Rowland Heights, just north of the Puente Hills in the San Gabriel Valley, is a vibrant multi-cultural neighborhood, comfortably nestled between several beautiful hilltop parks. One of the safer and more fashionably upmarket neighborhoods in LA, its large population of young professionals has provided it with many trendy shops and cafes.
Known locally as Little Taipei, there is a large and thriving Asian-American community here. Explore the wealth of Asian restaurants, shops, and cultural landmarks, before settling down with a bubble tea at a cafe.
Here are the 14 best things to do in and around Rowland Heights.
1. Find Some Antique Treasures at Cindy’s Arts
This exquisite antiques shop is filled from floor to ceiling with fantastic works of art from mainland China. Vases, watercolor paintings, and crystal statuettes are all on display in this bright and airy cave of wonders. Have a chat with the owner to learn some of the backstories to these fine historic pieces.
If you fancy buying anything, you may need to bring a fair amount of cash with you, but many locals come here just to browse this fascinating and extensive collection of Asian artwork.
The jade collection here is particularly impressive and is one of the greatest of its kind in the whole of the US.
2. Discover the cherry blossoms at the Peter F Schabarum Regional Park
This 75-acre suburban park is popular with horse riders as well as hikers. The trail that takes you to the park’s summit will give you a birdseye view of Los Angeles, and many families come here on the weekends to admire the scenery.
There are many great sports facilities dotted around the park, but if sports are not your thing, check out the local amphitheater, which puts on local performances, as well as rock concerts.
The park’s chief attraction is its magnificent collection of over one hundred cherry trees. In the spring you’ll meet dozens of locals walking peacefully through the gently raining petals.
3. Try some authentic Asian cooking
Rowland Heights’ large Asian immigrant population has given the area some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. Restaurants here range from gritty hole in the wall eateries to classy fusion joints with world-class chefs.
Chinese food is the best represented national cuisine, and if you walk down Colima road you’ll find dedicated restaurants from just about every region in China — not just your typical Cantonese cooking.
Alternatively, there are also many Korean BBQ places and Japanese restaurants in the area. You won’t be disappointed by these authentic and exotic culinary offerings.
4. Practice your batting skills at the RBI Batting Cages
Head just west of Rowland Heights to find the RBI batting cages in nearby city of Walnut. Serving baseball fans in the LA area for the past 22 years, this local chain is a great way to improve aim and consistency with a bat. These indoor cages provide a great way to escape the volcanic LA heat whenever you want to practice.
Depending on your ability level, choose between the super slow and lightning-fast settings on their softball machines. Be sure to take a class here if you feel that you need some close instruction.
5. Shoot at your friends at The Lost World’s Laser Tag Center
This supersized laser tag center is the largest in LA. Play capture the flag or just go to war with your friends for fun. The moody labyrinth of dark corridors here is lit up with flashing lights and soundtracked with pulsing techno for extra atmosphere.
Unlike most laser tag places you don’t need a large team to play, so if you’re in a smaller group, you can still join in on a game, or sign up for one of their missions.
Their extensive complex also offers great arcade games, a bumper car area, and a bowling alley, so there are many reasons to check out the center. Make sure you get a slice of pizza at their great cafe before you leave.
6. Learn to Cook at Little Parrot Farm
Passionate nature lovers will adore this lovely slice of country life hidden in the LA suburbs.
Acting as both an animal rescue center and an urban farm, this small park runs many classes and has an educational focus. Pigs, alpacas, and rabbits roam the grounds, where they are given plenty of space and star treatment by a team of passionate animal-loving staff.
If gardening is your hobby, it’s a fantastic place to pick up a few tips on growing organic veg. Drop-in for a tour of the farm, and come here at midday to combine it with one of their great vegetarian cookery classes, taught by some fantastic local chefs.
7. Explore Hong Kong Plaza
Hong Kong Plaza is the beating heart of the local Asian-American community. This large mall complex sells Chinese films, snacks and drinks from abroad, and has a wealth of restaurants, so you can get a taste of Asia in the US.
The supermarket sells all kinds of rare ingredients from Asia you won’t get anywhere else and it’s a great place to explore if you’re a real foodie. Jin Ju’s Korean restaurant here is particularly popular with local patrons.
Visit at New Year for the Chinese Lantern Festival which lights up the plaza.
8. Hike Powder Canyon
Rowland Heights is directly adjacent to one of LA’s best walks, the Powder Canyon Trail. This gentle hiking route leads you to great views of the LA skyline and its rolling slopes are popular with mountain bikers and horse riders.
The Canyon is believed to be the site of what was once a trail used by the Native Americans, but it got its name in more recent times from the gunpowder works that set-up there. Today it has been returned to nature and it is a popular place to exercise.
Wildflower meadows and natural woodlands wind through this part of the Puente Hills area, which is full of lovely blooms in the spring.
9. Beat the clock at Exodus Escape Rooms
This particular escape room is known for its enchanting décor and superb attention to detail. The Manor Masquerade Room in particular is extremely popular and fiendishly difficult. Set at a 19th-century masked ball, it makes for a charming escape from reality and the props are divine.
Alternatively, try out their other room, to free Sherlock Holmes before the clock runs out.
It is recommended that you take at least three people with you, lest you find the riddles too challenging, but confident puzzle solvers will want to give it a go either way.
Don your thinking cap and save the day.
10. Taste some teas at Tenju Tea House
Rowland Heights is something of a mecca for teashops and you’ll find cafes on every corner selling loose-leaf and bubble tea in abundance. Tenju Tea House is one of the best local shops, praised for the quality of its products as well as its interesting blends.
Its extensive tea selection includes traditional loose-leaf mixes and modern flavors, from classic rose teas to high-quality matcha.
Their range of bubble teas is better than most, and they offer healthier all-natural alternatives for those looking for lower-calorie options. Come here for ice-cold brews on a hot day and makes sure you try their excellent snack selection, which makes a great accompaniment to their fantastic beverages.
11. Race at SpeedZone Los Angeles
Great for both kids and adults who are kids at heart, this amusement park’s chief attraction is its exhilarating go-cart area. Their famous “slick track” offers a real opportunity to test your driving skills, as you’ll have to fight to control your wheels on this slippery surface. The struggle is half the fun of course.
Alternatively, if the go-carts aren’t fast enough for you, try out their great drag-racing section. Be warned — these little cars get up to superhigh speeds.
When you’re done racing, there is a mini-golf area and arcade games sections too, so you’ll be able to spend a full day here if you want to. Make sure you get your dinner at the brilliant Johnny Rockets café, which serves up old-fashioned milkshakes and other tasty treats.
12. Sing your heart out at Spark Karaoke
This brand-new Karaoke bar is a modern masterpiece, built in the style of a neon-lit palace. Equipped with high-quality TVs and an up-to-date sound system, it’s a little bit fancier than most other karaoke bars. Get a champagne package if you come here as a group, they are surprisingly good value, and the bottles are lit-up in neon just like the corridors.
There is an extensive array of songs on offer in the individual VIP suites, where you and your friends can annoy each other in private.
Come here for beer, wine, sake, and questionable singing.
13. Hit the lanes at Round One Bowling
This lovely hang out spot is a good place for a quiet drink with friends, and you can wile away quite a few hours here between beers and rounds of bowling. This monster of an arcade offers billiards, darts, ping-pong, and karaoke in addition to their great bowling alley. Their extremely difficult claw-machine in the arcade is the subject of much local controversy. Try to beat it if you dare.
For a buzzing atmosphere head here on a Saturday night, when legions of locals head to the bar, and the karaoke booths.
14. Relax at the Avant Relaxology Center
Clean, calming, and classy, this local spa is the best in the area and offers a range of treatments and massages. With dim lighting and stylish décor, this place has real ambiance so you can really relax.
There are many forms of facial on offer here. Get an assessment to find out how best to give your pores the royal treatment.
The adventurous will want to try one of their more off-the-wall therapies, such as Chinese cupping or ear candling. If all else fails, their two-hour massage sessions are a particularly good deal at a bargain price.