SANTA MONICA, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Santa Monica is LA’s cute, alluring, hippie-chic little sister, its karmic counterbalance and, to many, its salvation. Surrounded by LA on three sides and the Pacific on the fourth, SaMo is a place where real-life Lebowskis sip white Russians next to martini-swilling Hollywood producers, celebrity chefs dine at family-owned taquerias, and soccer moms and career bachelors shop at abundant farmers markets. All the while, kids, out-of-towners and those who love them flock to wide beaches and the pier, where the landmark Ferris wheel and roller coaster welcome one and all.
CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES
From misty Northern California redwood forests to sun-kissed Southern California beaches, the enchanted Golden State makes Disneyland seem normal.
Don’t be fooled by its perpetually fresh outlook and adventurous attitude: California is older than it seems. Coastal bluffs and snowy peaks were created over millennia of tectonic upheavals that threatened to shake California right off the continent. After 19th-century mining, logging and oil-drilling threatened the state’s natural splendors, California’s pioneering environmentalists rescued old-growth trees, reclaimed rivers and cleaned the beaches. Thanks to the leadership of Californian conservationist John Muir and his Sierra Club, California’s national and state parks continue to astound visitors today.
From Hollywood to Silicon Valley
Through booms and busts, California has gotten by on its wits and charm. Hollywood still makes most of the world’s movies and TV shows, and launches new talents nightly on stages statewide. But California dreams don’t begin with moguls in office towers – they’re invented by California’s artists, adventurers and resident weirdos in their own backyards. Wild schemes started at psychedelic music festivals and in San Jose garages have gone mainstream – perhaps you’ve heard of smartphones, streaming video and Burning Man? – but there are plenty of outlandish ideas here still awaiting discovery. Hang out at California galleries, cafes, bars and festivals, and you may actually see the future coming.
California’s cities hit maximum dazzle as the sun sets over the Pacific, and lights twinkle across golden hillsides. Lamps illuminate San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, the Hollywood sign glows bright as the moon over LA, and Bay Bridge lights welcome San Francisco arrivals with a wink and a shimmy. Consider this your invitation to come out and play, and join the crowds at LA’s star-studded nightclubs and movie palaces, San Francisco’s historic LGBT hot spots, Santa Barbara’s swanky beach bars and San Diego’s booming brewpubs. Tomorrow there will be neighborhoods, beaches, spas and boutiques to explore – but tonight is a night on the town like no other.
Fabulous Food & Drink
Without California, America’s menu would be drab and predictable: the Golden State produces most of the country’s fresh produce and kicks off nationwide food trends. Every time they sit down to eat, Californians take a stand on food issues: would you like that salad certified organic or spray-free, your toast with farm-to-table jam or urban-beehive honey, and your burger vegan or with humanely raised grass-fed meat? No matter what you order, it’s bound to be local and creative – and it had better be good. For a chaser, California produces over 90% of the nation’s wine-making grapes, and has twice as many breweries as any other state.