Burbank gained some national fame during the 1960s when it was mentioned several times in Johnny Carson's comedy skits on the Tonight Show, which was taped here after the show moved from New York City. It also was mentioned in many Saturday Night Live skits in the 1970s. However, the film industry companies began to travel to Burbank California as early as the 1920s when their lots and studios began to get too large in a growing Los Angeles and discovered the wide open spaces of the San Fernando Valley, which was at the time primarily ranch land and vast citrus orchards. NBC moved its television network here in 1952, and this remains one of the centers for the TV tapings for that network.
Things to do in Burbank are centered heavily on the entertainment industry. It's possible to enjoy tours of the NBC Studios, where many of today's stars got their start as guides. Then you can get a ticket for a taping of the Tonight Show. You can also tour the Warner Studios through back lot streets and towns that consist only of building fronts. Also in the area is the vast complex of Universal Studios, with its studio tours and famous Universal City Walk. The Burbank attractions also include its revitalized downtown district, which is one of the retail shopping meccas of the San Fernando Valley, with things to do in Burbank that include hundreds of stores and boutiques, numerous dining spots, and many movie theaters. It is also the site of many holiday events, concerts, and fine arts festivals.
Other things to do in Burbank include visiting Griffith Park, which is set on the southern boundary of Burbank and also bounded by the cities of Glendale, Universal City, and Los Feliz. This beautiful wild urban park is full of wildlife, and also boasts a golf course, the prestigious Los Angeles Zoo, the Gene Autry National Center of the American West (one of the finest museums of its type in the United States), and the famous Griffith Observatory. Many people travel to Burbank California just to visit the attractions in this park. Unfortunately, the park itself was heavily damaged in wildfires during the 2008 and 2009 fire seasons, but the hardy mountain and chaparral terrain recovers quickly, as do its wild denizens, including coyotes, deer, and the occasional mountain lion. This is an excellent place for jogging, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Burbank has also been a center for the aviation industry since the 1920s, when Lockheed built an aircraft manufacturing plant here in 1928. Down the street in 1929, Jack Northrop built his historic prototype Flying Wing aircraft—predecessor of today's Stealth fighters and bombers. The airport (formerly called Union and then United Airport) was the largest in the Los Angeles area until what is now LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) was built. Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes both piloted flights out of this facility. Today, the Burbank Bob Hope Airport remains a busy commercial facility, and is a prime choice for people and airlines to Los Angeles that want to avoid the heavy traffic on the 495 highway to and from LAX. The airport is so important to the Los Angeles area that some people may travel to Burbank California by air without ever realizing they have landed in this suburb.