Things to Do in Arcadia, California
Unlike most suburbs of major cities like Los Angeles and unlike most communities of 56,000 people that are no bigger than 11 square miles, Arcadia is a major draw for visitors.
Here are just a few reasons why:
Santa Anita Park race track –a world-famous race track. Santa Anita has the best in thoroughbred racing and was home to recent Triple Crown Winner Justify, among many other local and nationwide celebrity racehorses, including favorite Lava Man, a retired stakes horse who now works as a track pony and is fondly known as “Coach.”
Westfield Santa Anita – one of the most popular and progressive malls in the San Gabriel Valley. Westfield Santa Anita opened a brand new Food Alley in 2017, and continues to expand and grow.
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden – the jewel of the county and home to many of Arcadia’s famous peacocks.
The Derby Restaurant – opened in 1922 by famed jockey, George Woolf. Its walls are adorned with thoroughbred racing art and memorabilia, and steaks on the menu are named after jockeys.
Santa Anita Golf Course – one of the best and most picturesque courses in the region, with a newly remodeled club house.
Angeles National Forest – home of Chantry Flats picnic area, Adams’ Pack Station and more. It is one of the most popular entry points of any forest, with beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails.
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument – encompassing 342,177 acres of the Angeles National Forest and 4,002 acres of the San Bernardino National Forest. The mountains were designated as a National Monument in 2014 by President Barack Obama.
Hopkins Wilderness Park – a peaceful park with a nature center, picnic areas and hiking trails.
Arcadia Festival of Bands – the largest high school band competition in Southern California, happening every November.
Arcadia Invitational Track Meet – the largest high school track meet in the country.
Arcadia Patriotic Festival – the annual city celebration for the Fourth of July, featuring fireworks in 2019, along with food and vendor booths.
Arcadia Park – the park has 12 lighted tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, play areas, barbeques and picnic areas, along with Arcadia’s own Vietnam War Monument, installed in 2016.
Salute to Veterans – held at Arcadia Park, this annual Memorial Day celebration honors the city’s veteran population and highlights the Vietnam War Monument, traditionally hosted by LA County’s Supervisor.
Downtown Arcadia – an historic strip of Huntington Drive and parts of First Avenue, full of popular restaurants like Matt Denny’s Ale House Restaurant and Mt. Lowe Brewing Company, the first microbrew in Arcadia. The famous and last-of-its-kind Denny’s Windmill sits on the corner of Santa Anita and Huntington Drive. Since 1989, the windmill was still. However, the windmill was spinning again in 2016 with help from local Arcadian George Fasching of Fasching’s Car Wash. Downtown Arcadia also is the home of the Thoroughbred Walk of Champions, which runs along the north and south side of Huntington and up parts of First Avenue; tours are arranged through the Arcadia Historical Society.
Welcome to the City of Arcadia!
Arcadia prides itself as being a premier business location in the San Gabriel Valley and the region. In 2017, the city was awarded as the Most Business Friendly City in Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation in recognition of our Above and Beyond approach to fostering business development and economic growth in our community.
Within our borders are numerous retail and service establishments, the world-famous Santa Anita Park, the outstanding Westfield Santa Anita mall, an eclectic mix of restaurants, a burgeoning nightlife and superior medical services. To encourage business growth and to assist new business development in Arcadia, the city offers a concierge style Business Assistance Program designed to support the customized needs of business owners and operators. The Business Assistance Program can be accessed by calling (626) 574-5414 or by visiting ArcadiaCA.gov/beyond.
In addition to a thriving business community, the quality of life in Arcadia is without peer. You really have to see Arcadia to truly appreciate its splendor. Our tree-lined streets, exceptional public schools and renowned recreation and leisure-time services make the Arcadia experience second to none. Arcadia is diverse, hosting residents and entrepreneurs from around the world who continuously demonstrate their passion and commitment to community. Arcadians watch out for each other, we volunteer over 38,000 hours each year and we always have a smile for a friend, neighbor or visitor. This is the true hallmark of Arcadia.
On behalf of the city, I want to thank the Chamber membership for your continuous involvement in civic affairs. The Arcadia Chamber is very active, serving not only as an advocate for business, but also providing services and hosting special events that appeal to all facets of the community. For example, the annual Taste of Arcadia event in September is a wonderful Arcadia tradition!
The city is always here to support our residents and businesses in any way we can. Please feel free to contact us at any time to help achieve your destiny in Arcadia. I guarantee the experience will be Above and Beyond your expectations!
City of Arcadia
Arcadia residents find it easy to get around the city by using multiple methods of public transportation. The 210 Freeway bisects the city, running along the San Gabriels from east to west, and the Metro Gold Line runs along the freeway, from Azusa all the way to Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and beyond. Metro plans to expand the Gold Line, making Arcadia even more accessible. With convenient parking, Arcadia Station also plays host to the city’s annual tree lighting ceremony during the Christmas season, along with other events throughout the year.
The iconic Gold Line “basket bridge” near Baldwin Avenue in Arcadia spans the 210 Freeway. The bulbous end designs are representative of native basket weavers, and the 584-foot bridge has won multiple awards, including the Best Project in Southern California for highways and bridges.
Arcadia also offers a city-wide dial-a-ride service called Arcadia Transit.
Arcadia has several brand-name hotels throughout the city; most are close to local restaurants and hot spots. A new luxury hotel will open soon at the corner of Huntington and Colorado Place, the former location of the Santa Anita Inn.
211 E. Huntington Dr.
Hilton Garden Inn
199 N. Second Ave.
Residence Inn – Marriott
321 E. Huntington Dr.
Springhill Suites by Marriott
99 N. Second Ave.
Along with world-class lodgings, Arcadia boasts a multitude of restaurants, with a wide variety of cuisines from around the world. From the traditional Matt Denny’s Ale House and The Derby, Arcadia’s historic steak house founded by famed jockey George Woolf, to Cabrera’s Mexican Cuisine, with Benihana, EMC Seafood and the Backhouse in the Westfield Santa Anita, Arcadia has something for everyone’s discerning palate. Don’t forget to stop by Rod’s Grill, famous for its retro décor and appearance in an episode of Mad Men.
The City of Arcadia boasts nearly 20 parks, including one of the larger parks in all of Los Angeles County right in the heart of the city, and the city-owned Wilderness Park features a nature center and hiking trails.
One of the county’s jewels, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden, is filled with an unparalleled array of plant life in bloom year-round, including a rain forest, and a treasure trove of historical buildings and artifacts, all of which have been featured in many movies and TV shows. Newly restored Baldwin Lake continues to improve the overall environment and ecosystems.
Creating community through a broad spectrum of recreation activities, programs and direct services is a passion for the City of Arcadia’s Recreation and Community Services Department. The department is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life by providing positive recreation opportunities, encouraging involvement and developing cultural harmony. The staff is committed to fostering community partnerships and responding to the community’s needs. Whether you enjoy any of the scenic parks, athletic fields or the Arcadia Community Center, you can rest assured there are plenty of leisure and enrichment activities for all ages. Here is just a short list of the numerous programs, events and services offered by the City of Arcadia:
- After-school activities
- Summer, athletic and science camps
- Arts, crafts and music classes
- Teen programs
- Family nature hikes
- Art classes
- Exercise and dance classes
- Cooking and jewelry classes
- Athletics programs
- Daily lunch program
- Exciting excursions
- Health and education seminars
- Strength and mobility classes
- Information and referral services
In addition to all these fantastic programs and services, the recreation and community services department proudly hosts free, community-wide special events, including:
- Easter egg hunts
- Breakfast with Santa & Holiday Snow Festival
- Family Fall Festival
- Community Bike Ride
- Concerts in the Park
- Movies in the Park
- Summer Carnival
Stop by the recreation department or visit www.arcadiaca.gov to take a glance at these exciting opportunities provided right here in our community.
Snapshots by Decade
1900s: Arcadia incorporated by founder Elias J. “Lucky” Baldwin in 1903. Saloons in the tiny community were open 24/7 and a horse race track opened in 1907. Not until Baldwin’s death and the end of horse racing in 1909, did the image of Arcadia change.
1910s: The sale of alcoholic beverages was outlawed in 1912, so the saloons closed. An active real estate market developed and a poultry industry began. Two grocery stores, a drug store, barbershop, hardware store and then a bank opened on First Ave.. The first official City Hall was erected in 1918 and Ross Field (a World War I reconnaissance balloon school) was established on Baldwin’s deserted racetrack grounds.
1920s: The Arcadia Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1921 and Arcadia’s Rotary Club received its charter in 1927. As the city grew, and with large undeveloped areas, a Planning Commission was established. Before long there were paved streets, street signs and reservoirs. Enforcing the provisions of the Volstead Prohibition Act was a major task for Arcadia’s police force. Poultry houses and garages were found to be used as distilleries. Citywide raids were frequent.
1930s: Deodar trees were planted in 1931 every 50 feet along Colorado Boulevard and Huntington Drive. These routes had opened Arcadia to automobile traffic and were considered a trade asset, thus beautification was necessary. A Public Library opened on North First Ave. next to the City Hall that served the city until 1961. A new Santa Anita Park horse racetrack opened on Dec. 25, 1934 with 30,277 in attendance. A bridle path along Santa Anita Ave. that led to the foothills and into the mountains added to the popularity of horseback riding in Arcadia. Horses were permitted in a large part of the city. Arcadia County Park was completed in 1938 with golf course, swimming pool and bowling greens.
1940s: Arcadia’s population grew from 9,122 in 1940 to 15,524 in 1946, which created the demand for three new schools: Santa Anita, Hugo Reid and Highland Oaks. Sewer Bonds passed and plans were finalized for an arboretum. During WWII many restrictions were placed on citizens: Vacation trips were taboo, auto speeds were limited to 35 miles per hour, car-pooling was encouraged and many foods were rationed. Car registrations dropped. Victory Gardens became popular, as did home gardens and food canning. A new City Hall was built on West Huntington Drive.
1950s: Arcadia became a Charter City in 1951, with a City Manager to oversee the city’s business. Six schools opened: Longley Way, Bonita Park, and Camino Grove Elementary schools, Arcadia High School, and Dana and Foothills Middle Schools. The Queen Anne Cottage and Coach Barn at the Arboretum were restored. Methodist Hospital opened, Wilderness Park was dedicated, and “Bekins Van & Storage” was the tallest building in Arcadia.
1960s: Population had grown to 41,005 at the beginning of the decade. A sidewalk construction program was adopted; Baldwin Stocker School opened; and the business of poultry raising was no longer permitted. A new Arcadia Public Library was opened on West Duarte Road, and, on Nov. 13, 1965, a unique and distinct Chamber of Commerce building was dedicated.
1970s: New City Council Chambers were built; a Paramedic Program launched; the 210 “Foothill” Freeway was completed; Santa Anita Fashion Park (mall) was opened; the historic Santa Anita Depot was reconstructed on the Arboretum grounds; and the population exceeded 45,000.
1980s: The community began to grapple with issues such as how to handle the growing trend of “mini-malls,” larger mansion-size houses on confined lots; and new types of signage with multiple languages. The 911 emergency number became operational. By an act of Congress, title to the Rose Garden portion of Arcadia County Park was transferred to Arcadia for its historical museum. A community center was built on this land. Real estate values soared.
1990s: Arcadia’s population was 48,290. High-rise construction was limited. Downtown and First Ave. areas were revitalized. The decades-old Anoakia Estate was demolished and a gated community was sanctioned. An $8 million police facilities bond was approved.
2000s: As Arcadia celebrated its Centennial anniversary, English was no longer the primary language of Arcadia’s students. The Hugo Reid Family statue was relocated from Arcadia County Park to behind the Community Center, Rotary International of Arcadia dedicated a clock by Huntington Drive and Holly Ave., and “Shops at Santa Anita” was initiated and later abandoned.
2010-2015: As the population grew to 56,565, Arcadians were instructed how to co-exist with coyotes left with no habitat. An unprecedented windstorm destroyed hundreds of trees and property. A light rail train line was approved and four bridges were constructed through town, three of which featured notable public art elements. A train station and transit plaza featuring their own public art elements relating to the city’s peacocks and iconic Santa Anita Park race track were opened across the street from the former site of Lucky Baldwin’s Oakwood Hotel. Baldwin’s legacy was further entrenched with the dedication of a statue across from the track entrance, and his name and prize-winning horses included on a new Thoroughbred Racing Walk of Champions in Downtown Arcadia.
Arcadia Chamber History
In 1903, the City of Arcadia was incorporated by Elias J. Baldwin. Known as one of the great pioneers in California business, he earned the nickname “Lucky” through his success in a number of business dealings, including real estate and mining investments. Baldwin also held an interest in horse racing and purchased the Rancho Santa Anita in 1875, upon which he later built a racetrack. That track later burned down and famed Santa Anita Park was built in its place. The Rancho was eventually divided up to help form modern day Arcadia.
The Arcadia Chamber of Commerce traces its roots to 1914, beginning as the Arcadia Board of Trade. This group of 28 men paid a dollar initiation fee and monthly dues of 25 cents to be part of the board. Their goal was to “foster and encourage commerce, to stimulate home manufacturers, to assist in securing a market for the products, to induce immigration and the subdivision settlement and cultivation of our lands, to assist in the development of material resources and generally to promote the business interests of the City of Arcadia.” The last official meeting of the board was recorded on July 1, 1918.
Only three years later, the Chamber of Commerce was formed on Sept. 19, 1921.
It wasn’t until July 16, 1934, that the Chamber was officially incorporated, after bylaws were submitted in December 1933. During the year, the Arcadia Tribune called the Chamber a “live wire” group and credited support for the Chamber to the organization’s efforts to improve streets and the water system, plant trees, beautify homes, add street signs and support the building of everything from sidewalks, a new church and the Pacific Electric station, to a daily newspaper and factories, as well as represent Arcadia in the Rose Parade.
The Chamber helped promote the opening of Santa Anita Park at Christmastime in 1934, hanging welcome banners for the Los Angeles Turf Club and its patrons along Huntington Drive. In 1939, at the Stockton Fair, the Chamber even paraded the famous thoroughbred, Malicious, famed “2-miler,” who was known as the most popular horse in the West during the 1930s. Santa Anita Park once held special 2-mile races at the end of a race day just for Malicious, to attract the crowds, such was his popularity.
From 1949 to 1951, the Arcadia Peach Blossom Festival was created by the Chamber, initially combined with the dedication of the new city hall and civic center. The Fest in 1950 was tied in with the dedication of Memorial Grove at the rear of city hall. In 1951, there was a Peach Blossom Queen contest organized by Arcadia’s Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Throughout the years, Chamber members met at various city hall buildings before setting up office in the Beacon Building at 37 W. Huntington Dr., across from Arcadia Park, beside the current location of Rod’s Grill and the Elks Lodge. Once the Red Line electric railway met its demise in the 1960s, land opened up for development in the median area of Huntington Drive. In 1965, the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce moved into its iconic round building, which became both the geographic and civic hub of the city, and there it remains to this day.
In 1999, the Arcadia Tournament of Roses Association was dissolved, and listed under its assets was a Wine Shed Mixer Fundraiser, which had been held at Santa Anita Park. The Chamber took over this event, which was sometimes subtitled as “A Taste of Arcadia.” After a few years of a food and wine event at Santa Anita, the Chamber collaborated with the Los Angeles County Arboretum and officially adopted the name Taste of Arcadia for its signature yearly event. The event grows larger each year, showcasing 40-plus members of the business community alongside nearly 50 food vendors, hosting around 1,400 guests.
One reason new residents flock to Arcadia is the high-class public schools, which are about as good as one can get. Arcadia often ranks in the top 10% for High Schools in California, and has AP participation at 60%. Students score high in both mathematics and English, above the 80% level. The high school campus also holds the Arcadia Performing Arts Center, a $20 million-dollar venue that seats 1,200 and showcases both high school performances and professional productions.
The six elementary and three middle schools all feed into the high school, with numerous quality private schools and tutoring centers around town.
Arcadia Public Schools
Elementary Schools (K-5)
Baldwin Stocker Elementary School
422 W. Lemon Ave.
Camino Grove Elementary School
700 Camino Grove Ave.
Highland Oaks Elementary School
10 Virginia Dr.
Holly Avenue Elementary School
360 W. Duarte Rd.
Hugo Reid Elementary School
1000 Hugo Reid Dr.
1153 De Anza Pl.
Longley Way Elementary School
2601 Longley Wy.
Secondary Schools (6-8)
Dana Middle School
1401 S. First Ave.
First Avenue Middle School
301 S. First Ave.
Foothills Middle School
171 E. Sycamore Ave.
High Schools (9-12)
Arcadia High School
180 Campus Dr.