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Things to do in Glendale

From the Americana to the Museum of Neon Art, here are the 9 best places to explore and things to do in Glendale

Photograph: Courtesy Shimoda Design Group

While you won't find many major attractions in Glendale, you will find plenty of history and a little bit of kitsch set against a beautiful mountainous backdrop. There are plenty of interesting things to do in Glendale if you know where to look, from an A-frame retro diner to a glowing off-the-beaten-path museum. So pick up a pastry from an Armenian bakery and start to explore these nine things to do in Glendale.

9 things to do in Glendale

Brand Library & Art Center

When Miradero was constructed around the turn of the 20th century, its castle-like grounds were home to Glendale's powerful Brand family. These days, it's better known as Brand Park, a recreational and cultural hub nestled in a quiet Glendale canyon. At its center is the stunning Spanish, Moorish and Indian-inspired Brand Library. It boasts more than 110,000 items in its collection, many dedicated to music and the arts, and often hosts free exhibitions, concerts, screenings and lectures.

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Forest Lawn Glendale

With its rolling green hills and replica European churches, Forest Lawn feels more like a fairy landscape than a traditional cemetery. Though some of old Hollywood's elite—Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mary Pickford—are interred in areas closed to the public, you can pay your respects to cultural luminaries like L. Frank Baum, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Walt Disney. Step inside of the free hilltop museum and you'll find an impressive stained glass collection alongside temporary exhibitions, everything from the Old Masters to contemporary poster artists.

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The Americana at Brand

This isn't your average outdoor shopping mall. Thanks to its dancing fountain and light shows, complimentary San Francisco-style trolley rides and even luxury apartments, the retail concept is more entertainment than shopping mall. Designed and operated by the same team behind the Grove, the Americana's alfresco dining areas and open grass fields cultivate a leisurely, joie de vivre experience. In addition to its 70-plus premier retailers, the Americana is becoming a dining destination thanks to the likes of Din Tai Fung and an increasingly trendy food scene.

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Glendale Galleria

The longstanding Glendale Galleria is an old-fashioned indoor operation which counts its size as its greatest asset. The one-stop-shop spans three floors with a mix of familiar retailers and major department stores. Even after a shiny 2013 renovation, it's hard for the mall to compete with the open-air splendor of the Americana across the street, but the Galleria does have one thing going for it: free parking.

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Museum of Neon Art

Formerly located on the edge of Skid Row, MONA has relocated its collection of vintage, LA-based neon signs to a glowing Glendale home. Make sure to check out its popular Neon Cruise; the city becomes your museum on these popular double-decker bus tours that take you past illuminated Los Angeles landmarks. Sitting on the top of the bus will put you eye-to-eye with the gorgeous vintage theater signs on Broadway.

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Alex Theatre

This 1920s Vaudeville and motion picture house brings the quintessential image of old Hollywood to Glendale. Enter the 1,450-seat theater, complete with Greek and Egyptian-style motifs, and you'll want to throw on a mink stole and smoke a Virginia Slim. Grant your inner movie buff a night of excitement by attending one of the Alex Film Society's screenings.

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Moonlight Rollerway

This kitschy Glendale rink (it's been open since 1950) holds a variety of events and classes: Saturday mornings, for example, are for children only, while Monday nights are only open to over-25s. Moonlight has rollerskates for hire, but not blades or inline skates. Regular roller skater? Buy a pair for you or your child at the rink's "pro shop."

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Verdugo Mountains Open Space Preserve

You'll find the entrance to this 244-acre preserve by Oakmont View Park, easily spotted by its twin tennis courts. Glendale's lushly vegetated section of the park contains more than 2,300 mature trees as well as pedestrian and equestrian trails that lead into a 4,000-acre open space that stretches northwest into the Valley.

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