It’s been nearly two years since we first started considering Los Angeles our home base. As travelers, we’re often just coming home to dump out our luggages in our hampers to do laundry, only to repack for our next trip. Last week, something kept us in town a little longer; we were invited to explore our own backyard, and visit the cool things to do in Burbank by none other than Visit Burbank themselves. The challenge excited us, as we’re advocates for traveling, even if that means taking a stroll to a part of town you haven’t yet discovered. That, and any excuse to eat Cuban food, and sit on the couch of the FRIENDS set was enough to get us excited for crossing things off of our Burbank Bucket List.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour | Entertainment
3400 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91522
Little do you know when you arrive on your first trip to Los Angeles, eager to skip down Hollywood Boulevard to feel like you’re in the heart of it all, you’ll probably get squished by a mob of tourists, or stopped by several panhandlers. That’s because the magic of Hollywood actually lives in Burbank, where many of the studios creating the biggest blockbusters and most well-known TV shows are produced. Universal Studios and Warner Brothers are the two most famous tours, but for us, the choice was obvious.
After two hours of zipping through the 100 acre lot with our tour guide Reese, who seemingly knew every detail about every movie and TV show ever created, we arrived at the set of the mecca of all television. It’s been said that there are seven wonders of the world, but to many, there are eight:
The FRIENDS Central Perk set:
Porto’s Cuban Bakery | Food
3614 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
“You’ve never been to Porto’s?!”
If you answer no, be prepared for the nasty looks from locals who know you’re missing out on.
If there were one place every local we met over the course of our weekend recommended it was Porto’s, a Cuban bakery and eatery. When we asked what we should order, swear the cashier listed off about fifteen items, but most of all, she highlighted their spicy pepper potato balls and Cuban sandwich with plantain chips. The staff even gave us freebies of guava and chocolate pastries. You already know how we feel about free things: if it’s free, it’s for me and it’s for you, too.
Burbank Arts Festival | Entertainment
There’s a reason Burbank has been crowned the Media Capital of the world. In addition to the Burbank-based writing shops and the Burbank-based vintage shops supplying the wardrobes to Burbank-based big-name movie studios, there is also an annual Downtown Burbank Arts Festival, featuring over 200 fine artists and world famous animators from film and TV. Try saying that sentence three times. Occupying four blocks of Downtown Burbank, the Burbank-based festival (ha) gives you a free glimpse of just how much talent lives in the town. Here you’ll find everything from succulents to hand-painted posters, live drawings of models, and stores like Zamba which put Urban Outfitters home section to shame and quickly became a store we’ll be shopping in regularly.
Coffee Commissary | Food
3121 W Olive Ave, Burbank, CA 91505
As any traveler (and Instagram account holder) knows, the perfect spot to start your day is at an aesthetically-pleasing café with a name like The Coffee Commissary. Located across from the Burbank Studios, we lined up next to studio producers, actors, and tourists to place our orders for avocado toasts, and rustic French baguette breakfast sandwiches. Please don’t forget to order strong and well-made espresso based coffee. You’ll need it.
Magnolia Park Vintage | Shopping
Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505
Big box malls are so against our policy that sometimes we even break out in hives. We seek originality, cheap prices, and will usually only buy from interesting clerks in stores that aren’t operating chains. Our wishes were perfectly sprinkled throughout Magnolia Park in each of the small ma’ and pa’ style vintage stores.
The boutiques, located one after the next, are the first choices for Burbank motion picture studios. Each shop had worked or is working with a few shows and movies that even we knew, and we barely consider ourselves movie people. That goes to show that period pieces you see in the movies are purchased directly from these shops. We popped into It’s a Wrap, Junk for Joy, and Hubba Hubba, where we encountered the most eccentric woman who felt like our adopted grandmother from Burbank. She was feisty in the sense that she told us the items we picked out at other shops were ugly, but adorable in the sense that she would say the following:
Go on honey, now look at yourself in the mirror. Now that is just beautiful on you. You both are so young, vibrant, and beautiful. Now get down there and check out what else I’ve got. I’m not going to do it for you.
Memorable is what she was, just like Magnolia Park.
Nothing felt like it could be reproduced, and even the nail salons and dry cleaners had signage that looked like they belonged on a 1950’s movie set. Burbank was a town built around the glitz and glam of cinema, after all.
It also happened to randomly be Ladies and Gents night out, which is nothing but proof of the cuteness of Burbank. On the last Friday of every month, around 5 PM, the boutiques along Magnolia Boulevard offer deals, goody bags, and free champagne, while food trucks line the streets and musicians fill the background with jazz music.
The Writer’s Store | Shopping
3510 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
Try naming a store dedicated to teaching how to self-publish a novel, getting people to care about your screenplay, or educating yourself on the history of the most well-designed Hollywood sets of all time. This is what you’ll find at The Writer’s Store. As bloggers, and consumers who look for interesting merchandise, we were excited about the fact a store like this even exists. To support their business, we left with “Writer’s Block,” a tiny cube of a book with ways to snap us out of the blankness that takes over our brains nearly every time we write.
1928 Jewelry | Shopping
3412 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
Pearls are a girl’s best friend, or at least they were back in the 1930s – and we coincidentally had an event to go to the following day which required us to dress up in 30’s costume. Could it be more perfect that this store had not only the best jewelry, but that the owner, Rita, was a Brazilian who had moved to Burbank 20 years ago. “So, why did you pick Burbank?” She responded in her adorable accent that it’s a good, calm, yet exciting life here. It’s like a small town with the buzz of a big city, and she proudly talked about the Ladies and Gents night that was about to start, followed by gifting us with hugs, and cheap bracelets and pearls.
Olive & Thyme | Food
3821 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505
Olive & Thyme, besides having a hip name, is a hip place to grab brunch. If you’re like us, you’re ordering the avocado toast and Eggs Benedict, and probably two coffees each. This restaurant consistently ranks at the top of every “Best Places to Eat in Burbank” list and we see why. The décor is rustic and clean (great for an A6 VSCO filter), the flow of is set up like one of those order-at-the-counter-and-sit-down restaurants (which is such less pressure), and the quality of the ingredients is excellent (you’ll leave wanting to continue exploring, as opposed to wanting to lie down).
Comment below other things to do in Burbank we might have missed!