What a wild, wild ride Grand Theft Auto V has had. It originally launched way back in 2013 (which is an eternity in video game years) and quickly became a phenomenon.
Players, critics, Rockstar shareholders (and their partners who want to add that extension to their house)… everybody just loved the game. It continues to sell incredibly well (it was the 11th best-selling title of last year, even though it’s over five years old), despite the fact that just about everybody in the known universe surely owns it by now.
Yes, the controversial crime ‘em up series has always been popular, but what was it about this entry in particular? It’s got to be the whole open-world thing. These sorts of titles have become increasingly popular and ambitious in recent years, and Grand Theft Auto V was one of the first titles to really push the envelope in terms of scale.
The game may not be about an open ‘world’ as such (in contrast to something like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Skyrim), but Los Santos was perhaps the biggest, living-est breathing-est city that games could muster back in 2013. Like Marvel’s Spider-Man’s take on New York City, it was a stunning achievement. It still is.
With that in mind, it stands to reason that there’d be a whole wealth of secrets, easter eggs, and places that casual players have never seen. Have you visited Grand Theft Auto V’s very own Bermuda Triangle? Or the mysterious Coveted Cove? Or even the ghostly shores of that haunted beach? Probably not, so buckle up for a tour with a difference.
25 The Mysterious Mountain Mine
On a map as large as Grand Theft Auto V’s, there are bound to be all kinds of obscure little areas that most players wouldn’t ever really find. Only the hardened explorers who hunt every sidequest on every square inch of land need apply.
The mountain mine (as we’ve reported before) isn’t an obscure little area (it’s pretty darn big, in fact) but it’s certainly a neat find. It’s shut behind a big wooden door, which can be easily disposed of by one of the many explosive surprises that all Grand Theft Auto players have on their person at all times.
What awaits you inside? A series of confusing, narrow passages, and a decades-old body (we suggested that its 1940s-era clothing, and this whole situation, may be a reference to fellow Rockstar properties L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption).
24 The Tennis Coach’s REAL House
If there’s one word to describe the life of the average Grand Theft Auto protagonist, it would probably be drama. From C.J. to Niko to Michael, Franklin, and Trevor, these people sure don’t lead boring lives.
Early in GTA V’s story, Michael discovers his wife and her tennis coach, Kyle Chavis, in an unfortunate position. He follows the man back to what he believes is the tennis coach’s own home, and manages to destroy the place by pulling it down the cliff it’s built on.
He soon discovers that the house was actually the property of Martin Madrazo, the ruthless and wealthy businessman. Just across from this once-beautiful home, though, players can find what appears to be Chavis’s real place, a much smaller and more humble home. There are tennis balls, rackets, and a ball machine all around the premises.
23 Mount Chiliad
Now, of course, Mt Chiliad is a location that’s pretty darn difficult not to find. It’s just about the biggest and most obvious thing on the whole map.
We’re not looking for the mountain itself, though. What’s important here is the fact that, being such a large piece of the Los Santos landscape, there are all kinds of secrets squirreled away here.
One of the more minor (yet particularly intriguing) mysteries surrounds a piece of art on the mountainside, on the left side of the upper half of the mountain (via Paleto Bay). As we reported over on TheGamer, in the original version of the game, this depicted a man’s face (said to be that of Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman). In the later re-release for current-gen consoles, it’s the outline of a chicken instead.
22 The Taco Van Of Mysteries
Now, barrelling around Los Santos in the finest multi-million dollar cars is fun and all, but that’s not all there is to the game. Often, you can get just as much joy out of taking one of the sillier, novelty vehicles out for a spin.
You don’t want to race in a fire truck, hearse, or the like, true enough. They’re hilarious to just scoot around in, though, which is why lots of you will probably want to know about the holy grail of road-faring ridiculousness: the Enormous Taco Truck™.
To get your hands on this magnificent vehicle, you’ll have to head to the north of Sandy Shores (between the hours of 1 and 2 pm, which is when the truck spawns). It’s just… there, ripe for the taking, and it’s fantastic.
21 Seaside Spooks
Now, there was always going to have to be a lot of shoreline, beaches, and ocean in Los Santos. After all, how else could GTA V’s luxury vehicle manufacturers sell us their fancy boats and ships?
Naturally, this being Grand Theft Auto, the beaches of the city have their own distinctly grown-up stories to tell. Pretty darn intense ones, too.
There’s a certain campsite that players can visit after the hour of 11pm, which is littered with tents. If you stick around, you’ll start to hear disembodied voices, which soon descend into moans and screams. Did something distinctly Friday the 13th-flavored happen here?
20 The Coveted Cove
As we’ve already established, this is Grand Theft Auto we’re talking about. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows around here, that’s for darn sure. It’s an intense, ethically-questionable, often bad world. One that Trevor exists in, perhaps the most hilariously intense character ever created.
Even so, however, Los Santos is also just absolutely stunning in places. Certain areas, like the so-called Coveted Cove, could be ripped straight from a travel agent’s catalog.
It’s found on the east coast, at the south end of the San Chianski mountains (Blaine County). A little cove with a water-filled cave, it’s a beautiful natural location that features in the mission Coveted (hence the unofficial name).
Inside, you’ll find some curious treasure: a grenade launcher, along with a letter scrap and a spaceship part.
19 The Fort Zancudo Underground Lab
That name alone is probably enough to strike fear in the hearts of players in the know. However high-leveled and well-equipped you are, Fort Zancudo is not a location to take lightly.
The guards of the military base take their job very, very seriously. If you even breathe within 10,000 yards of their territory, they’ll come after you.
Visiting is more than worth a try, though, for several reasons (more coming up later in this rundown). For one thing, there’s a secretive underground lab you can access here, after installing a certain mod. Riding down the elevator here gives you access, taking you to a dark, spooky lab that could house all manner of experiments.
18 The Los Santos Bermuda Triangle
That’s right, friends. You’ve surely heard of the Bermuda Triangle, a mysterious area off the coast of Florida/Bermuda/Puerto Rico. According to legends and conspiracy theories, this area harbors some kind of inexplicable force, which has led all kinds of vessels to become lost in (and over) its waters.
In Grand Theft Auto Online, players have discovered an odd bug that seems to replicate the effects of the famous Bermuda Triangle. As USGamer explains, there’s an area between the Paleto Bunker, the north of Paleto Bay and the Yachts A Series (yes, it forms a triangle) where the usual rules of physics don’t apply. Due to a strange bug, entering this area in a ship or a plane can cause you to be teleported away without said vehicle.
17 Oh, Give Us A Home Where The Aliens Roam
As fans and rabid conspiracy theorists will know, GTA V is rife with alien references. We’ve already touched on the fact that there’s a spaceship part to be found in the Coveted Cove, but that’s just the start of things. If you’re dedicated enough to achieve 100% completion of the game’s story mode, UFOs will begin to appear in Blaine County and Los Santos itself. Their appearances are triggered at certain times and by certain weather conditions, as detailed by IGN.
If the player collects all of the scattered spaceship parts, a tiny craft will be produced (and you’ll unlock the Space Docker). What does all of this mean? It’s tough to say, but presumably, the truth is out there.
16 Back We Go To Fort Zancudo
On the subject of all of this spacecraft business, we’ve already seen that Fort Zancudo is a place that ties in with all these rumours and odd happenings. Not only is there that unexplained base deep in the building, but you’ll see a strange glowing UFO in the skies here at 3am each day.
Do you know what else you can find here? A minigun, that’s what. It’s certainly not an easy trip up to the Control Tower to get it, though. As I say, the guards around here are not trained to have nice little plates of cookies and a trouser press ready for visitors, like a snooty hotel. They will simply end you.
It’s just as tough to get back out of the tower as it is to get in, but that’s exactly what makes it such an adventure.
15 Jetpack Mountain
Ah, yes. When it comes to rumors, secrets, and what-ifs within GTA V, this is one of the other major ones. Perhaps it’s not as intriguing as those aliens and their UFOs, but people just will not stop talking about that darn jetpack.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas players will be familiar with this one, as it was an unlockable piece of equipment in that game. As for V, though, it was nowhere to be seen in the game itself. However many very fine toothcombs have been run through every single inch of the title.
Finally, though, we discovered what was at the heart of the mountain (the secret bunker), and the jetpack was available in Grand Theft Auto Online as of the Doomsday Heist update.
14 Franklin’s Apartment
Now, Franklin’s apartment isn’t exactly what you’d call a secret location. After all, the game thrusts you right in through the door, on multiple occasions, for story purposes. You just can’t miss it.
That’s one of the great things about the game, though: the observant player will notice little nods and references in the most mundane and mandatory places.
In the Casa de Franklin, then, take a closer look at his record collection. You’ll see albums by OG Loc and Madd Dogg, who have appeared previously in the series. A throwaway detail, you might think, but a touch that fans are sure to appreciate and a signature Rockstar move.
13 Making Movie Magic
If there’s one thing the Grand Theft Auto series is known for, it’s… well, controversy and sparking endless debates about violent video games. If there’s another thing, though, it would be the pop culture references.
GTA V snarks on absolutely everybody and everything, from the rampant consumerism of L.A. (the city on which Los Santos is based) to the movie world.
As previously reported at TheGamer, if you’re flying a chopper at the Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness between 8 and 9pm, you’ll witness a scene straight out of Thelma and Louise. A lone car will be surrounded by police on the edge of a cliff. An officer will tentatively approach the vehicle, and… there goes the car over the cliff.
12 Here, There Be (Sea) Monsters!
Of course, most of the action of GTA V takes place in the city. That’s the beauty of the ‘world’ Rockstar has created. It’s about consumerism, the cult of celebrity, all these sorry things that make up big city life.
As such, we’re only given a small amount of the ocean to play with/in. That’s not to say that those murky waters don’t hold secrets of their own, though. South of Chumash on the San Andreas coast, you’ll find the skeleton of a vast whale, and a pretty darn unsettling sight it is too. Still, it’s neat that this highlights the importance of searching everywhere.
11 Raton Canyon’s Yeti
Ah, yes. One of the most elusive and popular cryptozoological beasts of all, the yeti has appeared in all kinds of video games (heck, even Plants vs Zombies). It’s been rumoured to appear in even more, but eagle-eyed players have spotted it for sure in GTA V.
The Predator mission tasks you with taking down a trio of high-priority targets. While seeking them out from your helicopter, you’ll briefly catch a glimpse of the stealthy creature among the trees. It’s very tough to make out under normal conditions, but you do have the advantage of an infra-red scope.
Using that, you can clearly see its unmistakable form.
10 Jesco White’s Shack In The Hills
If you’re familiar with Jesco White, ‘The Dancing Outlaw,’ you’ll know that he’s most famous for two things. His inimitable dancing style and the documentary movies that have been made about him.
With GTA V trying to encapsulate just a little bit of what it means to be from the West, maybe it’s no surprise that White makes an appearance in the game. Not only does he voice the DJ of the Rebel Radio station, but he also shows up himself in the Alamo Sea region. There he is, dancing to an Ozark Mountain Daredevils song as only he can.
Those are some smooth moves you have, Mr. White.
9 Under The Sea
Well, that’s successfully got that The Little Mermaid song stuck in your heads for the rest of the day. We're sorry.
Never mind that, though. The important thing here is that it’s easy to get caught up in all the usual trappings of street racing and such that the game offers. Racing modes are pretty extensive at this point, after all; it’s like a game in itself.
Don’t forget, though, that there are other much quirkier ways to spend your time in Los Santos. Have you headed down to the depths of the ocean in a submersible? Well, friends, you’re missing out of you haven’t.
8 Vinewood Hills
Of course, there had to be a Vinewood Hills in the game. When you’re making a big snarky monument to everything Los Angeles is, there’s one target that you just can’t miss. It’s a huge, garish fish in a barrel, and it’s called Hollywood.
Vinewood Hills sports its own take on that famous sign, as most players will already know. There’s something else to find here, though, that so many probably overlooked.
The Vinewood Zombie, as he’s known, isn’t in the business of eating brains and staring in Michael Jackson’s unsettling music videos. He comes in peace and will stop to chat like any friendly NPC. To find him, head on over to the corner by the cinema.
7 Halo’s Master Chief Makes A Cameo
Speaking of the in-game cinemas, there’s another interesting secret surrounding them. Specifically, the Cinema Doppler in Vineland. Head on over there, and you’ll find somebody very dear to the hearts of Xbox fans everywhere: Master Chief.
That’s right. The much-ballyhooed hero of the Halo franchise is here, just doing nothing in particular outside the theatre. Well, more accurately, it’s just a guy dressed as him, but that’s still quite a thing to behold.
If you've been to any conventions, you'll respect this guy's effort. The time and money people put into their Iron Man and Master Chief armor, huh? Amazing.
6 Right There In The Very First Mission…
Oh, yes indeedy. You thought the introduction to the game would be a quick, easy, comfortable sort of affair, free of any outside shenanigans? Well, that’s not the case here. Right from the off, Rockstar wanted to send out a clear message that this is a title rife with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it secrets.
When making their getaway during that fateful bank robbery, our antiheroes take off down a snowy road. You’re supposed to turn before the bridge, but if you continue to the river to the right, you’ll see something astonishing: an alien frozen in the water beneath the bridge.
As USGamer explains, you won’t be able to stop and take in this sight (the mission is instantly failed if you don’t hurry), but it’s all the more alarming for that.
5 The Lost Reference To… Lost
As we’ve firmly established by now, GTA V is riddled with references to the supernatural and mysterious. The yeti, the Bermuda Triangle, aliens and UFOs… there’s all sorts of super-strange stuff going on here.
It’s only appropriate, then, that Rockstar also added a nod to the most mysterious, strange and what-the-heck-is-happening TV show of all: Lost.
That iconic ‘hatch’ from the show can actually be found in Los Santos. In this universe, it’s located far to the east, by the coast near the San Chiasci Mountain Range. You can use the submersible to get close, but you can’t actually reach it.
4 Your Buddies’ Homes
One of the more interesting departures for the game, in terms of mechanics, was the whole three separate protagonist thing. Most of the time, you can freely switch between Trevor, Franklin, and Michael on the fly, taking control of them during… whatever they happened to be occupied with at the time. That can be hilarious in itself, particularly when switching to the ever-unpredictable Trevor.
We know all of this, though. What you may not know is that you’re usually free to visit the other protagonists’ homes, and Rockstar programmed in something a little special for these occasions. If you creep around their house, that character will call you and ask what you’re doing there. If you instead choose to shoot or fire explosives at their homes (this is Grand Theft Auto, after all, who needs a reason?), they’ll call and furiously demand that you stop.
It’s just another neat little touch you may never have seen in some of the game’s best-known locations.
3 The Strange Snowman
That’s just the way Rockstar do things. They take the most mundane locations and throw in the most unexpected easter eggs. It’s one of the things that make their game worlds such a joy to explore.
Take the Fridgit factory in Cypress Flats, for instance. It’s… well, it’s a standard-issue factory, and there are a whole lot of those in any big city. It’s one of those places that you’d just let flash by, not expecting anything of any real interest to be hidden there.
Enter the site, though, and you’ll notice a set of heavy doors just slightly ajar. Look through them and you’ll notice a friendly grinning snowman inside, among some crates and boxes. You can’t enter the room, so there’s no real point to it, but it’s an intriguing one nonetheless. Why not just make it so the doors weren’t open at all and there was nothing inside? Because it’s Rockstar we’re talking about, that’s why.
2 Vinewood Cemetery’s Furry Visitor
The animal lovers among you surely know the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby. This loyal little Skye terrier remained at the Greyfriar’s Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland for years after his owner’s passing, waiting and hoping for him to return.
That’s the story, anyway. As SVG reports, the tale may have been invented around a stray dog in order to bring in more business to local restaurants.
That’s a little too cynical for some of us, though, so let's stick with the traditional version of the tale. With Rockstar North being located in Edinburgh, it’s natural that they’d feel an affinity with the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby, and so, if you visit the Vinewood Cemetery, you’ll find a little terrier pining at one of the graves.
1 The Walk Of Fame
Finally, there’s another lovingly-crafted slice of the game that many players will never pause to appreciate: the Walk of Fame. As you’ve surely guessed, it’s a snarky take on the real-life star-studded path, situated in Los Angeles’s Hollywood Boulevard/Vine Street.
In Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, you’ll find over 2,600 little tribute to some of entertainment’s biggest and brightest stars. Everyone from Harrison Ford to Michael Jackson (two different Michael Jacksons, in fact) is represented here.
The Vinewood Walk of Fame in GTA V, meanwhile, celebrates a host of different characters from across the franchise. Long-time Grand Theft Auto fans will love the nostalgia.