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Travel Guide
Pasadena:
The Gamble House
    This historic landmark, owned and operated by the University of Southern California, is an excellent example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture.
Attraction type:   Art museum,   Architectural building,  Historic site,  Historic home

Kidspace Children's Museum
    Focusing on the natural sciences, Kidspace Children's Museum offers children a place to explore, investigate, and express themselves. Climb a 40-foot raindrop, uncover fossils, create an insect's dinner, wind through the grass maze, catch a butterfly, make music, meet a bearded dragon and much more at the Kidspace interactive indoor and outdoor spaces. Admission is $8 for adults and children, infants under 1 are free

Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Attraction type:    Factory tour,   Educational site,   Government building

The Pasadena Playhouse
    Considered a training ground for future performers and film stars, the Pasadena Playhouse

Pacific Asia Museum
    The mission of this museum is to preserve, present and interpret the arts and culture of the Pacific Islands and Asia in order to promote appreciation of these cultures.

Pasadena Ice Skating Center
    Occupying what was once the ballroom in Pasadena's civic auditorium, which is considered a historical landmark, is the home of the Pasadena Figure Skating Club.

Z Med Spa
Wrigley Gardens
Red White & Bluezz
Tournament of Roses Association

Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau

Attraction type:    Tourist/visitor center

Artworks Gallery
Attraction type:   Art gallery

Lake Avenue
    Considered to be a Rodeo Drive for the middle-rich.

Colorado Boulevard
    The site of the Rose Parade in Pasadena.
Attraction type:   Scenic/historic walking area,   Scenic railroad,   Street

Playhouse District
Attraction type:   Theater district

Eaton Canyon
Attraction type:   Canyon,   Nature reserve

Eaton Canyon Natural Area
Attraction type:   Historic site,   Nature trail,   State park

Anaheim:
Disneyland Resort
    Advice for families! Stay as close to the Park as you can - it's good to be able to come out for a break without losing too much of the day. For most folks the three Disney owned hotels are expensive...

Disney's California Adventure
    Experience the thrill of the an old wooden rollercoaster, but with modern twists, turns and technology, at "California Screamin." Or enjoy a live performance by your favorite characters at Disney's newest theme park, featuring a slew of exciting rides and family entertainment.

Downtown Disney
     Downtown Disney is a great addition to the Disney scene, offering many fine shops and restaurants to choose from. There is now a Sephora store and the World of Disney will give you an opportunity...
Attraction type:   Town center/square/plaza,  Specialty shop,  Specialty museum,  Flea/street market

Anaheim Hills Golf Course
    Parents often escape the theme parks for this course set on enchanting old California terrain, with a stream that runs past oaks and sycamores. It offers a good game for golfers of all ages and skill levels at a surprisingly affordable price.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Anaheim Museum

Flightdeck Air Combat Center

    Flight simulation center that gives civilians the opportunity to pilot fighter jets in actual cockpit simulators. Experience the challenge of aerial maneuvers at 500 knots, aircraft take-offs and landings and the excitement of air-to-air combat.
Adventure City
    Popcorn and cotton candy are the main fare at this mini-megalopolis, an entire city designed and built for children. It includes nine exciting amusement rides, a petting farm, interactive stage shows and a game arcade.

Yorba Regional Park
Honda Center
Anaheim Indoor Marketplace

    More than 200 variety stores sell name-brand merchandise way below retail prices.
Grove of Anaheim
    A 40,000-square-foot entertainment facility features a movie-studio soundstage that provides full production, multimedia and video productions.

Hobby City Doll and Toy Museum
Anaheim Farmer's Market

    A variety of items and food, from stained glass and specialty fashions to mangos and melons, can be found at this weekly open-air market in downtown Anaheim.
San Diego:
Balboa Park
     One of the most popular urban parks in the United States, this bucolic paradise is packed with an array of attractions, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Cabrillo National Monument
     Stately monument honoring Cabrillo, discoverer of San Diego Bay, is located in Point Loma that overlooks the city and the Bay.

Timken Museum of Art
     Museum that celebrates the important role of art as a way of enriching lives by featuring American, Dutch and Flemish, French, Italian paintings and Russian Icons.

San Diego Aerospace Museum
     Museum's emphasis is on the history of flight, from the days of hot-air balloons to the Spirit of St. Louis to today's space shuttles.

Torrey Pines State Reserve
     Torrey Pines State Reserve is a great place for some short hikes with great views of the coastline. If you are lucky you might spot some bottlenosed dolphins or migrating whales. Parking fee is $8...

Maritime Museum of San Diego
     The San Diego Maritime Museum is home to the world's oldest sailing vessel that still sails - "The Star of India". This beautiful square rigger can be visited on the waterfront in downtown San...

San Diego Zoo
     The San Diego Zoo is truly one of America's treasures. With it's long history of research and bree... of rare animals, the San Diego Zoo is much more than a Zoo. It is a glimpse in to how zoologists

SeaWorld San Diego
     Home to a plethora of fabulously talented sea creatures including the famous killer whale Shamu.

Gaslamp Quarter
     A 16-block national historic district that offers visitors a variety of restaurants and shops, as well as an eyeful of Victorian architecture.

Spanish Village Art Center
     Located in Balboa Park, this center is home to many art galleries and studios.

San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum
Point Loma
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

     Historic site in downtown San Diego that recreates life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872.

San Diego Model Railroad Museum
     One of the world's largest model railroad museums features a scale model railway that replicates San Diego's tracks.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Mission Beach

     Along with Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach, Mission Beach forms the coastline of San Diego.

Black's Beach
     One of the west coast's 5 premier surfing spots.

Spa Tiki
Little Italy

     San Diego's oldest continuous neighborhood business district has continued to be a vibrant ethnic business and residential community since the 1920s.

Old Town Trolley
     Two-hour trolley bus tours that visit major attractions such as Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, Coronado and the Embarcadero.

Los Angeles:
Disneyland
     "The happiest place on earth" and its little sibling, Disney's California Adventure are a big hit.

Universal Studios Hollywood
     A theme park that grew out of a studio tour.

Hollywood
     Hollywood Boulevard is ready for its closeup, thanks to years of urban renewal and renovation. Enjoy the Walk of Fame, Mann's Theatre and more...
Rodeo Drive
     Packed with exclusive shops, full of gawkers. They all came to enjoy the excess.

Venice Beach
     Los Angeles kitsch and over-the-top culture at its best. Here you'll find Muscle Beach, street performers and tacky shops galore.

Sunset Boulevard
     Perhaps one of the world's most famous streets, it began as a route between the stars' posh neighborhoods and the Hollywood studios. It runs from downtown to the ocean, passing through the "Sunset Strip" on its way.

The Beaches
     The Southern California beach scene is almost iconic for Los Angeles, and you'll find a selection to choose from. Our favorites are the "South Bay"

Beach Towns
     Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and Hermosa Beach. The beach scene and a classic seaside amusement park at Santa Monica Beach and Pier are also popular.

Knott's Berry Farm
     Knotts' Southern California Resort includes Soak City U.S.A. and a theme park-full of family shows and rides.

Queen Mary
     Once the largest ship afloat, she's been docked in Long Beach for longer than she sailed, and her elegance never fails to impress.

Six Flags Magic Mountain
     Roller coaster heaven
There are plenty of other things to do in Los Angeles besides the ones on this list. If you're looking for something else, or something different, start with the Best of the Rest. If you are very interested in a specific sight or activity, and you have plenty of information about it, don't skip it because of my recommendations. However, if you don't know much about it, there may be a reason why it's not listed. Research it carefully before you go to be sure you spend your vacation time and money wisely.

Old Town Pasadena
     Historic downtown Pasadena is filled with shops and restaurants, and is a very popular nightspot.

Farmers Market and The Grove
     A new shopping complex right next to a Los Angeles landmark, The Grove and Farmers Market coexist. Enjoy a movie or shopping, then take the trolley to the Farmers Market for lunch or dinner.

Santa Monica Third Street Promenade
     Downtown Santa Monica's shopping promenade is often the scene of movie star-sightings.

Griffith Park
     Home of the Los Angeles Zoo, Griffith Park Observatory, Travel Town and the Greek Theatre.

Getty Museum
     The Getty's architecture is so beautiful that it keeps me fascinated. After several visits, I still can't get inside to see their superb art collection. No matter whether you like their art or architecture better (or maybe you'll just enjoy the view), the Getty is sure to please.

Catalina Island
     It's in Los Angeles County, but it seems more like it should be on the Mediterranean. Things are different on Catalina. Fish fly. People drive golf carts instead of cars. It's a magical place, and my favorite Southern California getaway.

Nine Things to do for Free in Los Angeles
  • Watch a Television Show Taping:   All you need is an advance reservation and some time to be in the studio audience for selected sitcoms and game shows.
  • Hollywood Boulevard:   If you use our guide, you won't need to pay someone else to show you around..
  • Watch the Rose Parade:  To get a front row seat, you'll have to camp out overnight, but spaces on the sidewalk are free.
  • Rodeo Drive:   The shops are expensive, but window-shopping is free and so is the parking
  • Hollywood Bowl:   You'll pay to get into an evening performance, but some morning rehearsals are open to the public.
    Call 626-584-1181 for more info.
  • Walk on the Beach:   Los Angeles beaches are a great place for walking, people-watching and relaxing
  • Downtown:   There's more to do and see downtown than most people realize. Use ourself-guided tour and you'll find plenty to see for free. If you get tired, you might have to pay 25 cents to ride the bus back to your starting point.
  • Friday Night Jazz at the Art Museum:   Friday evenings from April to November, you can catch a free concert in the Los Angeles Times Central Court at the Los Angeles County Art Museum.
  • Museums for Free:   The California Science Center is free all the time, and the Getty Museum and Getty Villa have no admission fee (although they will charge you to park).Others offer free admission on selected days only.
Los Angeles averages 15 inches of rain per year, most of it falling December through March. If you get caught in LA in the rain, these are some things you can do that will keep you inside and dry.

The Wright Sites
     Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed some of his most notable buildings for Los Angeles residents and the tours are inside, but if you know Wright, you know that many of his creations had leaky roofs. Don't be surprised to see plastic tarps and buckets.

How 'Bout a Cuppa?
     For such an informal place, LA has lots of places to enjoy an afternoon tea, an especially nice thing to do on a rainy day. These are a few of the best spots:
  • Huntington Tea Room, San Marino
  • Rose Tree Cottage, Pasadena
  • Hotel Bel-Air
  • Peninsula Hotel, Beverly HIlls
  • Tudor House, Santa Monica
  • Lady Effie's Tea Parlor

Go Play Inside
     If you can't play outdoors, go to a place that brings outdoor activities inside. Van's Skateboard Park in Anaheim is as big as a large department store, with an assortment of quarter pipes, banks, handrails, boxes, pyramids and much more to keep your 'boarder busy. If the weather has you climbing the walls figuratively, why not do it literally? TryRockreation in Santa Monica or The Rock Gym in Long Beach.
Rain doesn't have to ground your imagination either. Take off into the wild blue yonder in a flight simulator. Fullerton operates on a limited schedule every month or try Flightdeck Air Combat Center in Anaheim.

The Old Standbys
     There's nothing new or unusual about going to the movies on a rainy day, but in Los Angeles, it can be an extraordinary experience. The Cinerama Dome takes movie-going to an entirely new level with ambiance almost as much fun as the film. At the historic Mann's Chinese, the interior is worth the price of a ticket all by itself. Museums are also a good bet for a watery day. Los Angeles has more museums than almost anyplace in the country.
  1. Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre.   Those interested in cinematic history will enjoy perusing the names of more than 2,300 entertainers that tile Hollywood Boulevard's fancy sidewalk. Along the way is Grauman's, the pagoda-style icon where you can sink your hands and feet into the famous imprints of John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Tom Hanks, and other acting legends. (www.hollywoodchamber.netand www.manntheatres.com/chinese).Tips: Pack a camera for movie-star-look-alike sightings. Prices are reduced for the day's first film screening.

  2. Exposition Park.   This wide-ranging cultural center is a collection of excellent museums, educational activities, sports facilities, and recreational areas. Across the street from the University of Southern California (USC), the 160-acre playground offers something for everyone: Absorb knowledge at the National History Museum and the California African American Museum. Check out the hands-on exhibits and seven-story IMAX Theater at theCalifornia Science Center. And stop to smell the flowers at the famous Rose Garden. (www.expositionpark.org). Tip: Pick up a Go Los Angeles Card (www.golosangelescard.com), which includes admission to museums here, plus 40 more of L.A.'s top attractions. Adult prices start at $55.

  3. Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk.   Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm would have made this list if they weren't technically located outside of L.A. (they're in Orange County). However, Universal Studios is an amusement park within L.A. that's much-loved for its entertainment theme and lighthearted approach to engaging guests. Its biggest attractions include the studio tram tour and rides featuring dinosaurs and the Simpsons. Just outside the park is the free-entry CityWalk, a neon-lit convergence of exciting restaurants, shops, live entertainment, movie theaters, nightlife, and a few pleasant surprises. (www.universalstudioshollywood.com and www.citywalkhollywood.com).Tip: Check the website for online-only savings.

  4. Rodeo Drive.   If you don't recognize this street's name, you also probably think Coco Chanel and Harry Winston are just ordinary people. America's most famous shopping lane drips with luxury and designer labels. In case you're not in the mood to max out your plastic, you'll fit right in with the hordes of window-shoppers and celebrity-lookers. At Christmastime, everything is gussied up in holiday finery. (www.rodeodrive-bh.com). Tips:At Rodeo Drive and Payton Way, the Beverly Hills Trolley picks up for 30-minute tours ($2 per person, every hour from 10:30am to 5:30pm). Also, avoid Sundays; many shops are closed and the trolley doesn't run.

  5. Hollywood Sign.   This one speaks for itself, though it's useful for tourists to know that they can actually hike to this infamous landmark, which started life as a real-estate advertisement. (www.hollywoodsign.org). Tip: To find the trailhead, enter Griffith Park through the Bronson Canyon entrance (2800 Canyon Dr.) and follow Canyon Drive until it dead-ends in the trailhead parking lot. Wear comfy shoes, and don't touch the sign.
San Francisco:
Alcatraz
     Considering how many movies have been set here, you might feel like you've already "been there, done that" -- but you really shouldn't miss a trip to America's most infamous federal pen. Husky-throated onetime inmates and grizzled former guards bring the Rock to life on the wonderful audio tour; you'll hear yarns about desperate escape attempts and notorious crooks like Al Capone while you walk the cold cement cellblock. But it's not all doom and gloom: you'll enjoy stunning views of the city skyline on the ferry ride to and from the island.

Golden Gate Bridge
     San Francisco's signature International Orange span is the city's majestic background, and about 10 million people a year head to the bridge for an up-close look. Walking the 1.7 mi to Marin County -- inches from roaring traffic, steel shaking beneath your feet, and a far-too-low railing between you and the water 200 feet below -- is much more than a superlative photo op (though it's that, too).

Fisherman's Wharf
     Once part of a thriving fishing industry, Fisherman's Wharf has deteriorated into a giant harpoon aimed straight at your wallet. Throngs from all over the world come to watch the flopping, barking, or napping sea lions; buy cheap T-shirts; and chow down on overpriced, mediocre food. It's all an utter mystery to locals, who don't come here. Ever. See the magnificent historic ships at the Hyde Street Pier, then take your money and run.

Golden Gate Park
     It may be world famous, but first and foremost the park is the city's backyard. Come here any day of the week, and you'll find a microcosm of San Francisco, from the Russian senior citizens feeding the pigeons at Stow Lake to the moms pushing strollers through the botanical gardens to the arts boosters checking out the latest at the de Young Museum. Be sure to visit the park's iconic treasures, including the serene Japanese Tea Garden and the beautiful Victorian Conservatory of Flowers. If you have the time to venture further into this urban oasis, you'll discover less-accessible gems like the Beach Chalet and the wild western shores of Ocean Beach.

Palace of Fine Arts
     Perched on a swan-filled lagoon near the Marina's yacht harbor, this stirringly beautiful terra-cotta-color dome has an otherworldly quality about it. Built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, the palace is a San Francisco architect's version of a Roman ruin, and it's been eliciting gasps for almost a century. Try to see it from the water.

Coit Tower
     Most people assume that this stubby white tower atop Telegraph Hill is supposed to look like a fire hose. And considering that a fire truck-chasing, cross-dressing 19th-century socialite donated the funds to build it in honor of firefighters, maybe it is. The tower itself is of vague interest -- it does house the history of San Francisco in murals -- but the "park"(ing lot) at its base gives fantastic views of the city and the bay. The tower sits at the top of Telegraph Hill's Filbert Steps, a steep stairway through glorious gardens with vistas of transcendent beauty, an only-in-San Francisco spot locals cherish.

Cable Cars
     You've already seen them (on the big screen, in magazines, and, admit it, on the Rice-a-Roni ™ box). And considering a ticket costs $5 a pop, do you really need to ride a cable car? Yes, you do, at least once during your visit. Flag down a Powell-Hyde car along Powell Street, grab the pole, and clatter and jiggle up mansion-topped Nob Hill. Crest the hill, and hold on for the hair-raising descent to Fisherman's Wharf, with sun glittering off the bay and Alcatraz bobbing in the distance. Don't deny it -- this would be a deal at twice the price.

AT&T Park
     One of the finest examples of modern "retro" ballparks, the Giants coastal digs are the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon enjoying the national pastime. Grab a dog and some garlic fries, and revel in the bay views. If you're lucky, you'll get to see someone drill a splash hit into McCovey Cove.

Ferry Building
     Foodies rejoice! The historic Ferry Building is stuffed to the brim with all things tasty, including cafés, restaurants, a farmers' market, and merchants peddling everything from wine and olive oil to oysters and mushrooms. The building backs up to the bay, so the views are great -- but they're even better from the decks of the departing ferries.

Wine Country
     You don't need to be a connoisseur to enjoy a trip to Napa or Sonoma or both (hey, you're on vacation). But there's more to a wine country visit than vineyard tours and tastings: landmark restaurants, breathtaking scenery, fantastic artwork, hot air balloon rides, and secluded boutique hotels. And when you're ready for a break, a great glass of wine is never that far out of reach.

Santa Barbara:
Just two hours from LA, this once sleepy California town has been dubbed the "American Riviera". Its coastal beauty, year-round sun, mountainous backdrop, and Spanish/Mexican history attract wealthy residents and plenty of eager tourists. Characteristic of the area are adobe-style houses and old-world architecture – evidenced in the Santa Barbara Courthouse – which also serve to keep the area's Spanish heritage alive. A landmark structure, Santa Barbara Mission (1786), boasts the name "Queen of the Missions" for its stately bearing and longevity. Aside from architecture, visitors enjoy strolls along picturesque State Street and the scenic waterfront, which features Stearns Wharf, the oldest operating wharf on the West Coast. For a town its size, Santa Barbara offers numerous cultural attractions as well: museums, art galleries, outdoor cafes, botanical gardens, and theaters. Even a well-received annual film festival celebrates and continues the city's cinematic history. In addition, the town is home to UCSB, an esteemed branch of the University of California.

Sometimes I think there's not much to do in Santa Barbara and other times I think there's too much. These are some of the most popular and most interesting things I've found to do in Santa Barbara. You can vote for your favorite below, or see what other people just like you think about it.

Stearns Wharf
     One of the most visible features of the waterfront, the oldest working West Coast pier was once owned by Hollywood legend Jimmy Cagney and his brothers. It is home to restaurants, ice cream stands and a fish market. Don't miss the Ty Warner Sea Center.

Chase Palm Park
     This long, narrow park hugs the waterfront with a palm-lined walking/riding path. Rent bicycles, pedal-powered surreys, windsurfers or kayaks at one of the nearby shops. On weekends, enjoy the arts and crafts festival.

Santa Barbara Mission
     Often called the "Queen of the Missions" it's a few blocks inland from the State Street shopping area. Its classical-styled exterior was copied from an early architecture book. The interior is the most beautiful of the California missions.

State Street
     Santa Barbara's main street is lined with shops and restaurants. Join the locals for a stroll down the street and some leisurely shopping at Paseo Nuevo. We particularly like the "no name" store at 1207 State Street, which literally does not have a name posted but is full of all kinds of interesting stuff.

Red Tile Walking Tour
     This self-guided walking tour covers some of Santa Barbara's oldest and most fascinating architectural landmarks.

Channel Islands National Park
     Just offshore and beautifully unspoiled, these islands which have never been part of the mainland are California's version of the Galapagos.

Santa Barbara Zoo
     It's a popular place to go, but we have reservations about the Santa Barbara Zoo. You should read our review and decide for yourself whether it's for you or not.

Polo Matches
     Polo season runs from April through October, and anyone can watch.

Hollywood:
Hollywood and Highland
     The shops are nice and so are the restaurants, but the most fun thing here is the mosaic-tiled walkway inlaid with quotes from the famous and not-so-famous.

Fun Things To Do LA
     What to do in LA? Free Weekend Guides, Fashion, Fun & More - Free!

Hollywood Tours
     Tours of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Movie Stars' Homes and much more!

37 Hollywood Attractions
     Universal Studios, Hollywood Tours, Science Center & More, 1 Low Price!

Walk of Fame
     The famous stars on the sidewalk commemorate those who have made a name for themselves in radio, television and movies.

Mann's Chinese Theater
     Besides the famous footprints in the forecourt, Mann's is a beautiful movie theater from the golden age.

Hollywood Bowl
     There's no better place in all of Los Angeles to see an outdoor concert than the Hollywood Bowl.

Hollywood Sign
     You can't walk up to the sign and shake hands, but you can see it from all over town. We outline some of the best spots for a view or photo.

Los Angeles Farmers Market
     It's not quite in Hollywood proper, but the Farmers Market feels like it belongs there. It's our favorite spot for a meal, a glass of wine or a little shopping.

Sunset Strip
     "The Strip" is famous for its nightclubs and comedy spots.

Hollywood Christmas Parade
     Held at the end of Thanksgiving weekend, the Hollywood Christmas Parade is equal parts hometown and star-studded fun. You can watch for free anywhere along the route, or rest your legs and reserve a grandstand seat.

Monterey:
If you're looking for the best Monterey has to offer a visitor, try these things to do.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
     One of California's most popular attractions and often rated as a top family destination in the U.S., the Monterey Bay Aquarium is good for a half-day of fun.

Monterey California
     Cannery Row, the heart of Monterey Oceanview hotels, dining, shopping and more...

Coastal Adventure Tours
     Big Sur, Carmel, & 17 Mile drives Customized, Breathtaking, Memorable Monterey Park Insurance You could save up to $426 a year.

Cannery Row
     Much of Cannery Row is not built up, giving it a rumpled kind of charm. The first several blocks coming from the Wharf still have the ruins of old canneries.

Walk from Fisherman's Wharf to Cannery Row
     This half-hour stroll is a great way to enjoy the scenery and it has no shortage of places to sit and take it all in if your feet get tired. Along the way you are likely to see California sea lions (often hanging out on the rocky jetty by the Coast Guard Station), harbor seals and sea otters.

Fisherman's Wharf
     This popular tourist attraction is home to almost a dozen restaurants and souvenir shops, as well as a generous number of walk up fish stands. Go all the way to the end to enjoy the bay view from the observation deck. Glass-bottom boat tours, whale watching tours and fishing expeditions leave from the wharf.

Maritime Museum of Monterey
     They have shipping exhibits and a beautiful first-order Fresnel lens that used to be in the Point Sur lighthouse.

Monterey State Historic Park
     For a taste of Monterey and California History.

Take a Harbor Cruise
     A harbor cruise on the glass-bottomed boat Mermaid is the best way to get a sea lion's-eye view of the harbor. We tried it once, enjoyed seeing (and photographing) the sea lions, otters, cormorants and other critters. In fact, this simple pleasure has made it on the list of things we do every time we're in Monterey. You don't need reservations and the cruises go out about every half hour.

Dennis the Menace Park
     Created in 1956 by cartoonist Hank Ketcham, this playground is a favorite of local and visiting Dennises and Margarets alike. Whimsical equipment such as a drinking fountain inside a lion's mouth, a roller slide and a life-sized hedge maze ensure the kids will have a great time.
Catalina Island:
Many of these activities require reservations, or at least a ticket. Stop at the ticket booth at Crescent and Catalina Streets and you can reserve them all at once.

Waterfront Walk:
     The walk along the waterfront from Casino Point to Lover's Point is a personal favorite.

Rent a Golf Cart:
     Catalina residents drive golf carts because it's difficult to get an automobile onto the island, so you'd might as well do it, too. You'll find rental places along the waterfront. While you've got wheels, check the map and head up the hill to take in the vista from just below the Inn on Mt. Ada, then go across town toward the Zane Grey Hotel for a different point of view.

Inland Motor Tour:
     If you're not a hiker or a resident with a special permit, this is the only way to get to see Catalina's back country. You'll get a chance to see some of the island's resident buffalo herd and stop to visit the airport and Wrigley horse ranch.

Botanical Garden:
     Located at the end of Avalon Canyon Road, this small garden features some excellent specimens of succulents and cactus. The Wrigley Memorial is also located here, dedicated to William Wrigley, the island's former owner who had the good sense to make the whole place into a conservancy, keeping it wild and beautiful for you to see.

Casino Tour:
     Take a guided tour of the casino (which was never a gambling-place) to see the beautiful ballroom and movie theater. If you can't take the tour, go to a movie here, arrive early and take in the beautiful, art deco theater's interior and wood-paneled lobby.

Flying Fish Tour:
     The little fishy critters really do "fly," speeding toward the water's surface, into the air and every once in a while into a startled visitor's lap. To see the show, you'll have to be here on a summer night.

Dive or Snorkel:
     Catalina's clear waters and abundant underwater life make it a favorite for divers and snorkelers. The two most popular spots to go in are Casino Point and Lover's Cove. On busy days, you'll find wetsuit rentals and diving supplies at both locations.

Look Underwater:
     If you can't swim/dive, you don't have to be stuck looking at the water's surface but my husband and I disagree on the best way to get a peek beneath the water's surface here. He prefers the semi-submersible sub for its more diver-like views, but I like the old-fashioned charm of a glass-bottomed boat ride, especially at night.

Take a Hike:
     The hike from the Airport-in-the-Sky down to town is a personal favorite, but you can also pick up a map at the Catalina Conservancy office to find other trails. Two very nice hikes start at the Botanical Garden. Go to the right of the Wrigley Memorial and follow the trail up the hill to the top, then you can head either direction for nice hilltop views of town and ocean.

California Beaches:
Many of these activities require reservations, or at least a ticket. Stop at the ticket booth at Crescent and Catalina Streets and you can reserve them all at once.

Orange County beaches may almost be as much of an icon as Disneyland. With lots of beaches in Orange County County to choose from, you may have a hard time picking one or two to visit during you vacation. We've compiled a list of the best Orange County beaches by type and interest to help you choose.

Best Orange County Beaches by Type

  • Amusements (Balboa):
         A nice pier with a restaurant on the end and the nearby Balboa Fun Zone give plenty to do here.
  • Beach Volleyball (Huntington State):
         Lots of clean, soft sand and plenty of nets here.
  • Birdwatching (Bolsa Chica)
         Located just across the street from a major stop on the Pacific Flyway, this place is really "for the birds."
  • Bonfires (Huntington State)
         A night bonfire on the beach is one of the best things to do in Orange County, and they've got plenty of places here to build your blaze.
  • For Kids (Balboa)
         With a great beach, a pier and the nearby Balboa Fun Zone, there's a lot here to keep the kids occupied.
  • People-Watching (Main Beach, Laguna Beach):
         This small beach in the middle of downtown Laguna attracts a variety of people, and on the weekends, you'll find artists and musicians there, too.
  • Romantic (Main Beach):
         This small beach just off downtown Laguna Beach is popular with lovers for evening strolls.
  • Surfing (Huntington Pier):
         Huntington Beach is so proud of its surfing heritage that they've trademarked the name "Surf City, USA." Serious local surfers do their stuff near the pier. They don't tolerate interlopers well, and beginners are better off to head to Bolsa Chica Beach, where many local surf schools give lessons.
  • Orange County Beaches to Bare it All:
         There are no nude beaches in Orange County County. Your nearest option is San Diego County's San Onofre.
The Truth about Southern California Sunshine
The Beach Boys weren't quite telling the truth when they crooned about West Coast sunshine. If you've never been here before, you may find Southern California less sunny than you expected, especially at the beaches. When temperatures rise inland, so does the air, pulling cool, moist marine air onto the beaches like a foggy blanket. It's so predictable in early summer that local residents dub it "June gloom," but it extends into July and August, too. Some days, the fog and low clouds disappear early, but on other days, like a hungover beach bum, the sun may not put in an appearance until mid- to late-afternoon. Be sure to layer on the sunscreen even on these overcast days because the UV light goes right through the clouds.

Red Tides
Orange County beaches are prone to red tides, a summer phenomenon caused by a type of plankton. While not as dangerous as their East Coast cousins, these micro-organisms make the water murky and give it a fishy smell. They also give off flashes of light when disturbed at night. Because these plankton also make a tasty meal for other sea creatures, red tides are often accompanied by large numbers of jellyfish

Los angeles Beaches:
Los Angeles beaches may almost be as much of an icon as Disneyland or the Hollywood sign. With twenty-plus beaches in Los Angeles County to choose from, you may have a hard time picking one or two to visit during your vacation. We've compiled a list of the best Los Angeles beaches by type and interest to help you choose.

Best Los Angeles Beaches by Type

  • Surfing (Zuma Beach):
         Locals love this beach north of Malibu for its good waves and clean water, but if don't want to make the 20-mile drive, you'll find lots of surfing buddies in Manhattan Beach.
  • People-Watching (Venice Beach):
         Los Angeles' quirkiest beach can be its most interesting, attracting a cast of characters fit for any Hollywood movie.
  • Walking (Manhattan Beach):
         A long, paved walking path with Santa Monica Bay views makes Manhattan Beach our favorite place to take a walk.
  • Beach Experience (Paradise Cove):
         This small, private beach offers a charming, old-fashioned beach experience and a great beachside restaurant.
  • Beach Volleyball (Manhattan Beach):
         Where else but the birthplace of beach volleyball and home of the world's first beach volleyball tournament?
  • Bonfire (Dockweiler Beach):
         Actually, it's the only one of the Los Angeles beaches where you can have bonfire.
  • Romance (El Matador Beach):
         This secluded, little pocket beach north of Malibu is a great place to watch the sunset with your sweetie.
  • For Kids (Redondo Beach):
         Lots of sand to play on, a pier full of amusements and a long, paved path for biking or skating make this a place you can take the kids to and let them run until they're exhausted.
  • Amusements (Santa Monica Beach):
         The beach here is nice, but most people also come for the amusement park on the pier.
  • Weekend Getaway (Redondo Beach):
         Beach, pier and marina serve up plenty to keep you busy all weekend (or not).
  • Weekend Getaway (Redondo Beach):
         Beach, pier and marina serve up plenty to keep you busy all weekend (or not).
  • Los Angeles Beaches to Bare it All:
         There are no nude beaches in Los Angeles County. Your nearest option is San Onofre.
San Diego Beaches:
Best Beaches by Type

  • Walking (Mission Beach):
         For a slice of California beach life at its best, take a walk along the paved boardwalk that runs between the houses and the sand. You can access it from any of the walking streets off Mission Boulevard.
  • Beach Volleyball (Mission Beach):
         The south end of this narrow beach sports a lot of well-maintained volleyball nets.
  • For Kids (Coronado Beach):
         With downtown Coronado nearby, lots of clean sand and gentle waves, this is a great place to take the kids.
  • For Dogs (Ocean Beach Dog Beach):
         Dogs area allowed to run free on the beach here, every day. A bit further for tourists to travel but great for locals is Del Mar's Dog Beach, where the upscale pup goes to see and be seen.
  • Amusements (Mission Beach):
         Belmont Park is home to the Giant Dipper, originally built in 1925, a classic carousel and some modern thrill rides. The Plunge here is Southern California's largest indoor heated swimming pool.
  • Weekend Getaway (Coronado Island and Beach):
         This charming island isn't really an island but a peninsula, and its beach is one of the country's best.
  • San Diego Beaches to Bare it All:
         Blacks This clothing-optional beach is one of the country's most popular.
  • San Diego Beaches for Sandcastles:
         Imperial Beach The U. S. Open Sandcastle Competition is America's largest and longest-running sand castle competition.
  • Surfing (Windansea):
         Windansea is considered one of San Diego's best surfing beaches, but it's not for novices.
  • Romance (La Jolla Shores):
         This long, flat beach is a great place for a hand-in-hand stroll, and it's got great views of La Jolla.
  • Tidepools (La Jolla Cove):
         One of the smallest beaches, it has some great tidepools and a small, rocky cave. Check the tide tables to be sure you get here at low tide.
San Francisco Beaches:
Best San Francisco Beaches by Type

  • Birdwatching (Rodeo Beach):
         Located in the Marin Headlands just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Rodeo is near a fresh-water lagoon favored by the feathered visitors.
  • Bonfires (Ocean Beach):
         A night bonfire on the beach is a fun thing to do in San Francisco, so bring your firewood and dress warmly.
  • For Kids: Rodeo:
         Kids love the pebbly beach here. Ocean Beach is good for flying kites.
  • People-Watching (Baker):
         I always enjoy the odd mix of families, fishermen and nudist who co-exist so peacefully here.
  • Surfing (Ocean):
         While it's not recommended for the drop-in surfer who doesn't know how to contend with the rip tides and undertow, an especially hardy group of surfers can be seen here almost any day.
  • San Francisco Beaches to Bare it All:
         Baker A mixed group of folks take it all off here on a regular basis. On weekends, there's quite a crowd.
  • The Locals' Secret:
         China Tucked below the exclusive Seacliff neighborhood, this small beach is better known to locals than tourists, and some say it's one of the best places for ocean swimming in the San Francisco area.
Santa Barbara Beaches:
  • Stearns Wharf
         One of the most visible features of the waterfront, the oldest working West Coast pier was once owned by Hollywood legend Jimmy Cagney and his brothers. It is home to restaurants, ice cream stands and a fish market. Don't miss the Ty Warner Sea Center.
  • Chase Palm Park
         This long, narrow park hugs the waterfront with a palm-lined walking/riding path. Rent bicycles, pedal-powered surreys, windsurfers or kayaks at one of the nearby shops. On weekends, enjoy the arts and crafts festival.
  • Santa Barbara Mission
         Often called the "Queen of the Missions" it's a few blocks inland from the State Street shopping area. Its classical-styled exterior was copied from an early architecture book. The interior is the most beautiful of the California missions.
  • State Street
         Santa Barbara's main street is lined with shops and restaurants. Join the locals for a stroll down the street and some leisurely shopping at Paseo Nuevo. We particularly like the "no name" store at 1207 State Street, which literally does not have a name posted but is full of all kinds of interesting stuff.
  • Red Tile Walking Tour
         This self-guided walking tour covers some of Santa Barbara's oldest and most fascinating architectural landmarks.
  • Channel Islands National Park
         Just offshore and beautifully unspoiled, these islands which have never been part of the mainland are California's version of the Galapagos.
  • Santa Barbara Zoo
         It's a popular place to go, but we have reservations about the Santa Barbara Zoo. You should read our review and decide for yourself whether it's for you or not.
  • Polo Matches
         Polo season runs from April through October, and anyone can watch.
Santa Cruz Beaches:
  • Amusements (Main Beach):
         The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is located at Main Beach. It's one of California's most classic oceanfront amusement parks.
  • Beach Volleyball (Capitola and Main Beach):
         You'll find plenty of nets here, but beware of going in the water at Capitola. This beach has some of the worst water quality in the area.
  • Bonfires (Seacliff and Sunset):
         These are popular places for beach bonfires, so arrive early to stake out the best spots.
  • For Kids (Main Beach):
         With the boardwalk nearby and lifeguards on duty during the busiest times, this beach has lots to do.
  • People-Watching (Main Beach):
         With all the goings-on a the adjacent amusement park, this place is people-watcher's heaven.
  • Romantic (Seascape):
         The long, sandy beach just below this seaside resort is accessible to everyone, but it's seldom crowded. For a romantic, seaside, sunset stroll without getting sand in your shoes, try the walk along West Cliff Drive.
  • Surfing (Steamer Lane):
         The place where pioneering big-wave surfers got their start still boasts the area's best surfing, but the surfers here don't tolerate outsiders well, unless they know their stuff. Don't miss the nearbySurfing Museum. Beginning surfers may like Cowell's Beach better.
  • Santa Cruz Beaches to Bare it All:
        Judging from the cars parked along Highway OneBonny Doon is the local favorite.
Orange County Beaches:
Best Orange County Beaches by Type

  • Amusements (Balboa):
         A nice pier with a restaurant on the end and the nearby Balboa Fun Zone give plenty to do here.
  • Beach Volleyball (Huntington State):
         Lots of clean, soft sand and plenty of nets here.
  • Birdwatching (Bolsa Chica):
         Located just across the street from a major stop on the Pacific Flyway, this place is really "for the birds."
  • Bonfires (Huntington State):
         A night bonfire on the beach is one of the best things to do in Orange County, and they've got plenty of places here to build your blaze.
  • For Kids (Balboa):
         With a great beach, a pier and the nearby Balboa Fun Zone, there's a lot here to keep the kids occupied.
  • People-Watching (Main Beach, Laguna Beach):
         This small beach in the middle of downtown Laguna attracts a variety of people, and on the weekends, you'll find artists and musicians there, too.
  • Romantic (Main Beach):
         This small beach just off downtown Laguna Beach is popular with lovers for evening strolls.
  • Surfing (Huntington Pier):
         Huntington Beach is so proud of its surfing heritage that they've trademarked the name "Surf City, USA." Serious local surfers do their stuff near the pier. They don't tolerate interlopers well, and beginners are better off to head to Bolsa Chica Beach, where many local surf schools give lessons.
  • Orange County Beaches to Bare it All:
         There are no nude beaches in Orange County County. Your nearest option is San Diego County's San Onofre.
Long Beach:
  • Queen Mary
         the ocean liner turned hotel and tourist attraction offers a variety of tours as well as restaurants and nightlife.
  • Scorpion Submarine
         this decommissioned Russian submarine is docked nest to the Queen Mary. Self-guided tours can be purchased alone or as part of a package with the Queen Mary.
  • Aquarium of the Pacific
         over 12,000 pacific coast creatures in a relatively compact space.
  • Shoreline Village
         funky shops, souvenirs, restaurants and bars along Shoreline Marina; bike, pedal cart and skate rentals; Carrousel and arcade. Live music on weekends.
  • Harbor Breeze Cruises
         Harbor Cruises, Whale Watching, Dolphin, Marine Life and Ecotourism Cruises
  • Comedy Murder Mystery Dinner Cruises
         aboard an authentic paddlewheel riverboat.(Soon to reopen)
  • The Tallship American Pride
         offers whale watching, educational trips and Catalina Island excursions
  • Long Beach Sport Fishing and Whale Watching - Catalina Express
         runs ferry service from Long Beach and San Pedro to Catalina Island
  • Gameworks
         bowling alley, super arcade, 2 bars and a full restaurant at the Pike.
  • East Village Arts District
         an area of shops galleries and cafes centered around Broadway and Linden in Downtown Long Beach. A great place for a cozy cup of coffee at any of the independent East Village cafes.
  • Acres of Books
         this landmark building is a vast barn of a used bookstore with over 750,000 volumes including many out of print and rare editions.
  • Museum of Latin American Art
         an outstanding collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures by Latin American artists, including a Sculpture Garden opened in October 2005. The entrance is temporarily in the back of the museum while the front is getting a face-lift. Free Fridays.
  • Long Beach Museum of Art
         bluff-top museum overlooking the beach has rotating exhibits from the permanent collection as well as touring exhibits. Has a nice café with an ocean view. Free Fridays.
  • Rancho Los Alamitos
         Tucked between California State University, Long Beach and a gated community, this is the last remaining corner of a massive Spanish land grant in 1784 which today serves as a living history museum including six agricultural buildings, working blacksmith shop, gardens and a rambling adobe ranch built in 1800
  • Rancho Los Cerritos
         Built in 1844, this is one of the last remaining two-story adobe structures still in existence in Southern California
  • Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
         at California State University, Long Beach
  • The Pyramid
         one of three pyramid shaped structures in the United States, this striking blue structure is used for sporting events, conferences, weddings, etc.
  • El Dorado Park Nature Center
         wildlife habitat with marked trails and Nature Center at El Dorado Regional Park
  • Gondola Getaway
         A romantic one-hour Alamitos Bay cruise on an authentic Italian gondola, complete with gondolier (who will croon upon request) and complimentary food basket.
  • Long Beach Windsurf Center
         windsurfing lessons and water sport supplies and inline skates
  • Leeway Sailing Center
         Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine facility offering sailing, kayaking and canoeing lessons