Travel 20 miles northeast of the UCLA Luskin Conference Center and you’ll find Glendale, one of L.A.’s largest and fastest-growing cities. Glendale is a mix of suburbia and a thriving downtown shopping, entertainment and dining district with Brand Boulevard being its main thoroughfare. In this city of 200,000 people, several celebrities call Glendale home because of its proximity to nearby studios in Burbank, where Walt Disney Studios is located. Glendale is also a shopping hotspot, famous for the Glendale Galleria – once the largest mall in the nation. Now, tourists and locals visit The Americana at Brand, one of the hottest shopping destinations in the L.A. area, to fulfill their appetite for shopping. Glendale’s nickname is “The Jewel City,” because of its ideal location, close to Downtown L.A., Pasadena, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

Glendale Galleria, Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Glendale Galleria

L.A.’s largest and favorite shopping destination for decades has been the Glendale Galleria. It was once the largest mall in the United States, and has three floors and over 1.5 million square feet of popular brand name stores including the first Disney Store, Apple Store, and Panda Express. Over 30 million people still visit the Glendale Galleria each year, compared to 18 million visitors to Disneyland! Research firm Green Street Advisors ranked the Glendale Galleria as one of the top 100 shopping centers in the nation. Visit the Glendale Galleria website for more information and directions.

The Americana at Brand, Photo courtesy of edanastas, Flickr

The Americana at Brand

Across from the Glendale Galleria is L.A.’s newest and hottest shopping destination – The Americana at Brand. It mimics the open-air, piazza design and success of The Grove, built several years ago in greater L.A. adjacent to the historic Farmers Market. Upscale shops and eateries are abundant at The Americana at Brand, including Apple, Tiffany and Co. and David Yurman stores and fine dining with Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina, Katsuya and Trattoria Amici. Visit The Americana at Brand website for more information and directions.

Museum of Neon Art, Photo courtesy of Passion Leica, Flickr

Museum of Neon Art (MONA)

Want to see some cool neon signs from L.A.’s past? Head to the new Museum of Neon Art in Glendale! Recently having moved from its location in Downtown Los Angeles, MONA showcases massive neon signs from local businesses throughout the years. The museum’s purpose is to further the preservation, collection and interpretation of neon art so it has impressive signs on display and workshops where you can create neon. Some cool and classic signs here include the Brown Derby restaurant and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre neon signs. Visit the Museum of Neon Art website for more information and directions.

Alex Theatre, Photo courtesy of Chris Yarzab, Flickr

Alex Theatre

The 1925 Alex Theatre in Glendale is not only historic and beautiful in its art deco design but also continues as a working historic theater, hosting shows, live theater, concerts and pageants for local crowds and televised nationally. It recently hosted The Last Comic Standing on television in its massive beautifully-designed auditorium adorned with neo-classical Greek and Egyptian architectural elements. Its signature 100-foot-tall art deco column with neon lights and a spiked, neon sphere at the top is not easy to miss as you drive along Brand Boulevard. Visit the Alex Theatre website for more information and directions.

Deukmejian Wilderness Park, Photo courtesy of staticantics, Flickr

Deukmejian Wilderness Park

Enjoy incredible hiking at Deukmejian Wilderness Park. With over 700 acres of undisturbed sage, woodlands and wildlife, it provides the opportunity to experience some of the best hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains north of Los Angeles. You will also notice several old cottages, barns and other structures at the park, built in the early 20th century. These buildings provide an interesting, historic time capsule, and some were even used to house grapes prior to Prohibition. Visit the Deukmejian Wilderness Park website for more information and directions.

Brand Library, Photo courtesy of Konrad Summers, Flickr

Brand Park Library & Art Center

Brand Park is located in the foothills overlooking Glendale, and includes the former mansion of local developer and successful businessman Leslie Brand. The mansion was bequethed to the city in 1925 upon Brand’s death, and is not only impressive as a learning center, but acclaimed for its unique architectural design. It was modeled after the East Indian Pavilion built for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, with a “Saracentric” design (with crenallated arches, domes and minars in the Spanish, Moorish and Indian styles). The park features popular hiking trails favored by the locals, especially in the mornings. Visit the Brand Park Library & Art Center website for more information and directions.

Descanso Gardens, Photo courtesy of Antonio Marin Segovia, Flickr

Descanso Gardens

This 150-acre botanical garden in neighboring La Canada-Flintridge was part of the former Spanish land grant to Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo (for whom the Verdugo Mountains are named), and later transformed into a sanctuary for native flowers and wildlife. Stroll the walkways around the green, grassy glens bordered by flowers like California golden poppies, or visit the 22-room Boddy House, built in 1937, that is on site. Descanso Gardens is a great place to relax and enjoy a cool afternoon. Visit the Descanso Gardens website for more information and directions.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Photo courtesy of waltarrrrr, Flickr

Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale is more than just a cemetery. It has a museum that features impressive art, artifacts and regularly rotating exhibits. It has even hosted exhibitions for famous artists Henri Matisse, Francisco Goya, Rembrandt and Winslow Homer. The permanent collection features art from not only the United States, but also South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The stained glass collection is also popular, with contributions from late media magnate and billionaire William Randolph Hearst, including work from Albrecht Durer. Visit the Forest Lawn Memorial Park website for more information and directions.

MAIN PHOTO: Glendale, California, Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

WRITTEN BY: Oshin Aivazian, UCLA