The valley is big, laid-back—and happening
The Valley, as it’s known in Los Angeles, is actually the San Fernando Valley, including Northridge, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Canoga Park and Encino. At 260 sq. mi., it’s one of the largest regions in L.A.
In fact, the Valley has pretty much everything a planner needs to stage outstanding meetings: two airports, first-rate accommodations, attractions such as Warner Bros. Studios, excellent shopping (great vintage clothing stores), the Museum of Neon Art, Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library and some of the best sushi on the West Coast.
Hotels include The Garland (243 guest rooms; 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space), an iconic property in North Hollywood that recently emerged from a $20 million renovation. Its 1,800-square-foot theater is available for rental. Legendary stars Clark Gable, Katherine Hepburn and John Wayne have stayed at the Sportsmen’s Lodge and Event Center (190 guest rooms; 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space) in Studio City; planners can stage events in its six acres of gardens and decks as well as in its interior spaces. Larger groups will appreciate Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills (474 guest rooms, 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space).
Plenty to Eat
The Valley boasts a whole area known as sushi row on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, featuring popular restaurants to which Angelenos from all over the vast metropolis flock.
Make sure you stop in Asanebo, which has a Michelin star. The Los Angeles Times food critic said its food “elevates your state of being.” Sushi Iki and Katsu-ya are other well-regarded eateries.
There are also cuisines to satisfy every palate. Paleo adherents should try Boneyard Bistro, known for meat on the bone. Vegans will love Gadarene Swine, an animal-free eatery. Xen Lounge has flexible event space and a dynamic menu.
Unique Places to Meet
Options are endless and varied. Groups can book the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood in Burbank—the studio’s multiple backlot settings, such as “Midwest Street” and “Jungle,” can be rented for receptions, dinners and other events.
Tour guides are available for groups of 15 or more at in Simi Valley (tours are self-guided for individual and smaller groups). The venue boasts impressive indoor and outdoor event space including Air Force One Pavilion, which can host 1,400, and casual dining at Reagan’s Country Cafe and The Ronald Reagan Pub.
Sights to See
If you and your group are children of the ‘70s—or like TV reruns—be sure to get a glimpse of the Brady Bunch House on suburban Dilling Street in Studio City. Exteriors of the beloved sitcom were shot at this very real home (interiors were shot elsewhere), which is still a private residence.
Literary mavens must visit Iliad Bookshop, one of the largest used bookstores in Los Angeles. The store has been featured on Storage Wars and a number of movie and television shoots, according to the website.
When you need a respite from the hubbub, head to the Japanese Garden at Woodley Park, a 6.5-acre refuge in the middle of the city with a Zen meditation garden, waterfalls, streams and a teahouse.
Don’t miss The Great Wall of Los Angeles, a cultural landmark and monument to interracial harmony. Begun in 1974 and completed over five summers, the nearly 3,000-foot mural is one of the longest in the world. The Great Wall was designed by artist Judith Baca and executed with the help of more than 400 community youth and artists, coordinated by the Social and Public Art Resource Center.
Eclectica Vintage Store
Finally, shopping in the region is, like, totally cool. For vintage, try both Toadstool Farm Vintage and Eclectica Vintage Store, where you can get anything and everything. Malls, such as Northridge Fashion Center, Sherman Oaks Galleria, Americana at Brand and Westfield Topanga (with its new, open-air Village shops) are big and fabulous. Just like the Valley.