Arcadia is a city with a population of around 58,000 situated in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County.
The city is known for its horse racing, scenic neighbourhoods, proximity to beautiful beaches, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the city of Los Angeles.
It is home to many restaurants, cultural attractions and shopping centres, including the Highlander Center, Arcadia Marketplace and Westfield Santa Anita.
Throughout the year, many festivals and events take place in Arcadia including the California Wine Festival, The Moonlight Forest – Lantern Art Festival, The Vintage Vibe Festival, and the Socal Moon Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Arcadia, California.
1. Learn About Local History at The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage
The Gilb Museum of Arcadia Heritage has many exhibits displaying artefacts related to the history, culture, and people of Arcadia. Since 2001, the museum has been hosting exhibits and various community programs throughout the year.
The main gallery showcases the city’s history, starting from the early days of the Native Americans onward.
Temporary exhibits are featured at various times, but some of the other permanent exhibits include The Arcadia Walk of Fame, Anita Baldwin, and Arcadia in the Movies.
2. Explore the Angeles National Forest
Situated in the Sierra Pelona Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains, The Angeles National Forest is a vast wilderness waiting to be explored.
Since the early 1900s, this California Historical Landmark has been a popular escape for city dwellers.
Many trails within this park are suitable for hiking and biking. These trails pass through five diverse nature areas: Cucamonga Wilderness, Magic Mountain Wilderness, Sheep Mountain Wilderness, Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness, and San Gabriel Wilderness.
As you make your way along these trails, you have the chance to see wildlife and admire the lush vegetation. Picnicking and camping areas are available.
3. Eat Healthy at Natural Selection
Whether you wish to enjoy a hearty, healthy breakfast, or make a quick stop to grab some snacks for a picnic in the park, Natural Selection offers top-quality food. Everything on the menu is made using fresh, organic, natural ingredients. Nothing is processed but everything is delicious.
The extensive menu has omelettes, burritos, wraps, sandwiches, grilled items, burgers, salads, and plenty of vegetarian items. The beverages include freshly-made juices, smoothies and shakes.
4. Take in a Live Show at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center
Since 2012, The Arcadia Performing Arts Center has been hosting a variety of live events and is the busiest performance arts venue in the region.
The venue features a massive concert hall that holds up to 1,153 spectators and an intimate theatre that seats 125.
Some of the top-notch events that are held at the centre include plays, musicals, orchestra performances, dance shows, and awards shows.
5. Take the Kids to the Kidspace Children’s Museum
Looking for something to do that’ll keep the kids entertained for a few hours on a rainy day? The Kidspace Children’s museum in nearby Pasadena features a wide range of interactive exhibits that encourage learning, creativity and imagination.
Art, science and nature exhibits include the Arroyo Adventure Garden, the Galvin Physics Forest and the Imagination Workshop. The critters area is where kids can interact with live reptiles and insects.
Throughout the year, many educational events and programs take place at the museum.
6. Attend the Races at Santa Anita Race Park
Even if there are no horse races scheduled during your visit to the Santa Anita Race Park, this historic race track is still worth a visit.
As the oldest thoroughbred horse-racing track in the region, it’s listed as one of the country’s most endangered historic places.
With its 1930s-era Art Deco grandstand and setting in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Anita Race Park is considered one of the most attractive tracks of its type in the world.
While there, you’ll be able to see this beautiful track and learn about its intriguing history, including the period when it served as a Japanese Internment Center during World War II.
If you’re lucky, you may even time it right for an event, such as the Santa Anita Handicap, the Breeder’s Cup or the Santa Anita Derby.
The Frontrunner Restaurant features a variety of delicious seasonal dishes with views of the track.
7. Taste Local Craft Beer at Mt. Lowe Brewing Co.
Besides creating high-quality brews, Mt. Lowe Brewing Co. has created a space that is welcoming for all ages, so families can spend quality time together.
They do this by providing a casual atmosphere that includes comfortable seating and access to games for children, such as air hockey and board games.
Mt. Lowe Brewing Co. is the city’s first microbrewery and, since 2015, they’ve been serving unique, tasty brews made with the finest ingredients.
Some of the beers on tap include The Lowe Down IPA, Bungalow Blonde Ale, The Hills are Alive IPA, and The Thaddeus Stout.
8. Tour the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in nearby Pasadena is a fascinating and exclusive place to visit. You can tour this amazing facility with advance notice.
The centre is managed by a company named Caltech on behalf of NASA. Here you’ll find robotic spacecraft and other deep space projects, such as the Mars Science Laboratory and the Curiosity Rover.
During the tour, which lasts just over two hours, you’ll see several demonstrations and a multimedia presentation. You’ll also get to visit the von Karman Visitor Center and explore the Space Flight Operations Facility.
9. Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a sprawling historical site in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Since the late 1940s, it has grown into the beautiful site that it is today.
It started with just 1,000 trees and later included a tropical greenhouse and jungle garden. The Native Oaks, the Aquatic Garden and the Palm, and Bamboo collection are some of the beautiful gardens you’ll see as you explore the property.
10. Visit the Eaton Canyon Nature Center
Situated in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Eaton Canyon Nature Center features a variety of exhibits and live animals.
This large complex, which includes both indoor and outdoor attractions, provides a fun and interactive learning experience for all ages.
At the center you can also explore a beautiful wilderness area filled with streams, rock formations and flora and fauna. A picnic area, tours and nature walks are offered, as well as trails for hiking and horseback riding.
11. Tee off at Santa Anita Golf Course
Santa Anita Golf Course has it all. It’s a superbly-maintained course suitable for all levels but challenging enough to keep any game fun and interesting. You’ll enjoy stunning views of the San Gabriel Mountains as you play.
This 18-hole, par-71 course features a golf shop so you have all the equipment you need for your best game. There’s a driving range too so you can practice before you play.
12. Admire Ancient and Modern Art at the USC Pacific Asia Museum
Since the early 1970s, the USC Pacific Asia Museum in nearby Pasadena has been showcasing classic and modern artworks from Asia and the Pacific Islands.
More than 15,000 items are on display, some of which are more than four thousand years old.
Some of the past exhibits have included We Are Here: Contemporary Art and Asian Voices in Los Angeles, Royal Taste, and Ceremonies & Celebrations.
Throughout the year, many events are held at the museum, including festivals, lectures, workshops and cultural events.
13. Spend a Day Outdoors at the Wilderness Park
The Wilderness Park in Arcadia is the perfect place to spend a day in nature. The scenery is stunning, there are plenty of open green spaces and an abundance of things to see and do.
The nature center is where you’ll be able to meet some of the animals that live in the park, including deer, bear and snakes. The park is also home to a series of hiking trails.
Other on-site amenities include picnic areas, campsites and a pond. Guided nature walks are also available.
14. Visit the Pasadena Museum of History
The Pasadena Museum of History is where you can learn more about the history of the region and the nearby city of Pasadena.
Discover a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits, archives and galleries, with artefacts, antique clothing and artworks on display. The museum also offers tours of historic properties around the city.
15. Tour the Queen Anne Cottage and Coach Barn
In Santa Anita Park are the Queen Anne Cottage and Coach Barn, a couple of late 1800s buildings currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
These Victorian-style buildings are perfectly preserved and you can take a tour of the cottage and barn with a knowledgeable guide who’ll provide the backstory of the property.