Glendale used to be most famous for its mall, but now this city on the outskirts of Los Angeles is known for so much more, and is rapidly making a name for itself as the place to come if you want something a little different. The city is surrounded by beautiful scenery, and as such you can go for a hike in the neighboring mountains, where you will find rugged terrain scattered with wild flowers. Hiking and biking are also popular in the area, or in one of the city’s parks.
If you prefer to stay in town, then you can enjoy a range of quirky galleries and museums in the city, and when the sun sets you will find live music and a range of dining options all over the city. Speaking of dining, don’t forget to try some of the signature eats in the city thanks to the large Armenian population here, as well as some of the Cuban treats that are also sold in the city.
Lets explore the best things to do in Glendale:
1. Museum of Neon Art
The Museum of Neon Art is also known as MONA and provides a quirky day out if you have never seen this kind of installation before.
Dating from 1981 when it first opened to the public, the museum is dedicated to the preservation of neon works of art, made from neon lighting.
To that end you will find items such as neon signs and other works like kinetic art.
The museum used to famous in the downtown area of Los Angeles before it moved to its new location in Glendale in 2016. Some of the signature pieces here include neon signs from the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Brown Derby.
2. Verdugo Park
Verdugo Park is one of the largest parks in Glendale and lies close to the Verdugo Mountains after which it is named.
The park is a hit with locals thanks to the range of activities on offer that include play areas if you are travelling with younger children, as well as baseball fields and basketball courts.
There are also picnic areas that encourage you to spend the afternoon enjoying the Californian sun, as well as horseshoe courts and even a skate park.
3. Brand Boulevard
Brand Boulevard is known as the main drag in Glendale and the place to come if you want to find a range of local shops and produce in the same area.
The boulevard is particularly well known for its bookstores and its strong cafe culture, and so with that in mind it can be the perfect place to while away the hours if you want to pick up some new literature in Glendale.
The area is also known for its eclectic stores that also include such curiosities as stores selling evening wear, so if you need a red carpet dress or a tuxedo then this is the place to find them.
4. Raffi’s Place
Many visitors may not know that Glendale has a large Armenian population, and actually one in four residents in the city are said to be of Armenian descent.
As such, you will find a wealth of delicious Armenian food in Glendale, so make sure that you take advantage of this on a trip here and sample some of the local delights.
One of the best known places to indulge in some typical Armenian fare is Raffi’s Place which has been in operation for years and which serves local favorites such as luleh kebabs, delicious skewers of spicy beef.
5. Forest Lawn Cemetery
Forest Lawn Cemetery is also known by its nickname ‘Glendale’s Walk of Fame’, as this is the place where a number of famous celebrities are buried.
As a result, many people travel here to pay homage to one of their heroes, and you will find the graves of film stars, singers, and musicians here, as well as a number of other famous professions.
Michael Jackson is interred here, as is Humphrey Bogart and Sammy Davis Junior.
6. Autry Museum of the American West
The Autry Museum of the American West is a museum that has a mission to tell the story of the American West.
The museum first opened in 1988 and has a huge number of exhibits and events that aim to promote this history.
These include lectures, film festivals, and even musical recitals.
There are also art pieces at the museum in a dedicated gallery named Art of the West.
7. Deukmejian Wilderness Park
Deukmejian Wilderness Park was almost razed to the ground in the infamous Station Fire that raged in this area in 2009, but fortunately the park was preserved, and visitors can still visit this scenic spot.
One of the signature features of the park is a McFall Oak that is 200 years old, and there are a number of trails such as the 2 mile Dunsmore Canyon Trail that ends with gorgeous vistas over Crescenta Valley.
As you walk along you will pass local flora and fauna such as wild Canterbury bells, lupines, poppies, and yellow monkey flowers.
8. Alex Theatre
The Alex Theatre is something of a powerhouse in the Glendale area and was first built in 1925. The theater used to be a vaudeville house in the days of old before it was transformed by modern technology and became a single screen theater.
After a period when live shows were no longer performed, the theater has now gone back to it vaudevillian roots, and you will find live performances such as musical theater, symphony orchestras, ballet recitals, and even film and television screenings.
9. Roslin Art Gallery
If you want to know more about Armenian art and the history of the Armenian people in Glendale, then look no further than the Roslin Art Gallery.
The gallery has the mission statement of promoting little known Armenian art to the public and is named in honor of the artists Toros Roslin who was a prolific painter of illuminated manuscripts that dated from the middle ages.
Now you can see both modern and classical pieces at the gallery and this is a great place to come if you have never seen Armenian art before.
10. Verdugo Mountains
The Verdugo Mountains consist of a mountain range close to the famous San Gabriel Mountains and are just outside of Glendale.
If you want to see some of the famous Southern California countryside, then this is the place to do it, and biking and hiking are both popular in the area.
The land here is not paved, so you will get a rugged experience where you will get to see abandoned fire roads and other paths, or you can take the La Tuna Canyon Trail, which stretches for over 2 miles.
11. Doctors House Victorian Museum
The Doctors House Victorian Museum is a house in Glendale that dates from 1890 and used to belong to a group of four doctors who lived there in days gone by.
The house was restored by the Historical Society so that it appears much as it would have done when it was first built, and you can now tour the property with the friendly docents who will fill you in on all the history of the house.
The home was also formerly owned by Nell Shipman, a Canadian silent movie actress and film producer, and you can see an exhibit dedicated to her on display here.
12. Americana at Brand
Americana at Brand is one of the reasons that Glendale is famous in California, and many people come here just to visit this shopping powerhouse.
At Americana at Brand you will find over 15 acres of shopping outlets which includes 75 different shops as well as a wealth of dining options and even a cinema which has a capacity of up to 3,000 spectators.
13. Glendale Public Library
The Glendale Public Library sits on Harvard Street and is known for its special collections that tell the story of the history of Glendale.
The galleries here are packed with information and memorabilia such as photographs of the city, and you can come and browse here for as long as you want.
It also has the claim to fame of having the largest collection of cat related books in the entire world.
As such, if you love felines, then this is one stop not to miss.
14. Porto’s Bakery
Glendale is known for its diversity, and this includes a range of different cuisines found across the city.
Due to the Cuban population here, one of the best loved spots in Glendale is Porto’s Bakery which is a Cuban bakery that is famous for producing delicious freshly baked goods every day.
Some of the favorites here include the breads and pastries that you can pick up, but if you can try and come here at lunchtime for a signature Cuban sandwich, said to be some of the best in the Los Angeles area.
15. Disney Grand Central Creative Campus
Glendale is known as the place where a huge number of the best loved animation films in the world were made, and with that in mind, if you are a fan of this genre, then you can pay homage to the place where it all started.
Sadly the Disney Grand Central Creative Campus is not open to the public for a tour, but if you want to say that you have seen the spot where some of the best animation the world has seen was created, then you can take a scenic drive down Flower Street where you will find the campus.
Incidentally, DreamWorks Animation is also located on the same street, as is Walt Disney Imagineering.