City Walk – Exploring Walkable Communities
by Thomas Rigler
I love KCET. The most recent reason my love grows for this explosion of creative programming is the series City Walk .
Whether traveling in the US or if you’re looking for something right in your own back yard City Walk is for you.
This six-part series has captured so much interest that KCET ordered not only 2 more episodes for this year, the network has decided they want a 2nd season for 2014. Each episode focuses on the increasing walk-ability of neighborhoods in the nation’s metropolitan areas. Series creator and Executive Producer Thomas Rigler heads up Rigler Creative. He along with contributions from Producer Caitlin Starowicz and Operations and Community Outreach Executive Ashley Gresh the Rigler team share a guest post with Shortcuts.
According to Rigler, here are 5 of the most walkable neighborhoods and places in Southern California. Is he right? Take a look and see if he missed your favorite walkable neighborhood? I’m going to try Rigler’s Gold Line suggestion first. Happy walking!
Walkable communities airs through Thanksgiving on KCET and anytime on LinkTV. Below is a little taste from Thomas Rigler.
Southern California may have hundreds of miles of freeways – but there are still thousands of miles of sidewalks and trails waiting for you. It’s time to get out of your car and experience an amazing City Walk starting with Old Pasadena – where the shopping is amazing, the food is delicious, and there are botanical gardens right down the street. Then it’s a short walk to the Metro Gold Line for a fun scenic ride to Los Angeles State Historic Park – 32 acres of open space centrally-located right next to Chinatown. And there are thousands of acres of hiking on 250 miles of trails at the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, where you can experience nature in the wild and even take a bike ride from the mountains to the sea. But if you’re looking for fantasy, adventure or Dumbo the Flying Elephant – there’s no better place to take a walk than Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth!
Known across the country mostly for its annual Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena, California provides a sojourn from the hustle and bustle of busy Los Angeles life.
Visitors and residents alike can find shopping along Old Town Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard. It offers a virtual one-stop shopping district for all sorts of indulgences, with wide sidewalks and pedestrian friendly crosswalks to boot.
The Rose Bowl – tucked under the historic Colorado Blvd. Bridge – hosts both collegiate and professional sporting events, concerts, a running track, and extensive picnic areas.
If you’re seeking a more subdued experience, explore the Huntington Library Arts Collection, and Botanical Gardens . Here you can peruse the library’s extensive rare collection and the art gallery’s collections of 18th- and 19th-century British and French art. Don’t forget to spend some time in the botanical gardens, covering 120 acres; it’sperfect space for quiet reflection or a grand party.
Pasadena is also home to the Make Music Pasadena Festival, held annually around Old Town. The three-day event touts some 100-plus musicians and 300-plus shows that “takes over the streets and venues of Pasadena for the biggest free music fest in California”
The Gold Line
LA Metro’s Gold Line offers a unique view of the city – you can see the majority of Historic Los Angeles without getting in a car. The 19.7 mile light rail line runs from Pasadena to East Los Angeles through Downtown LA, with stops in South Pasadena, Highland Park, Union Station, Little Tokyo, and Mariachi Plaza – a trip that offers a cross-section of the city’s diverse neighborhoods and culture.
One unique feature of the Gold Line is most of its run is completed over ground – enabling riders to see their city rather than ride under it.
It is also a convenient ride for music enthusiasts and art lovers – the Pershing Square stop grants access to DTLA’s Art Walk a monthly event held in the Arts District downtown, and free summer concerts in Pershing Square.
Los Angeles State Historic Park
Downtown LA adjacent, the Los Angeles State Historic Park, home to the FYF Fest, is hosted on 32 acres of land between Spring Street and the tracks of the Metro Gold Line, just north of Chinatown and southeast of Elysian Park.
This open space provides a venue for local outdoor screenings, concerts, festivals and fairs. You can catch FYF Fest Los Angeles’ response to the ever-popular festival culture. Now in it’s 10th year, FYF is pulling some of the music industry’s biggest names.
The two-day festival held at the end of August each year had a shaky start, but has now found its groove – literally – and was bigger than ever this year. Approximately 30,000 festival-goers attended each day to see bands like Holy Ghost, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, !!!, Beach House, and My Bloody Valentine. Unfortunately, (for now) the park is undergoing a MAJOR overhaul to upgrade the public space. LA residents and visitors will be without the public park for approximately a year, but we’re confident the wait will be worth it.
Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks
Nestled less than 50 miles outside of Los Angeles, the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks provides respite from freeways, traffic, and the abundance of concrete most Angelenos experience on a daily basis.
Opened in 2005, nearly 50,000 acres of wild-lands and parks (including 250-plus miles of trails) were designated as permanent open space on The Irvine Ranch.
This massive ecosystem provides visitors with docent-led walking tours, educational classes and even outdoor yoga sessions.
Photos from Irconservancy
Those looking to make a day trip to Irvine Ranch should plan some extra time to visit Orange County’s Crystal Cove State Park , home to some of the most fascinating sea life the West Coast has to offer.
A visit to Irvine Ranch will enable you to explore the last bits of uninhabited land in Orange County…and if planned right, you might even be able to relax on the beach to boot. Don’t forget to eat at the world famous Beachcomber Café (they have the best beignets this side of the Mississippi) -but be prepared- it’s a hike down the cliff!
Disneyland is a perfect way to spend a day outside – after all, it is the happiest place on earth! Designer Walt Disney originally conceived of the idea while visiting Los Angeles’ Griffith Park with his daughters – he envisioned a place where adults and their children could go and have fun together.
Today the park offers visitors a chance to experience unique themed lands containing rides, food, and shopping galore. Visit Disney’s Main Street transports you to a Victorian-era land that includes a train station,town square, city hall, small movie theater, and firehouse; there are even trolleys and horse-drawn carriages move about offering both rides and pets alike.
From the park’s “hub” you can choose whether you want to take a ride on the Jungle Cruise, fly through the galaxy on Space Mountain, or take tumultuous train-ride through the Wild West on Big Thunder Mountain.
Iffantasy is more your speed, don’t fret – head straight through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and be transported to a magical land of storybook-inspired rides. You can even see both Mickey and Minnie’s houses in Toon Town, an attraction that gives park-goers a chance to meet the mouse that started it all.
For those more interested in “local experience” head over to California Adventure – a park themed after the history and culture of California.
While you’re there make sure to stop by Soaring Over Californiaa 4-D experience giving riders a bird-eye view of the Golden State.