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Flappers Comedy Club

This L.A. suburb basks in the spotlight of its leading roles as both an entertainment outpost and an easygoing town.

Hollywood, with its warm weather and dream-fulfilling possibilities, draws millions to its star-encrusted streets. But just an Oscar’s throw away (seven miles or so), unassuming Burbank is worth a close-up. Home to Warner Bros., Disney and NBC Studios, the picket-fence town boasts enough entertainment cachet and celebrity sightings to appeal to the star-crazed, but its real charm lies in the beloved old haunts favored by locals for decades.

Entertainment Tonight
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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Almost every episode of The Tonight Show has been taped in front of a live audience at Burbank’s NBC Studios since 1972, when Johnny Carson’s late-night jabs practically put the town on the map. These days, Jay Leno leads the charge, and visitors can request free tickets online or queue up for leftovers by 8 a.m. on the day of the show. Fourteen years ago, prolific TV and film producer/director Garry Marshall (think Happy Days and Pretty Woman) opened the 130-seat Falcon Theatre, where top-notch plays and musicals are produced year-round. Also good for a laugh is Flappers Comedy Club, just one year young, which features touring stand-ups yucking it up with audience members who sit close enough to toast ’em or roast ’em.

The Shop Around the Corner
Not much is left of the Golden Mall, a dime store– and barbershop-speckled stretch of San Fernando Boulevard that now brims with cavernous restaurants and ethnic eateries. One remaining relic, however, is Book Castle’s Movie World, a musty, wood-paneled shop filled rug to rafters with 50-cent paperbacks and movie posters ranging from yellowed MGM classics to the latest Harry Potter book. Magnolia Boulevard, stretching east from Hollywood Way, is a browser’s dream, thanks to atypical shops like Playclothes, a vintage depot frequented by studio wardrobe departments that pluck pieces from the collection of high-quality retro accessories and clothing, which span from the 1930s to more recent decades. “Yes, the ’80s are considered vintage now,” laughs owner Wanda Soileau. Just down the street, It’s a Wrap! sells clothing and props that rotate in from various movie and TV stages, such as Mean Girls 2 and True Blood, among others.

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Safari Inn
For the latest restaurants lauded by Michelin, you’ll have to head into Los Angeles, because in Burbank, the oldies are the goodies. Locals pile into the oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy restaurant in America, where the ’50s come alive each Friday night at the carhop. Cameras and stage lights are de rigueur outside the swinging saloon doors of Tinhorn Flats, a favorite watering hole and grill with friendly service and, some say, Burbank’s best burgers ($5.95 all day on Wednesdays). Popular for 55 years, Santoro’s continues to serve its celebrated submarine sandwiches smothered in chopped pickles and onions to film crews and locals who line up out the front door. Cupcakes might be trendy these days, but anyone from Burbank will tell you the square tea cakes, made at Martino’s Bakery since 1926, beat a round cupcake any day.

Pillow Talk
The neon surfboard sign at the Safari Inn ($129 to $199) is as iconic a Burbank landmark as the Warner Brothers Water Tower and has been lighting up Olive Avenue since 1955. The motel oozes a retro L.A. style worthy of a Gidget revival and has been seen in movies and TV shows alike, including Apollo 13 and CSI: Miami. For more upscale digs, head to Hotel Amarano ($115 to $540), a 100-room luxury boutique hotel. Its elegant decor feels out of place in modest Burbank, but the A-list guest register reads like an Emmy Awards seating chart, and the hotel’s approachable bartender, Harvey, entertains with astounding card tricks and an Oscar-worthy personality.

If You Go … 
Entertainment Tonight
NBC Studios
3000 W. Alameda Ave.
(818) 840-3537
view website

Falcon Theatre
4252 W. Riverside Drive
(818) 955-8101
view website

Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant
102 E. Magnolia Blvd.
(818) 845-9721
view website

Shop Around the Corner
Book Castle’s Movie World
212 N. San Fernando Blvd.
(818) 845-1563
view website

3100 W. Magnolia Blvd.
(818) 557-8447
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It’s A Wrap!
3315 W. Magnolia Blvd.
(818) 567-7366
view website
Bob’s Big Boy
4211 W. Riverside Drive
(818) 843-9334
view website

Tinhorn Flats
2623 W. Magnolia Blvd.
(818) 567-2470
view website

1423 W. Burbank Blvd.
(818) 848-8888
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Martino’s Bakery
335 N. Victory Blvd.
(818) 842-0715
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Pillow Talk Safari Inn
1911 W. Olive Ave.
(818) 845-8586
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Hotel Amarano
322 N. Pass Ave.
(818) 842-8887
view website