A laid-back community of 42,000 at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Altadena has long been known for its beautiful setting, its variety of Mediterranean, English Tudor, and Craftsman-style architecture, and its tendency to attract an eclectic mix of residents.
Today, despite being 16 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Altadena still feels happily secluded. At spots like Fox's Restaurant, a mom-and-pop diner with red gingham curtains and a sign that reads, "the flavor of onions is enhanced by adding steak," waitresses seem to know every customer by name.
By the end of your day here, you may even agree with the town's most famous early resident, western author Zane Grey, who wrote, "In Altadena, I have found those qualities that make life worth living."
Sam Merrill Trail. WHAT: Moderately strenuous 5-mile round-trip trail, paralleling the route of the old Mount Lowe Railroad, offering great views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Los Angeles Basin. WHEN: Daily; early August mornings are wonderful, afternoons hot. HOW MUCH: Free. WHERE: Trailhead is just beyond a stone pillar at the north end of Lake Ave., where there's free parking; www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles or 626/574-1613.