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Not just for families and coaster lovers

October 13, 2005|Christine N. Ziemba | Special to The Times

THE town of Valencia is finally stepping out of Magic Mountain's shadow, developing a personality and -- dare we say? -- a nightlife of its own.

Although development in the suburban haven, located in the heart of the Santa Clarita Valley (about 35 miles north of downtown L.A.), has been focused on family-friendly restaurants, shops and activities, there are now a few places that keep the youngish and the restless from another road trip into the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica or Hollywood for entertainment.

Near the Valencia Town Center (an indoor and outdoor shopping complex on Valencia Boulevard at McBean Parkway) sits a challenging little putting course: the Greens. It's not a typical miniature golf course. There's no windmill, clown's head or Astroturf in sight because the 27 holes were designed by renowned golf course architect Ted Robinson. Duffers take on sand traps and water hazards on real grass.

The Greens also has a requisite 19th hole: the Gimme Sports Grill, which caters to players who work up a thirst or an appetite.

But if the idea of a sports bar after a weekend putting round doesn't exactly wet your whistle, there are quite a few alternatives within walking distance.

Among the requisite chain establishments such as Johnny Rockets, Buca di Beppo, B.J.'s Brewery and TGI Friday's, there's the dimly lighted and mellow atmosphere of the Vines Restaurant and bar in the Hyatt Hotel, at the west end of the Town Center. Louder (and usually packed on weekends) is the bar at Salt Creek Grille, which offers live rock and blues on the weekends, or the alternative music scene found at Java N Jazz Coffee.

The once-sleepy hamlet is also now home to a few wine bars. At the Valencia Wine Co., patrons can check the shelves for domestics and imports while sipping vino and munching on items from a limited snack menu that includes generous cheese and pate options.

The Wine Co. also offers weekly tasting classes that focus on certain varieties, food pairings or even the fun "blind tasting" in which labels are hidden from the participants. The bar's ever-changing flight menu keeps the regulars happy. One Bordeaux flight ($12) offered the Chateau Petit Martinot (2000), the Chateau Guadet-Bonnet (2002) and the Huat de Domy (2001).

Although Magic Mountain still draws the crowds to the Santa Clarita Valley, those traveling through should know that Valencia isn't just for the kids anymore.


The tab

Golf greens fees for two $28

What: The Dunes and Lakes courses (par 28 each) of the Greens at Valencia, 26501 McBean Parkway, Valencia,

(661) 222-2900

Drinks and snacks $26

What: Bordeaux wine flight and cheese and cracker plate, Valencia Wine Co., 24300 Town Center Drive, No. 105, Valencia, (661) 254-9300

Total $54

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