Sitting in the western San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County, specifically eight miles east of Los Angeles, is the city of Alhambra, whose name was coined after Washington Irving’s ‘The Tales of Alhambra.’
The city’s history boasts heavy Spanish influence, but you’ll be surprised to see that it actually has a diverse culture and is home to various ethnic groups.
Because of its proximity to Monterey Park, which is heavily Asian-American, Alhambra is home to many East-Asian immigrants and features a Chinese business district.
Both locals and visitors alike come to see the city not just for its unique history but also for its excellent offerings.
It is among the cities that celebrate the annual Chinese New Year, cohosting it with the city of San Gabriel in what is called the San Gabriel Valley Lunar New Year Parade & Festival.
As Alhambra was once called the ‘City of Homes,’ it features homes of historical significance, such as the Spanish Colonial Houses and Bungalows.
Ranging from parks and museums to festivals and International sports destinations, Alhambra is definitely one of the best places to visit.
Ready to experience the city?
Here are the 15 best things to do in Alhambra, California:
Marvel at the Historic Homes of Alhambra
Since we got you at Alhambra’s historic houses, let’s start the list by talking about this type of houses.
Complete your excursion here with a visit to its historic homes, including the Bungalow, Craftsman, and Spanish Colonial.
While you don’t exactly expect them to be as grand as the Newport Mansions, what you see here has historical significance.
To admire these homes, you can go on a self-drive tour, making sure to see the Bean Tract, named after James Bean, a former lumber tycoon.
The area boasts numerous historic houses that will surely fascinate your senses.
From here, proceed to the Midwick Tract, where you can see more of these homes.
One particular home you can’t miss is the white Queen Anne Victorian home at 403 South Garfield.
Built in the mid-1880s, the house was home to various families long before it turned 50.
Have a Drink or Two at Ohana Brewing Company
Alhambra may not be as popular as other cities in California, but it has its own craft beer brewing company.
Beer aficionados will have a taste of beer heaven in the city when they visit the Ohana Brewing Company.
We’re not talking about just any ordinary beer because those they brew here have won different awards, making them popular in the Los Angeles area.
Located on 1st St, Alhambra, it offers a rotating selection of growler refills and draft beers, so every visit will truly be a unique experience.
Shop at the Certified Farmers Market
Who says only locals should explore the farmers' market?
You should include this in your itinerary and have a taste of the local produce of the city of Alhambra.
Meet the locals and have a first-hand experience of their warmth and hospitality as they let you into their products.
Find a wide array of vegetables, honey, fruits, breads, and herbs, sold at affordable prices!
Located on South Second Street, it offers an exciting way to explore Alhambra not just through your senses, especially with the delicious-looking colors of the produce and the warm smiles of the locals, but also through the taste of their fresh and tasty offerings.
Only after visiting the farmers' market can you truly say that you have explored the city.
Love the Art at Gallery Nucleus
Its name may not be usual for any gallery, but wait till you see what it offers!
Gallery Nucleus is located on East Main Street in Alhambra and is home to the fabulous works of art of both local and international artists.
Opened in October 2004, it’s the welcoming gathering place for art lovers who live and come to Alhambra for a visit.
Not only that, but it’s also the place to find rarities, art-related goods, and artworks.
The gallery’s focus is mainly on exhibits, but it has also featured music events, product signings, artist lectures, and benefit auctions since its opening.
Regardless of which part of the world you come from, you will definitely find something unique at the Gallery Nucleus—from commercial, contemporary, and illustrated art to graphic and narrative art.
Experience Alhambra’s Nightlife at the Granada LA
The Granada LA is an all-in-one hub for fun and entertainment, located on S 1st Street.
It’s a nightclub, dance studio, a restaurant, and a bar all in one place.
Featuring three floors of dancing, you can enjoy live music and a DJ and dance the salsa and bachata.
If you want to have quick dance lessons, the Granada LA also offers private lessons and group classes, which you can book online.
Aside from these, it also hosts dance competitions for social dancing, as well as boot camps for beginners who want to learn how to dance salsa.
There are numerous activities and programs scheduled throughout the month, so there will surely be a variety of experiences waiting for you.
Watch a Stunning Performance at the Lizard Theater Company
Sitting on West Main Street is the Lizard Theatre Company, where you can see world-class performances from world-class artists.
This place is a must-see for every tourist because it features one talent in the world, one performance at a time.
Many of the productions and artists have already appeared at The Laugh Factory, The Bootleg Theater, The LA Music Center, The Improv, and the Universal Studios Hollywood.
Who knows? One day you’ll be watching a Hollywood movie starring talent from the play you watched at the Lizard Theatre Company.
Play a Round or Two at the Alhambra Golf Course
If you are a golf enthusiast, you must visit the Alhambra Golf Course, located on Almansor St.
This 18-hole golf course has a restaurant and shop as well as a lighted practice facility.
It prides itself on being the most complete golf course in the area, providing its visitors with an exceptional golfing experience.
Locals find this course a great place to breathe in some fresh air and exercise in a safe environment.
After a good round, why not feast with your friends at the Almansor Grill for a delectable post-game hearty meal?
Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year with the Locals of Alhambra
Lots of food and dancing await you at the annual Chinese Lunar New Year Festival in Alhambra.
Over 250 craft and food booths line the streets, while kung fu demonstrations and lion dances are performed on different stages.
Though the festival runs for three weeks, starting with an exhibit exhibition at the Alhambra City Hall, the main celebration is a street festival for one day in the heart of the Chinese commercial district in the San Gabriel Valley, the Valley Blvd.
Through the years, the celebration’s attendance has grown steadily and now averages 25,000.
Engage in Recreation and Open Play at Almansor Park
The Almansor Park, located on Almansor St., charges no fees for open-play activities.
You can play various sports here, including badminton, volleyball, and table tennis, or test your stamina as you conquer the jogging trail.
Let your kids have their dose of fun, too, as you let them exercise or run around the premises.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Visit the Historic Landmark of Mission San Gabriel
See the religious side of the locals by visiting Mission San Gabriel, an active Roman Catholic Church situated in Los Angeles.
Just a 1.7-mile distance or a 4-minute drive from Alhambra, the church was founded in September 1771.
Look around and admire its unique Moorish ‘fortress-like’ design, which is similar in design to the former mosque of Cordoba, Spain.
Not only that, but it also has complete Stations of the Cross painted by the mission neophytes.
The originals of these are preserved in the mission museum, while copies of them hang in the church.
On the grounds, you can find historical items and artifacts that tell you a lot about its history.
While here, do make sure to visit the ‘wine room,’ which has become a favorite of visitors, that displays historic wine-making equipment.
Enjoy a Picnic at Lacy Park
From Alhambra, Lacy Park is a mere 5-minute drive.
This 30-acre park was originally called Wilson Lake before it was purchased by the city and turned into a park.
The place is perfect for families and groups who want to enjoy a quiet picnic, with its open green areas and varieties of shrubs and trees.
There are also times when the picnic area is turned into a venue for many civic events and even musical concerts.
If you feel like walking and exploring the site, you can choose from two walking loops: an outer loop of one mile and an inner loop of 3/4 mile.
Whichever one you take, you are guaranteed greenery and scenic views.
Remember that the place is pet-friendly, so expect to see a few furry friends roaming around with their leashes on.
Visit the Old Rialto Theatre
On Fair Oaks Avenue, just 2.4 miles away from Alhambra, stands the Rialto Theatre.
It was built in 1925 and is a 1,200-seat theatre, considered one of the last single-screen theaters in SoCal.
Coming here, you will expect to see an old structure that the Los Angeles Times once described to have an architecture that is the ‘odd mashup of Spanish Baroque and Egyptian Kitsch.’
On a closer look, you will realize that it’s been featured in several hit movies like La La Land, Scream, and The Rocketeer.
Fall in Love with the Beauty of the Cascades in Monterey Park
Being in Alhambra gives you access to other sites in the area, including the Cascades Waterfall, situated within Monterey Park.
Monterey Park is only 2.3 miles away from Alhambra or roughly just a five-minute drive.
The Cascades is located on El Portal and Atlantic Blvd, where you will admire the water from the top of the hill cascading to the end of the park’s cement structure.
Even if the cascading water descends via a manmade tiered stream, it is one serene oasis.
The sight looks great during the day, but if you visit at night, the scene looks even more glorious with the lights coming on and the water reflecting various hues.
The end of the Cascades features the Garden del Encanto, where The Greater Chamber of Commerce of Monterey Park sits.
Learn about Californian History at the Ramona Museum of California History
Discover the history of California for free when you visit the Ramona Museum of California History.
The museum holds various artifacts from 1887 that talk about how California used to be before it became what it is today.
Just a 3-minute drive from Alhambra, it features an eclectic collection of relics and artifacts that go back to the Mission and El Rancho Periods.
Make sure to see the carriage, which Colonel Fremont used on his trip to Los Angeles, as well as the flag whose label states, “the First Bear Banner raised in Sonoma County, 1845.”
Let the Kids Have Fun at the Sequoia Park
Still located within Monterey Park, Sequoia Park invites both locals and tourists to its five-acre area, complete with amenities for the whole family.
One of its main attractions is the Japanese garden with an Azumaya View Deck.
If you are coming with your kids, this is a great place for them to explore and enjoy some outdoor games.
Plus, it offers the perfect opportunity to meet some of the locals who can show you the ‘hidden’ spots of the city.
The kids can have tons of fun at the park’s different features, such as the baseball and softball field, playground, picnic shelters, and tennis court.
Alhambra is one place you should include on your bucket list, especially for its historical contributions.
It is pretty accessible to many destinations around Los Angeles, making it a perfect starting point for a series of excursions in California.
If you haven’t decided on your next vacation destination, why not choose Alhambra?