Off (and on) the Beaten Path for an L.A. Vacation – Part 1


Los Angeles is a great town for a staycation—and my staycation can be your vacation. If

On the set of La La Land at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Photo credit: Emily Burton

you’ve decided to say for Hooray for Hollywood, Burbank can be an ideal home base during your stay—as long as your priority is not maximum beach time.

Burbank is central to the Northern LA/Hollywood area; it’s quiet but not too quiet; and it’s the epicenter of the LA movie studio scene. Recently, my sister and brother-in-law visited, and we took advantage of a few of the fun things to do nearby. This inspired me to put together a couple of posts detailing my recommendations for a Burbank-activities in L.A.


Want a theme park? We got it. Universal Studios Hollywood has always been a destination, but since the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, they’ve really stepped up their game. A spot-on recreation of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, this is a must for muggles. I hear it is considerably smaller than the location in Orlando, but it is considerably … closer to my house, so that’s a plus. The park also features an immersive recreation of Springfield from The Simpsons; lots of Despicable Me fun; and the Universal Studio Tour (which is really half ride, half studio tour), among much more.

Hogwarts Castle, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Hollywood
HOGWARTS! Photo credit: Emily Burton

For a more authentic studio experience, I highly recommend the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. We were skeptical—at $62 a piece, it seemed high for a tour of a backlot. They’ve done a great job, though, of giving you a good amount of access, with informed and friendly tour guides, and points of added value like multiple exhibits and a green-screen experience at the end.

You can pretty much drive any direction in the L.A. area and find an amazing hike, and the hike at Stough Canyon in the mountains above Burbank is no exception. It is scenic and challenging yet manageable for the novice hiker and children. (Pending your confidence in their ability not to get to close to the steep edge of the canyon.)

Food and drink

Los Angeles has become a foodie destination, running the gamut from neighborhood favorites to high-end fine dining. In my 17 years of L.A. life, the food that most personifies the city for me is the fish taco. Much like a large number of our residents, it hails from elsewhere. It’s kind of healthy. It has a few vegetables but not too many. Check out the fish tacos at Poquito Mas—located in Burbank, or at several other convenient locations around Los Angeles. (Another favorite of mine is Rubio’s Fish Taco—closest location in Glendale.)

Like beer? We have that too. We checked out the new Verdugo West Brewery tasting room. This is a very bare-bones place, which is part of its charm. Beers are brewed on site and the bar also has water, peanuts, and burrito delivery. These are beer-drinkers’ beers, to be sure.

Check back soon for part two, which will be retail-focused.

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