What are the very best 'That was SOOOOO worth it' experiences in Southern California?
February 17, 2009 8:29 AM   Subscribe

What are the very best 'That was SOOOOO worth it' experiences in Southern California?

This question is a little tricky, because I'm looking for 'experiences' like others we've loved in the past--but I don't want to limit it too much, because we're up for anything! So two examples:

1. Sushi omakase at The Hump in Santa Monica: the food was fantastic as was the service, the variety was large and there were a number of things we'd never had before. They also described every dish they brought, and told us how it should be eaten.

2. The Photo Caravan at the Wild Animal Park: again fantastic service, up close and personal with the animals (feeding and petting), only 8 people (all adults) on the truck, very knowledgeable guide.

Some of the things I think made us love these experiences so much:
--Out of the everyday experience, something we haven't done before
--Intimate setting. Just us, or a few others
--Every detail thought of, amazing service and knowledge sharing
--Sort of...behind the scenes feeling maybe? It's hard to describe what else made these two so memorable.

Beyond that...we're up for anything, really. Both of these were very expensive, but there's no reason it has to be. We're interested in pretty much anything: all kinds of food, sports, TV and movies, music, art, physical activities, nature, science, etc, etc, etc.
posted by lemonade to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla is pretty cool.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:53 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sunday Brunch at Hotel del Coronado off San Diego.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:53 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was really surprised at how superb Hearst Castle was.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:59 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I thought Big Sur was absolutely breathtaking and unique. It was my highlight of a recent California trip from Napa Valley to San Diego.
posted by avex at 9:06 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Big Sur is pretty far from what most people consider "Southern California"; it's about 100 miles north of what I would suggest as the northernmost worthwhile day trip from the LA area: the unbelievably kitschy Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo.
posted by kittyprecious at 9:12 AM on February 17, 2009

Hiking Sycamore Canyon, although I usually used to just do it from the ocean side and back. Never failed to lift my spirits, though.
posted by Danf at 9:22 AM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Museum of Jurassic technology!
posted by abirae at 9:29 AM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Warner Brothers V.I.P. Studio tour is a pretty neat behind the scenes experience. There are, at most, 11 other people with you. The guide can tailor the tour to the interests of the people in the group and it's $45.
posted by shesbookish at 10:07 AM on February 17, 2009

seconding the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
posted by Julnyes at 11:23 AM on February 17, 2009

For food, Scoops you'll never find another ice cream place like it! Heads up they only take cash, but at $2.75 for two huge scoops of ice cream, the price is certainly right!

For experience, if you can find a way to swing it Magic Castle sounds right up your alley!
posted by Palmcorder Yajna at 12:16 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding an evening at the Magic Castle, especially if you loosen up and get a little tipsy.

Sunset drinks at Yamashiro's overlooking the city.

Museum of Jurassic Technology thirded.

Shows at UCB or Groundlings are usually fun.

I've never gone wrong with mexican food & margaritas at Lulu's in Santa Monica.

I've always enjoyed a relaxing Sunday wandering around Solvang. Some may find it cheesy but I've been going there since I was little so I love it.

Wandering around La Jolla and then walking down to the Cove and sitting in one of the cabanas, staring at the ocean and the seals. Worse ways to live.

There's a lot more, but I'm at a clients so I'll have to leave it to other people for now.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2009

Seconding the Hotel Del Coronado's brunch. I just remarked to my wife this morning about how great it was.
posted by AgentRocket at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2009

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway especially at this time of year. Desert to Snow in ten minutes. Worth it it alone to see tourists in open toed sandals at the top tiptoeing through the slush. It's the steepest escarpment in N. America.
posted by adamvasco at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2009

Hodad's in Ocean Beach, San Diego.

Much more casual than many of the other suggestions, but that is one bacon cheeseburger I'll never forget.
posted by clearly at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2009

Having grown up in San Diego I can't help but chuckle out loud that I actually know the name Hodad's is a local slang joke.

If you go to La Jolla Cove, btw, eat at Brockton Villa. I love that place, it's just such a great view and the food's good.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:03 PM on February 17, 2009

2nding the studio-tour suggestion. (I'm pleasantly surprised to see they still have it.)
posted by ambient2 at 9:40 PM on February 17, 2009

I don't know if I'm missing something here, or if this is such an obvious choice that you and everyone else so far has simply taken it for granted, but... Venice Beach.

I don't even know how to describe it to you if you haven't seen it. Just go there, take a walk up to the Santa Monica pier and wallow in the insanity.

and uh, nthing the Museum of Jurassic Technology. And Olvera Street, that too.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:29 PM on February 17, 2009

Strongly seconding the Museum of Jurassic technology!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:07 AM on February 18, 2009

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is currently featuring its very best show, Something To Crow About. Singing watermelons! Dancing onions! Sleazy chicken-seducing foxes! World's cutest faux goats! Do not miss.
posted by Scram at 9:48 PM on February 18, 2009

L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition! 6331 Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles (NOT the same as the Scientology Center). In-depth/weird tour of L. Ron Hubbard's life, including animatronic aliens and hand-cans.
posted by unknowncommand at 6:38 PM on March 22, 2009

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