If you've always wanted to visit a Chinese Buddhist temple, but you don't feel like going all the way to China, the Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple is better than next-best — it's the real deal, and much closer to home. The massive complex is a traditional Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monastery on 15 acres in the foothills of Hacienda Heights. The temple's name, “Hsi Lai,” literally means “coming west,” and it's a satellite of Taiwan's Fo Guang Shan order, whose name translates as “Buddha's light mountain.” The monastery was conceived during America's bicentennial and completed in the 1980s, built to advance the mission of an order also known as the International Buddhist Progress Society. As practitioners of Humanistic Buddhism, the Fo Guang Shan monks take a contemporary approach to an age-old faith, incorporating all eight of the schools of Chinese Buddhism. The temple invites the public on self-guided tours, but please, no meat, alcohol or smoking. Remember to dress appropriately (that is, no tank tops, short skirts or shorts), and wear comfy shoes to climb the steps and steep slopes of this modern mountain monastery. 3456 Glenmark Drive, Hacienda Heights. (626) 961-9697, www.hsilai.org.
—Tanja M. Laden