Editor’s note: These suggestions can also be used by visitors to Southern California
Summer is past, and school is back in session. You deserve a break, but it is still hard to find a lot of recreational time. Why not give yourself a day off with a Southern California Daycation? No other place offers all the possibilities for a full day of fun and relaxation as the Golden State. Within easy reach of your home is a variety of restaurants, theme parks, museums, shopping, beaches, desert fun–the choices are virtually endless. One excellent day’s getaway is the beach area around Los Angeles. If you can get a friend or two to join you, the day will be even more enjoyable.
A first-class way to start your day is by slipping over to Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant in Buena Park for a breakfast that will carry you through the morning and well into lunch. An especially good choice is a piece of Knott’s signature fried chicken, O’Brien potatoes, biscuits, coffee, and juice.
If, however, you want to make an early start and feel like putting off breakfast for an hour, follow I-5 up to Los Angeles and then take the westbound Santa Monica freeway to Santa Monica. If traffic is slow, just use that time to anticipate your day’s adventure. Take the freeway all the way to its end (any further, and you’ll drive into the Pacific Ocean) and find a convenient parking space. The parking garage at Second and Arizona gives two hours of free parking and is close to a great restaurant, Ye Olde King’s Head British Pub. At $9.95, the “Queen Size” is hard to beat. It comes with your choice of fried bread or toast, two eggs, a strip of bacon, one banger (sausage), English baked beans, grilled tomatoes, and breakfast potatoes. Add a pot of tea, and you will swear you have spent your morning in the English countryside.
After such a filling introduction to your day, get ready to burn some calories. With the ocean so close by, that’s the natural place to go. Catch Ocean Blvd. and take the ramp down to PCH1. Park your car, and you’ll be set. You can either visit the Santa Monica Pier and enjoy its world famous Ferris wheel, cross the beach to the oceanside and spend the morning tanning and splashing in the surf, or strap on some skates and follow the bike path up to Malibu or down to Venice. If skating is not your thing, rent a bike or just take a casual stroll.
As midday nears, you might want to go shopping, at Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade with its wide variety of stores and restaurants. Usually, street performers add some entertainment to your day. If Third Street does not meet all your shopping needs, close by is Santa Monica Place, recently remodeled. Either way, you will have a pleasant afternoon and likely find some new treasures to help you remember your day. Incidentally, if you make your day’s getaway on Wednesday in spring through fall, Third Street Promenade hosts a really nice farmers’ market.
If time permits, and you would like to add some culture to your day, drive up the 405 to the Getty Center. You can spend a couple hours there marveling at their classical, permanent collection, or catch one of their special exhibits. The Getty Center is quite a beautiful, relaxing spot. It is only accessible from their parking lot by taking a short, yet enjoyable tram ride. Be sure to bring a camera. The grounds are picturesque, and you will especially enjoy viewing the Pacific Ocean to your west and Los Angeles to your east.
Finally, it’s time to go home. But your Daycation will not be complete without one last splurge. Drive a few miles up Santa Monica Blvd. to the Century City Shopping Center (10250 Santa Monica Blvd.) and drop into Gulfstream for an end-of-day treat. They serve the best lemon meringue pie you are ever likely to have. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee or tea, and you will decide that you have to make this a regular part of your itinerary.
As your day approaches its end, take the drive back to Orange County and share your experience with your friends and family. Your next getaway might take you in a different direction. You may even decide to stay close to home. But your day of adventure will remind you why you decided to live in Southern California in the first place. Where else can you fill your day with such a diversity of recreation, shopping, and dining? Southern California–there is simply no other place like it.