6. Fast track, steep climb, slow town

Santa Anita Park (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

There's a gambler or a horse lover in every family, right? If it's racing season (Dec. 26-April 22), take him, her or them to Santa Anita Park (285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia), where Seabiscuit once galloped to glory and the view of the San Gabriels is reliably gorgeous. Horses usually run Thursdays-Sundays. For just the cost of breakfast, you can watch early workouts (from 5-10 a.m.) from Clocker's Corner at the west end of the track. In the afternoon, for $5 adult admission, you can watch the races or linger near the paddock and gardens as horses, jockeys and trainers prepare. If it isn't racing season, head north to cozy Sierra Madre, park on East Miramonte Avenue near North Mountain Trail Avenue, and hike the first 1.3 miles of the Mt. Wilson Trail, which will jump-start your heart and give you a big view. Then turn around at First Water, come down and flop on a couch at Bean Town coffeehouse (45 N. Baldwin Ave.) or spoon some homemade ice cream at Mother Moo Creamery (17 Kersting Court). For a homegrown souvenir, make the two-minute drive to E. Waldo Ward & Son (273 E. Highland Ave.), a family business (with fruit trees, red barn and Victorian house) that has made and sold jams and jellies since 1891. Wind up with a snazzy dinner at Wistaria (44 N. Baldwin Ave.).


7. Peacocks and dumplings

Din Tai Fung (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Tired of people? Try peacocks and cycads instead. At the 127-acre L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia), you can do that, inspect reflections on Baldwin Lake and read up on the life, times and wives of local pioneer Lucky Baldwin, whose land this once was. When you get hungry, remember that there are hundreds of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants along the increasingly Asian main drags of nearby San Gabriel, Alhambra and Monterey Park. But you have world-famous dumplings within 1.2 miles, so you're headed to Din Tai Fung (1108 and 1088 S. Baldwin Ave.). Din Tai Fung is a global restaurant chain, born in Taiwan, and the sibling Arcadia restaurants are its only California outlets. Servers whisper into wireless headsets and customers often wait in line (no reservations taken) for a chance at the house version of xiao long bao — steamed dumplings filled with pork and broth, 10 for $7.50 and explosively flavorful.


8. Eggs in Eagle Rock, granite in Glendale

Occidental College (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Start in hipster-heavy Eagle Rock, just west of Pasadena, with a comfort breakfast at Auntie Em's (4616 Eagle Rock Blvd.). Swing past tiny Occidental College (two blocks east at 1600 Campus Road), where the Marx Brothers filmed "Horsefeathers" in 1932 and undergrad Barack Obama studied from 1979-81. Then it's time for Forest Lawn Memorial Park (four miles west at 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale), which is a cemetery in the same sense that Hearst Castle is a house. Begun in 1906, these 300 acres of rolling green hills contain more copied Michelangelo sculptures and celebrity graves than any place else you'll find all week. Humphrey Bogart. Walt Disney. Nat King Cole. Casey Stengel. Shortly after his death in 2009, Michael Jackson arrived, followed in early 2011 by Elizabeth Taylor. Management gives no celebrity directions and keeps many resting spots behind locked doors, but you'll get plenty of hints from http://www.seeing-stars.com. And you'll have no trouble finding the little museum or the Great Mausoleum, where Jackson and Taylor are both rumored to be, and where you can watch the curtains part to reveal Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," as reproduced in stained glass by Rosa Caselli Moretti. It's larger than life, of course.


9. Bed, breakfast, ice cream and coffee

Buster's Ice Cream & Coffee Stop (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

South Pasadena (picture Mayberry with yoga) may inspire daydreams about moving in. But first, get breakfast at Heirloom Bakery (807 Meridian Ave.). Stroll on highly walkable Mission Street, Meridian Avenue and El Centro Street, and maybe break for a snack at Buster's Ice Cream & Coffee Stop (1006 Mission St.). If it's Thursday afternoon, catch the farmers market on Meridian between Mission and El Centro. Then retire to your room. Where? Perhaps the Arroyo Vista Inn (335 Monterey Road), a genteel hillside bed and breakfast at the top of a long driveway. It has nine well-appointed bedrooms in a 1910 Craftsman. But there's no pool, and it's not a good choice for children. If you have kids, look at the Bissell House (201 Orange Grove Ave.), a lived-in Victorian on the Pasadena/South Pasadena border with a pool in back. From there, it's a half-mile to to dinner at the Raymond Restaurant (1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena).


10. Home of the Huntington

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

When in San Marino (median household income: about $159,000 a year), why not loll like a 1-percenter? Have an elegant breakfast at Julienne (2649 Mission St.) or get a meal to go from its gourmet market and head for nearby Lacy Park, a 30-acre refuge of tall trees and paths well-suited to beginning bicyclists. (On weekends, there's a $4 fee for nonresidents 4 and older so you might prefer smaller Garfield Park, which is almost as close at Mission Street and Park Avenue in South Pasadena.) Either way, leave plenty of time for the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (1151 Oxford Road), where Thomas Gainsborough's 18th century "The Blue Boy" painting and 120 acres of gardens have long been big attractions. Check those out (especially the Desert, Chinese, Jungle and Children's gardens), but don't stop there. In the library, you can eye a Gutenberg Bible and a Charles Bukowski manuscript, both in the same room. In the American art collection, take a good look at the ocean in Edward Hopper's 1935 painting "The Long Leg." Who knew this inland journey would bring you to the most luminous blue sea ever?

chris.reynolds@latimes.com