The Real Clark W. Griswold House?



I absolutely love Christmastime!  Halloween may be my favorite holiday, but the weeks leading up to Christmas are definitely my favorite time of year.  Each November I start looking forward to the red and green decorations lining city streets, the twinkle lights adorning houses and store windows, Starbucks eggnog lattes, carolers, the general goodwill in the air, and even all the hustle and bustle.  I just love it!  But my absolute favorite thing to do during the Christmas Season is to drive around looking at the many homes decorated with multi-colored lights.  The very best, and most famous, decorated home in all of Los Angeles also just happens to be a filming location!  🙂  So, of course, I had to blog about it!




 No family does Christmas decorations better than the Balian Family.  The Balians are the owners of the Los Angeles based Balian Ice Cream Company and they live in a big, pink mansion in Altadena.  Their 21 room home was built in 1922 and is commonly known around the L.A. area as “The Balian Mansion”. The Balians have been decorating their home for Christmas since 1955 and, let me tell you, it is truly a sight to behold!  I honestly think it must have been the real life inspiration for Clark Griswold’s Christmas light display in the movie Christmas Vacation.  While standing in front of the house, you can almost see the City of Altadena’s main power meter spinning out of control just like in the movie.  LOL 


Never in my life have I seen a home as decorated for Christmas as the Balian Mansion is each year.  Every last inch of the 5,459 square foot house and its surrounding 3.5 acre lot seems to be completely covered in Christmas lights and Christmas decorations, including a life size nativity scene, painted signs and lighted plastic statues.  A few entrepreneurial souls even stand out front selling t-shirts and glow sticks out of their cars.  Visiting the Balian Mansion at Christmastime is definitely an event!  People come from miles around to behold the site in person and the streets around the mansion get extremely backed up with cars during the weeks leading up to Christmas.  This year it’ll propbably be even more crowded than normal, being that the mansion just got a shout out on AOL’s list of Top 12 Festive Holiday Homes.     


 Although the mansion’s main claim to fame is its yearly Christmas light display, the home also made an appearance in an early episode of Beverly Hills, 90210.  The house shows up in the first season episode entitled “The First Time” in which Brandon’s girlfriend from Minnesota comes to visit.  In the episode, Brandon and Brenda pass by the Balian Mansion while driving home from school (pictured above).  At the time the mansion was painted brown, but today it is a bright pink color.   When I re-watched that episode recently, I almost fell out of my chair upon seeing the mansion, which I immediately recognized from my many pilgrimages there each December.


The Balian Mansion is an L.A. Christmas tradition and I HIGHLY recommend stalking it!  If you are in the area during Christmas, you must, must, must drive by!  The lights are typically put up the first week in December and stay lit through the first week of January.  When I drove by the house yesterday it looked as if the lights were still being set up and I made my boyfriend take a pic of the many powerlines needed to light the house (shown above).  LOL  I can only imagine what their power outlets look like!!! 


Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: The Balian Mansion is located at 1960 Mendocino Lane in Altadena.  If you are in the area, be sure to also make a stop at Christmas Tree Lane, which is located on Santa Rosa Avenue, just off Woodbury.  Christmas Tree Lane is a mile long stretch of huge cedar trees decorated with hundreds upon thousands of multi-colored lights.  It is absolutely magical.  Christmas Tree Lane, although not a movie location, is definitely a must see! 



Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “The Real Clark W. Griswold House?

  1. Kim

    Just stumbled upon your website after recently visiting Casa Walsh for my first time the other day.

    I’ve lived in Pasadena my whole life and didn’t know half the landmarks in my neck of the woods!!!

    Can’t wait to see what you find next!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s