Welcome to Southern California
Southern California (SoCal to the locals) inhabits a dreamlike otherworld – a place where breathtaking natural beauty merges with modern mythology.
SoCal is Valhalla for pop-culture fiends. Where else can you sip martinis in Jack Nicholson’s favorite booth, hike your way to Batman’s cave and gaze up at the stars just like Jimmy Dean in Rebel Without a Cause? Start with a tour of LA’s movie studios, attend a live TV taping, then join the paps in Malibu. Not that LA gets all the glory: wine and dine at Cary Grant’s former party pad in Palm Springs, a desert resort laden with Rat Pack anecdotes; or hit Orange County for TV-famous beaches and stars of the cartoon realm at Disneyland, the world’s best-loved theme park.
Iconic beaches, snowcapped crags, sculpted deserts: in case you hadn’t noticed, Mother Nature plays favorites with SoCal. Whether you’re a punk surfer, aspiring pro-volleyball nut or new-school bohemian, there's an idiosyncratic SoCal beach and adjacent beach town just for you. Offshore, the Channel Islands are a jewel-like archipelago and part of what is one of the planet’s richest marine ecosystems. Back on the mainland, escape to Big Bear Lake's cooler alpine climes or turn up the heat in Death Valley, Joshua Tree or Anza-Borrego, where dusty 4WD roads and hiking trails lead to hidden canyons and mirage-like oases.
Think of SoCal as one huge, heavily laden table, passionately prepared by forward-thinking chefs and artisan purveyors. At one end is San Diego and its incomparable fish tacos, at the other Santa Barbara and its luscious bottles of red. In between is a cornucopia of flavors, textures and thrills: decadent red-wine burgers in a pocket-sized Hollywood bistro, freshly steamed crab by the South Bay surf, fragrant pho (Vietnames noodle soup) in a loud, proud OC throwback. Whether you’re hankering for freshly made tamales at a proper panaderia (Mexican-style bakery) or cognoscenti pastas in a slinky downtown warehouse, SoCal delivers. Dig in!
Arts & Architecture
A bull's-eye for many of the world's leading actors, writers, musicians, artists and designers, SoCal explodes with inimitable creative energy. Heart of the action is LA, home to many of America's richest, riskiest and most innovative art collections, influential live-music venues and comedy clubs, and a slew of laterally thinking neighborhoods jammed with grassroots galleries, artisan studios and street art. Not enough inspiration for you? Turn your attention to SoCal’s architecture. Spanning everything from Spanish-flavored missions and art-deco theaters to modernist prototypes and cutting-edge concert halls, it’s an eclectic mash-up unmatched anywhere in the country.