Hipmunk Hotels: California Dreaming in Half Moon Bay, Venice, Pismo Beach, and more

There’s nothing like a trip to California: dreamy coastlines, amazingly fresh produce, and a laid-back vibe. To get the most out of your stay in the Golden State, consider a stay at hotels in the following locations.

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Half Moon Bay via Flickr by mtch3l

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay is located 30 miles south of San Francisco and offers some of the best sweeping coastline views in all of California. Once a place where “rum runners” smuggled alcohol to nearby inns during Prohibition, taking advantage of the area’s coves and dense fog, Half Moon Bay today thrives with a small-town coastal charm — and some of those inns are thriving restaurants today.

A historic downtown district has plenty of shops, restaurants, and galleries to peruse during your visit. You won’t be disappointed in the fresh seafood at area restaurants, either.

Venice

There’s never a lack of things to do in Venice Beach, a gathering place for hippies, beatniks, and artists. Try walking up and down the boardwalk, close to your stay at the conveniently located Venice on the Beach Hotel, eating street tacos and falling for a salesman’s latest push. Street performers abound, and this “Coney Island of the Pacific” tempts visitors with amusement attractions, specialty shops, fortune tellers, a drum circle, and more. Don’t forget to gawk at hard bodies at the world-famous “Muscle Beach,” an outdoor workout area.

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Venice Beach Boardwalk via Flickr by young grasshopper

 

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, located in Central coastal California, is along the famous Highway 101 and is the midway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Known for its “Classic California” vibe, Pismo Beach offers visitors activities like fishing from its 1200-foot pier, wine-tasting, ATV sand dune riding, surfing, and more.

Come in June to walk around the annual classic car show. You can see vehicles from yesteryear in pristine condition along a dramatic coastal backdrop. Or if seafood is your thing, make a visit in October for the annual clam festival.

Oxnard

Back down in Southern California is Oxnard, home to some of the sweetest strawberries you ever tasted. Just a short drive from Los Angeles, Oxnard will have your senses pumping at the California Strawberry Festival every summer.

In addition to its delicious produce, Oxnard is home to the Channel Islands National Park, an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Just a quick boat ride from the mainland offers ample opportunity to kayak, snorkel, and bird watch around these five islands. You can take guided wildlife tours to discover this somewhat isolated island chain.

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Fresh Oxnard Strawberries via Flickr by Kimberly Mahr

Roseville

Once a railroad town, now Roseville is a major urban city in metropolitan Sacramento. Pack a picnic and listen to live music for the Music in the Park series. Old Town’s Vernon Street is the place to be Tuesday nights in the summer for music, arts, and food vendors.

Make sure you save time for the city’s largest open market, Denio’s Farmers Market and Swap Meet, to hunt for treasures untold. During your comfortable stay at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott, take advantage of Roseville’s close proximity to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, Lake Tahoe, and Napa Valley.

 

 

5 reasons to love magical, weird L.A.

I’ve been to L.A. once, very briefly to score a Hollywood T-Shirt for my friend’s suvenir on the way to LAX airport. It was hot, congested, those two things together rarely a good thing. I didn’t have a favorable first impression of the city of Angels.

I’m loving  California life. The more I explore this place, the more awesome it becomes.

1. People are really…nice: You thought I was going to say weird, didn’t you? Nah, everybody’s weird. But these weird people are nice. They’re the kind of people that will blindly let you cut across 6 lanes of traffic because you’re about to miss your exit. Note to self: Never mistake stupidity for nice. Just kidding, just kidding. Everyone I’ve met has  been hospitable, kind, fun, adventurous, liberal, artistic and passionate. Maybe I instantly fell into the right circle because I’m here visiting a friend, but even grocery store workers, the cashier at the local trattoria and even Santa Monica’s “Downtown Ambassador” (who tried to bust my friends and I street performing an impromtu version of Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’ with a ukelee) are the downright most open and friendly people. I guess I haven’t had the ill fortune of hanging around “Hollywood celebrity types” yet.

One of the coolest gents I met in Cali

2. I could die for the scenery: Don’t let anyone fool you, the hollywood “hills” are pretty ginormous mountains! Treacherous ones. Ones that kick ass to hike. I’ve hiked through Runyon Canyon, practically passed out from heat and exhaustion, but kept going for the views alone. The views of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, The Pacific, everything right there is like a smorgeousboard of gluttony, excess and access, grime and glitter. Venice Beach and Santa Monica beaches are incredible, but nothing beat the shores of Malibu. At Leo Carrillo State Beach just north of Malibu on US 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Walking on the stony rocks and exploring the cavernous enclaves during low tide was damn near a religious experience.

3. Fit for foodies: I’m a sucker for cheap, great Mexican food. Luckily I’ve come to the land of the taqueria, where the diablo beckons me daily with the promise of tomatillo and cilantro salsa to slather on my torta. Pho is available 24/7. I’ve died and went to Thai food heaven. A local blog, Backyard Bite, examines all the neighborhood gems in L.A. just waiting to be discovered. So get out there and start looking!

4. Places like the Museum of Death exist: Where else could you score a sweet afternoon like this? They didn’t allow any pictures inside, but rest assured the $15 entry fee was worth every minute walking through “Executioner’s Row” and “Suicide Hallway.”

5. Entertainment is still alive and well:  People here still go to the theater. Stand-up comedians and musicians roll through town on the regular. The radio stations out here rock and there is just so many things to do here.

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Stay tuned for upcoming posts on more specific locations in Los Angeles I visited as well as my trip up north to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district and the Sonoma County Redwoods.