Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Whittier, CA

  • Published 2022/10/05

The city of Whittier in Southern California in Los Angeles County puts a better spotlight on the small-town atmosphere and energy.

Its history goes way back to 1868, during the acquisition of the land by Jacob Gerkens.

And its name origins come from Quaker John Greenleaf Whittier, a writer and poet who dedicated a poem for the city.

Now, Whittier stands as a family-friendly and business-minded city that thrives on affordable and dynamic recreation experiences.

It also doesn’t lack nature preserves, parks, and outdoor centers.

Below are some of the best things to do in Whittier, CA, that might help you with your travel itinerary!

Sign up for a Tour at Jonathan Bailey House

Exterior of Jonathan Bailey House

Los Angeles, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built by Jacob Gerkens during his acquisition of the city, the Jonathan Bailey House is one of the oldest buildings all over Whittier.

This home served as the center of Whittier’s social, business, and religious undertakings.

Now, it promotes the heritage of Whittier, as led by the Baileys and their legacy.

Sign up for a docent-led tour with a group while visiting the house.

Around the front, explore the rose bushes inspired by the period of Rebecca’s Garden.

Inside, admire the ancient furnishings of the home, including a rocking chair, coverlets, and a fireplace shield.

The Lincoln bookcase is worth examining, too, as it depicts various mementos of the Bailey family.

The historic Jonathan Bailey House is on East Camilla Street.

Play at the Spray Pad at Adventure Park

Formerly called Gunn Avenue Park, Adventure Park is one of South Whittier’s favorites because the park greatly lives up to its name.

First purchased in 1959, this park soon opened its doors to the public in 1962 and soon saw a gymnasium within its property by 2004.

Its multi-purpose facilities aim to improve the usual family bonding experience.

Explore the community gardens and the Farmers and flea markets at the site.

Let your child play a few rounds of football, basketball, and baseball, or even at the Splash Pad.

And after a day’s activities at Adventure Park, wind down with meditation and eat some snacks at the picnic tables.

Find yourself amazed at what you can do at this 15.52-acre park on Gunn Avenue.

Exercise at the Fitness Zone at Amelia Mayberry Park

On East Meyer Road, let your afternoon break become merrier at Amelia Mayberry Park.

This park spans 14 acres, all dedicated to making individuals and families have a relaxing experience.

Senior centers are at the site, where elderly people can have their own fun.

Practice your gardening skills, musical prowess, and self-defense abilities while joining the classes onsite.

If you’re traveling with a large group, grill some barbecues for your ideal picnic snack.

The Fitness Zone also gets you closer to the healthy body of your dreams.

Amelia Mayberry Park welcomes you to have fun where you feel most comfortable with your friends and family.

Hike the Trails at Turnbull Canyon

Landscape of Turnbull Canyon

Ormr2014, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Be closer to the wild when you hike at Turnbull Canyon.

Starting at the road of the same name, this canyon offers an array of trails, connectors, and loops.

This is ideal for mountain biking and hiking.

Water tower at Turnbull Canyon

Fay Mork /

Its hill-side singletrack, with its drops and slopes, open a challenging route for those skilled at any of the two sports.

During winter, view the snowcaps of San Gabriel when you reach inclines while hiking.

An exciting landscape awaits you at Turnbull Canyon.

Pet Some Animals at Parnell Park Storybook Zoo

Want a pleasant surprise for your usual outdoor outing?

In Parnell Park, Parnell Park Storybook Zoo allows animal viewings for your research and wonderment.

Farm animals are the resident species at this site, but there are a few animal species you might not expect, including miniature horses, donkeys, and alpacas.

Other animals include tortoises and reptiles.

And if you’ve gotten your fill of animal knowledge, you can proceed to the park for a quick picnic.

Don’t miss out on viewing and petting some unusual animals for yourself at Parnell Park Storybook Zoo on Lambert Road!

Admire the Exhibits at Whittier Art Gallery

Don’t leave Whittier without visiting Whittier Art Gallery, especially if you’re an art and design enthusiast.

Since 1939, this museum has been supporting Southland artists and letting their masterpieces reach the intended audience.

Visitors can enjoy the monthly exhibits and artworks at no charge.

The gallery also hosts juried shows and themed events for fundraising and auctions.

Be inspired by the art pieces you see along the modern and changing exhibit themes.

You can also buy a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home with you from its online gift gallery.

Whittier Art Gallery is on Painter Avenue, across from the Heart Wise Fitness Institute.

Explore the Buildings and Stations at Whittier Greenway Trail

Palm park at Whittier Greenway Trail

Northwalker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Opened in 2009, Whittier Greenway Trail is your bridge to Whittier’s railroad past.

This spot allows you to bike and survey buildings and establishments reminiscent of the city’s flourishing history while also passing by residential and commercial modernity.

Running approximately 4.5 miles, this trail promotes fitness and active transportation, allowing hikers and bikers to traverse its walkway.

There are six stations along the pathway of this trail.

Wind sculptures at Whittier Greenway Trail

Northwalker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Citrus Station highlights the Whittier citrus boom in the industry.

On another note, the Palm Station focuses on upscale architecture, while the Sycamore Station centers on trees and surface transportation.

The other stations are Walnut, Oak, and Laurel Stations.

Whittier Greenway Trail also has fitness stations and starts on Northwest Whittier, near the 605 Freeway.

Discover the Notable Figures of Whittier at the Whittier Museum

Started in 1983, the Whittier Museum, after much effort by the Whittier Historical Society, offers a mirror into the first 100 years of the city’s history.

Located on Newlin Avenue, this museum offers insightful exhibits and tours of the agriculture and lifestyle of past Whittier.

More specifically, the exhibits shed light on the Quaker settlers and Whittier College.

Read through documents and browse through artifacts and objects related to this theme.

The museum also illuminates notable figures of Whittier history, such as Pio Pico and Richard Nixon.

A visit to this historical site is a combination of a nostalgic trip to the past and an educational journey through a presentation.

Is the Whittier Museum on your itinerary already?

See SkyRose Chapel & Mausoleum’s Architecture

For a better feel of Whittier’s most prominent architectural designs, it’s best to visit SkyRose Chapel.

This memorial chapel on Workman Mill Road cuts through the California sky through beautiful ceiling beams in the morning.

Its exquisite building design came from Architect E. Fay Jones.

In 1997, this chapel underwent dedication and has, since then, hosted a variety of memorial services as the years went by.

A mix of organic and Gothic-inspired, the chapel gives you an up-clear and personal view of the valley below.

At night, the lights all over the space offer an ethereal glow over the pews.

There’s an underground mausoleum that’s also touched by the genius of Architect E. Fay Jones.

Be sure to check SkyRose Chapel while you’re within the city!

Go for a Swim at Palm Park

Playground at Palm Park

Northwalker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

On Palm Avenue, drop by Palm Park to celebrate your best moments.

This park rental is home to multi-purpose banquet rooms for your corporate functions and other special events.

Everywhere you go, you can get your muscles moving while enjoying the fresh breeze.

Picnic tables at Palm Park

Northwalker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

At Palm Park, there’s a pool up for rent as well.

Feel the summer heat while you run a few laps at the pool or splash around with your friends and loved ones.

The grounds of Palm Park

Northwalker, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buy Antiques at King Richard’s Antique Center

King Richard’s Antique Center gets you exclusive access to one of the best collectibles the city of Whittier offers.

What’s most impressive about this shop is its label as the largest antique shop in California.

And it has a colorful past, too!

It started serving the public in 1903, and this shop was once within the Whittier Citrus Association Packing House building.

In 1979, the shop officially changed its name to King Richard’s Antique Center.

Find the next stand-alone or furniture set that completes your home decor at this shop.

From sofas and chairs to lamps and tables, you have many options to choose from.

The shop also sells jewelry and other memorabilia that you’ll surely love to give to someone.

Interested in visiting?

King Richard’s Antique Center is on Whittier Boulevard.

Play a Ball Game at Sorensen Park

For a mellow outdoor adventure, Sorensen Park brings you the best of the unincorporated area of Whittier.

Known as a place ideal for a bit of strolling during sunset, this park has surprisingly varied amenities you can enjoy.

Relax as your child lets out their energy at the playground equipment and lawn.

An outdoor stage is also at the park, so you might just get it if you want live entertainment.

Sit by the benches and tables for a quick break after running around the park or playing your go-to sport.

Sorensen Park and all its 11-acre glory are on Rose Hedge Drive.

Get ready for an intimate day of fun and excitement with friends!

Watch a Movie at Starlight Whittier Village Cinemas

Exterior of Starlight Whittier Village Cinemas

Los Angeles, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whittier’s outdoor spaces offer a wonderful chance to wander around wildlife, but its indoor recreational landmarks are also gems in their own special way.

Starlight Whittier Village Cinemas is one of these examples.

This roadside movie theater on Greenleaf Avenue guarantees a cinematic experience unlike any other while you watch the newest releases.

What’s best about this theater is the added Dolby Atmos sound to the projection/watch room.

This way, you immerse yourself fully into the movie you’re watching with amplified sounds all over.

Catch up with what everyone is talking about while getting a feel of Whittier at its peak beauty.

Starlight Whittier Village Cinemas offers entertainment and upscale city living in one sitting!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Have you already explored everything there is to explore in Whittier?

Be sure to check out some other things you can do while in nearby locations!

Take a Picture of the Flowers at Bosque Del Rio Hondo

A bridge at Bosque Del Rio Hondo

Ansel B /

If you need a quiet place to reflect, Bosque Del Rio Hondo has your back!

This nature preserve site, built in 1994, was a momentous result born out of the efforts of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

It goes by other names, too!

The regulars call this park Marrano Beach.

And its English name means Forest of the Deep River.

Bosque del Rio Hondo showcases the riparian wetlands within 12 acres while improving nature exploration.

Not only that, but the preserve also houses seasonal creeks and a natural mission creek.

If you’ve got the time, spot some birds while you explore the gardens and trails.

When you start in Whittier, it only takes 15 minutes to get to Bosque del Rio Hondo on San Gabriel Boulevard.

Learn about Military History at the American Military Museum

At South El Monte, widen your knowledge about what you think you may know about the military.

Also known as Tankland, the American Military Museum features over 170 vehicles used by the military.

Since 1962, this outdoor museum has helped many shed light on preparing for war and military personnel lifestyles.

On top of that, there are outdoor exhibits you can observe and learn from, informing the public of military life from 1933 to the current generation.

Some highlighted vehicles at the site include tanks, self-propelled vehicles, and armored cars.

The American Military Museum is on Rosemead Boulevard, just 17 minutes’ drive away from Whittier.

Final Thoughts

Whittier, with its explorable streets and entertainment potential.

Whether you stay for a weekend or go on a month-long excursion, you will find your place in Whittier’s extensive amusement choices.

Make sure your visit to this city is more memorable by looking through the best things to do in Whittier, CA.

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