle-themed board game, the room takes you through three areas that are each filled with plenty of puzzles and cryptic markings. There’s an omniscient narrator who will watch your game via camera to ensure that you’re on the right track — a nice big brother-esque touch for those who need to feel a bit paranoid — but the narrator also will dole out hints over the speaker system if the whole group agrees that a hint is needed.

Jumanji isn’t actually the hardest room that 60out offers — our host told us that she finds Grandma’s Master Plan and Ghost Ship more difficult — but it was challenging enough that we made it out with only one minute to spare. I’d also note that the minimum number of people you can book for this room is four, so try to wrangle some friends for this one to bring the price per person down a bit.
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A photograph of the front of the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Culver City Museum
This rabbit warren of small, dimly lighted rooms and the quirky weirdness showcased throughout in museum-style exhibits is delightfully brain-bending when you’ve got your wits about you, what with its collection of micro-mosaic artworks (visible only via microscope), trailer-park finds and pseudo-historical accounts about the string game cat’s cradle.

Visit it high (especially if you’ve never been before), and the collections of decaying dice, folk remedies (involving bees, duck’s breath and mouse sandwiches, among other things) and unusual letters sent to Mt. Wilson Observatory become a whole different — and borderline terrifying — experience. Same with the displays of ornate smoking pipes, paintings featuring the dogs of the Soviet space program and sculptures tiny enough to fit inside the eye of a needle. When you notice the models of spiral staircases lining the staircase, you’ll realize you’re going to need to get some fresh air, which you can get in the tearoom on the screened-in roof, accompanied by the resident bird population.

Pro tip: If your preflight has left you with the munchies, there’s an In-N-Out a few steps away on Venice Boulevard.

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A digital board showing parking space availability
(Alexander Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)

The Grove Parking Garage

Fairfax Shopping Center

There’s hardly a parking structure taller than a single story across the Southland that isn’t a bummer to be high in. (This is where we point out — very clearly — that we’re talking about passengers only. No one under the influence of cannabis should ever be driving‚ or operating anything more complicated than a soup spoon, for that matter.) Many have narrow, corkscrewing ramps, poor lighting and available-parking-spot boards as cluttered and unhelpful as a randomly assembled Lite-Brite.

But the Grove shopping center’s massive eight-level parking garage, though wider-laned and more brightly lighted than many around town, is particularly terrifying thanks to whatever all-seeing-eye in the sky (or more likely license-plate reader) is running the show behind the scenes. Should you “accidentally” drive up to the employees-only rooftop level as we did recently (hey, the gate arm was up) — even for a hot second — big brother somehow magically messes with your ticket from afar and egress efforts back on the ground level will become an exasperating exercise in futility. Your only recourse then is to plead your case to the disembodied voice at the other end of the ”press for assistance” button. You’ve been warned.

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A photograph of a person standing underneath a massive boulder art installation
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

‘Levitated Mass’

Mid-Wilshire Art museum
Have you ever wanted to stand beneath a 340-ton boulder? Perhaps in a city that gets two or three large earthquakes each year? Well, then I have great news for you! Michael Heizer’s massive sculpture “Levitated Mass” (which was conceived in 1969 and realized in 2012) still resides outside of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The journey the 680,000-pound granite rock went on is surely impressive: It was pulled from a quarry near Riverside and transported on a 206-wheel trailer over the course of 11 nights to avoid disrupting traffic. Yet standing beneath any rock — let alone a rock of that size — is alarming. It poses a threat that feels both simple and existential, especially when you’re thoroughly baked.
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Eight shelves of Mason jars filled with soups at an Erewhon Market
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Erewhon Market

Silver Lake Grocery Store
There’s nothing worse than having the munchies in a grocery store that doesn’t have junk food. Sure, you may find beet puffs, neon blue jars of sea moss and dozens of varieties of soup, but where are the salty and sugary things you really want to eat? And even if you find something appetizing, it’s absolutely impossible to spend a reasonable amount of money at Erewhon. When you somehow walk out with a big bag of dried fruit rinds, gelatinous Mason jars and a CBD-infused drink from a brand called “Vybes,” you’ll likely end up craving something else entirely. I guess this one is on us, though — what else would you expect from a place where cars in the parking lot have license plates that say things like “VEGNLIFE”?
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A busy line of cars and multiple orange traffic cones in front of the entrance to Dodger Stadium
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Dodger Stadium (or any venue filled with 10,000 or more people)

Echo Park Sports Venue
Leaving any stadium-size event in Los Angeles is already a nightmare. If you drive to Dodger Stadium, you’ll be sitting in endless traffic with some of the 56,000 fans who’ve made the same mistake. If you don’t drive to SoFi Stadium, you’ll still be fighting with a good chunk of the 70,000 other people to see who has the strongest cell service and the best luck on Uber or Lyft. Being high only enhances this harrowing and humbling experience, making you wonder whether the show was worth the impossible-to-get-rideshares and if your stomach can survive eating the bacon-wrapped danger dogs this close to midnight.
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A clown ballerina sculpture on the side of a building
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

The Venice ‘Ballerina Clown’

Venice Public art
Some folks are just plain unsettled around clowns — no psychoactive enhancement required. Others come down with a case of coulrophobia only after ingesting mind-altering substances. Ever since I was screamed at by a street-crossing clown on Hollywood Boulevard (yes, I was baked), I’ve been firmly in the latter camp. That’s why we went searching high and low (mostly high) for some serious SoCal clowning we could take in under the influence. Despite our best efforts, though, we ended up as empty as a balloon animal; the local clown contingent that had been on our radar since The Times’ deep dive into the time-honored art form this summer (the Clown Zoo, Clown Church and the Highland Park Clowns) had gone mysteriously silent in the run-up to our deadline.

As a result, we were forced to make a pot-enhanced pilgrimage to the most reliable clown around: Jonathan Borofsky’s 30-foot-tall aluminum, painted fiberglass and steel “Ballerina Clown” sculpture, whose Emmett Kelly head married to a ballerina body has been giving passersby the willies at the corner of Main Street and Rose Avenue in Venice since it was installed on the front of the Venice Renaissance Building in 1989. The verdict? Look up at it through bloodshot eyes at your own risk, because we can’t guarantee the image of the saddest of sad clowns won’t glissade home with you.
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