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Zephyr
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Cool A Californian's Guide to Southern California quote:

****Incomplete, will continue to update when I think of new things or when my brain is more awake***

So I get a lot of PMs about suggestions for visiting California. So I thought I make a thread and hopefully give you guys a starting point to plan any possible trips to California. I am in no way affiliated with tourist companies, I just live here and have been around the block. I'm making this based on the most common questions I've been asked. If you have anymore questions, feel free to PM me.

Los Angeles / Orange County Area

Traffic:
One thing I always tell people about LA is the traffic. The most common thing I hear from people who haven't been here yet, "Oh it doesn't seem that bad, Google maps says its only a few min." But in reality, it's pretty terrible. When Google maps says 30 min, in reality it is probably double due to traffic. Google maps does help so you can plan to avoid. But here is a simple way to determine traffic.

From 6 AM to 10 AM any traffic heading West or South is jammed. East and North are generally not as bad. From 12pm to 1pm, traffic is bad normally in the major freeways, 101, 57, 91, 405, 60, 10, 605. From 3pm to 7 pm East and North is terrible because everyone is off from work. This normally applies to Monday through Friday. Saturdays the traffic can get bad, similar to a weekday, but the duration is a lot shorter. Sundays it normally is clear, unless there is a large event somewhere, or there was an accident (even the tiniest accident will cause traffic) So plan ahead! Watch Google maps, it will help a lot!

Radio Stations:
93.1 Jack FM - Classic rock
97.1 AMP Radio- Top 40
98.7 987FM- Rock
102.7 Kiis FM - Top 40
103.5 Kost - Soft rock
104.3 My FM - Top 40
105.6 Power 106 - Hip hop/R&B
106.7 KROQ - Rock

Cellular Coverage, Realistically:
AT&T - Terrible in downtown LA. You get high data speeds, however that's if you can get a signal.
T-Mobile - Gets awesome coverage where you don't need it.
Sprint - CDMA, 4G speed is decent, good coverage
Verizon - CDMA. great coverage, but wait till iPhone floods it.

Car Rental Companies:
Avis www.avis.com
Enterprise www.enterprise.com
National www.nationalcar.com
Hertz www.hertz.com
Alamo www.alamo.com
Budget www.budget.com
Zip Car www.zipcar.com

Shopping Areas:
Victoria Gardens - Located in Rancho Cucamonga, it's a nice shopping area. You'll find some good brands here, and it's a common place to take a date. http://www.victoriagardensie.com/

Cabazon Outlets - Located in Cabazon, pretty much out in Indian reservations and it's right next to an Indian casino, Morongo. It's a nice place to shop outlet stores for high end brands. http://www.cabazonoutlets.com/

South Coast Plaza - Located in Costa Mesa, this is a high end shopping center, it's on the boarder next to Irvine, one of the top three cities to live in for United States. http://www.southcoastplaza.com/

Irvine Spectrum - Located in the center of Irvine, this is like a college hangout shopping area for UCI students. It's a nice place to watch a movie and get a bite to eat. http://www.shopirvinespectrumcenter.com/

The Grove LA - Located in the heart of LA, really nice area to go shopping. Known for celebrity sightings if you're into that kind of thing. Also it is linked with the historic LA Farmer's Market, where you can go to sample a ton of different foods.
http://www.thegrovela.com/

3RD Street Promenade - Located in Santa Monica, this is an awesome beach outside strip mall. It also has a brand new outdoor shopping center at the end called Santa Monica Place. Walking distance from LA's iconic Santa Monica Pier. A must go for any visitor. http://www.downtownsm.com/

Garden Walk - Located in Anaheim, a few minutes away from Disneyland Resort, this is a brand new shopping area. I been to it once, it was okay, but that was because it was still very new. http://www.anaheimgardenwalk.com/

Fashion Island - Located in Newport Beach, another high end shopping area for those with expensive tastes. http://www.shopfashionisland.com/

Paseo Colorado - Located in Pasadena, this is a great place to eat local restaurants. A lot of shopping and a lot of great LA culture can be found here. Definitely a good place. http://www.paseocoloradopasadena.com/

Rodeo Drive - Located in Beverly Hills. Iconic place as seen in many movies. High end shopping center for the rich. http://www.rodeodrive-bh.com

Weather
We have good weather for the most part. Winter we range from 32-60 Fahrenheit. Spring it's normally 60-80 Fahrenheit. Summer it is 80-125 Fahrenheit. Fall it is unpredictable, it can be 100+ one day, the next be 60. Fall is kinda like the season that has tourettes.

Theme Parks and Attractions:
Disneyland Resort - City of Anaheim. Two parks, and one downtown. http://disneyland.disney.go.com/

Universal Studios - City of Universal. One park, and one downtown. http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com

Knotts Berry Farm - City of Buena Park. One park and one big farm. http://tickets.knotts.com

Six Flags Magic Mountain - City of Valencia. One park, pretty far. http://www.sixflags.com/magicmountain/index.aspx

Aquarium of the Pacific - City of Long Beach. http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/

Queen Mary - City of Long Beach. Big ass boat for its time, docked hotel and haunted. http://www.queenmary.com/

LACMA - Los Angeles. This is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I like this place, nice and relaxing. A haven for hipsters though, but is next to the tar pits.
http://www.lacma.org/

Huntington Library - City of San Marino. Big botanical gardens, and a library with some impressive collections. http://www.huntington.org/

LA Live - City of Los Angeles. Night life for the downtown life. http://www.lalive.com/

The Getty & The Getty Villa - Two locations one in Los Angeles and one in Pacific Palisades. I haven't been here for a while, but it is a great museum. http://www.getty.edu/

La Brea Tar Pits - City of Los Angeles. Famous tar pits that have lead to tons of fossils being discovered. It's a natural history museum. http://www.tarpits.org/

Griffin Observatory - City of Los Angeles. I went here when I was kid, then they closed it down for renovations. I thought it was boring, but some like it. http://www.griffithobservatory.org/

Discovery Center - City of Santa Ana. Cool place to take kids here, a family center. http://www.discoverycube.org

Norton Simon Museum - City of Pasadena. Art museum, been here a few times, it's a small museum, but not too shabby. http://www.nortonsimon.org/

LA Zoo - City of Los Angeles. Been here a few times, small Zoo, San Diego is way better, plus the crowd here isn't so great now. http://www.lazoo.org/

Seasonal Attractions:
Long Beach Grand Prix - City of Long Beach, happens every year and the track is the streets of Long Beach. Formula D also has their season opener during this. http://www.gplb.com/

Orange County Fair - City of Costa Mesa, family games, and a ton of eats. Can get expensive, but it is fun to check it out. Usually between July and August. Decent crowd. http://www.ocfair.com

Los Angeles County Fair - Same as Orange County Fair, but it's moved to the city of Pomona fair grounds. Usually September to October. Crowds can be a little sketchy. http://www.lacountyfair.com

LA Ocktoberfest - I've never been, but I've heard about it and apparently it's pretty good. Happens in the month of October. http://www.laoktoberfest.com/

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Zephyr
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quote:

Beaches:
Redondo Beach - Nice beach, I come here for cheap seafood. http://www.redondo.org

Santa Monica - Great shopping, great pier and great night life. http://www.santamonica.com

Venice Beach - Was kinda dirty but has been getting cleaned up. Known for it's medicinal weed clinics. http://www.venicebeach.com/

Newport Beach - Nice and clean and you can cruise up PCH. http://www.visitnewportbeach.com/

Long Beach - Night life, has the aquarium, and Queen Mary. http://www.visitlongbeach.com/

Huntington Beach - Nice relaxing beach, nothing crazy here but you can do bonfires here. http://www.ci.huntington-beach.ca.us/

Dana Point - Really nice beach. You can come here to see tide pools. Last time I went it was really clean. http://www.danapoint.org/

Quick Wifi Hotspots:
Okay so you need wifi really quick for something here are some places I use that are useful. Of course always use caution while using open wifi access points.

Starbucks - Every Starbucks has free AT&T wifi, and it's really fast (I've downloaded some large files here before)

College Campuses - Most campuses have a student locked wifi access point and a public use open access point.

Asian tea places - Ten Rens, Tea Station, Tapioca Express, Half and Half, these are commonly spread out LA and have free wifi access.

Denny's - Most of these have free wifi, and they are open 24 hours.

Los Angeles County Public Library - Free wifi here, but might require you to register a card, but it's free and quick registration.

Apple Stores - Fast wifi, open access point with no hassle.

McDonalds - Free wifi too, might require a purchase in some depending on franchise locations. Some might kick you out if you linger too long.

Food Grade System in Los Angeles County:
Ok I remember one time when Max_boost came here he asked "wtf is with the grades on the stores." They are simply graded based on cleanliness in food service area. Generally A to B I found to be okay places. C is the lowest grade and it's in a big bold red, and they are required to display it where it's visible. However, anywhere with a C they tend to be sneaky and hide it with a chair or what not. Most ethnic places that are run by first generation immigrants tend to have Bs, and most Americanized ones have As. I've seen places get shut down before because they were lower than a C.

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FOOD!!!

My favorite thing wherever I go, FOOD! So here are a few things that I've found are cool. Of course there are tons and tons of other places I haven't been too, or I probably don't remember at the moment, so a good guide around town is http://www.yelp.com It's also an iPhone, Android app as well, very helpful.

In-N-Out
I think a lot of non-residents have heard of this place. It's a family owned burger chain that only exists far enough so that their replenishment trucks can reach the store less than a day's travel. So I believe the farthest one is in Texas. They require that all stock has to be delivered daily thus it's pretty much unique to California. If you want to be a show off, you can go to the very first In-N-Out in Baldwin Park. 13850 FRANCISQUITO, BALDWIN PARK, CA 91706
http://www.in-n-out.com/

Boiling Crab
We've recently had this cajun seafood craze lately. Boiling crab has been popping up left and right and the lines are about 1-2 hour wait. It's basically cajun seafood put in a bag with all the spices. I personally don't really hate it or like it, but a lot of people seem to love this place.
http://www.theboilingcrab.com/

Orochon Ramen
As seen on Travel Channel's Man V. Food. This is where the crazy spicy ramen bowl is. This place isn't bad, but I've had ramen at better places, but this is the only place with the spicy ramen challenge.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/orochon-ramen-los-angeles

Sprinkles Cupcakes
I like this place, then again who doesn't love cupcakes. The cupcakes are kinda pricey at around $3.50 almost close to $4 each. However they are pretty good. The founder is also one of the judges on Cupcake Wars on Food Network.
http://www.sprinkles.com/

Porto's Bakery
Cuban bakery, just recently started to get popular. This place has some great cuban sandwiches and is known for their potato balls. The lines can be rather long up to an hour at times.
http://www.portosbakery.com/


FOOD TRUCKS!!

This is what Los Angeles is known for! This is where it all began, our native food trucks that recently got evolved to a huge craze and now every type of food can be found in a truck.

A good site that has all their twitter accounts: http://www.findlafoodtrucks.com but keep in mind, there are tons and tons of trucks now, and not all of them are featured on here.

Ones that I've tried and liked:
Grilled Cheese Truck
Buttermilk Truck (love this one)
Crepes Bon Apart
Kogi
Lomo Arigato (love this one)
Slammin Sliders

Food truck festivals *varies on date

SGV Food Truck Festival - Happens every first Friday of the month and this is a new festival, has around 16 trucks. Five dollar entrance fee. http://sgvfoodtruckfest.com/

LA Street Food Festival - This is an annual event, I haven't been able to catch it myself as the date always varies. But from what I've heard, it's been pretty good. http://lastreetfoodfest.wordpress.com/

The Brig First Friday - This is a old meet up for food trucks, every first Friday they meet where the bar is. http://thebrig.com/

OC Foodie Fest - Annual event that started in 2010 at the Honda Center. http://www.ocfoodiefest.com/

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Zephyr
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quote:

place holduhh

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quote:

awesome! this will come handy on my road trip to San Francisco and LA this may.

some of those I was aware already but I found some new stuff so I may need to change my itinerary slightly

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Excellent, I'm heading down to LA in May with the wife. This will come in handy.

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Awesome post... i am heading down to San Jose at the end of March. Was thinking of renting a car and extending my trip...

Anything suggestions on golfing?

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Just a small correction, Canada does use CDMA on the Telus network, so older non GSM Telus phones will roam on Sprint and Verizon in the US, which is a billion times better than AT&T.

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quote:

so did sea world change to aquarium of pacific then??

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quote:

Originally posted by Zephyr

Quick Wifi Hotspots:
Okay so you need wifi really quick for something here are some places I use that are useful. Of course always use caution while using open wifi access points.

Starbucks - Every Starbucks has free AT&T wifi, and it's really fast (I've downloaded some large files here before)



I'd fully agree there, when we did the Pacific Coast Highway last year (Seattle to LA), we stopped twice a day at Starbucks for internet (and coffee).

When we went inland through the small desert towns, no more Starbucks, but 95% of the Mcdonalds have free wi-fi as well.

More attractions we went to (Central/Northern Cali)

-California Redwoods (Nice, but pretty similar to Cathedral Grove on Van.Island. Awesome driving roads IF there's no one else on them)

-Big Sur (Fantastic driving road, right on the coast, pretty much every 80's sports car commercial was filmed on these roads. You'll get stuck behind a few RV's and slow cars, but most of them pull over for the views within a few minutes)

-Hearst Castle ($$$ tours, but MUST SEE, this place is insanely baller especially the Neptune Pool)

-Winchester Mystery House (really touristy, but fucking weird old house built by the rich Winchester (guns) widow, who was bat shit insane)

-Death Valley (we took the roads less travelled, and headed straight through the 4x4 roads to the northern sand dunes, really hot that day (54*C), don't attempt unless you have a capable vehicle, and LOTS of water)

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quote:

what about all the nonsense car shops, not the actual places that sell car tuning hardware like susp/engine mechanicals but the little trinkets and keychains, i read the super autobacs closed there - too bad... or was it not even close to the japanese ones.

also your take on the best pho + real ramen places?

and since it's america, where can i shoot full auto stuff

we might be spending xmas this year down there *crossfingers*

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quote:

this is awesome, thanks!

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Zephyr
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quote:

Originally posted by bimmere92
Awesome post... i am heading down to San Jose at the end of March. Was thinking of renting a car and extending my trip...

Anything suggestions on golfing?



I'll put up some courses I've been at in a bit.

Originally posted by rage2
Just a small correction, Canada does use CDMA on the Telus network, so older non GSM Telus phones will roam on Sprint and Verizon in the US, which is a billion times better than AT&T.



Fixed, didn't know that haha.

Originally posted by GOnSHO
so did sea world change to aquarium of pacific then??



Sea World is still Sea World, but it's in San Diego, thus I didn't include it. There really isn't that much to do in San Diego, the zoo, sea world, gas lamp...and uhh..Conorado?

Originally posted by n1zm0
what about all the nonsense car shops, not the actual places that sell car tuning hardware like susp/engine mechanicals but the little trinkets and keychains, i read the super autobacs closed there - too bad... or was it not even close to the japanese ones.

also your take on the best pho + real ramen places?

and since it's america, where can i shoot full auto stuff

we might be spending xmas this year down there *crossfingers*


Small car stuff is mostly in regular malls, not many stores are like Autobacs

Pho = City of Gardena or Garden Grove
Ramen = Fountain Valley, Torrance.

I'll typo up a foodie thing too. Did most of this late last night, will continue to update as I go.

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quote:

I'm suprised you didn't have Griffith Observatory on there, or The Grove for shopping area/Celebrity sighting

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quote:

Originally posted by Jeremiah
I'm suprised you didn't have Griffith Observatory on there, or The Grove for shopping area/Celebrity sighting



Did this late at night, forgot about the Observatory..then again I went there when I was like 12 on a school field trip and it was boring as hell.

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quote:

Originally posted by Zephyr


Did this late at night, forgot about the Observatory..then again I went there when I was like 12 on a school field trip and it was boring as hell. The Grove is dead, killed by the recession.



Really? That sucks, I always end up stopping at the Grove at least once when I'm kicking around there.

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Good thread!!!

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Originally posted by 88CRX
Good thread!!!



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Originally posted by 88CRX
Good thread!!!



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quote:

Originally posted by Zephyr
Sea World is still Sea World, but it's in San Diego, thus I didn't include it. There really isn't that much to do in San Diego, the zoo, sea world, gas lamp...and uhh..Conorado?



I just spent a week in San Diego and I thought there was lots to do. We could have used an extra 2-3 days for sure, a week wasn't nearly enough.

Like anything it depends on what you like to do while on holidays, but here were some things:

Tourist Stuff:

San Diego Zoo
Safari Park (formerly Wild Animal Park)
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
Whale Watching (seasonal)
Aquariums/Nature Centers
Lots of Museums & various tours
Harbor Cruises
Mission Beach
La Jolla Beach
Balboa Park
Sea World
Lots of scenic drives around the coast
Surfing/Boogie Boarding
Water parks (seasonal, most open in May or June)
A couple great indoor go karting places
Awesome food/restaurants everywhere

I'm sure there was lots we missed too.

For the shoppers:

Las Americas Premium Outlets (15 min from DT San Diego, slightly larger than the Carlsbad ones)

Carlsbad Premium Outlets (closer to L.A., 30-40 min from DT San Diego)

We bought "Go San Diego" cards, available in 3, 5, or 7 day increments. Basically everything you can think of, including knotts berry farm, sea world, the zoo, etc. is all included so if you do lots of stuff there is huge savings to be had. Free admission everywhere, discounts at restaurants & gift shops, free go kart sessions, etc.

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