Things to do in Calofornia
November 15, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

I have a free day in California I wasn't expecting. What can one man do today in, oh, 12 hours? I'm staying in Corona, but I'm willing to travel around and spend some money (up to $200 for argument's sake).

I know next to nothing about California except a vague idea that a lot of movies are made here, earth quakes, and the Governator. I made the mistake of not coming up with stuff to do earlier. In all fairness I expected to be working constantly while visiting California, but the building I was working at is closed today which I found out rather unexpectedly.

I can think of a few things. Go to a mall, museum, zoo, the ocean. That sort of thing. But what mall, museum, or zoo? Which beach to I head to? What are some other things that I'm not thinking of? Is LA worth driving to? And what things should someone absolutely try to do on their first visit to California?
posted by Green With You to Travel & Transportation around Corona, CA (12 answers total)
Best answer: you have never been to LA? then by all means go. drive down to newport beach and from there follow the coast up PCH past long beach, manhattan beach, LAX to santa monica. you will see tons of beautiful areas. stop for lunch in santa monica (third street promenade perhaps) and continue driving santa monica blvd until you reach downtown. drive up the hill to elysian park and dodger stadium or take a small detour to griffifth park and the observatory. watch the sunset there, which is amazing with the endless city below you and the long pearl necklace of airplanes descending into LAX. then drive south through downtown and take a look at the skyscrapers and all that before getting onto the harbor freeway back down to long beach. don't go onto the freeway before seven or better even eight or it's gonna be a nightmare.

a car, 200 bucks, a camera and a sunny day. you're gonna have a very nice day. (don't make firmer plans than that because you're new to the area, bound to get lost once or twice and traffic will be tight. this way you won't set yourself up for any disappointments.)

others will suggest the getty center for its views. it's nice, too. consider punching the various places mentioned into flickr (or flickr leech) to see some images of them.
posted by krautland at 9:08 AM on November 15, 2008

I think Krautland has the right basic idea, although what he describes if an incredible amount of driving, maybe 8 hours or more if you count getting back to Corona.

I would advise maybe taking the freeway to Santa Monica and then exploring L.A. Or, if you are really a lover of beaches and scenery, take the PCH out towards Malibu. You can go to the beach in front of David Geffen's house and the law says he can't stop you!

And strictly speaking, Santa Monica Blvd. ends well before downtown. You will end up at Sunset Junction however, which is very cool and right by my house.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:22 AM on November 15, 2008

Not totally sure where you're from, but LA is an AMAZING food city. Random sample: here's a list of Vietnamese places. If you've never had it before and don't have it at home: go!
posted by mdonley at 9:58 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: If you enjoy pinball, go to the Santa Monica Pier, they have tons of games.

Seconding food, If you like Italian, try Pomodoro on Westwood. Traditional Mexican? Try Gilbert's El Indio at Pico and 25th(cash only). Want to cook your own food, try Gyu Kaku on Pico.

I miss LA food so much.
posted by schyler523 at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2008

Response by poster: Alright, here's my tentative main route. I'm going to get an Atlas as well in case I get lost.

Basically, head to the stretch of beach between Manhatten Beach and Santa Monica at whatever place strikes my fancy first. Get food at or near the Third St. Promenade krautland mentioned and check out some of the things there. This website shows a lot of interesting things I can do there. After that if I think I have time I might go back to the beach. Next, I'll check out The Grove Mall and nearby attractions. Following that I'll go to Elysian Park to check out the scenery. And then probably head back to the hotel unless I see something interesting. But it will probably be late already especially if traffic is bad.

I expect somewhere in there to be 'discovered' as a new Hollywood Talent. Ok, maybe not that one. But the rest is doable.

Thank you for your help!
posted by Green With You at 10:24 AM on November 15, 2008

I went to UCLA in the 80s and my sister lived in Corona until recently so when visiting her this decade I was in a similar situation to you.

The place you want to center your visit is the Santa Monica Pier. This has everything the other beach areas further south have, but better. Third Street Promenade is an outdoor mall but has good variety. The Getty is a quick trip from Santa Monica. I'd take the freeways to get to the Pier as quick as possible, make sure you're on the 10 heading west because the transition between the 10 and the PCH is simply stunning.

The quickest route from Corona to the Santa Monica Pier would be:

91E -> 110N -> 105E -> 405N -> 10E

hmm, for lunch, I gotta go with The Apple Pan, about 15 minutes south of the Getty --it's a restaurant straight out of the 1940s and totally unique IME. There are better places to eat (mmm Fatburger, Mongolians, Sak's. . . .) but none as old-school.

Either Wilshire Blvd or Santa Monica Blvd toward downtown would be a core sample of LA, since LA grew from downtown toward Santa Monica in the 20th century. Ending at the Griffith Park observatory to check out the city again would be cool. One the way you can stop by Beverly Hills and the Sunset Strip to see what that's about, sorta.
posted by troy at 12:14 PM on November 15, 2008

"91E -> 110N -> 105E -> 405N -> 10E"

sorry, that's W not E !!!!! . . go WEST young man.
posted by troy at 12:16 PM on November 15, 2008

If you're going to The Grove, you might as well score a meal at the Farmer's Market. There's a dizzying array of choices, all relatively cheap, and it's a neat little corner of LA.
posted by carsonb at 12:52 PM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: I know this is too late to do any good but today is NOT a good day to be driving around the area. There are fires raging all around, including one stretching from Corona down and around to Yorba Linda and another one in Brea. There are freeway closures and traffic is just generally a huge mess. This is the best map I've been able to find of the current situation. Air quality is terrible and I suggest you stay indoors as much as possible.
posted by jvilter at 3:18 PM on November 15, 2008

You should have gone to The Smell, which had a show.
posted by beerbajay at 3:29 PM on November 15, 2008

drjimmy11 you're right, it's a long time in the car. but it's a beautiful drive on a beautiful day. looks like I used to be your neighbor btw. - I was on monroe street.
posted by krautland at 5:15 AM on November 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all for your suggestions. A fire had started up a few miles away from my hotel and so there was a ton of traffic when I left. At the time I hadn't been paying attention to the news and had no idea how serious the fires were, I just thought "oh neat there's a fire. I hope it isn't serious..." The traffic and getting lost once I got to the ocean (my directions were very complicated after that point) slowed me down a lot and I didn't really get to do anything until nearly 1pm.

I went to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cafe for awhile to get my bearings. I kept myself from wishing I had brought my laptop as I saw several people using theirs.

After that, I spent a lot of time at the pier checking out the sights. I played Pinball, Centipede, and Skeeball at the arcade and listened to the street musicians. I've seen a few street musicians before, but never that many in one day. 3 or 4 on the pier, then 2-3 on Third St.

I've played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and I have to say it's uncannily accurate in places. I kept expecting to see someone drive a car over the pier. There was a cop car blocking it though so the driver would have gotten 2 stars.

After I got bored of the pier I decided to increase the number of large bodies of water I've been in by 1. This makes 2 oceans and 2 great lakes (Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean). I didn't actually do any swimming, it was too cold for me and I didn't want to go back to my car to get my swim shorts.

I liked that a lot of people were walking around and on bikes. I saw a guy putting around in circles with an 'impeach bush' sign suddenly scream out "arrest bush!" repeatedly towards the people on the beach. I thought of getting a bike, but I wouldn't have had it long enough to make use of it.

One other note about Santa Monica: there was an incredible amount of beautiful women there.

By this time I was getting weak from hunger and a slight feeling of sickness I had felt all day started to get worse so I went to get some food. I was too hungry to really look around, but I was next to a place called "Johnnies", I think it was called, and since I like italian food I tried out the lasagna. Honestly, the lasagna was a mistake as it was a little cold in the middle, but I was committed. I probably should have complained, but it wasn't a huge deal. I would have liked to have a few more days to sample food there since I only ate one thing at one place.

After I ate I saw that the sun was getting close to going down and I hung out near the pier to watch my first sunset on the coast. By this time the smoke was clouding the sky even here where it had been a sheet of clear blue not a few hours earlier.

I stayed around a bit walking around listening to some street music. I bought some books for my flight back to Ft. Lauderdale as well. By this time it was dark and I new there was no way I'd be able to find a park and going to a mall seemed silly what with all of the stuff by Third Street so I called it a night around 6:30-7pm.

I tried to go back the way I came and had a hell of a time finding where to go in the dark. But eventually I got back on 91 only to find out it was shut down near 55. I tried an alternate route, but that was shut down as well. I wasn't rude or anything to the police offer guarding the street, but after I turned around I realized I was lacking perspective over how horrible the situation must be and that my difficulties in getting to my hotel were nothing compared to losing a home or business. I calmed down a lot after I realilzed that.

Without knowing the area I decided that I had no choice but to either sleep in my car or rent a room for the night. I decided to rent out a room.
posted by Green With You at 11:24 AM on November 16, 2008

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