Home to nearly two million Southern California residents, the San Fernando Valley is not exactly undiscovered. Still, the urban valley has plenty of relatively little known treasures to visit and enjoy. Here are some special San Fernando Valley places and experiences you may not have known about.
The most iconic superhero ride of all time was fashioned at Barris Kustom Industries in North Hollywood. An original still stands on the showroom floor. The Batmobile is a ten-minute drive from AMLI Lex on Orange.
Far out of the mainstream, this NoHo nightclub-cum-sideshow museum is truly one of a kind. Where else can you pass your time waiting for a puppet show by gawking at at a fairy skeleton and the head of Sasquatch? And then return to the next night to dance to music mixed by one of L.A.’s hottest underground DJs? The CIA is not everyone’s cup of tea. But if the exhibitions and events it hosts interest you, it’s worth a visit. The atmosphere is distinct and unforgettable. The CIA is just over 10 minutes’ drive from AMLI Lex on Orange.
Some stretches of the Los Angeles River are strikingly beautiful. In at least one of them, near the intersection of Balboa and Burbank, kayaking is permitted. Indigenous flora thrive along the river’s banks and overhanging cliffs. Fascinating birds soar overhead, and other wildlife is frequently spotted. The water is virtually pristine, ideal for swimming on hot days. A handful of tour operators lead kayaking tours here.
The beautiful and opulent La Reina Theatre building was designed by renowned boom-era architect Charles S. Lee in 1937. For 50 years, it was one of the hottest places to catch a flick in La La Land. The La Reina hasn’t screened a film in three decades, but the developers who purchased it in the 1980s were forced to leave its facade intact.
Adjacent to Woodley Park, SuihoEn nicely recreates the ambiance of a traditional Japanese garden. Replete with a teahouse replica, the garden is home to azalea, oak, Japanese cypress, and other shrubs and trees usually found in Japanese gardens. SuihoEn is a 15-minute drive from AMLI Warner Center.
The Struckus House, an eccentric, cylinder-shaped building perched atop one of Woodland Hills’ eponymous hills was the last structure designed by award-winning architect Bruce Goff. The building, constructed from redwood, glass, and stucco is a wonderful example of organic architecture. Goff’s unique approach to the organic architectural philosophy makes the Struckus House unusually distinct, and it leaves quite an impression. Goff passed away a few months after construction began in 1982 and never saw the completed project, but his legacy lives on inside the house he built for woodworker and art collector Al Struckus. Most industry professionals and aesthetes agree that the Struckus House is a masterpiece.
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