by Andrew Bender
Away from all the glitz and glam, a different Southern California experience awaits within a couple hours' drive of Downtown Los Angeles.
1. Coastal scenery
Did you know LA has a southern coast? It’s bedecked with rolling hills, soaring cliffs and ocean vistas so broad you may forget you're in America's second-largest megalopolis.
The cliffs of Point Fermin Park offer inspirational views to Orange County and Catalina Island. Uphill from the historic lighthouse are the Korean Friendship Bell and Fort MacArthur Military Museum.
2. Santa Barbara
Spanish Colonial streetscapes are peppered with boutiques, restaurants and bars, the SoCal lifestyle of everyone's dreams.
The Funk Zone bursts with hipster-friendly restaurants like the Lark for farm-to-table cuisine and an admirable wine list, or pizzas at Lucky Penny.
3. Santa Ynez Wine Country
Designate a driver to visit some of the 120 wineries dotting the valley. You might start with Alma Rosa and Sunstone, or sample many wines under one roof at the Los Olivos Tasting Room.
Sideways, the ultimate wine-lovers’ movie, was filmed in the valley.
4. Palm Springs
This desert oasis is an architectural hotspot. Survey the scene from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and explore via a network of hiking trails.
Back at ground level, tour the city's signature mid-century modern architecture, or browse retro-cool togs and design on Palm Canyon Drive.
5. Other desert oddities
Get in touch with outer space at the Integratron, conceived in the 1950s as a place to receive telepathic instructions from extraterrestrials.
Pioneertown is an old west movie set and there are still occasional weekend shoot-em-up performances on dusty ‘Mane St’.
World's Biggest Dinosaurs are a great selfie spot; giant concrete creatures plopped off the freeway by a 1970s theme park designer.
If shopping's more your kind of adventure, nearby are two giant outlet malls, Desert Hills Premium Outlets and Cabazon Outlets.
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