San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles is often overshadowed by its more glitzy counterparts like Hollywood. However, The Valley boasts of iconic attractions as well as hidden gems that will make for a fun time. We’ve put together a list of things to do in San Fernando Valley from dining, culture and recreation, so you can really experience what The Valley is all about.
1. Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood
San Fernando Valley is home to entertainment giants like Warner Bros. Here, you can go behind the lens, see famous film sets and discover the secrets of TV and movie making magic. The studio tour will take you closer than ever to the entertainment you love, such as the iconic Central Perk in Friends. You’ll explore one of the busiest working studios in Los Angeles with an expert tour guide who will take you behind the scenes of the studio that has been entertaining the world for nearly 100 years.
2. Lake Balboa Park
The Valley is not just concrete slabs. Lake Balboa Park is a family-friendly green space with a beautiful manmade lake as its main attraction. You can go boating and fishing here, and there are also barbecue pits and picnic tables for a whole day of fun. And if you’re here at the right time of year, you’ll get to enjoy cherry blossom trees in full bloom! There are also miles of trails that line the park along with bike rentals.
3. Wat Thai Temple
Contrary to popular belief and the stereotype of ‘Valley girls’, San Fernando Valley is actually a very culturally diverse place. And this is also evident by the Wat Thai Temple, established in 1971. Daily meditations take place here and all are welcomed to join. It is also a Buddhist school for both adults and kids. Before Covid-19, the parking lot of the temple would turn into a Thai street-food paradise on weekends. Unfortunately, the food market is not able to reopen just yet, but it still makes for a fun afternoon outing.
4. Saffyre Sanctuary
Saffyre Sanctuary is a horse rescue and rehabilitation center that cares for horses that have been abandoned, abused or neglected. Spend a day caring, feeding and playing with the rescues. If you are in need of an emotional getaway, you may even have a very special experience laying down with one of the horses in their stalls. This does not happen every day, but sometimes one of the horses may feel that someone is in need of some healing and would offer this. A visit to Saffyre Sanctuary is a very magical one-of-a-kind experience not to be found anywhere else in Los Angeles.
5. The Baked Potato
Love jazz music and potatoes? The Baked Potato has been the home venue for some of the greatest musicians since 1970. Come see talented musicians and experience the local jazz music scene for yourself while relishing some mouthwatering dishes. True to its name, the menu features countless baked potato combinations, such as the Melted Cheese Potato, Marinated Steak Potato and many more.
6. Tonga Hut
Part of the charm of this Tiki Bar is that it dates back all the way to 1958, making it the oldest Tiki Bar in Los Angeles. Opened by brothers Ace and Ed Libby, it fell into hard times in the 1980s, but it was thankfully restored to its former Tiki glory in 2005. Now, the original fountains are running, some of its original decor remains with new, period-appropriate artwork, and vintage, eclectic tunes in the jukebox. The bar even expanded to Palm Springs! Come for the lively atmosphere and great cocktails that are very Instagram-worthy.
7. Ventura Boulevard
Ventura Boulevard is the downtown of San Fernando Valley and a vintage shopping paradise. Check out Sherman Oaks Antique Mall for numerous antique jewelry, vintage clothing, old school porcelain and glass wares. FreakBeat Records houses both original and new vinyl records and they’re always updating their stock. And for some vintage clothes shopping, Iguana Vintage Clothing has two storeys to browse through and hunt for some beautiful pieces.