Although bordered on the west and north by freeways, Whittier is harder to get to by car than most places in the San Gabriel Valley. This gives parts of the city a secluded feel, but what residents gain in peace and quiet they pay for in long commutes.
From Downtown L.A. take the Pomona Freeway (60) east. Merge onto the San Gabriel River Freeway (605) south and exit at Whittier Boulevard. Turn left at the off ramp onto Whittier Boulevard. (Exiting at Beverly Boulevard East is faster, but it's more confusing.)
To get to Uptown Whittier, the city's historic business district, turn left onto Hadley Street and then right onto Greenleaf Avenue. The majority of Uptown's small businesses are on Greenleaf between Hadley and Mar Vista Streets, but you'll find other shops and restaurants a few blocks east and west of Greenleaf.
If locally owned small businesses aren't your thing, continue to head south on Greenleaf and turn left onto Whittier Boulevard. At the corner of Whittier Boulevard and Painter Avenue, you'll find The Quad, a formerly indoor mall. After years of being a ghost town, it was completely redone after the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake. It's now like every other strip mall in suburbia, which means there's plenty of parking and chain restaurants.
Still haven't had your fill of cookie-cutter corporate America? Continue southeast on Whittier Boulevard until you come to the Whittwood Town Center. Formerly called the Whittwood Mall, this outdoor strip mall was originally--an outdoor strip mall. Following the trend of the time, they enclosed it in the late '70s. The roofed part of the mall ran from the eastern entrance of Sears (formerly the Broadway) to the western entrance of JC Penney. Where Target now stands used to be more parking, a gym, and a tire shop. After years of empty storefronts, a plan was hatched to--are you sensing a trend here?--tear down the indoor part of the mall.
The Jonathan Bailey House, 13421 E. Camilla Street (East of Painter Avenue), ☎ 562 945 3871. Sundays 1:00-3:30 p.m.. Built in 1860, the Jonathan Bailey House was the first residence in Whittier and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rocky Cola Cafe, 6757 Greenleaf Avenue, ☎ 562 907 3377. The parade scene in the final episode of The Wonder Years was filmed at the corner of Greenleaf Avenue and Philadelphia Street. Kevin (Fred Savage) is standing under the awning of Rocky Cola Cafe. He crosses Philadelphia to meet Paul (Josh Saviano) as a parade goes by. Parades actually do go down Greenleaf, but they're usually Christmas parades.
Whittier High School, 12417 E. Philadelphia Street. Remember Back to the Future? Well, the high-school scenes, including the exteriors for the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, were filmed at Whittier High School.
Turnbull Canyon Road, Beverly Blvd. & Beverly Hills Dr.. Turnbull Canyon Road is your typical mountain road. If you grew up in Whittier in the '80s, your older brother took you on rides on this winding, (relatively) desolate boulevard on weekends. He further scared you by claiming that skinheads and Satanists met here on Fridays nights--just about the time you hit that first turn. Suburban legends aside, it can be scary to drive on, especially at night in the rain. To get here from Uptown, take Hadley Street east, turn left onto Painter Avenue, and turn right onto Beverly Boulevard. Beverly turns into Turnbull Canyon Road. The true test of local-area back roads is whether you're able, after driving the length of Turnbull Canyon, to return to Whittier without making a U-turn, taking the freeway, or using Hacienda Boulevard.
Blue Hills Nursery, 16440 Whittier Blvd., ☎ 562 947 2013. Who knew that Southern California's DIY green-thumb mecca was located in Whittier? Knowledgeable gardeners, that's who. The staff here know everything there is to know about, well, gardening. Bring in a leaf from any plant, and they'll identify it. Seriously.
Little Old Bookshop, 6708 Greenleaf Ave., ☎ 562 698 1934. Once home to a few independent bookstores, Greenleaf now only boasts the Little Old Bookshop. But what a boast it is. Recently expanded, this wonderfully spacious and affordable bookstore carries new and used titles. There are separate mystery and kids' sections, and the floorboards are really squeaky.
Orchards Fresh Foods, 16426 Whittier Boulevard, ☎ 562 902 1825. A great little market and restaurant just of Whittier Blvd., next to a nursery. They have freshly cut meat and make excellent sandwiches.
Dattilo, 6746 Greenleaf Ave., ☎ 562 693 3051. Italian food the way mom used to make. OK, maybe the way your cousin's next-door neighbor's aunt Maria used to make. What it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in charm.
Mimo's Cafe, 6735 Greenleaf Ave., ☎ 451 698 7474. A great place to grab a sandwich, cup of soup, or ice-cream cone. Sit at one of the outdoor tables and do some surprisingly good people-watching, especially at night. Count the number of the times the same group of high school sophomores walks by, and you'll understand why Whittier teenagers are so bored.
Rick's Drive In & Out, 7254 Greenleaf Ave., ☎ 562 698 4464. According to its local TV commercials, "In Whittier, everybody eats at Rick's." Maybe not everybody, but a sizable portion of Whittier's senior citizens. If you're in the mood for burgers, hot dogs, and fries, come here. And the coffee's good too.
Seafare Inn, 16363 Whittier Blvd., ☎ 562 947 6645. Another hangout for the over-80 crowd, the Seafare Inn is a veritable AARP convention on Friday nights, especially during Lent. The food won't wow you, but it's worth going at least once.
Thai Table, 10509 Santa Gertrudes Ave., ☎ 562 947 9670. A hidden gem on the outskirts of the Whittwood Town Center. The menu is fairly large, the service is prompt, and there are many vegetarian and even vegan options.
Rosarito Taco Grill, 16220 Whittier Blvd, ☎ 562 943 4466. A great little Mexican restaurant hidden inside a small plaza. Great place for burritos or their potato tacos.
The 6740: 6740 Greenleaf Ave. (562) 698-6740
Slam Dunk: 14226 Whittier Blvd. (562) 698-8474
Lambert Inn - Whittier, 13318 Lambert Road, ☎ +1 562 693-1099 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 562 698-6752), . Offering a AAA 2 Diamond garden hotel in the heart of Whittier. There are jacuzzi suites and free WiFi.
Motel 6 Los Angeles - Whittier, 8221 South Pioneer Boulevard, ☎ +1 562 692-9101 (fax: +1 562 908-9561), .
Vagabond Inn Whittier, 14125 E. Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90605, ☎ 562-698-9701, . The Whittier Vagabond Inn hotel is a short drive away from Knott's Berry Farm, Disneyland and minutes to Whittier College.