Glendale is an iconic Southern California city located eight miles north of Los Angeles near the Verdugo Mountains. About 200,000 San Fernando Valley residents call this city home – making it the fourth-largest city in Los Angeles County.
And four major California freeways run through the area, making the six-hour drive to San Francisco easy. But in Glendale, California, worth visiting? Absolutely! This burgeoning L.A. suburb is one of the best places to visit on the west coast.
It is bordered by the Los Angeles Zoo and Universal Studios to the west. The Rose Bowl Stadium also neighbors Jewel City to the east, and Dodger Stadium to the south. Glendale is a hot city – 90 miles from the Mojave Desert.
The summer weather is hot and dry, reaching highs of 90s°F to 100s°F. And the winters are temperate, with lows in the 40s°F and very little rain. Glendale is also a historical city. The city’s regional Grand Central Airport hosted Charles Lindbergh’s first transcontinental flight. And the city’s southern tip is home to the famous Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery.
The final resting place for many celebrities. Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of free things to do in Glendale, California. The San Gabriel Mountains are nearby, and the area has more than 69 hiking paths and biking trails covering 441miles. Closer to the bustle of Glendale, there are 14 parks — one park per 14,285 people. There is bound to be something for everyone and level.
Jewel City also boasts two iconic theaters, including the Glendale Centre Theatre, which two Salt Lake City actors founded. The area theaters provide a wide range of live performances daily and weekly. And the city is home to Disney’s Creative Campus and DreamWorks Animation on Flower Street. Unfortunately, unlike Universal Studios Hollywood, the cinematic icon is closed to public tours.
With so many things to see, what is Glendale, California, known for? It is undoubtedly known for its shopping, from large malls to quirky, independent boutiques. And whether you are in search of a solo traveler Christmas lights tour or with family, this is the perfect place for an adventurous Southern California vacation.
This hotel is centrally located near many of the area’s top attractions, including Griffith Park, Alex Theatre, and Los Angeles Zoo. Whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, you’ll find everything you need at Hyatt Place Glendale/Los Angeles. The rooms at this hotel are spacious and comfortable, with all the amenities you need to feel right at home. each room comes equipped with a desk, flat-screen TV, and private bathroom. You’ll also have access to a bar, outdoor pool, and free WiFi throughout the property.
This inn is located just kilometers from Dodger Stadium, ABC and NBC studios, and many corporations, and is across the street from the Americana at Brand shopping center, which features some of Southern California’s best dining and fashion stores. Thevagabond Inn Glendale offers guests relaxing accommodations and convenient services, like free high-speed internet access and an outdoor pool.
The Glendale Hotel is perfect for travelers who want to be close to all the action. Its just a short drive from Griffith Park and Los Angeles Zoo, and Bob Hope Airport is only 13 kilometers away. Plus, they have coffee and water stations open 24/7 for guests’ convenience. Their rooms are comfortable and spacious, with plenty of room to relax after a busy day.
- Most significant landmark – Doctor’s House Museum & Gazebo
- Best park – Brand Park
- Best free activity – Forest Lawn Museum
- Best activity for kids – Verdugo Skate Park
- Best activity for adults – Brewyard Beer Company
- Best food – Damon’s Steak House
- Best nightlife – Electric Dusk Drive-In
- Best all-around accommodation – Hyatt Place Glendale
Fun & Best Things to Do in Glendale, California
1. Brand Park
Address: 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, CA 91201
Brand Park covers 31 acres and is one of Glendale’s most popular activities. It features walking paths, biking trails, a playground, a library, and picnic facilities at the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains.
The park was named for Leslie C. Brand, who was instrumental in the growth and vitality of Glendale. His home acts as the Brand Library and Art Center Complex. Fascinatingly, the 26,000-square-foot complex mimics the East Indian Pavilion at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The complex is home to art galleries, recital halls, and studios – containing over 110,000 visual arts and music items.
In addition to the art complex, the park is also home to two iconic structures -the Whispering Pine Tea House and Friendship Garden and the Doctor’s House Museum and Gazebo. The life-sized sculptures include a replica of the Great Pyramid at Giza, complementing the park’s white entrance gates – marked with Miradero – “the lookout.”
Brand Park is also a place where the young and old can play. Basketball courts and softball fields are open from dawn until dusk, whether for pickup games or inter-mural leagues. There are also children’s playgrounds and a seasonal wading pool. The hiking and biking trails accommodate runners, walkers, and even leashed canine companions.
2. Whispering Pine Tea House
Address: 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, CA 91201
The cities of Glendale and Higashi-Osaka, Japan, built Shoseian – the Whispering Pine Tea House and Friendship Garden in 1974. Verdugo Mountains tower over the koi pond and Japanese-style garden.
It is one of the few national public traditional Japanese teahouses. Emphasizing its importance, Shoseian was designated an official Tearoom by the Grand Tea Master of the Urasenke School of Tea in Japan.
The Friends of Shoseian curates the Teahouse. Each month, cultural classes of hado – the elaborate tea ceremony and shodo or the ancient art of calligraphy are provided. Ikebana explains the language and art of flower arranging. Budo, Japanese martial arts, is also demonstrated at the Brand Complex. Completely restored, The Teahouse is now a designated Glendale Historical Society landmark building.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Los Alamos, California
3. Doctor’s House Museum and Gazebo
Address: 1601 West Mountain Street, Glendale, CA 91201
Built at 921 E. Wilson Avenue in 1888, Doctor’s House Museum & Gazebo was named after a succession of four notable doctors who lived there. It represents the Queen Anne-Eastlake style Victorian home, one of only two in the area.
Doctor’s House has had a colorful history full of intrigue. In 1979, volunteers cut the house in half to save it from demolition and moved it to its current location in the dead of night. And in the 1900s, it was home to silent film star Nell Shipman.
Curated by The Glendale Historical Society, Doctor’s House Victorian Museum tours and period reenactments occur regularly, with occasional special events or lectures throughout the year.
4. Verdugo Park
Address: 1621 Canada Blvd, Glendale, CA 91208
Verdugo Park is one of Glendale’s largest parks, butting up against the Verdugo Mountains. A rugged park with numerous unpaved roads, such as the 2-mile La Tuna Canyon Trail.
With kids, Verdugo Park is immensely popular and easily one of the best things to do in Glendale, California with kids. The park has easy hiking and biking paths and various outdoor recreational facilities, including open baseball and basketball play.
If you are courageous, try your luck at the horseshoe courts as the kids play in the Verdugo Skate Park. While challenging, this unique, outdoor 15,000-square-foot concrete skate facility is well designed for in-line skaters and skateboarders of all levels.
It consists of a six to nine-foot Clover Bowl with an 11-foot over the vert section with rails and ledges. The facility also offers lessons for those wanting to learn something new.
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5. Americana at Brand
Address: 889 Americana Way, Glendale, CA 91210
The Americana at Brand is Glendale’s iconic retail shopping complex. It combines upscale brand names, trendy dining, and an 18-screen cinema. A trolley system transports guests, and over 200 condominiums pepper the complex.
There is also a two-acre public park facility at the center of the complex. Housed within the park is the Waters of America fountain. This choreographic wellspring provides musical performances daily.
If you are in the area for the holidays, you are in for a treat. Los Angeles County’s tallest public Christmas tree is lit in Glendale. If you have time, grab an adult Christmas Market in Americana private tour or a two-hour professional photo shoot – highlighting the area’s most decorated places.
The Instagram-worthy excursion is perfect for avoiding the holiday crowds. The cost is inclusive, and free cancellation is available. This is also a great adult Christmas lights tour option for solo travelers.
6. Deukmejian Wilderness Park
Address: 3429 Markridge Rd, Glendale, CA 91214
Deukmejian Wilderness Park is a 709-acre park of sage and chaparral located in the San Gabriel foothills. The park also includes streamside woodlands and big-cone spruce. Park Center, a 12-acre visitor’s center, is at the park’s south end. These include the park’s ranger station, the historic Stone Barn Nature Center, and general amenities.
Dozens of miles of moderately steep trails pass indigenous flora, such as poppies, yellow monkey flowers, and Canterbury bells. Animals in the area include coyotes and mountain lions, but neither predator actively seek out humans.
The park is also home to over 110 bird species, including the Canyon Wren and the Red-crowned Parrot. The McFall Oak, a 200-year-old Old Coast Live Oak, is a popular stop and meeting place for hikers and walkers. And several trails offer stunning vistas of Crescenta Valley and the Los Angeles Basin, while the rest of the park remains undisturbed.
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7. Alex Theatre
Address: 216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA, 91203
The Alex Theatre is considered a Los Angeles County landmark. The Theatre was named after C. L. Langley’s son. Langley, a Southern California businessman, owned many West Coast theatres. Lavishly adorned, the Alex began as a vaudeville house in 1925.
It later became a premier red carpet site throughout the 20th century. The Alex was also a studio favorite for screening sneak previews – a common practice to gauge audience reaction to upcoming major releases.
The Glendale Arts nonprofit organization curates the Alex Theatre showcasing more than 250 live theatrical performances, including plays, dance performances, concerts, comedy shows, and award ceremonies. Classic films presented by the Alex Film Society complement performances from the Glendale Youth Orchestra and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for over 100,000 patrons annually.
While not open to the public, small groups may request backstage tours. And the great thing is that the Alex Theatre is about 1,000 feet from the serene Hyatt Place Glendale.
8. Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Address: 1712 S Glendale Ave, Glendale, CA 91205
When in Glendale, California, why not visit Forest Lawn Memorial Park and Cemetery and pay homage to the many world-renowned celebrities buried there? Nicknamed ‘Glendale’s Walk of Fame, over 250,000 graves and monuments sit on 300 acres of rolling green space, making this a popular tourist attraction. Opened in 1906, Forest Lawn Memorial Park has become one of Glendale’s most unique landmarks.
Visitors will find monuments to Michael Jackson, Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., Carole Lombard, Walt Disney, and Nat King Cole. The park also houses Forest Lawn Museum, with fine arts exhibits. The gallery of the Hall of the Crucifixion and Resurrection curates the most extensive religious artwork collection in the Western Hemisphere.
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9. The Glendale Galleria
Address: 100 W Broadway, Glendale, CA 91210
Another shopping option is downtown Glendale. The Glendale Galleria shopping centers are three stories of full-on retail therapy. A block from the Americana at Brand, visiting this chic collection of stores is one of the best things to do in Glendale, California. The Glendale Galleria is the fourth-largest shopping center in Los Angeles County, owned and operated by the Brookfield Properties Retail Group.
It is one of America’s highest-grossing shopping centers, with more than 30 million shopping there annually. Glendale Galleria combines anchor retailers such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s with trendy boutique stores such as Lush and Zara. It is the site of the original Disney Store, Apple Store, and the world’s first three-story Target.
10. The Museum of Neon Art
Address: 216 S Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91204
MONA, or the Museum of Neon Art, is the world’s first art museum dedicated to electric and light-based arts. These works illuminate the past, present, and future and include electric media, kinetic art, and neon art advertisements.
Richard Jenkins and Lili Lakich first opened the Museum of Neon Art in 1981 in downtown Los Angeles. But in 2016, the MONA was moved to Glendale, just off of Colorado St., across from Glendale Central Library.
Famous for the world’s most extensive electric media collection, MONA houses signs from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Brown Derby. The museum also provides classes and workshops on the creative principles of neon media, the history of neon signs, and the interpretation of the artistic medium.
The gallery houses permanent and transient exhibits by international artists and local creatives. A great way to see the working signs in their environments is by the museum’s tour – Nighttime Neon Cruise.
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11. Beaudry Loop
Address: 3110 Beaudry Terrace, Glendale, CA 91208
Beaudry Loop is a six-mile trail loop between Glendale and Burbank in the Verdugo Mountain range. The loop’s trailhead is located in Glendale along Beaudry Boulevard. Beaudry Loop is a moderately challenging route that takes an average of three hours to complete. A great weekend workout, this area is extremely popular. So look for hikers, mountain bikers, and runners.
The path is a wide dirt road, and the first half mile is flat. The north and south divide at this point, and hikers have a choice. At this point, the elevation gain is steady on the north loop. But because of the open fields, the trail offers little shade. The route eventually opens to panoramic views of the Los Angeles Valley, Angeles National Forest, and the San Gabriel Mountains.
12. Mount Gleason
Address: San Gabriel Mountains, Glendale, CA 93550
The city of Glendale combines art, fun, and outdoor inspiration. Nowhere is that combination more represented than in the majesty of Mount Gleason. This 6520-foot peak just north of Glendale is recognized on the Sierra Club’s Hundred Peaks List. And is the San Gabriel Mountains’ fifth-most-prominent peak. It is easy to drive up the mountain.
But Mount Gleason Road is very steep, and 4WDs are recommended. If you are feeling more adventurous, several hiking trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, wander upwards through the conifer forest for 16 miles before connecting to the mountain summit. Overnight camping is permitted. And both the Lightning Point and Messenger Flats Campgrounds sit on the mountain, so you don’t have to retrace your steps.
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13. Electric Dusk Drive-In
Address: 1020 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91202
After a day of shopping, plan for a uniquely Southern California treat – the Electric Dusk Drive-In Theater. This pop-up drive-in is one of the best Glendale, California, tourist attractions. And the “Best of L.A.” agrees – voting Electric Dusk Drive-In Theater as Best Outdoor Movies.
This quirky ‘to do’ can be found in the old Sears parking lot on the third-floor rooftop. Tickets are available online for classic and first-run movies. And refunds are given if it rains. But don’t worry, it never rains in Glendale! And one thing better, dogs are welcome.
If you are hungry, bring a picnic or take advantage of prepackaged snacks – candy, popcorn, and non-alcoholic beverages. If you want to make it an evening, stop by Damon’s Steakhouse for dinner before the movie.
This Tiki-inspired steakhouse opened in 1937 and is located only a few short blocks north of the theater. With a nod to old Hollywood days, steaks, barbecue, and even fish and chips are on the menu.
14. The Parish Church of St. Mark
Address: 1020 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91202
The Parish Church of St. Mark is an iconic landmark founded in 1893, just four decades after California gained statehood. Restoration to St Mark’s in 1947 was designed by ecclesiastical architect Carlton M.
Winslow who showcased original Gothic Revival and Spanish architectural elements. St Mark’s Parish Church is known for its 100-foot spire, ornate Gothic facade, and outdoor garden.
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is also known for its life-sized stations of the cross. And visitors are welcome in this serene space, daily from dawn to dusk, for contemplation. Famous as a cinematic set location and for concert performances, the unique church is located on North Brand Boulevard, between the urban and suburban areas at the city’s northern tip.
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15. Glendale Microbreweries
Address: 906 Western Ave, Glendale, CA 91201
Brewyard Beer Company is Glendale’s first microbrewery. Opened in 2015, the brewery specializes in common lagers – a California-styled beer invented during the 19th century. The California common is yeast brewed at higher temperatures.
Also known as the steam lager, this beer has a clean taste with a deep amber color, thick draw, and toast or caramel aftertaste. A public tap room serves their signature brews, including Drums Please! and Sunday Morning Blonde. And food trucks provide bar snacks.
Another great brewery worth looking into is the Paperback Brewing Co. on Magnolia Avenue. Established in 2013, this quirky brew company sits in west Glendale, a few blocks from Griffith Park. The brewery and tap room are both in an old airplane hangar repurposed as a microbrewery.
Eclectically named, the dozen or so brews provide a range for even the most particular tastes. And the can art is impressive. On-tap choices include Arctic Annihilation Double Cold India Pale Ale or the fascinating Doctor Octobock. Simple beer fare and local gourmet food trucks provide lunch and dinner. And since you are in the brewery, a tour isn’t needed.
16. Glendale Central Park
Address: 201 E Colorado St, Glendale, CA 91205
Glendale Central Park is at the heart of the Glendale community. An intimate green space with park benches and immaculately groomed lawns.
The park is also part of a one-block area that includes the Peace Monument of Glendale. The monument is a 1,100 lb. bronze replica of the Statue of Peace in Seoul, Korea, consisting of a bronze sculpture of a seated woman beside an empty chair.
The Glendale Central Library and Adult Recreation Center are just a few steps from the bronze. The rec center provides senior programs and services with an emphasis on diversity.
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17. Charcuterie Crafting
Address: N Maryland Ave, Glendale, CA 91207
If you are looking for something different on your visit to Glendale, why not try a few off-beat experiences? Creative fusion dining is the name of the game in California. For foodies, a culinary tour is a great way to learn about the food-forward perspective of the Los Angeles region.
One of the more unusual things to do in Glendale, California, is the Small-Group Charcuterie Crafting and Dinner in Glendale. A three-and-a-half-hour culinary experience highlighting the world of Charcuterie, conducted by Los Angeles natives and improv actors at their rustic home in Glendale.
18. Los Angeles Side Trip
Address: Los Angeles, CA 90028
While not technically in Glendale, California, a few things may entice you to take a quick side trip to Los Angeles. It would be a shame to come this close to Hollywood and not see the Walk of Fame or the Hollywood Wax Museum on Hollywood Boulevard. Organized tours are easy to see what you want without wasting a day getting lost or sitting in traffic.
Tour prices are usually per adult Hollywood Wax Museum ticket or general adult Hollywood sightseeing ticket and last a couple of hours. If you ask nicely, the tour guides may even throw in an adult Hard Rock Cafe ticket for a complimentary cocktail and dinner.
If you are a solo traveler, Los Angeles is the best place to spend an extra day. Why not take an adult grand city tour? Pick one of your favorites from a private photo tour to spruce up your social media or an unforgettable private mustang celebrity tour.
The ultimate luxury boat-tour cruises must be the two-hour premier champagne brunch cruise sailing into Los Angeles free waters or the private sailboat rental, which lists Santa Monica Pier as a launch point.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Crestline, California
19. Glendale Federal Savings Building
Address: 401 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203
If you look at many of the landmarks in Glendale, you may realize that architecture has played a considerable part in shaping the growth and history of the city. Creativity is king, from the city’s Central Library to the midnight shenanigans that saved the Doctor’s House Museum or the design of the Glendale Federal Savings Building.
Glendale Federal founder J. E. Hoeft wanted archetypal design. Peruvian-born architect W. A. Sarmiento created the forward-thinking building in 1959. It features a vertical, dramatically angled rectangular ten-story high-rise. And the building’s louvered windows use solar power to pivot.
Address: 509 S Pacific Ave, Glendale, CA 91204
One of the ways to cool off in Glendale, California, each summer is at the Pacific Community Pool near Pacific Park in West Glendale. The Glendale Pacific Community Pool is a perfect place to take lessons or bring your kids to experience a pool for the first time. But if you are looking for the quintessential Los Angeles water park that hits all the stops, including wakeboarding, wake surfing, and tubing, grab a few Knott’s Soak City Water Park tickets.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Glendale?
One of the best things to do with kids in Glendale visits the Glendale Galleria shopping mall. The mall’s centerpiece two-acre-green space houses a dancing musical water fountain similar to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. This mall is part of the Hollywood Shopping Tour, a custom tours adventure.
What are some fun things to do in Glendale?
Catching a flick at the Electric Dusk Drive-In Theater is one of the best Glendale, California, tourist attractions. Tickets for classic films and first-run movies are available online.
What are some things to do in Glendale when it’s raining?
While it only rains a couple of days a year in Glendale, a day of adult shopping at the Americana at Brand is the best indoor activity. This sprawling retail megaplex has over 82 shops, dozens of restaurants, and an 18-screen cineplex to keep you busy through the worst of storms.
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