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Special thanks to  Dana Pusateri and Victoria Johnson for recommendations 

California may be the romanticized west-coast notion, but it's truly for anyone who loves the great outdoors, lively cities, and eclectic tastes. Whether you crave the beach or boutique shopping, want to see the dramatic coastline or the desert national parks, there's a reason Californians call the west coast the best coast.

Carlsbad State Beach



Things to Do

Drive down Pacific Coast Highway: Beautiful views of the ocean that you can only find along this gorgeous part of California! 

Malibu Wines: Either do a Safari or just go to buy a bottle of wine.  Check online for live music details.

Malibu: Surf, hike, eat, and enjoy the beautiful California weather.

Santa Monica Pier: You get the beach with the fun twist of an amusement park atop the pier. They hold free beach concerts during the summer and the lineup can be found on the Twilight Summer Concert Series Website. It’s a must when in the L.A. area. 

Electric Scooter Santa Monica: Check out the app "Bird."

Griffith Park, Runyon Canyon & Fryman Canyon: Some of the best hikes in the area. Griffith Park has a ton of trails and riding barns that allow you to rent horses and ride though the Hollywood Hills with a guide. 

The Last Bookstore: This whimsical used bookstore is in Downtown L.A. There's a maze on the second floor and also an art gallery, cute shops and art instillations throughout.  Only a block away from Grand Central Market which is one of the biggest indoor farmers market with tons of restaurants and shops. 

Universal Studios & Citywalk: Full day activity that is perfect for families and any one in the mood for a little movie magic. The Studio Tour and The Wizarding World are must-sees if you’re into theme parks. 

Places to Eat

Amaze Bowls: Acai bowls that look just as good as they taste.

Aroma cafe: Multiple locations, great casual vibe. Any sandwich or salad will satisfy your appetite. 

Barton G: Unreal food presentation. Perfect for a birthday dinner or special occasion. We recommend the Nitro Popcorn for an appetizer, the Sea Bass (complete with samurai sword) for dinner, and the Dolla Dolla Bills Y'all for dessert.

Back On The Beach:  The omelets and mimosas are spectacular. 

Bondi Harvest: Health food you want to eat. This quaint and comfortable spot perfect for an LA beach day. Avocado pancakes and breakfast burritos you will be dreaming about long after you leave.  

EggslutAmazing breakfast sandwiches. Casual, quick place but it usually has a line.

Gracias Madre: Vegan spot with an fresh brunch menu. Make reservations and request patio seating. Lunch and dinner are also incredible.

Jon & VinnysYou'll need reservations extremely far in advance, but hands-down best Italian in the city! 

Laurel HardwareSpeakeasy vibes. It looks like a hardware store from the outside, but awesome atmosphere. Try to get a table outside near the string lights! 

Taste on Melrose: Pleasant restaurant with a big menu. Great brunch spot! 

Urth Caffé: Any location will do. This cafe is great for casual dining and a quick breakfast or lunch.

YsabelContemporary lounge that is ideal for a date night or bourgeoisie brunch with the girls.

Places to Drink

The Venice Whaler: Chill spot with great eats. This is a fun place to watch a game or catch a sunset view of the beach.

Bungalow: An L.A. staple with a casual but trendy vibe.  Great with a group but get there early to beat the line. Also a fun spot to day drink at on Saturdays. 

Black Rabbit Rose: Unique drinks in an interesting atmosphere.

Broken Shaker: Rooftop patio with a beautiful view and comfy seats.

Doheny Room: If you want to have a girls night and dance the night away, this is your spot. Get there around 10:45 because doors open at 11, and you’ll likely meet a promoter in line if you get there around that time.

Makai: Sushi spot by day, fun bar by night. They always play amazing throwbacks and have a 24 hour pizza spot next door. Need I say more?

The Highlight Room: Rooftop of the Dream Hotel in Hollywood. It's bougie but fun.

Tao/Beauty & Essex: They’re next door to each other and good for dinner/going out after

41 Ocean: Only walking distance from the beach, this is a great nighttime spot.

Places to Stay

We recommend AirBnB. Venice, Santa Monica and West Hollywood are all fun areas to stay in and easily accessible to restaurants and activities.


Things to Do

Balboa park: Urban cultural park, museums and botanical gardens. Great full day activity!

Carlsbad State Beach: The best beach with a laid back vibe, soft white sand and nice views. 

Gaslamp Quarter: Tons of restaurants, shopping, bars.

La Jolla Cove: Beautiful with snorkeling, paddle boarding, scuba diving options. Come to grab a drink and check out the view or spend the day doing fun activities.

San Diego Zoo: This zoo has been a landmark in San Diego for nearly 100 years, and one of the best zoos in the world. You cannot go wrong, best to buy tickets online and give yourself an entire day so you can also explore the rest of Balboa park which the zoo is a part of. 

Torrey Pines State Park: Hiking with incredible ocean views. Check out the app All Trails for the best hikes in Torrey Pines and the remainder of the San Diego Area.

Places to Eat

Barleymash: Popular sports bar known for craft beer, bourbon & flatbread pizzas. Also serves incredible specialty mac n cheese dishes.

Cafe 21: Local eatery with fresh ingredients. This place is great for brunch or dinner and has a complete line of cocktails every day of the week. Make sure to try the insane bloody marys or the flight of mimosas.

Draft: Sports bar for casual, American small plates plus beer on tap & beach views

Gossip Grill: Friendly bar that serves cocktails, American comfort food, and great vibes

Gratitude Cafe: Small chain of restaurants serving organic, plant-based food.

Luche Libre: Awesome taco shop located in Mission Hills, featured on Man vs. Food.

Searsucker: New American Classic cuisine, mutiple locations in SD greater area. Must order the GIANT cinnamon roll.

Sorrento: Southern Italian dishes served in a cozy, modern bistro with a patio.

Places to Drink


Mr. As: Upscale atmosphere. Go for sunset happy hour.

Barleymash: Mentioned above but this sports bar turns into a fun late night spot with great DJs.

Rustic Root: Great vibe, the outdoor patio is perfect for year round enjoyment in the ideal Southern California weather. 

La Jolla

George's on the Cove: Great food & happy hour. Go later in the day.

La Valencia Hotel: Perfect for sunset happy hour.

Pacific Beach

Ale House & Firehouse: Late night spots that are next to each other. Also serve great bar food during day.

Tower23: Great sunset happy hour. Enjoy good music and better views. A great dinner option as well. 

Places to Stay

We recommend AirBnB. Check out spots in the Gaslamp district or Pacific Beach


Things to Do

Alameda Flea Market: Full of eclectic finds.

First Friday's in Oakland:  Check out live music.

Get your wine on:  Don't miss out on Napa or Sonoma. 

Go hiking: Check out Almere Falls.

Golden Gate Bridge: Walk or bike, this San Francisco icon is not to be missed. 

Hang out in the park: Dolores and Fort Mason are great ones. 

Hog Island: This is out of the city, but visit to explore and get great oysters.

Off the grid: A summertime specialty. Visit food trucks, listen to live bands, and hang out under string lights.  

Outside Lands Music Festival: A must do for music junkies if you are able to time it right.

Visit the Beach: During the day check out Bakers Beach or Stinson Beach, and at night build a bonfire at Ocean Beach. 

Walk Lands End and the Sutro Baths in the city.

Places to Eat

1760: Small plates in Russian Hill.

Bix:  American/French in Jackson Square. Atmosphere feels like a 1930's jazz/supper club and is a SF classic. Can draw an older crowd, but the food is great and the cocktails are good, just a little different.

Bun Mee: Vietnamese in Pacific Heights 

Delfina: Italian in Mission. This is an SF staple that has been around a long time. Highly recommend.

Delfina Pizzeria: An Italian Pacific Heights Sister restaurant. Serves great pizza and is a good place to stop for lunch if you are walking around Fillmore.

Flour + Water: The best pasta in Mission. Everything else is good too so you can't go wrong. Reservations are really hard to come by, so you can always put your name down and then go get a drink for an hour or two at Trick next door.

Hunan Homes: Great takeout Chinese in North Beach.

Kokkari: Excellent Greek spot that is unanimously adored.

Kusakabe: Really high quality sushi/food in Jackson Square. Has a small and nice atmosphere.

Liho Liho Yacht Club: Hawaiian restaurant with Amazing food and a great vibe. It's really hard to get a reservation but try to reserve their family style table ahead of time. It's really fun for a group.

Rose's Café: A great spot for breakfast or brunch if you are walking around the area. Really cute and very popular.

State Bird Provisions: Located in Lower Pac Heights. Serves New American dim sum style-waiters come around with different trays of things. Just fun and different.

Stones Throw: New American spot in Russian Hill. Have a drink at Union Larder before or after (right across the street).

Tacolicious: Popular Mexican restaurant that really crowded on weekend evenings so plan ahead. Also has a big bar scene.

Places to Drink​

The Saratoga: Two-story bar in the Historic Saratoga Hotel. 

Blackbird: Local vibe, great any night of the week. 

Bow Bow Cocktail Lounge: Cheap beers, free peanuts, and some singalongs.

Places to Stay

Airbnb is convenient and more affordable.


HI San Francisco: Downtown or Fisherman's Wharf locations

USA Hostels San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Diego

San Francisco

Coronado Island

San Diego Downtown

San Diego

La Jolla Cliffs

Main Street, Carlsbad

Carlsbad State Beach

San Francisco

Succulent Cafe, Oceanside

Coachella, Indio

Santa Monica, Los Angeles 

Los Angeles 

Santa Monica, Los Angeles 

Laguna Beach

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