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Burbank, Universal City & the San Fernando Valley/USA

Introducing Burbank, Universal City & the San Fernando Valley

Despite being home to most of LA’s major movie studios – including Warner Bros, Disney and Universal – much of the sprawling grid of suburbia known as ‘the Valley’ is an exercise in bleakness. It also has the dubious distinction of being the original world capital of porn, memorably captured in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 Boogie Nights. Car culture was also basically invented in the Valley, which claims to have given birth to the mini-mall, the drive-in movie theater, the drive-in bank and the drive-in restaurant.

Attractions are few and scattered about; Burbank has the studios, and North Hollywood, west of here, is home to a growing arts scene. Studio City, west of Universal, has some superb sushi on Ventura Blvd. At last count there were 21 sushi bars within a six-block radius, which is why some call it, LA’s Sushi Row. Studio City’s grooviest shopping and cafe strip can be found on Tujunga Blvd, which is also where you’ll find Vitello’s restaurant, where Robert Blake’s wife was killed by a gunshot wound in 2001.

Note that temperatures here are usually 20°F (11°C) higher – and pollution levels worse – than in areas further south. But it’s not all bad. In fact, with lower-cost housing and the lack of congestion, the Valley is more laidback and down to earth than elsewhere in the city. This is where LA gets real.