We're Exploring LA County's 88 Cities. Here's Your Guide To San Fernando

Map created by Angelica Quintero

Los Angeles County has 88 cities, and KPCC/LAist plans to explore them all. We're recruiting listeners and readers to take us to the neighborhoods they live in and love. From Long Beach to Lancaster, follow our journey here and on the radio with Take Two.

Here's your guide to...

SAN FERNANDO: WHERE THE STREETS WERE (RE)MADE FOR WALKING

San Fernando is the oldest city in the Valley which shares its name. Its name derives from the nearby Mission San Fernando Rey de España, founded in 1797.

Early settlers grew the city into a trading post nestled among farms and ranches.

San Fernando is also the only city in the county completely surrounded by the city of Los Angeles. And it's tiny, occupying just 2.37 square miles.

That's just the perfect size for people who want to ditch their cars and get around on foot.

OUR GUIDE: ANGEL ZOBEL-RODRIGUEZ

KPCC listener Angel Zobel-Rodriguez, left, takes Take Two host A Martinez on a tour of San Fernando. (Photo by Susanica Tam For KPCC)

Years lived in the city: over 25

Favorite thing about San Fernando: Its walkability.

"I've always said you could hold your breath from one side to the other if you drive fast enough," she said.

And it takes about 30 minutes to walk from the city's northwest to southeast borders. That means Zobel-Rodriguez is more likely to stop by one of the nearby mom-and-pop shops.

"If we decide we want to go to dinner, we can walk a few blocks," she added. "You can see your city in a very different way."

Recent improvements to infrastructure has made it all the more possible, like wider sidewalks, intersection bulb outs that decrease the distance to cross intersections and lowered speed limits along certain roads.

Take Two's A Martinez and Leo Duran test the walkability of the small city of San Fernando. (Photo by Susanica Tam for KPCC)

"There is a whole generation of kids who don't want to drive, who don't have a car," Zobel-Rodriguez said. "So we have to come up with better ways to get people around."

It's not all perfect.

"I would never pretend I don't use my car," she said. "If it is 110 degrees, I have air conditioning in it."

But the ability to walk everywhere makes this city quaint.

EXPLORING THE CITY

Map created by Angelica Quintero

1. LA GALERIA GITANA, 120 N. Maclay Ave., Suite E

"We like to walk if there's places to walk to," Zobel-Rodriguez said.

One of her favorites is La Galeria Gitana, a multi-use space that functions as an art gallery, community center, yoga studio and more.

KPCC listener Angel Zobel-Rodriguez and Take Two host A Martinez take in the art at La Galeria Gitana. (Photo by Susanica Tam For KPCC)

"I love this place because here in the middle of the city is this gallery that will have any kind of art," she said. "We know that this is a gem in Los Angeles."

2. HELADOS POPS ICE CREAM, 450 N. Maclay Ave., San Fernando

Down the street is Helados POPS Ice Cream, with decadent (and Instagram-worthy) treats like ice cream nachos and sundaes served in hollowed out coconuts.

Helados also features exotic flavors drawn from the owner's Central American heritage, like cherimoya, lucuma and soursop.

3. THROWBACK JUNCTION, 1003 San Fernando Rd.

Another gem in walking distance is the store Throwback Junction.

"This is the same kind of vintage [store] you'd find on Melrose," says Zobel-Rodriguez. But with fashionable clothes and tchotchkes at far more affordable prices, it's well worth the trip.

Items range from old school ties and soccer jackets, to newer hipster items like tank tops with cats.

4. THE SYLMAR / SAN FERNANDO METROLINK STATION - PACOIMA WASH

Take Two's A Martinez hops off a Metrolink train in San Fernando. (Photo by Susanica Tam For KPCC)

Start at the train station and you're on one side of the city. Walk one mile along Truman Street and you've reached the other side of San Fernando, bordered by the Pacoima Wash.

It just takes about 25 minutes.

"I highly recommend going off the path, though," Zobel-Rodriguez said. "You can see your city in a very different way that you don't see in a car."

MORE TO LOVE ABOUT SAN FERNANDO

There's plenty more that Zobel-Rodriguez didn't have time to show us, so here's her insider's guide to other top things to do and see in her city:

  • El Abuelo: "My favorite Mexican place in town with the best mole."
  • San Fernando Regional Pool: "This place has an Olympic pool and a recreational pool with a slide and kids splash zone."
  • San Fernando Brewing Company: It's a taproom open Thursday through Sunday and does its part to help the community by hosting several events throughout the year.

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