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The latest urban amenities enhance the rural setting of this storied San Fernando Valley suburb
From Chumash Indians to Spanish explorers, Basque rancho owners to scrappy homesteaders, 1920s artists to D-list reality stars, the famed oaks of Calabasas have shaded generations of residents. When the town finally secured water in the ’50s, big development followed, culminating ten years ago with the arrival of Rick Caruso’s first pseudo Main Street project, the Commons. It’s a bit of a paradox: a rolling landscape with 19th-century adobes and L.A.’s largest Lamborghini dealership, though it coalesces into an unlikely but charming town.
1 Blue Table
There are fancy pastas, cheeses, snacks, and spreads here, but the deli salads and made-to-order sandwiches are the main draw. Try Ellen’s Special—a turkey, ham, goat cheese, and fig-onion jam creation named for co-owner Ellen Marcione. » 4774 Park Granada, 818- 222-5195.
2 Saddle Peak Lodge
When there’s a chill in the air, wend your way down picturesque Malibu Canyon Road—past old oak trees, ranches, and burned-out fields—to this restaurant that could pass for a hunting lodge, with its glowing fireplace and elk heads. Weekend brunches attract devotees who frequent the patio in back; we favor the juicy buffalo burger. » 419 Cold Canyon Rd., 818-222-3888.
3 The Little Red Barn
At this folksy clothing, furniture, and bedding boutique, hand-knitted baby blankets come in colors like pumpkin and mint, and the store’s retro-inspired Baby Cakes label includes cowboy-and-Indian-themed T-shirt and bloomer sets. Old-timey toys from Schylling, including tin windup carousels and log cabin play sets, round out the mix. » 23504 Calabasas Rd., 818-591-2007.
4 Calabasas Saddlery
This equestrian showroom caters to riders of all disciplines, from western to dressage to hunter jumpers to eventing. Knowledgeable staffers guide customers through the extensive wares, from leather chaps and saddles to fly masks and shampoos. » 23998 Craftsman Rd., 818-591-0292.
5 Sperling Nursery
Attention-getting signage makes it easy to navigate this 11-acre garden center. The selection of citrus and tropical fruit trees is impressive—check out the blood orange and cherimoya specimens. An onsite gift shop houses an array of garden and patio accessories (we like the candles from Archipelago, Poeme, and Woodwick). » 24460 Calabasas Rd., 818-591-9111.
6 Leap Shoe Lounge
This narrow store wouldn’t fill a single aisle in a Neiman’s shoe department, but it carries smart footwear choices from such comfy-chic brands as Frye, Keds, and Toms. Owner Dawn Spilman also stocks sleeker offerings. Look for the hard-to-find Velvet Angels line, from the former head designer for Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. » 4774 Park Granada, 818-222-8878.
7 Gates Canyon Park
The wheelchair-accessible Brandon’s Village playground anchors this seven-acre park. On “Snow, Snow, Snow Day,” held every year in winter, 35 tons of the white stuff are trucked in. » 5801 Thousand Oaks Blvd., 818-878-4225.
8 Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park
Since 1928, the park has been a resting place for animal companions. Among the pets interred here are Rudolph Valentino’s dog and a lion rumored to have been a model for MGM’s logo. » 5068 N. Old Scandia Ln., 818-591- 7037.