Sunny Southern California
Southern California (or SoCal as the locals like to call it), is a place I’ve always wanted to travel to as it seems awesome. Not only does it have golden beaches and glamourous cities – it’s home to the stars, including the Kardashians, George Clooney and hundreds more. So if you want to spot some celebs this is the place to be. Southern California is the third most populated megalopolis in the United States and of course Los Angeles is its most popular city. The SoCal region is home to numerous counties which are all unique and culturally diverse in their own ways. Another interesting aspect about the state of California, is their cool flag, known as the Bear flag. The design involves a Bear called Monarch (who was real) and was inspired by the Mexican revolt. Additionally, The Gold Rush of 1848 is another major historical event for SoCal. When James W. Marshall discovered gold here, the news spread like wildfire and thousands of individuals came to find more. There is still gold waiting to be found and the San Gabriel mining district is one of the best areas to find it. For a greater insight on this urban area, I would recommend completing GG Treasure Hunts fun online Southern California Wanderlust Treasure Hunt!!!
Los Angeles (also known as LA) is a lively city located in Southern California and is the centre of the nation’s film and television industry. It’s renowned for dozens of iconic landmarks including Disneyland, studios such as Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers, along with Venice Beach. You also might recognise a place or two as thousands of films have been set in LA, such as: Pretty Woman, Iron Man and Fast and Furious. It’s a relatively expensive place but it’s definitely worth it.
LA is home to the lavish district of Hollywood, which I’m sure everyone has heard of. It is probably most well-known for its ginormous ‘Hollywood’ sign, situated on Mount Lee. The 45-foot-tall sign overlooks the whole of Hollywood and is an American cultural icon. The best place to see this legendary landmark is at Griffith Park. The Walk of Fame is one of the most photographed places in LA and is a remarkable feature of Hollywood, accompanied by the TCL Chinese Theatre. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is made up of over 2,500 pink stars embedded in sidewalks to honour individuals who have made a significant contribution to film, television, radio or live theatre. Celebrities with stars include The Beatles, Jonny Depp and also fictional characters such as Donald Duck and Snow White.
Amazingly LA is the birthplace of another prominent city - Beverly Hills. This area is known as a celebrity haunt and also features the upscale shopping street of Rodeo Drive (which would absolutely be on my to-do list). There is no shortage when it comes to hotels and restaurants in LA as they are dotted all over the place, so make sure to get yourself booked in for your wanderlust adventure! If you fancy visiting a beach whilst on your travels, I would recommend Santa Monica Beach as it is chic and laidback. The ever-popular TV series Baywatch was filmed here, making it one of the most well-known beaches in California. This beautiful stretch of sand, with an iconic ferris wheel, attracts all types of people and you can watch as the surfers glide the waves.
Death Valley National Park
Contrary to its name, Death Valley is an alluring desert in California with tons of striking landscapes. Established as a national park in 1994, the Valley is famous for its desert canyons, salt flats and hiking trails and is known to be one of the hottest places on earth so make sure you bring plenty of water! One of the park’s main attractions is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States. This endorheic basin is a site of spring fed pool of ‘bad water’ – the accumulated salts make it undrinkable, thus giving it its name. The salts form into hexagonal honeycomb shapes creating a spectacular effect. Throughout the trail to the Basin, you can see the salt flats stretching for miles along the Valley making it a great spot to see the stars at night or the sunrise in the morning.
Hidden in the middle of the desert, there are several majestic waterfalls, known as Darwin Falls. At a combined height of 80 feet, it is the tallest waterfall in the park, complemented by Darwin Creeks four perennial streams. The small, narrow Valley the Falls and Creek reside in, features and supports a rare collection of riparian greenery and indigenous fauna. It’s not every day you see a waterfall amid desert scenery. This land of extremes comes alive with colour and life in spring with rare and magnificent wildflower displays and you might also see a roadrunner or two. You may need more than one visit to truly experience the contrasting landscapes of the park.
Sequoia National Park
Adjacent to Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park is located in California’s Southern Nevada Mountains and is the first park created to protect a living organism. It’s recognised for its Congress trail that takes you to the General Sherman Sequoia tree, which is impressively the largest known living single stem tree on earth. Dominating the Giant Forest, the General Sherman is estimated to be around 2500 years old and the park treasures and protects it. Additionally, Mount Whitney named tallest mountain in the Unites States is in Sequoia National Park. This skyscraper is a sight worth seeing and whilst you’re there you might as well climb it. For an average hiker it usually takes around 7 hours to climb the summit, requiring an early start. One of the best attractions at Sequoia is the marble karst Crystal cave in the Giant Forest area. It is one of at least 240 known caves and is only accessible by park service guided tour, costing around £12 per person. The mystical caves are filled with thousands of stalagmites and stalactite’s, forming a crystal-like effect. The park hosts a number of diverse ecosystems and wildlife; local species include the Black Bear, Grey Fox and Bobcats. There are a few places to stay whilst in the Sequoia area, I would recommend the Wuksachi Lodge if you’re looking for forest views or the Silver City Mountain Resort for rustic chic chalets and even more scenic grounds. You could spend anywhere from two days to two weeks here as there are so many fun, adventurous things to do and see.
The fresh and delicious cuisine of SoCal is influenced largely by Hispanic American roots, Western Europe as well as the food trend and traditions of the American culture. There are five top foods that you need to try whilst here, starting with the California Roll. This Makizushi sushi roll is usually rolled inside out, containing cucumber, crab and tomato and are most flavourful in SoCal thanks to their super fresh avocados. Southern Californians love fresh green avocados and eat them with salads, on sandwiches, toast and even by themselves. When it comes to healthy eating habits and peak fitness levels, SoCal always comes out on top as one of the healthiest regions in the country. Contrasting with the health talk, SoCal is one of a few states that is home to the In ‘n’ Out burger fast-food chain. They serve mouth-watering burgers, with hand cut French fries and thick milkshakes (personally I think they look 100 times better than McDonalds or Five Guys and I am dying to try it). Next is the iconic Cobb Salad, first made in Hollywood in the 1930’s and is a dish that you will see on most menus here. It’s salad topped with bacon, chicken, egg, tomato’s, avocado and cheese. Finally, a SoCal specialty is Fish Tacos, inspired by the loved traditional Mexican cuisine. These tacos are one of the most delicious meals you will devour, consisting of grilled or fried fish in a taco with a squirt of lime and toppings.
A restaurant worth visiting is The Polo Lounge in Beverley Hills, as not only does is serve heavenly food, but you might also bump into some celebrities. The booth that most people want to sit in to eat their lunch is booth number 1, as it was always reserved for Charlie Chaplin. Similarly, in the 1950’s Marilyn Monroe used to request a booth overlooking the terrace. Wouldn’t you like to dine like Marilyn?