In 1887, the city of Monrovia became the fourth city to incorporate in Los Angeles County, making it one of the oldest cities in Southern California. Once the home of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Upton Sinclair, today Monrovia is home to 37,000 people as well as a palpable sense of the past, with over 1,800 pre-1940 homes still in existence. Take a stroll down Myrtle Avenue, the center of Old Town, for a taste of Monrovia’s 135-year history. Have a seat next to Mark Twain, whose bronze likeness occupies a bench in front of the public library at the center of Myrtle Avenue.
For a more immersive historical experience, visit the Monrovia Historical Museum. Once the site of the municipal pool, the historic building was turned into a museum rather than torn down. Inside you’ll find a wealth of exhibits illustrating the past, from period clothes to a large collection of old phones to artifacts of the city’s founding fathers. In addition to the history of Monrovia, one wing of the museum also houses natural history displays. There are several interactive exhibits that will appeal to children. And one of the best things about the museum is that it’s free.
As long as you’re in a historical frame of mind, stop by Kaleidoscope Antiques and browse the expansive collection. Since 1985, founder Linda Taylor has been curating a fascinating assortment of antiques, curios, and collectibles.
If you get hungry, a number of appealing options await. For some pizza (both classic pies and a number of specialty pizzas), wings or pasta, stop by the popular Old Town Pizza right on Myrtle Avenue. If it’s barbeque you’re craving, Jake’s Roadhouse has you covered. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Jake’s award-winning barbeque will leave you more than satisfied.
For something a bit more refined and unique, try The Peach Café. Just a block off Myrtle on East Colorado Boulevard, The Peach Café serves breakfast and lunch including honey maple waffles studded with maple bacon, fruit pancakes, and amazing huevos rancheros, along with a host of artisanal coffee concoctions.
For a little mid-day exercise visit Monrovia Canyon Park. This is a beautiful and relatively easy 3 miles out and back hike suitable for all levels of hikers. Weekends can be crowded and there is a $10 fee to park in the lot. Weekdays are far less impacted and lot parking is only $5. Weekend or weekday, however, the waterfall is a suitable payoff. After your hike, treat yourself to a little liquid refreshment at Hop Secret Brewing Company. A labor of love by former Fire Department Financial Officer Gary Gates, Hop Secret offers craft-draught brew in an inviting atmosphere graced with local art, a mere 25 feet from where the beer is created.
If you’re enjoying Monrovia on a Friday, don’t miss the Friday Night Street Fair & Market. Street performers and local merchants share their wares, along with a robust farmers market and rides for children. The fair is a festive evening out with food, activities, and cool stuff that appeals to all ages. Best of all, it’s right in the heart of historic Old Town Monrovia.
Editor’s note: Some locations may be temporarily closed due to COVID-19.