Ignore the Obvious and See a Different Side

Santa Clarita and Valencia--among locals, the names are used interchangeably--are best known as home to Six Flags Magic Mountain , but slip beneath the obvious attractions and you’ll discover mom-and-pop establishments that go back 50 years. Plus, you’ll get a peek at why the area is also known as Hollywood’s back lot.

The Amgen Tour of California --the United States' Tour de France of sorts--takes place here each spring, drawing legions of biking fans to its sidelines for a solid week. Get there well before the noon start time and scope out the shopping mall, restaurants, and upscale stores. Here's a round-up of what to do once you get there:

  • Sample delicious Mexican breads and French pastries at Jazmin's Bakery, a little-known treasure that draws locals in-the-know to nearby Newhall. 
  • Hike Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park , and you might see something familiar. The surreal boulders as backdrops from movies like Joe Dirt and Planet of the Apes (2001) and TV shows ranging from Star Trek to The Twilight Zone
  • If you can find better pizza and homemade pasta than the dishes served at Chi-Chi’s Pizza , the tomato sauce is on us. The establishment has been serving fantastic Italian fare for over 50 years, so they definitely know what they’re doing.
  • Whether you’re a road rider, a mountain biker, or just like to cruise, plan a visit to Valley Bicycles ; ask about group rides in the area.