Tag Archives: Southern California

101 Things to do in San Diego (From a Local)

101 things to do in San Diego (from a Local) | The Ultimate Bucket List

From trying the world-renowned microbrewery scene to finding the best beaches and tacos, these are the best things to do in San Diego at least once.

San Diaaago, Ron Burgandy’s place of work and considered to be the sunniest place in America – okay I made that last one up, but it’s still a remarkable place, and very sunny. Plus, there are a ton of things to do in San Diego. Seriously, you will never be bored no matter how many times you visit.

I spent five years living in San Diego, going to school, working at internships and a myriad of jobs to stay afloat during my time at university. Over the half decade I lived there, I grew to love San Diego in all of its perfect weather, beaches, tequila, and delicious Mexican food glory.

San Diego will always have a soft spot for me, so I wanted to share that love with anyone else who plans to visit this amazing seaside city. I made this bucket list so all of my favorite local spots and hangouts can continue to be enjoyed, even when I’m not there.

From tourist attractions, to unique local experiences, the best tacos, and where to indulge in the microbrewery scene, these are my top 101 things to do in San Diego!

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100+ Things to do in LA | The Ultimate Bucket List

things to do in Los Angeles

The best things to do in LA! From the top attractions to favorite local experiences, best beaches, festivals, and recommendations for where to stay and eat.

There's no doubt that Los Angeles gets a bad rap, mostly from people who have spent a weekend in the city and spent the majority of their time in Hollywood.

Don't get me wrong, LA isn't perfect, but it has a lot more going on than what you might see on the surface (read: smog and traffic).

The city can be a headache to get around due to its lacks of efficient public transit and notorious traffic jams, but the City of Stars is magical in its own right. And not just because of the famous people.

You just have to know where to look for that magic.

Luckily, there are endless things to do in LA. It's a city where you would find it hard to be bored, there's a ton to do no matter what you're into.

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Where to Stay in Los Angeles: Best Hotels, Neighborhoods & Travel Tips

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Planning a visit to the City of Stars? This quick guide on where to stay in Los Angeles will have you falling in love with Southern California and its endless summer.

Movies, music, books, newspapers, and all forms of media paint Los Angeles as the go-to destination where people can turn their dreams into reality. But more importantly, as the second largest city in the United States, Los Angeles is home to a diverse array of vibrant communities, resulting in an eclectic fusion of traditions and inspiration.

In this post, I'll take you through not only the best places to stay in LA, but also the top attractions, places to eat in each neighborhood, and how to best get around the city.

If you want to soak up the sun and revel in the waves, L.A. is as close to the movies as you're going to get. So, let's start planning your vacation by deciding where to stay in Los Angeles!

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101 Things to Do in California | The Ultimate Bucket List (From a Local)

101 Things to do in California

There are countless options for things to do in California. It’s a state that offers so much in terms of varied landscapes – from the desert to the beach, mountains, and redwood forests.

Having lived in California for 23 of my 28 years, there’s a lot I love about this place I most recently moved back to and now call home.

And I’m not alone. In the US, California has been the place to move to, a state of transfers and outsiders who come here for the high standard of living, the beautiful coastline, or maybe to make it big, either in Hollywood or the tech industry in Silicon Valley.

California is a place for laid back vibes, dreamers, and outdoorsy folk. Although there are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to California (and Californians), you can’t put the people or the landscape in a box, it’s much too varied.

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A Drive through the L.A. Beaches

California Road Trip, USA

Maybe I’ve changed a lot in my tastes since living abroad, but the enamored feeling I once had towards Southern California no longer seems to be there.

I still enjoy visiting the sunny side of the state, and I still love many aspects of San Diego, but the attitudes in L.A. and Orange County made me realize it’s probably not where I’d want to end up.

Between the bad drivers, the traffic, and the stifling smog, I found myself stressed out more often than not. It would be an adjustment to move to the L.A. area, something I’ve thought of doing in the past for my career.

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It’s astounding the amount of foreigners I’ve met abroad who have only been to L.A. and immediately write off California as a whole as being overrated.

That’s like saying Auckland represents all of New Zealand (fact: it’s actually the complete opposite to the rest of the country), or Sydney represents all of Australia.

The great thing about California is there is so much versatility, even between cities, and especially between regions, as you find with many places around the world. That versatility can be seen with the many California beaches along the coast too.

Related: 101 Things to Do in LA | The Ultimate Bucket List 

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Even still, I can’t deny that there are a lot of stunning places to discover in L.A. if you know where to look, and a good place to start is the L.A. beaches.

Towards the end of our time in L.A. and Orange County, we decided to spend the whole day driving up Hwy 1 and popping into random beaches along the way.

I was meeting a friend in Malibu for dinner, and we were just coming out of our high from Disneyland in Anaheim, so it sounded like a great idea to get out of the city and give Los Angeles another chance.

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I will still always consider Santa Cruz to be Surf City USA rather than Huntington Beach, but it was impressive touring the spotless and pristine beaches south of the city.

I mean, there is a reason why so many of these beaches have been seen on TV shows.

Related: Where to Stay in Los Angeles

Huntington Beach

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Long Beach

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Redondo Beach

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Manhattan Beach

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Venice Beach

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Santa Monica Beach

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What’s your favorite O.C./L.A. beach?

Related: 101 Things to Do in California

4 days in the Desert: from the Salton Sea to Joshua Tree

I’ve been off the radar a bit more than usual as of late, and you may be wondering what the heck I’ve been up to! Well, I’ve been a little bit everywhere, more specifically a little bit all over the desert.

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I’m currently in a busy pizzeria in North Hollywood, overpowered by the hustle and bustle that comes with a city like Los Angeles. that is constantly on the go.

I just spent the last 4 days exploring the Colorado and Mojave Deserts in Southern California, without a recent shower or run-in with civilization, I feel a little out of place. But hey, at least I have some great stories to tell.

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I’ve actually spent a lot of time in the desert recently, with another Coachella Music Festival under my belt, and a week and a half of life in San Diego, I’ve again become accustomed to the dry, relentless heat that comes with Southern California.

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After some temporary farewells (I’ll be back soon y’all!) to some close friends in San Diego, my boyfriend and I took off in our new home: a 1996 Dodge Cargo Van, having no smartphones and using an outdated map from the year before I was born: 1989.

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We first drove up the 101 Hwy, stopping in at one of my favorite haunts in Solana Beach: Pizza Port.

Pizza Port is a little pizzeria that makes delectable pizza and brews their own beer. Oh, and it’s located in one of the most scenic areas of San Diego. What more could you ask for?

Without a doubt, go there if you are in San Diego.

After filling up on a spicy pie filled to the brim with jalapeños, we continued up the coast and reached The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

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The Flower Fields is a jubilant place filled with 50 acres of colorful Ranunculus flowers, a relative to the Buttercup. We had a grand time walking around the fields and taking pictures of the diverse colors on hand, and the perfect weather of Southern California.

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With San Diego behind us, we hit the road properly, winding our way through the mountains and the town of Julian, famous for the BEST apple pie in the West.

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Within a couple of hours we had successfully driven ourselves to the middle of nowhere, or in other words, right on track to where we wanted to be.

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Looking for other great weekend getaway ideas from San Diego? Check out Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.

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Day 1 – The Salton Sea

Think of that standard horror movie that includes a dive bar where everyone stares at you when you walk in, and directs you out of town for accommodation even though they call themselves an inn.

That in a sentence was the Salton Sea that we experienced.

We arrived around dusk and we were the only people camping along the entire eastern shoreline of the lake, so it had the serial killer vibe to begin with.

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In the morning it was a nice view, but we also realized how our first instincts weren’t entirely wrong about being surrounded by death.

There were countless dead fish, and a even a few birds littered around the shoreline, increasing as you crept closer to the water. Also, the sand was made of crushed fish bones. Weird.

The water itself felt slimy, and had a greasy sheen to it.

I don’t know if I would recommend swimming close to shore, or even staying the night if you easily get the spooks, but it would be a scenic picnic spot on your way past.

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It’s a favorite muse for many photographers due to its post-apocalyptic nature and desolation.

Day 2 – Salvation Mountain/Joshua Tree

Leaving the Salton Sea by mid-morning, we backtracked a little ways to see the famous Salvation Mountain in Niland, California, and it did not disappoint.

Salvation Mountain has a ton of colorful artwork that clearly took a lot of patience and perseverance to construct.

Made with adobe, straw, and paint, Salvation Mountain stands high with its cross and has bountiful bible passages and Jesus love everywhere you look.

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Beside the mountain there is another section to walk through, with crevices and corners of artwork to look at as well as cats that may jump out at you for a little surprise – just ask my boyfriend.

There were no other people around when we were there. Located in a squatter city with dilapidated motor homes and dust in the middle of nowhere, it was hard not to feel a little creeped out. The repetitive religious fervor and stray cats only added to the effect.

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With that said, Leonard Knight, who created the colorful mountain, is said to have been a fascinating human being by visitors who met him before he passed away last year.

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Even still, I don’t think I would feel comfortable camping in the area overnight.

Day 3/4 – Joshua Tree 

Joshua Tree, are you joshing me? Sorry, I know that was lame. It was what I said all week, so I had to get it out of my system one last time.

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Joshua Tree, the place that U2 wrote an album after, a place that everyone always raves about.

And I can now clearly see why: it’s elegant and moving.

From our first drive into the southern entrance through the Cottonwood Mountains we knew this was worth coming out to.

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I never would’ve thought a desert could be so beautiful, but Joshua Tree National Park changed that. I had never seen a Joshua Tree before my trip to the park, and they quickly became my favorite (read: only) tree to look at.

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The southern section of the national park is at a lower elevation in the Colorado Desert. Dry, hot, with an abundance of shrubbery, there is only one traditional campsite in the area.

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In the transition zone, there is a change to elevation, a mix between the two deserts – Colorado and Mojave.

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We stopped at the Cholla (pronounced “Choy- ya”) Cactus Garden, and found ourselves surrounded by Teddy Bear Cholla. They were adorable, but not something you’d ever want to cuddle.

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We camped at Hidden Valley and Indian Cove in the Mojave Desert elevation. Hidden Valley was higher up so it was freezing at night in our van, but Indian Cove was much more temperate.

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Even with the lower temperatures, Hidden Valley was my favorite place to rest for the night. It’s in the middle of the park so you have countless hikes and lookouts available to you.

What I really enjoyed was watching all of the rock climbers that are popular in this campsite in particular.

Being higher up, the constellations were absolutely stellar – pun intended. It was the first time I had looked up at the stars with no light pollution since coming back from the Southern Hemisphere, and that moment alone really brought home back to me.

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Other highlights of Joshua Tree included Keys View, which looked out over the spanning desert, back to the Salton Sea where we had come from, and even over the Coachella Valley and Indio where I had spent the previous weekend.

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We hiked around the Hidden Valley campsite, climbed huge rocks, found the Skull Rock near the Jumbo Rocks campsite, and even wandered down a trail called the Wall Street Mill that showcased an old gold mining operation.

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On the same trail we found a couple of old cars from the early 20th century left to dust in the desert.

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I can see why Joshua Tree is a place people come back to time and time again, I look forward to going back myself someday.

Every time we’d look out to the horizon, it almost looked superimposed or like a painting, it was that unrealistic and unique.

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It felt so easy to disconnect from all the worries and stress of technology and cities, because there was so much in the desert to be enamored with.

It was exactly what I wanted after an overpopulated festival like Coachella that made me question human behavior and the extent of the word rude, even if the music was amazing.

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Joshua Tree was our first National Park on our trip, but it won’t be the last. I’ll be getting lost in many a redwood forest up north.

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I can’t deny it, it feels damn good to be home.

Exploring My Own Backyard in Julian, California

A short day trip from San Diego, you’ll find Julian and the best apple pie in southern California.

Last weekend, I convinced my roommate to take a road trip with me to Julian, CA. I invited a few other friends, and next thing I knew, we had a full car, cruising up to Julian to indulge in everything apple-related on a beautiful southern California day.

I’m talking about the apple pie capital of the world, and it was only an hour and a half away from me this whole time I’ve lived in San Diego!

I’ve been wanting to visit Julian since I heard the words apple and pie in the same sentence, and even more so in the last few months of checking off my San Diego bucket list.

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