One Perfect Day in Glendale, CA
Why go now: There’s more to it than its well-known mall. This historic L.A. suburb goes from wildflower hikes and bike rides by day, to wine bars, jazz, and dinner and a show by night.
The look: A mix of Craftsman and Spanish-colonial revival homes at the base of the Verdugo Mountains.
Main drag: Brand Boulevard, with bookstores, cafes, and a surprising number of evening-wear shops.
Back then: The late 1800s were all about ranching and orchards, but the railroad’s arrival brought urbanization.
Culture cred now: Glendale Arts has upped the ante on performances and shows booked here.
Get a taste of Glendale’s Armenian roots: One in four in town is of Armenian descent. Dig into an alfresco meal of luleh kebab, a skewer of spiced ground beef, at Raffi’s Place ($$; 211 E. Broadway; 818/240-7411). Bring friends–portions are colossal.
Glendale’s Walk of Fame: The Forest Lawn cemetery is the final resting place for a slew of celebs, including Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., and most recently Michael Jackson.
The money lunch spot: Porto’s Bakery ($; 315 N. Brand Blvd.; 818/956-5996) has the best Cuban sandos in town.
DAY: Hit the trails: Deukmejian Wilderness Park was charred in the 2009 Station Fire, but it’s back–along with the giant 200-year-old McFall Oak protected by firefighters. An easy 2-mile hike along the freshly restored Dunsmore canyon trail gives knockout views of Crescenta Valley below. Wild Canterbury bells, California poppies, yellow monkey flowers, and lupines are in bloom. 3429 Markridge Rd.; www.ci.glendale.ca.us/parks
NIGHT: Catch a show: The 1925 Alex Theatre, a vaudeville house back in the day, later became a single-screen theater, but is now back to its live performace glory and booked with big-time performances: symphonies, mustical theater, ballet, and dance, along with occasional TV shows like American Idol and special film screenings. Look for L.A. Ballet’s Giselle on May 21. 216 N. Brand Blvd.; alextheatre.org
DAY: Stop by for a free concert: Glendale’s own Taj Mahal, the 1904 El Miradero mansion, is home to the Brand Library & Art Center, where you can catch art exhibits and concerts. The L.A. Opera (with Placido Domingo’s help) is putting on a free performance here on May 7, showing off its rising stars. Closed Sun; 1601 W. Mountain St.; brandlibrary.org
NIGHT: Taste the food putting this town on the map: Even L.A. foodies cross the border for the ultra-seasonal plates, mason jars of potted pork (it’s a thing now), and cured meats at Palate. Cheese-ivores can mingle at the Cirque du Fromage weekly tasting sessions, then take the party home with cheese and wine from the shop in back. $$; 933 S. Brand Blvd.; 818/662-9463.
Still hungry? Three more can’t-miss eats
Take home a treat: Snookies Cookies has been a mail-order sensation for decades (and did you catch the mention by Sean Parker’s character in The Social Network?), but the only brick-and-mortar store and delivery truck are right here in town. Our picks: the fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and an eat-on-the-spot ice cream sandwich. 1609 Victory Blvd.; 818/502-2013.
Table for two: You won’t bat an eye when the bill comes at the chic and cheap Pho Hut that serves enormous bowls of its namesake noodle soup. The pork-shrimp spring rolls are the musty-try starter; finish with the sweet “boba” milk tea for dessert. $; 312 N. Brand Blvd.; 818/247-6955.
After hours: Wine and jazz are a perfect pairing at Left Coast Wine Bar & Gallery. There’s seating on the outdoor patio, but we prefer upstaris in the cozy loft where the local singer-songwriters perform. $; 117 E. Harvard St.; leftcoastwinebar.com