Best Outdoor History Museum Los Angeles 2012 - Heritage Square
Los Angeles — the city hopelessly out of touch with its past. Or is it? Heritage Square reminds visitors that our history as a fledgling city isn't forgotten. The museum isn't a collection of glass-encased artifacts but a cluster of Victorian-era buildings: eight homes plus a church, carriage barn and train station. (A drugstore is on the way.) The structures, once slated for demolition, have been restored inside and out. The Hale House, from 1887, is especially eye-catching with its ornate exterior in mint green and dark rose. Across the grassy yard, the 1893 Octagon House (one of only a handful in this style in California, and fewer than 500 in the country) wows visitors with its practicality — windows on all sides enhance natural light and air circulation. A tour guide dressed in period costume may point out the 19th-century washing machine, explaining that it would have taken days to complete the family's laundry. At the Palms Train Depot, learn about local railroad history and browse the gift shop for art deco–inspired jewelry, parlor games or a reticule kit. 3800 Homer St., Highland Park. (323) 225-2700, heritagesquare.org.
—Daina Beth Solomon