Whittier is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Puente Hills, a semi-arid region with quiet streams, large oak and sycamore tree forests and tall, rolling hills that offer spectacular views of the L.A. basin. The Puente Hills span the distance between Los Angeles and Orange County and have been converted into a wildlife safety corridor and habitat preserve by the local landfill authority that owns the land. Visitors can experience local wildlife up close by hiking, biking or horseback riding on the many trails that traverse the corridor. You can begin your Puente Hills adventure at two local trail heads: Sycamore Canyon, a humans-only walking path with an entrance on Workman Mill Road, or at the dog-friendly Arroyo Pescadero, on Colima Road across from Murphy Ranch Little League fields.
Uptown Whittier is the heart of the community. This central commercial district was created during the town's early days but almost destroyed when an earthquake badly damaged Whittier in the late 1980s. Today, Uptown Whittier is a newly revitalized community center that reflects the diversity of Los Angeles in both the people and stores that line Greenleaf Avenue, the main street in the shopping district. Spend an afternoon exploring the dozens of independently owned merchants and enjoy unexpected surprises ranging from the Dharma Center Bookstore (facebook.com/pages/Dharma-Center-Bookstore/168753269826138) that offers bilingual metaphysical books and gifts to Casita Del Pueblo (casitadelpueblo.info/joomla/), a Latino art gallery and cultural center. Uptown Whittier is a fun place to people-watch, whether you're dining at one of the district's restaurants or just sitting on a bench in the plaza.
Bring a shopping bag and a hearty appetite to Uptown Whittier on Wednesday evenings and Friday and Sunday afternoons for free, family-friendly fun. Each week you'll find dozens of Southern California farmers selling fresh produce, local artists showcasing their handmade art and gourmet items and local musicians offering entertainment. Other free family events in Whittier include an annual car show and the Whittier Christmas parade. Take a short walk south of Uptown Whittier and head to the Whittier Public Library (cityofwhittier.org/depts/library/default.asp), where you'll find weekly book groups, author appearances, book clubs and children's story hours.
Whittier is one of the few towns in Southern California with a large inventory of historic homes built in diverse architectural styles, ranging from Craftsman to Victorian to Spanish Revival and Mission. Many of these homes belonged to Whittier's first citizens, members of the Quaker faith who settled the region with the hopes of establishing a Quaker-based community. The Whittier Historic Neighborhood Association exists to preserve the historic integrity of these founding residents' homes. Each year the association hosts a home tour of the best architectural examples in the area, but you can see many of them on your own by taking a walk or bike ride around this pedestrian-friendly district. Begin your Whittier home tour one block outside of Uptown Whittier on Bailey Avenue and peruse the neighborhoods around Central Park and Whittier College to see a variety of styles