Set snugly against the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, tiny Sierra Madre is a window into the valley's rural past just 10 miles northeast of downtown L.A. In late fall, tree-lined neighborhoods blaze with color, local dogs snooze under the tables at the many sidewalk cafes, and hikers take advantage of cooler mornings to climb the Mt. Wilson Trail to panoramic valley views.
Most important? Remember to slow down and enjoy ― there's not a single traffic light within city limits.
Sierra Madre is in the San Gabriel Valley, 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles and 5 miles east of downtown Pasadena. From I-210, exit at Baldwin Ave. and go 1 mile north.
E. Waldo Ward & Son. A small family farm that's been canning fabulous jams and jellies since 1918. Its tiny gift shop (selling pickled watermelon rind and orange-papaya marmalade) sits among the last remaining commercial orange groves in Los Angeles County. Closed Sun; 273 E. Highland Ave.; www.waldoward.com or 626/355-1218.
Mt. Wilson Trail. The winding 7.5-mile trek to historic Mount Wilson Observatory climbs from chaparral into pines, with spectacular views along the way. Mira Monte Ave. at Mt. Wilson Trail Dr.; 818/899-1900 for trail conditions.