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Los Angeles - Explore the San Fernando Valley


Nestled between the mountain ranges of Santa Monica, Santa Susana and San Gabriel lies the San Fernando Valley, a unique destination featuring a blend of popular attractions, recreational activities, shopping and fine dining. Known as the "Valley of the Stars" because it is the home of prominent celebrities and renowned film studios such as Disney and Warner Bros., this 250-mile area encompasses several communities from Glendale to Woodland Hills.

When visitors head north to the Valley, they will soon discover a side of L.A. that is rich in history, culture, recreation and Hollywood entertainment. Perched on the entrance of the San Fernando Valley is LA's most visited attraction, Universal Studios Hollywood, featuring the all-new multi-sensory "Shrek 4-D™" attraction. Adjacent to this massive theme park and movie lot is Universal CityWalk, boasting a colorful thoroughfare of distinct shops, restaurants, nightclubs and a mega-movie theater. In Santa Clarita, which is located at the northern rim of the Valley, is Six Flags Magic Mountain, featuring three new record-breaking rides-X, Déjà vu and Scream.

On a cultural note, the Valley boasts its own version of New York's famous SoHo arts district-NoHo. The NoHo Arts District features an equally impressive array of performance theaters, art galleries and the famed Academy Plaza Theater, which showcases the bronze statues of American television legends such as Bill Cosby, Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason. In addition, the arts district hosts an annual NoHo Arts Festival which showcases free performances, music, dancing and arts and crafts.

For more cultural experiences, head to the western edge of the San Fernando Valley to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, which will delight visitors with state-of-the-art exhibits and video programs, as well as replicas of the Oval Office and a White House State Dinner. The Valley is also home to the Skirball Cultural Center, located at the southern end, which explores the American Jewish experience.

Another cultural highlight of the San Fernando Valley is the historic Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana, one of 21 Spanish missions established in California in the 18th century. The history of the American Southwest is also prominent throughout the Valley, including the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas, Campo de Cahuenga in North Hollywood, La Casa de Lopez Adobe in San Fernando and Pico Adobe in Mission Hills.

For movie entertainment, the San Fernando Valley could be dubbed as Hollywood's own backlot as it is home to several movie and television studios, including NBC, CBS, and Warner Bros. Studios. Visitors can take a behind-the-scenes peek at movie making with special tours or tickets to popular television tapings.

The diverse landscape of the Valley, complete with rugged mountains, wide open spaces and breathtaking scenery, lends itself to an array of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, rock climbing, golf (the Valley boasts 14 public golf courses), polo and horseback riding. Explore the 24-acre Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center, famous for its rose gardens and citrus groves or Balboa Park, known for its 26-acre lake, 20 acres of picnic grounds, Japanese gardens, bird-watching expeditions and numerous recreational facilities. Griffith Park is an oasis of outdoor recreation, featuring the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Travel Town Transportation Museum, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, and the popular Los Angeles Zoo. The zoo boasts an exhibit called Chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. Finally, indoor recreation is big in the Valleys too-the LA Kings train there-with five major ice and roller arenas.

Shopping in the Valleys is considered a very serious form of recreation as well. Ventura Boulevard, one of the Valley's main thoroughfares that is often frequented by celebrities, is packed with miles of unique and upscale shops offering everything from designer clothes to home decorating items. In addition, the Valley is the mega-mall capital, home to such monoliths as the Burbank Media Center, Sherman Oaks Galleria, Glendale Galleria and Sherman Oaks Fashion Square. For budget shoppers, the Valley offers several discount venues from department store outlets to studio wardrobe clothing stores.

When it's time to dine, the Valley offers visitors an incredible culinary experience, with hundreds of exciting restaurants and ethnic cuisines from Jewish to Italian to choose from. For fine dining, visitors can try Pinot Bistro or Bistro Gardens on Ventura Boulevard. And if you want more entertainment served with your meal, Tokyo Delves (dancing sushi chefs), Marrakesh (belly dancers) or Amazon (wildlife theme) will hit the spot.

The San Fernando Valley's distinct blend of attractions, restaurants and shopping, together with its easy accessibility to the Los Angeles and Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena airports, rail and ground transportation, as well as the Van Nuys Flyaway Service makes it an appealing destination not only for leisure travelers, but also for meeting planners.

The Sheraton Universal is located on the lot of Universal Studios Hollywood. A good setting for business or pleasure, the dramatic Hotel Tower overlooks a pool enveloped in a garden setting. The 442 guest rooms include 25 expansive suites. The hotel has 30,000 square feet of enhanced meeting space. (333 Universal Terrace Pkwy., Universal City, 818/980-1212).

The Hilton Universal City and Towers is situated at the very entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk on six and a half acres above the Los Angeles entertainment district. The 483-room property features 18 meeting rooms totaling 23,000 square feet of meeting space. (555 Universal Hollywood Dr., Universal City, 818/506-2500).

The Beverly Garland Holiday Inn Hotel is conveniently located near Universal Studios Hollywood and the Hollywood Bowl. This 242-room property located on seven acres features a total of nine meeting rooms totaling 13,000 square feet. (4222 N. Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, 818/980-8000).

The Hyatt Westlake Plaza is a Mediterranean-style hotel located in Thousand Oaks near Woodland Hills. It features 262 guest rooms and 10 meeting rooms totaling 11,000 square feet. (880 S. Westlake Blvd., Westlake Village, 805/557-1234).

Conveniently located eight miles from Universal Studios Hollywood and five miles from the new Getty Center, the Radisson Valley Center Hotel offers business travelers an ideal setting for business and pleasure. The hotel features 13 meeting rooms that can accommodate groups from 10 to 400. The hotel has 194 guest rooms. (15433 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 818/981-5400).

Located in the heart of Glendale's business and financial district, the Hilton Hotel Glendale features 348 rooms and 13,000 square feet of meeting space. Luxurious as well as convenient, this full-service hotel offers a variety of services including a fitness center and Executive Level floor. (100 W. Glenoaks Blvd., 818/956-5466).

The Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel is a charming country-style hotel featuring lush grounds and an Olympic-size pool for unique outdoor meetings and special events. For indoor meetings, the hotel features seven rooms that can accommodate 15 to 130 people. A total of 190 guest rooms are available. (12825 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818/769-4700).

Located in the upscale Warner Center office community in Woodland Hills, the Warner Center Marriott Hotel features more than 21,000 square feet of meeting space, which includes 23 meeting rooms and three conference suites. (21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills 818/887-4800).

The following special event venues in the San Fernando Valley can also provide meeting planners with a variety of creative ideas to suit their needs:

A movie studio lot can set the stage for an unforgettable special event, especially at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. The studio's historic backlots and soundstages can accommodate events for 50 to 50,000 people. Another famous movie and television studio backlot, Universal Studios Hollywood, offers several scenic areas to host a corporate or upscale event. (Warner Bros. Studios, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, contact: Danny Kahn 818/954-1008; Universal Studios Hollywood, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, contact: Meghan Gamber, 818/622-5985).

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center is an ideal location for business retreats or special events. Guests will be surrounded by beautiful citrus groves and rose gardens on this 25-acre site that can accommodate 50 to 175 people. (23600 Roscoe Blvd., West Hills, 818/346-7449).


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