Whittier is a small city of about 87,000 people situated in Los Angeles County, California. Although it’s officially considered a suburb of the city of Los Angeles, Whittier has a small-town atmosphere, despite being only 12 miles from the city.
Whittier has all the services of a big city, is conveniently situated 15 miles from the Pacific Coast, and has fantastic weather, making it a popular base for visitors to Southern California who prefer to be away from the big city.
The city is also known for its surrounding scenery and many attractions. Whether it’s shopping, local cuisine, history, or the great outdoors you wish to indulge in, there’s something for everyone in Whittier.
Just walking through the historic neighborhoods with beautiful, tree-lined streets and early 20th-century Spanish Colonial Revival houses is an experience in itself. Whittier is home to about 50 historical landmarks, a specialty boutique shopping area, 19 parks, and several hiking and biking trails.
A number of festivals and events occur in Whittier throughout the year, including the Whittier Walnut Tree Festival, the Water Lantern Festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the La Habra Citrus Fair.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Whittier, California.
1. Learn About Whittier’s History
Before starting your exploration around Whittier and its surrounding areas, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about the city and its history. The best way to do that is with a visit to the Whittier Museum.
This museum is run by the Whittier Historical Society to collect, preserve, and share the city’s history.
During a visit, you’ll see many exhibits, including a Victorian Cottage from the early years of the 20th century, a display showcasing the life of Richard Nixon, and a blacksmith shop.
2. Pio Pico State Historic Park
Pio de Jesus Pico was a rancher, politician, former governor, and influential resident of Whittier in the mid-1800s. Pio Pico State Historic Park is where you can see his restored adobe mansion and five acres of property, including beautiful gardens.
The well-maintained and well-preserved property is reminiscent of early California life. With advance notice, guided tours are available.
This California Historic Landmark is a great place to spend the day learning about local history, enjoying a picnic, or bird-watching.
3. Knott’s Berry Farm
If you’re looking for an outing the whole family will enjoy, head to Knott’s Berry Farm just outside of Whittier.
This theme park features a wide variety of attractions for all ages. Rides such as the Timber Mountain Log Ride and the Xcelerator provide thrills, while a variety of shows and special events keep you entertained.
As you make your way through the park, you’ll encounter a variety of attractions, including a boardwalk, an Old West ghost town, Camp Snoopy, a blacksmith shop, an old schoolhouse, and a western museum. You can even try your hand at panning for gold.
Also on site is a water park featuring various amusements such as a raft ride, waterslides, a wave pool, and a beach house.
When hunger strikes, there are several eateries scattered around the park selling every kind of food you can think of from gluten-free options and pizza to chicken, salads, and burgers.
4. Fresh off the Hook Grill
If you’re seeking a delicious, healthy alternative to fast food, Fresh off the Hook Grill is the perfect place to enjoy lunch or dinner in Whittier.
Kick back in a cozy, nautical-themed environment and order a high-quality seafood meal made right on site. The extensive menu includes many items, such as wraps, soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, and Ceviche.
You’ll find dishes featuring lobster, salmon, shrimp, catfish, and more. Also available are the signature fish tacos, locally-inspired dishes, and a variety of home-made sauces.
5. Admire Fine Art at the Whittier Art Gallery
For more than 80 years, The Whittier Art Gallery has showcased the artworks of renowned Southland artists for locals and visitors to enjoy.
Lisa Keffer, Yukiko Avila, and Lynn Azali are just some of the artists featured. A number of events and workshops are held throughout the year.
A gift shop is also on-site; this is where you’ll find unique items for sale, including jewelry, handcrafted ornaments, paintings, and more.
6. Enjoy a Live Show at the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts
For 30 years, the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts has hosted many live performances featuring world-class musicians and actors.
Nilo Cruz, Henry Mancini, and Los Lobos are just some performers who have graced the stage at this beautiful venue.
There are two theaters on site. The Robinson Theater is a larger venue, and the Studio Theater offers a more intimate environment. Besides performances, several cultural events are held throughout the year.
7. King Richard’s Antique Vintage Center
Whether you’re looking for a unique antique item to display in your house or a special gift for someone back home, King Richard’s Antique Vintage Center – the largest of its kind in California – just might have the perfect item you are looking for.
The center is 60,000 square feet, so you can bet there are many items available for sale, including vintage clothes, jewelry, artworks, furnishings, vinyl records, books, and collector’s items. A number of events and workshops are held on-site throughout the year.
8. Whittier Greenway Trail
With more than 400 acres of parkland and ten miles of trails suitable for biking, walking, and running, Whittier Greenway Trail is the perfect place to spend a day outdoors.
This popular trail, which runs through the center of the city, is suitable for all ages and skill levels and is built on an old railway. Pass over bridges and alongside various sculptures and admire the beautiful plant-life along the way.
9. Admire the View from the Skyrose Chapel
The Skyrose Chapel is a renowned architectural wonder in Whittier. It’s made all the more beautiful when you factor in its stunning location atop a hill overlooking the surrounding area.
Visitors to the chapel will see a mausoleum. a Quimby Pipe Organ, and enjoy panoramic views of the spectacular scenery from the wrap-around balcony.
10. Hit the Greens at Alhambra Golf Course
For a laid-back, easy day on the greens, Alhambra Golf Course is perfect for seasoned and novice golfers who prefer to leave the challenges and frustrations of championship golf courses behind.
Alhambra is an 18-hole, par 71 course that is shorter and easier than some of the other more advanced courses in the area. Also on site are a golf shop, restaurant, and practice facility.
11. Spend an Afternoon Shopping at Brea Mall
Situated in nearby Brea, the Brea Mall is a shopper’s paradise. There are several top department stores, including Nordstrom and Macy’s, and 175 specialty stores. Also on site are a day spa and many well-known eateries.
The mall itself is beautiful, with skylights, fountains, and sculptures throughout. If you have children with you, they’ll appreciate the play area.
12. Rose Hills Memorial Park
While a cemetery may not sound like a place you would typically visit on vacation, Rose Hills Memorial Park is home to the largest one in North America.
This 1,400-acre park and cemetery – which is over 100 years old – is a beautiful, peaceful landscape featuring several mausoleums, a Buddhist pagoda, and a lovely chapel.
13. Catch a Performance at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts
The Cerritos Center for Performing Arts in nearby Cerritos is a leading venue hosting about 150 live performances throughout the year.
Concerts, dance performances, and live theater are some of the events hosted. In the past, the theater has featured well-known performers such as Frank Sinatra and Whitney Houston.
14. Enjoy a Unique Dining Experience at The Rusty Monk
If you are looking for a unique dining experience that offers something other than your typical pub fare and fast food, The Rusty Monk might be precisely what you’re looking for.
Besides serving traditional Belgian dishes, this eatery features 19th-century decor in a historic property. The father and daughter who own and run the business ensure that the atmosphere is comfortable and inviting and the food is expertly-prepared and delicious every time.
Some of the items on the menu include Bavarian pretzels, lamb burgers, and lamb stroganoff.