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Around L.A.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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Around L.A.

Hello good people,

I'll be visiting LA with my girlfriend and their parents in May. Me and my girlfriend, we already spent one week in LA last year and we did all the tourist-must-see (Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, Universal Walk, Warner Bro tour, Beverly Hills guided tour). Also, we made a quick tours to Santa-Monica, Venice and Malibu.

This time I would love to go a little bit around LA. Is it worth going to Pasadena? Santa Barbara? Santa Catalina Island? Any other suggestions beside those mentioned? Southern California Wine Country? I'm sure there are some hidden gems I can't find in tourists books.

So, we will be four, staying in Hollywood (near walk of fame), we'll have a car, staying 5 nights in the beginning of May. We love relaxed trips, see things, beaches, and can walk a lot.

Thank you all in advance,


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Anaheim, California
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1. Re: Around L.A.

Foe Wine County in Southern California, my first choice would be Temecula.


I would check out Pasadena, worth a trip.

Head south from Hollywood to Long Beach, plenty of great tourist attractions, and lots of hidden areas like Belmont Shore and Broadway.



I am a fan of Avalon and Catalina Island for a day.


The Catalina Express leaves from Long Beach, I prefer the Catalina Flyer, a nicer ride in a high speed Catamaran from Newport Beach.

So there is a start of things to do.

Irvine, California
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2. Re: Around L.A.

Are you considering staying overnight at any of those places? I would not recommend day trips to Catalina or Santa Barbara, but they're great for one night. There are a million things in Southern California better than the walk of fame, and many of them are listed on this site. Be more specific about what your looking for if you want good advice. It's worth the drive to Pasadena just for the Huntington library though.

Santa Monica, CA
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3. Re: Around L.A.

Day trips to both Catalina island and Santa Barbara are very do-able from LA and are things I've done before, too. I just read in the LA Times that Catalina is doing some remodeling of their beachfront area for visitors; if you go, let us know what it's like.

Pasadena is a lovely community. Check it out on their TripAdvisor page. I enjoy the Huntington Library and Gardens, nearby Descanso Gardens, the Norton Simon Museum, the downtown shopping area, and if you are interested in architecture, the old Craftsman homes there are quite special.

I would recommend wine tasting in Malibu or Santa Barbara.

Other day trip possibilities from a Los Angeles base: Orange County, Joshua Tree National Park, Malibu, and the Santa Monica mountains for some easy day hikes. I like a visit to Claremont to see the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical garden, Mount Baldy, and lunch in their quaint village (it reminds me a lot of New England). Don't overlook walking tours of downtown LA, which is quite vibrant these days.

Los Angeles
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4. Re: Around L.A.

Basically I would look into Santa Barbara, and if you go there, the Santa Ynez wine area. Palm Springs can be another worthy destination as a day or overnight trip, but maybe check in the Palm Springs forum to verify if it will or will not be too hot at hat time. And yes, Pasadena is also a great place to go for the day - Norton Simon Museum, Huntington Library and Gardens, Gamble House, Hollyhock House, Old Town Pasadena, etc.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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5. Re: Around L.A.

Thanks a lot everybody! I'll definetly check those suggestions, there are plenty of them! :))) Thanks again

Pasadena, California
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6. Re: Around L.A.

I agree that Pasadena is worth a day trip or two, we've got tons to see. If you enjoy Chinese food, be aware that the nearby San Gabriel VAlley has the biggest Chinese community in the USA and the best Chinese food. So that might be a good dinner choice. There is also a California Mission in nearby San Gabriel (with a great Dim Sum place, Mission 261, right up the block). In addition to Gamble House, Huntington Gardens, Norton Simon Museum, Old Pasadena. Descanso Gardens is a bit out of the way and, although lovely, not as spectacular or comprehensive as the Huntington. And Hollyhock House is in Hollywood area.

I'd strongly recommend Santa Barbara and its nearby wine country over Temecula. Just no comparison at all. Santa Barbara County is vastly better.

Santa Barbara + Santa Ynez Valley: Better wines, more variety, cute tiny towns, gorgeous drive into some of California's prettiest countryside, with a visit to Santa Barbara, which is one of California's most beautiful, interesting and sophisticated small cities in a spectacular coastal setting. Worth a night but doable as a long day trip. (1.5 hour drive from Hollywood-SB; 2 hr. to Santa Ynez)

Temecula: Lesser wines, fewer serious wineries. Long ugly drive through endless LA suburbs to finally reach Temecula, which itself is mostly a sprawling town made up of endless newly-built and featureless housing developments, replicating themselves as far as the eye can see. Hardly scenic or interesting until you get to the actual winery area. Google Maps says 1.5 hours from Hollywood, but I know it is longer because I have made that drive from Pasadena more times than I like (to visit relatives) and it has never taken less than 1.5 hours from Pasadena, which is 20 minutes closer to Temecula than Hollywood.

Temecula really only makes sense as a destination if you live or are staying in San Diego or the Riverside/Inland Empire area: from those places, it is hours closer.

7. Re: Around L.A.

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Austin, Texas
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8. Re: Around L.A.

Santa Barbara is about an hour away and a fun trip. They have the FunkZone which is a few block strip with craft beer bars and wine bars and walking distance to the beach.

San Diego is a 2 hour drive and fun if you are up for it.

Anaheim, California
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9. Re: Around L.A.

When I drive to Temecula, I usually take Highway 74 through the Cleveland National Forest from Orange County, an amazing and scenic drive. Note it is not a freeway, and much is a single lane in each direction.


Also, check out Old Town Temecula...


And if you like to gamble, there is the Pechanga Casino.

Rancho Santa...
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10. Re: Around L.A.

Reading your post, I don't think your assumption you've seen all the "must-see" tourists spots -- Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, Universal Walk, Warner Bro tour, Beverly Hills, Santa-Monica, Venice and Malibu. There's plenty you haven't seen. Downtown in particular, the most interesting part of the city right now, is completely missing -- LA Live, Grammy Museum, Disney Concert Hall, Little Tokyo, MOCA, Olvera Street, Fashion District, Historic Core. Other major destinations missing are the Griffith Observatory, Griffith Park et al, Getty Center, Huntington Library & Gardens, LACMA, California Science Center, Natural History Museum, Farmer's Market/The Grove. You might want to explore LA a little more. You're missing a lot.

Santa Barbara is at least 2 hours. More with traffic. San Diego is at least 3 hours and more with traffic. Frankly, I don't think it is a day trip. The 74 highway has some very compelling places to take in the view.