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A blossoming business district, Glendale is all about history and leisure and home to the country’s largest Armenian-American population.
5 min read
November 03, 2021
Adjacent to hip Los Angeles neighborhoods, a certain city sparkles like a ‘jewel in the sun’. We are, of course, talking about Glendale—the Jewel City, as named by 1900s Chamber of Commerce President Edward U. Emery. A blossoming business district, Glendale is all about history and leisure. Pair that with postcard-perfect views of the surrounding mountains and you have yourself an urban jungle with a thriving downtown worth exploring.
Glendale is home to one of the country’s largest Armenian-American populations—this should already tell you that there is no shortage of high-end kebab restaurants and scrumptious bakeries. But if you’re having a hard time figuring out things to do in Glendale, we got you covered.
The Glendale Centre Theatre is the country’s longest continuously working live theater—it has been in operation every week since its establishment in 1947. Opened by Salt Lake City actors Ruth and Nathan Hale, the 110-seater offers a wide variety of performances, tailor-fit to suit all whims of theatergoers. Popular genres include classic Broadway comedies and musicals, new works, and children’s theater. But perhaps the coolest thing about this Glendale attraction is its design; no matter where you end up sitting, you won’t be more than nine rows away from the stage. This means you’ll get the most up-close-and-personal experience imaginable, and since the word theater is Greek for ‘the seeing place’, this can only be good news.
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If Glendale is the Jewel City, then Deukmejian Wilderness Park is its most priceless gem. Nestled in the sparkling Foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, this 709-acre area is best explored on a four-mile round trip hike in the park’s Dunsmore and Cook’s canyons. From the trailhead, you’re already greeted by a treat: a beautiful labyrinth of coast live oak. If you follow the Le Mesnager Loop and Rim of the Valley Trail, you’ll be able to take in most of the lushness before quickly climbing 420 feet towards the sweeping scenery of the Crescenta Valley. Take a moment to marvel at nature’s bounty unfolding in front of your very eyes—towering trees, soaring mountains, and the deepest canyons you’ve ever seen; we couldn’t paint a better picture.
If you wish to extend this scenery (we encourage you to), zig-zag up to the other side of the canyon, where spiky yucca blossoms and glowing white sage illuminate the way. At nearly two miles in, you’ll be able to reach a 3,200-foot viewpoint overlooking the Verdugos, the Santa Monicas, Pasadena, and the higher San Gabriels.
Previously located in Downtown Los Angeles, the Museum of Neon Art (MONA) has had Glendale as its home since 2016. Finding this Glendale attraction won’t prove a difficult task—a large neon diver in a red swimsuit will definitely catch your attention. Inside, you’ll find a rotating gallery of neon effulgence, a studio where you can sign up to learn how to make your own neon art, and lots of fascinating history.
As for their collection, MONA’s most renowned installations include the sign from the Brown Derby and Zinke’s Shoe Repair in Glendale. As you sift through the signs, you’ll find that each tells a story, and to absorb them all means spending at least an hour on the premises.
Okay technically, if you look on the surface, Americana is a mall. But ask any Glendaletsi (that’s how the Armenians here refer to the locals) and they’ll tell you that it’s much more than that. The Americana at Brand is a magical open-air mall and the big sister to Los Angeles’ The Grove. It’s always full of shoppers who seem so casually unhurried, always munching on a cupcake or drinking a latte. Americana is more like a hybrid of a mall and a hangout space, and some people take their love of this place even further. Apparently, there are a significant number of people who live on the premises in one of the 300-plus luxury apartments and condos.
Located on North Brand Boulevard, Moonlight Rollerway is a rare gem—the old-school roller skating rink is just like the ones you see in classic movies. Opened in 1956, this popular hangout spot used to be named Harry’s Roller Rink. With time, the name changed, but the original maple flooring remained. Nowadays, Moonlight Rollerway features various themed nights, and they’re a lot of fun. For instance, every Wednesday for the past 20 years, the rink has been hosting LGBTQ night; an event celebrating love and inclusion. Tuesdays are the days when owner Dominic Cangelosi plays live music on a vintage organ. As far as Glendale activities go, this is definitely a must-do.
This quaint Glendale eatery is where you’ll get a very filling plate for $12 at most. The menu is minimalistic; it consists of lulu, shish kabob, and other meats, paired with rice, veggies, hummus, and deliciously tangy garlic sauce. Vegetarians have the option of choosing falafel, stuffed eggplant, lentil soup, and a variety of salads. With food this flavorful and hearty, it’s hard to go wrong at Elena’s Greek Armenian restaurant. And the owner herself, Elena, has called this location home for almost 30 years, serving food made strictly in-house and strictly delicious.
The family-owned and operated Mignon Chocolate has been in its Glendale location for almost 20 years. Originally established in Ukraine in 1910 by Hovsep Ter-Poghossian Sr., this bakery is a masterclass in doing family business, proving once and for all that love is the best ingredient in any dessert. Showcasing more than 60 varieties of chocolates and truffles, Mignon uses recipes that have been passed down for generations and blends them with modern-day innovation. The result is a delicious treat for your taste buds. We recommend picking between the hazelnut truffles, the ginger and lime sea salt chocolates, or the dark chocolate-dipped orange peels. Alternatively, you can just get them all; you’ll thank us later.
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