The San Fernando Valley (Yep) Is Cooler Than Ever, and Here’s How to Spend a Day There
Mind-blowing sushi. A swinging pool scene. Scenic shopping. It’s all part of what we’re calling the New Cool Valley rising. Forget yesterday’s bias and embrace the chill vibe (if not the chill temps).
Go Swimming at a Remodeled Retro-Cool Motel
In its 1940s-era heyday, the Sportsmen’s Lodge attracted stars like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Today, the motor inn has remodeled rooms that overlook a huge swimming pool where everyone’s welcome, from Marco Polo-ing kids to surgically enhanced bathing beauties. For $20, you can use the pool for the day.
12825 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; 800-821-8511 or sportsmenslodge.com
Dine at the O.G. of Strip Mall Sushi
Thanks to a glitzy Hollywood location, Katsuya is mostly known for being an overpriced fancy sushi joint. But true sushi lovers (including celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ariana Grande) know that Osaka-trained chef Katsuya Uechi’s original location in Studio City has better value, a more authentic Japanese vibe and better fish. Reserve a table and order crowd-pleasers like Miso Cod or Seared Spicy Albacore with Crispy Onion, or if you are feeling adventurous, sit at the bar and ask the chef to prepare a sampling of the day’s best fish.
11680 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; 818-985-6976 or katsu-yagroup.com
Support Up-and-Coming Artists Before They Hit It Big
Sure, the downtown arts district gets most of the premium gallery shows and hype. But emerging artists who can’t afford those pricey lofts and aren’t into networking as a side job are thriving in the Valley, where low rents and a supportive community keep their creative juices flowing. Check out the street art, art walks and other Valley-based arts affairs (like life drawing classes and the recurring Canoga Park Art Walk) hosted by 11:11 A Creative Collective.
Shop Los Angeles’s Most MOST ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR Center
Not only is Woodland Hills’ The Village at Westfield Topanga beautiful (whitewashed shops, grassy lounging areas with Adirondack chairs) and eco-correct (rainwater harvesting, LEED certification), it has top-notch shops like Lululemon, Burke Williams Day Spa and Rent the Runway. And fun extras, like twilight dance events including a Dancing with the Stars winner teaching free ballroom dancing and DJ-led silent discos where you wear color-coded headphones.
Shop Decor the Nation’s Largest Ikea
Yep, Burbank’s approximately 8 billion-square-foot new Ikea has so much stock from tabletop to live plants to furniture. Just be sure to ask a staffer for the shortcuts through the display floor, because lapping it all repeatedly is too much of a workout.
Listen to Sherman Oak’s New Rock Stars
Haim is a band of three sisters that are basically this decade’s Fleetwood Mac. They hail from Sherman Oaks, which also happens to be the backdrop for their new cool-girl video "I Want You Back." Listen to it while you drive across Ventura Boulevard to get you in the Valley mood.