Roving around Monrovia

Friendly people, historic homes, access to the outdoors: This San Gabriel Valley town has it all

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In such a history-conscious town, even the newer buildings are made to look older. The front of the Kirkorian Movie Cinema 12 on Myrtle Avenue, which opened in November 2000, has a 1930s art deco design, with turrets, stained glass, and a wraparound marquee. Downtown shop owners heralded their new neighbor by fixing up many other historic buildings. The effect is a little like Old Pasadena, with shops and restaurants centered around redeveloped classic structures--only the rents haven't gone up and mom-and-pop shops still prevail.

Frills Vintage Tea Parlour is one such homespun establishment. Frills invites "dear ladies, fine gentlemen, and young heirs" to take tea or lunch in an authentic Victorian English atmosphere: Patrons can even borrow a boa or hat from a trunk to complete the mood.

You could easily spend half a day visiting Old Town's antiques stores, art galleries, and cafes, and then venture out into the surrounding streets ― Alta Vista, Melrose, and Magnolia Avenues ― to gaze at all the beautiful old homes. Styles range from Craftsman to Spanish colonial revival, but almost all have fresh coats of paint and well-tended gardens.

And don't forget the beautiful outdoors that first attracted William Monroe. In Monrovia Canyon Park you can hike through 80 acres of lush streamside forest and see a 30-foot waterfall that flows year-round from the San Gabriel Mountains. Then head back into Old Town for more of that small-town, friendly charm.

Monrovia is in the western San Gabriel Valley, 8 miles east of Pasadena. Old Town is on Myrtle Ave. between Olive Ave. and Foothill Blvd. Take the Myrtle Ave. exit off I-210 and go north about 1/2 mile. Area code is 626.



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