Essential E’s of SoCal
The golden coast, a world-famous paradise with gorgeous mountains next to pristine beaches, is one of the most famous travel destinations on American soil.
California has attracted people to its borders seeking fame and fortune for over 200 years!
The southern part of the state is home to two major cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, beach towns, mountain towns and everything in between! Today we’re highlighting all the essential eats, places you need to explore, and entertainment for anyone traveling to Southern California!
SoCal is home to some of the USA’s oldest and most iconic dishes. It was the first state to embrace Japanese cuisine and home to the world-famous California burrito, a concoction that takes the Mexican street food to new heights. From Hollywood to San Diego Bay, California offers something for everyone.
Worth A Trip
California has always been one of the most diverse states who welcomed people’s cultures and cuisines. Korean, Chinese, Mexican, El Salvadorian, to name a few, have all had restaurants in California for generations. These beloved restaurants carry some of the most authentic dishes outside of their respective countries. One of these places is Leo’s Taco Truck, one of America’s first and most iconic taco trucks. Located in Los Angeles, Leo serves one of the best tacos al pastor in the country. Seriously it’s worth the trip. The other iconic cuisine in LA is Korean. Ask anyone who has been to LA, and they’ll tell you LA has the best Korean food outside of Korea. Somehow locals managed to keep the best spot to themselves, but we can let you in on one of the best-kept secrets in Koreatown, Jun Won Restaurant. Try their braised black cod or their famous Bossam. The California burrito was created a little further south in San Diego. Like every restaurant’s iconic dishes, there are legends and myths, and everyone will tell you different places to go for the best one. The California burrito is no different. With carne asada and french fries smothered in cheese, you can find a burrito at nearly every beachside eatery. However, we’re here to tell you where to find the best. Okay, so it’s impossible to pick the best, but one of our absolute favorite spots for a California burrito is Mike’s Taco Club. Try it with a margarita and bring a large appetite.
Bang for Your Buck
SoCal may be home to the rich and famous, but its local eateries are surprisingly affordable! In LA, Sonoratown offers the best bean and cheese ever for a killer price! Cassel’s Burgers has served classic diner fare to America’s celebrities for over 50 years. They’ve been around for so long because they sell a fantastic patty melt at a great price. Homestyle Hawaiian Restaurant is a local chain that serves excellent Hawaiian plates starting at around $7! Try the spam musubi and the lava chicken!
Late Night Bites
LA is an all-night playground, and the local eateries have catered to the nightlife for years. San Diego is more of a worker town that values its rest, but you can still find a tasty breakfast for early risers. Sun Nong Dan in Koreatown is open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, and serves some of the best Korean food! They make delicious stews designed to sober up its late-night customers. The Original Pantry Cafe is a classic 24 hr American eatery just a few blocks from the Staples Center. The fried potatoes are a tried and true hangover cure. Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen in San Diego is your go-to for a late-night ramen run. They stay open till 11 weeknights and 2 AM on weekends. Mike’s Taco Club, which we mentioned before, stays open until 2:30 AM on weekends too!
SoCal has been ingrained with a rich, diverse history since the days of the gold rush. There is no shortage of places to explore within its borders, from the back-lot studios of Hollywood to the ancient Sequoia Forest.
The Great Outdoors
California is pretty much half desert half mountains. Head south, and you’ll find the best the Southwest has to offer, such as Joshua Tree National Park. Just a two-hour drive East out of LA, Joshua Tree is a popular desert hiking destination known for its Joshua Trees and unusual rock formations. On the other side of Interstate 10, you’ll find scenic mountain campgrounds and recreation at the San Bernardino National Forest. Drive northwest of Bakersfield, and you’re in the Sequoia National Forest and National Park. This massive forest is home for some of the oldest and largest trees in the world!
Los Angeles is still the movie mecca, despite what anyone says. Many of the major studios open their gates to the public for tours so you can see how it all happens! You can purchase a travel package to visit Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros., all at a reduced rate! For a more eclectic day of culture, try the LACMA or the MOCA, SoCal’s largest contemporary museums, which are both home to iconic works of art made in the last 70 years. A short trek north of Hollywood, you’ll find the Griffith Park Observatory, made famous by James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause! Surrounding the Observatory is an urban park, so its sort of the best of both worlds!
Party Like a Local
SoCal is home to many festivals, from music to film spanning every genre and niche your heart desires! From the Screamfest Horror Film Festival to DOC LA, LA’s premiere documentary film festival, there’s a film festival for everyone! Nestled in between Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Desert is the most famous music festival on the planet. Coachella is THE premiere music festival drawing crowds from across the earth for three days of music and art in the Spring. If Coachella is too mainstream for your hipster sensibilities, then All My Friends or the Adult Swim Festival is your best bet. “All My Friends” is a two-day party in LA, hosting some of the best music the city has to offer! Adult Swim Festival is a two-day music and comedy festival created by the late-night network who brought you iconic oddities like Eric Andre and Tim n Eric.
California is a playground for the rich and famous, luckily nowadays you don’t need to be rich and famous to experience that life.
California knows how to party. Here are the best clubs and bars SoCal has to offer! Formosa Café is a cocktail bar that the famous 1933 Group spent years and millions of dollars perfecting for the last 80 years. Every ingredient and every detail of the bar is historically accurate to the year it was established! In San Diego, International Smoke has created a unique cocktail menu to accompany its famous BBQ! The eatery offers nine wildly unique beverages like the CBD-infused blowing smoke. The Two Bit Circus is a great way to stay indoors on a Los Angeles night. Think Dave & Busters on steroids. It’s complete with an arcade bar, club, escape rooms, and terrific menu that expands past your typical arcade wings and frozen pizza!
Root for the Home Team
Los Angeles is a full-blown sports town again with teams in every league and two teams in some! San Diego might still be sour about their Chargers moving up north to LA, but the city has (for the most part) embraced the team. The one team every person in LA supports is the Dodgers, but drive south, and you’re in Padres’ country. While every major league has a team or two in SoCal, there are so many more sports to see you’d never thought you’d love. LA is home to one of the oldest Roller Derby leagues, the brand-new Overwatch League. Two of these LA teams have a bitter rivalry. To top things off, the punk-American pastime, skateboarding, has its own street league, the SLS.
Kick Back and Relax
Leisure is SoCal’s main export. Sure, Beverly Hills is home to the top-rated salons and spas in the world, but relaxing by the Pacific is always free! If you do decide to partake in the luxury of Beverly Hills, you might as well go all out and head to The Spa at the Peninsula Beverly Hills for a world-famous gemstone treatment. Disneyland is no day at the spa, but it is a great way to spend a day or two. The millions of people a year who make the trip will tell you it’s not just for children. Hollywood is home to fantastic shopping districts. From Fairfax to Rodeo Drive, it is one of the few places to buy the seasons best fashions before everyone else!
Southern California has something for everyone because it was built by everyone. For centuries people have been coming here to make a name for themselves, and they probably will for centuries to come.
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