24 Things to Do in Downtown Los Angeles

In this post, we are heading the Los Angeles, and I’m going to show you 24 of my favorite spots to explore in Downtown LA. Check it out and let me know what I left off in the comments. Click on the images to read more about the recommendation.

1. Broad Museum

Stop number one, takes us to The Broad Museum, which is one of the most popular new museums in Los Angeles. This gallery became popular because of its “instagramable” attractions like the mirror rooms, the big tulips, the America sign. It even has a larger than life-size table you can walk right underneath. It’s a free museum, but you do need tickets in advance and be prepared to wait about an hour if you don’t get a ticket in advance to get in.

2. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Across the street from The Broad, we have the Walt Disney Concert Hall. You’ve probably seen this awesome architectural feat right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles multiple times while driving by, but I would recommend getting out of the car, walking around, taking a tour of the concert hall, and walking through the gardens. It’s a beautiful area and every time you go; you see something new. Of course, if you get a chance, see a show there as well. It’s supposed to have the best acoustics in all of Los Angeles.

3. OUE SkySpace LA

Recommendation number three is OUE SkySpace, which is in the US Bank Tower. This unique Los Angeles attraction has a glass slide, where you slide from the 70th floor to the 69th floor all completely in glass. The slide goes fast so you don’t have a ton of time to look around but it’s a fun experience that gets the adrenaline going. Also, they have two open-air observation decks that are amazing spots for sunset.

4. Union Station

Union Station is the Los Angeles train station, and it’s been featured in movies like Blade Runner. It’s many decades old and is an excellent place to walk around and explore the unique architecture or take the train somewhere outside of Los Angeles.

5. Olvera St

From Union Station, head over to Olvera Street which is right across the street from the train station and is a fun cultural heritage site in the middle of Los Angeles. Here, you can visit the center pavilion, go to some of the museums, see one of the oldest houses in Los Angeles and have taquitos at Cielito Lindo. Olvera Street is also impressive during the Day of the Dead Festival which happens right around Halloween every single year.

6. Chinatown

For a different cultural experience, head over to Chinatown which is a few blocks up from Olvera Street. This small area has food, shopping and lots of unique architecture. It also has the traditional Chinese lanterns that go across many of the streets, and it has a wishing fountain that you can throw coins into.

7. MOCA

My next recommendation is MOCA which is a contemporary art museum in the heart of downtown LA. While this doesn’t have as many of the crazy exhibits like The Broad does, it’s still a great place to see some unique art and walk around the two to three floors they have. The giant metal piece in the outdoor lobby is worth visiting just to see that.

8. Grand Central Market

Next stop, we have Grand Central Market which is Downtown LA’s food court. It’s been there for decades with lots of unique restaurants coming in and out over the years. Now, it’s part of the foodie revival in LA with places like Eggslut, PBJ.LA, Wexler’s Deli and many others bringing people from all over Southern California to try a unique dish.

9. Bradbury Building

From there, head across the street to the Bradbury Building which was also featured in Blade Runner and which is a super cool piece of architecture that you can explore during business hours. You can’t ride the old elevators, but you can walk up some of the staircases and see the building from many different angles.

10. Angels Flight

After that, head over to Angels Flight which is a fun little train that you can ride. It takes you about a block up, and it only costs 50 cents to a dollar, depending on whether you have a metro pass or not. No doubt you’ve seen this fun attraction in some recent movies like La La Land. It was actually closed for about five years, so it’s great to have it back open again.

11. The Last Bookstore

My next recommendation is The Last Bookstore. This old bank building was turned into a two-story bookstore which has an insane amount of books but has a lot of other cool things to see as well. Some of those are the book tunnel that you can walk through and the old bank vault which houses crime novels. It’s a good place to just walk around and take it all in.

12. Clifton’s Cafeteria

Close by The Last Bookstore is Clifton’s Cafeteria, which is a famous Los Angeles spot that has been around for over 50 years. This unique cafeteria has all sorts of absurd things for you to see such as tigers that you can sit next to, a giant three-story tree, and all kinds of weird oddities around the restaurant. It just reopened a year or two ago, and it’s a great place to go with your family.

13. Art’s District

Next, I recommend heading over to the Art’s District. The Art’s District is the up and coming downtown neighborhood that everybody wants to live at, and everyone else comes to eat at. The Art’s District has lots of artistic murals on all of the buildings, a bunch of crazy places to eat like Wurstkuche which has rattlesnake and rabbit sausages, breweries, ice cream, you name it they have it in the Art’s District. It’s an excellent place to just park, walk around and explore. Naturally, bring your appetite because there are lots you’re going to want to eat.

14. Spire 73 Bar at the InterContinental Hotel

If you are in LA at night, head over the InterContinental hotel which is the tallest building on the West Coast. From there, you can take the elevator all the way to the 70th floor and then another elevator to the 73rd floor to go to the tallest open-air bar in the entire country. This is a great place to grab a drink or snack and look out over the city lights.

15. LA Live and the Grammy Museum

My next recommendation is to head down to LA Live which is right across from the Staple Center and has lots of restaurants as well as the Grammy Museum. If you’re a fan of music, then the Grammy Museum is a great place to explore. It talks about past winners, has instruments that you can play, microphones you can sing into and revolving exhibits on things like punk rock and famous guitars. Also, along the sidewalk, outside of the museum, there are big records in the ground, much like the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that talk about the different artists that won categories during each year of the Grammy’s.

16. Smorgasborg LA

If you’re in Los Angeles on a Sunday which is the only day of the week that this happens, head over to Smorgasburg. Smorgasburg is much like a food truck event where 30 or so restaurants all have little pop-up shops in this one big industrial area. You can walk all around and try thing ranging from fried chicken in a waffle cone, shrimp in a pineapple boat, acai bowls, tea, all sorts of crazy stuff. I recommend bringing your appetite and some money so that you can try a few different things. There’s also a shopping area down the middle that you can check out in between eating.

17. Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is in the heart of downtown LA where Chinatown is a little bit north of the city center. This area has a unique mall full of all sorts of Japanese related items, has different restaurants that you can try, and it has one of my favorite places to in all of downtown Los Angeles which is Daikokuya, a ramen restaurant. Be sure to get there really early though, as Diakokuya is always busy, super small and you normally have to wait at least an hour.

18. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Next stop, we have a Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels which is an old church that you can check out while you are in the city. This church is beautiful with the contemporary design and a large open floor plan. You can walk through the entire area or go down to mausoleum below the church. Obviously, be respectful if you visit here.

19. LA City Hall

If you’re in Los Angeles during a weekday, from 9 AM to 5 PM, go to LA City Hall. You can get a visitor’s pass and take the elevator all the way to the top of the city hall. From there you can walk around in an open-air observation deck completely free. This is a great place to explore as it gives you impressive views of downtown LA and all the surrounding areas. You can even see the Hollywood if there’s not any smog.

20. Grand Park

From City Hall, you can head up to Grand Park which is another fun place to relax in downtown. This long narrow park goes up about three city blocks, and it gains elevation as you’re walking up to the top. Each area has grass with tables and chairs that you can relax at and look out over City Hall. Also, at the top, there is a fountain that kids often play in.

21. Pershing Square

From here, you can head Pershing Square which is one of the other popular city parks in Los Angeles. There’s not a lot to do in Pershing Square on a daily basis but there is a park for kids to play at and during Christmas, they have an ice rink here so you can ice skate in the heart of Downtown LA.

22. LA Library

Pershing Square is about a block from the LA Library which is an excellent place to explore for a few hours during the day. They have a cool atrium with lots of unique art and, on the second floor, they have rotunda that you have to see to believe.

23. Bob Baker Marionette Theater

My last two recommendations are a little bit outside the downtown area, but they’re both fun to visit. First, head over to Bob Baker Marionette Theater. This theater on the west side of downtown has been running for over 50 years, and it has an impressive marionette puppet show the whole family will enjoy. It’s a lot of fun during the holidays as well as they often have holiday-themed shows with their different puppets.

24. Dodger’s Stadium

My last recommendation is a visit to Dodger’s Stadium. You may have been to Dodger’s Stadium during a game day, but I recommend you visit it when there’s no game in town. During normal business hours, most days of the week, you can drive into Dodger’s Stadium, and you can visit the company store. From there you can actually walk out into the upper deck, eat lunch and just look out over the beautiful stadium. I’m not a huge baseball fan myself, but there’s just something cool about being in Dodger’s Stadium with no one else around.

So, that’s it, 24 spots in downtown Los Angeles for you to check out. Hopefully, there are some new ones on there that you hadn’t heard of before and be sure to let me know where I left off that you love in the comments.

Napa Valley Guide: Exploring Yountville, St Helena, Calistoga & Napa

For over a century, the Napa Valley region of Northern California has been a popular attraction, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors a year from all over the world. The wine region is one of the most famous in the United States and the small cities that make up the Napa Valley have a lot of wine and a lot of charm. While I have by no means explored all the valley has to offer, I have certainly seen a fair share. Below are some of my favorite spots in the Napa Valley that you can explore. Let me know what I left off in the comments.

Napa

The city of Napa is the first place you will visit when you drive into the Napa Valley. This city used to be a passthrough town, but over the last few decades it has risen in popularity and has a lot of great restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and outdoor adventures. Read all about it here and check out some of my favorite spots below.

Oxbow Public Market

Napa Art Walk

Westwood Hills Park

Anette’s Chocolates

Boon Fly Cafe

Bounty Hunter BBQ

Domaine Carneros

Grape Crusher Statue

Yountville

Yountville is quickly becoming the most famous city in the Napa Valley region. This is due largely to the amount of Michelin stars present in this small town, honoring some of the best restaurants in the state. It is a great town to bike around, try some new food and visit some wine tasting rooms. Here are a few of my favorite spots.

French Laundry Gardens

Bouchon Bistro

Biking to Wineries

Redd Wood

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Hurley’s Restaurant

Domaine Chandon

Bouchon Bakery

St Helena

St Helena is one of the towns that I have spent the least amount of time in. It has one of the most fun little downtowns though with shopping, food and wine tasting. The stand out here is the Model Bakery, which people come from miles around to get their famous English Muffins.

Gott’s Roadside

Model Bakery

Calistoga

Calistoga is the last city in the Napa Valley and while it is not as famous as some of the other towns it still is worth the visit. Calistoga has a lot of unique attractions as well, such as a petrified forest and one of California’s only geysers. Also, Calistoga is home to one of the valleys most famous wineries, Castello di Amorosa, the castle of Napa Valley.

Castello di Amorosa

Phifer Pavitt Winery

Old Faithful Geyser

Jericho Canyon Winery

Petrified Forest

Calistoga Food Guide

Napa Valley Sign

Hotels

There are lots of quaint boutique hotels in the Napa Valley and even a few chains as well. I haven’t stayed in too many but you can see a few I have visited below. If you are looking for the cheapest option, the city of Napa is usually the cheapest place to stay in the valley. 

Calistoga Hot Springs

Lavender Inn

Embassy Suites

Now it is your turn, what did I leave off this list that you love exploring in Napa Valley? Be sure to leave it in the comments!

Napa City Guide: Restaurants, Wineries, Art & Bike Rides

The city of Napa is the gatekeeper to the famous Napa Valley, that people travel from all over the world to visit. The downtown area of Napa city itself has gone through a massive revival over the last decade though and has become its own destination for people to see. I got a chance to explore it for a week and here are some of the things you need to check out when you visit Napa.

Art

One of the big pushes the city of Napa has undertaken in the last few years has been to integrate art all throughout the city. They even established a downtown art walk that you can go on, and that has a revolving set of artists that changes every couple of years. Here are a few ways to get immersed in the art culture while in Napa.

Napa Art Walk

Gordon Huether Art Studio

Outdoor Activities

While I have not done as many outdoor activities here as I would like, Napa city has a great public park that I have hiked in and the downtown river area has a beautiful path for biking. You can read about both below and let me know your favorite hiking spot in the comments.

Westwood Hills Park

Biking in Downtown Napa

Restaurants

Whether you are looking for sushi or BBQ, great restaurants are prevalent in the city of Napa. Here are a few of my favorites but be sure to let me know yours in the comments.

Bounty Hunter BBQ

Eight Noodle Shop

Boon Fly Cafe

Alexis Baking Company

Napa General Store

Celedon

Wineries & Wine Tasting Rooms

Of course in Napa, you will want to taste some wine. You don’t even have to fight the traffic of the valley to try them though as the downtown area gas a lot of great tasting rooms. Here are a few.

Jam Cellars

Mark Herold

Capp Heritage

Domaine Carneros

Oxbow Public Market

One of my favorite places to stop for food, drinks, or a sweet treat is the Oxbow Public Market. This space has a dozen restaurants and shops all in one large building and it truly has something for everyone. Check out the post I wrote about my favorite places in Oxbox by clicking the image below.

Chocolate Tasting

I wanted to call out Anette’s specifically as they do chocolate tastings at the downtown location if you have a large party and it is a ton of fun. I had never learned how to taste chocolate before visiting here but after 45 minutes I feel like I am a pro. They also have a stall in Oxbow Public Market where you can pick up some chocolates if you do not have time for a tasting.

Anette’s Chocolates

Best Sunset Spot

Many of the wineries have great views for sunset, but for me, my favorite place to do sunset photography is at the Grape Crusher Statue. The way the sun lights up the statue as it fades into the sky is hard to beat.

Grape Crusher Statue

Other Fun Adventures

Here are a few fun adventures that don’t fit into the list above. Check them out if you are looking for new places to explore in the city.

Bowling at Crush

Hotels

I have only stayed in one hotel in the city itself, which was the Embassy Suites. It was a great spot with big rooms and a beautiful property. There are a few other popular resorts and hotels though that you can see below.

Embassy Suites

Meritage

Napa River Inn

Now it is your turn, what did I leave off this list that you love exploring in Napa? Be sure to leave in in the comments to others can find it as well.

Malibu City Guide: Hiking, Beaches, Seafood & A Wine Safari

Malibu is known worldwide as a place for the rich and famous to buy beach homes in the shadow of Los Angeles; however, it is so much more than that as well. This stretch of coastline is one of the prettiest in Southern California with the vast Santa Monica Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Whether it’s going for a hike, sitting on the beach or eating some seafood, Malibu has a lot to offer the explorer. Here are a few of my favorite spots.

Beaches

The beaches in Malibu are some of the best on the West Coast, with El Matador State Beach being a personal favorite of mine. Check out some of the beaches below but do get there early as parking is always tough in Malibu.

El Matador Beach

Leo Carrillo

10 Secret Malibu Beaches

Hikes

Whether it is hiking along the beach at Point Dume or heading up into the mountains to summit Sandstone Peak, Malibu has some great spots to get out and stretch your legs at.

Solstice Canyon

Sandstone Peak

Malibu Wine Hikes

Point Mugu Trail

The Grotto

Point Dume

MASH Site Malibu Creek

Jim Morrison Cave

Peter Strauss Ranch

Waterfalls

There are multiple waterfalls that flow in Malibu, but I would recommend going to find them in the spring only as most dry up over the summer. Here are a few of my favorites.

Escondido Falls

Solstice Canyon

Wine Safari

Yep, you read that right, in Malibu you can actually go on a wine safari. This unique experience is put together by Malibu Wines and you tour the back property first to see all of the animals then you finish it with a tasting flight at the winery.

Malibu Wine Safari

Food

Seafood is what you are looking for in Malibu since it is so close to the ocean that they always get some of the freshest fish. Here are a few of my favorite spots.

Neptune’s Net

Malibu Seafood

Videos

If you want more inspiration, check out the videos I made on Malibu below.

Solstice Canyon

Escondido Falls

Now it is your turn, what did I leave off this list that you love exploring in Malibu? Be sure to leave in in the comments to others can find it as well.

24 Hours in Dana Point: Exploring Caves, Beaches, Ships, Restaurants & Resorts

Nestled in between Laguna Beach and San Clemente, right on the outskirts of Orange County, Dana Point is a great beach community that is worth taking the time to explore. What I like about Dana Point most is that it feels more relaxed than many of its other coastal counterparts like Newport and Huntington Beach. The city has a lot of great eateries, the beaches are vast and beautiful, and there are adventures to be had for the whole family. Here is how I recommend you spend 24 hours in Dana Point.

Breakfast – Stack’s Pancake House

Dana Point is one of those cities that has a ton of restaurant options; there are a few spots that truly stand out though. For breakfast, Stacks is the place to be. It will be busy, so know that going in, but the walk up and order restaurant has some of the best pancakes in Orange County.

For my money, it doesn’t get better than the banana macadamia nut pancakes (there are other options too), which has a huge flavor, especially when you combine them with the coconut sauce provided to go on top. You can have a stack for $5 – $10, depending on how many you want, and I doubt you will leave disappointed.

Ocean Institute

After lunch head over to the Ocean Institute, which is a great spot for kids but which can be fun for adults as well. They have a few tanks where you can pet everything from starfish to small sharks and classes where they dissect things like cow eyes and sea creatures. It’s especially fun for families, but make sure to go on a Sunday when you can tour the Pilgrim boat. The price of doing so gets you into the institute as well, so it is a win win.

The Pilgrim

Dana Point is known for the Tall Ships Festival which happens every fall and which brings dozens of fancy old boats to the harbor. During the rest of the year though The Pilgrim, a boat from the 1940’s is docked in the port and can be toured most Sundays.

I got a chance to take the 30-minute tour, and it was fun and informative.

Pirate’s Cave

While you are at the Ocean Institute and the Pilgrim, take the short 1.2 mile round trip hike out to Pirate’s Cave. I only recommend doing this during low tide though as it can be more sketchy when the water is coming in.

The hike takes you out to a big sea cave below the Dana Point Headlands. You can even walk into it and explore. Read all about doing it here.

Brunch – Monarch Beach Resort

If you are in Dana Point on a Sunday and are looking to get your brunch on, then look no further than the Monarch Beach Resort. The brunch here is pricey at around $75 a person, but it includes everything from sushi, crab legs and oysters, to omelet bars and a chocolate fountain. I was incredibly impressed with the options available, and the service was next level as well.

Lunch – Shwack Beach Grill

If you are not visiting on a Sunday, or don’t want to spend money on brunch, head over to Shwack Beach Grill and get one of their popular burgers. This place is a Dana Point staple, and rightfully so, as the food is flavorful and well priced. I won’t tell you what to order as there are a ton of good options, but if you like queso and they have the shrimp queso on the menu, then that is an excellent choice.

Afternoon Option 1 – Jet Ski

After lunch, consider renting a jet ski and getting out on the water.   I rented a Jet Ski from Pure Watersports Dana Point, and it was a fun experience right in the harbor. Once we got past the no wake zone, we had 45 minutes to hit the gas and race around the ocean. I have never jet skied on the open ocean before so it was a blast for me, and the price was right, $95 for a weekday AM rental (more for the afternoon).

Option 2 – Sit by a Beach

In Dana Point, as in most of the Orange County coastal cities, the beaches are one of the main draws. There are a bunch of famous beaches in the Dana Point, but these three are my favorites.

Strands Beach

Strands Beach is one of the largest in the city, and it has a big parking lot which makes it easier to visit during the summer. One of the unique things about this beach is that it has a funicular, which is like a sideways moving elevator that takes you down closer to the beach and skips all of the stairs.

While it is pretty slow and the line to use it is often long, the experience is one-of-a-kind as I am not aware of another beach that has one of these.

Baby Beach

If you are visiting with a young family, then Baby Beach is your best option. This beach is in the harbor and pretty sheltered from the waves, making it an excellent choice for families with small children. It’s also a favorite spot for SUP and kayaking.

Salt Creek Beach

Sitting in the shadow of the Ritz Carlton, this beach is probably my personal favorite. It has a large area of sand, with cliffs on the north and south side. It’s a popular surfing beach, and it can be fun just to go there and watch the surfers while the sun is setting.

If you are staying at the Ritz Carlton like we were, then this is the beach you will probably visit most while you are there. But even if you don’t stay at the Ritz, there is a parking lot nearby which provides access to the beach.

Dinner Option 1 – Lupe’s Mexican Grill

Lupe’s is one of the highest rated spots on Yelp in Dana Point, and it has earned those stars by making consistently good Mexican food. The best thing to order is anything with the Al Pastor meat, which is cut right off a spit in the back. Also, they have some crazy options like a Hot Cheetos burrito if you are feeling adventurous.

Dinner Option 2 – enoSteak

If you are in the city celebrating with your significant other, then enoSteak is a fantastic choice. This place is pricey, but it was responsible for one of the best meals I have had in a long time. Everything from the service to the ambiance is top notch. The food is out of this world though with a selection of unique steaks (coffee encrusted wagyu anyone?) and add ons like a flight of homemade butter (the truffle butter has real shaved truffles in it). I am salivating just thinking about it again.

Hotels

Dana Point has a few popular resorts that are good places to stay in the city, as well as cheaper options like camping right on the beach. Here are a couple to check out.

Ritz Carlton

If you have stayed at a Ritz Carlton before then, you know that the higher price comes with impeccable service. This hotel has a beach butler service that takes you down to the beach in a golf cart and gets you chairs, towels, and umbrellas for when you are sitting on the sand. They also were able to find a phone charger for me since I forgot mine and gave my wife a ride to a nearby property to pick something up without any issues. It is the kind of service that you tell your friends about when you stay at a place like this.

The hotel also looks down on the beach below, and it is one of the best spots in the city for sunset.

Monarch Beach Resort

If you are a golfer, then this is probably where you will want to stay. The hotel sits right on the main golf course and is comparable to the Ritz Carlton in service and amenities. I didn’t stay here, but I walked around while I was having brunch. I was blown away by how beautiful the property was, especially with the pool situated right in the middle. Another great option for staying in Dana Point.

Camping – Doheny State Beach

If you don’t want to spend the money on a hotel though, camping is also a good option in Dana Point. Doheny State Beach is located right next to the harbor, and it has a few dozen sites, most that are only a short walk to the beach. Make sure to book your site in advance though as these spots tend to go pretty fast.

So there you have it, my recommendations for how to spend 24 hours in Dana Point. Be sure to let me know if I left off your favorite spot in the comments below.

8 Places to Explore in Placerville: A Gold Mine, Saloon and Much More

On the way to South Lake Tahoe from Sacramento, you will go right through the historic California town of Placerville. Most people don’t stop for more than gas or a drink, but if you have a little time, Placerville is a great place to dive into California history and get some good food. Check out my eight favorite spots in the city below and let me know your favorite in the comments.

Gold Bug Park

Before heading into town, make your first stop Gold Bug Park, about 7 minutes north of downtown. This park has a historic stamp mill, blacksmith shop and a gold mine you can take a self-guided tour of. The gold mine especially is worth the trip to this park, and you can read more about it here.

Bell Tower

After checking out Gold Bug Park, head into town and find a place to park, you can walk to all of the rest of these recommendations. First up is the bell tower right in the center of town. This historic tower is from the mid-1800s, and it was used to wake up the miners in case there was a fire in the city. It is cool to see it still sitting here to this day and you can even see a historic photo of it in the hotel I mention below.

Hangman’s Tree (Historic Saloon)

Down the street from the bell tower is the Hangman’s Saloon which is another building from the 1800’s. This saloon is being renovated back to what it would have looked like, so it is not always open. When it is though, they are no longer serving beer, only ice cream. Be sure to look up as you will see the famous hanging body on the outside of the saloon as well.

Cary House Hotel

Across from the Hangman’s Saloon, there is a historic hotel that is the oldest in the city. While I haven’t stayed there, I did walk in and look at all of the history they have in the lobby. There are old antiques, stained glass windows and historic photos of the town itself. It is a fun, quick stop.

Z Pie

About a block from the hotel sits an awesome restaurant known as Z PIe. I don’t know about you, but I love a good pot pie, and that is what they do here. They have eight different pot pies ranging from steak and chicken to vegetarian, and it is a fun place to try something new.

Candy Shop

Walking up the street in downtown will take you to the candy shop. This store has loads of old school types of candy and even a few buckets of taffy in the back. The best part is that they also sell old trains, which makes it a fun place to explore.

Placerville Historical Museum

About a tenth of a mile from the candy shop is a small two story museum that houses a lot of the area’s history. Even if you are not a history buff, it is interesting to spend a few minutes walking through the museum and seeing the antiques and old photos. There is also another museum in the city called El Dorado County Historical Musuem that I haven’t been to but that I heard is good as well.

Sweet Pies

Another tenth of a mile will bring you to Sweet Pies, which is the most popular restaurant in Placerville. Located in an old Victorian home from the mid-1800’s this is a fun spot for a meal in town. All of the pastries, pies, and bread are made fresh daily, so it is best to order something in that vein. Also, I recommend finishing with a slice of pie as they are great here.

So there you have it, my recommendations for what to do in the city of Placerville. Be sure to let me know what I left off in the comments, and you can find all of my favorite spots in South Lake Tahoe here if that is where you are heading.

8 Places to Explore in Placerville: A Gold Mine, Saloon and Much More

On the way to South Lake Tahoe from Sacramento, you will go right through the historic California town of Placerville. Most people don’t stop for more than gas or a drink, but if you have a little time, Placerville is a great place to dive into California history and get some good food. Check out my eight favorite spots in the city below and let me know your favorite in the comments.

Gold Bug Park

Before heading into town, make your first stop Gold Bug Park, about 7 minutes north of downtown. This park has a historic stamp mill, blacksmith shop and a gold mine you can take a self-guided tour of. The gold mine especially is worth the trip to this park, and you can read more about it here.

Bell Tower

After checking out Gold Bug Park, head into town and find a place to park, you can walk to all of the rest of these recommendations. First up is the bell tower right in the center of town. This historic tower is from the mid-1800s, and it was used to wake up the miners in case there was a fire in the city. It is cool to see it still sitting here to this day and you can even see a historic photo of it in the hotel I mention below.

Hangman’s Tree (Historic Saloon)

Down the street from the bell tower is the Hangman’s Saloon which is another building from the 1800’s. This saloon is being renovated back to what it would have looked like, so it is not always open. When it is though, they are no longer serving beer, only ice cream. Be sure to look up as you will see the famous hanging body on the outside of the saloon as well.

Cary House Hotel

Across from the Hangman’s Saloon, there is a historic hotel that is the oldest in the city. While I haven’t stayed there, I did walk in and look at all of the history they have in the lobby. There are old antiques, stained glass windows and historic photos of the town itself. It is a fun, quick stop.

Z Pie

About a block from the hotel sits an awesome restaurant known as Z PIe. I don’t know about you, but I love a good pot pie, and that is what they do here. They have eight different pot pies ranging from steak and chicken to vegetarian, and it is a fun place to try something new.

Candy Shop

Walking up the street in downtown will take you to the candy shop. This store has loads of old school types of candy and even a few buckets of taffy in the back. The best part is that they also sell old trains, which makes it a fun place to explore.

Placerville Historical Museum

About a tenth of a mile from the candy shop is a small two story museum that houses a lot of the area’s history. Even if you are not a history buff, it is interesting to spend a few minutes walking through the museum and seeing the antiques and old photos. There is also another museum in the city called El Dorado County Historical Musuem that I haven’t been to but that I heard is good as well.

Sweet Pies

Another tenth of a mile will bring you to Sweet Pies, which is the most popular restaurant in Placerville. Located in an old Victorian home from the mid-1800’s this is a fun spot for a meal in town. All of the pastries, pies, and bread are made fresh daily, so it is best to order something in that vein. Also, I recommend finishing with a slice of pie as they are great here.

So there you have it, my recommendations for what to do in the city of Placerville. Be sure to let me know what I left off in the comments, and you can find all of my favorite spots in South Lake Tahoe here if that is where you are heading.

San Francisco’s Chinatown: 6 Places to Visit

Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest Chinatown in North America and it covers 24 square blocks of the city. It has been in the heart of San Francisco since the 1850s, and it is visited by more people each year than the Golden Gate Bridge. Taking a few hours to walk the streets, visit the shops and eat the food is something that I love doing in the city and something I recommend you do as well. Here are my six favorite spots in Chinatown that you need to see on your first visit.

Dragon’s Gate

When you walk into Chinatown from the Union Square area, Dragon’s Gate is the archway that welcomes you in. It is located on Grant St. and it really does feel like a new city when you pass under it. Be sure to check out the big concrete lions that are on either side of the arches as well.

Old St. Mary’s Cathedral

The Old St. Mary’s Cathedral seems almost out of place amidst the lanterns and painted walls of Chinatown, but this historic church has been here since 1854. It is a national historic landmark, and a unique gothic revival building to see in the city.

Far East Cafe

If you want to dine at a historic Chinatown spot then the Far East Cafe is a good choice. This restaurant has been here since the early 1920’s, so it has been welcoming visitors for almost a century. The food is a little pricey but it is decent, and it is just fun to eat at such a historic spot.

Tin How Temple

Located on Waverly Place, this temple is the oldest Buddhist / Taoist temple in the United States. It is situated in a small room on the fourth floor of the building, and when it is open, you can pay a few bucks and walk up the stairs to see it. Even when it isn’t open, it is still worth checking out from the street as the facade is beautiful as well.

Historic Alleys

Grant Street is the main walkway in Chinatown, but some of the best spots are off the historic alleyways that run alongside it. Two of the most impressive are Waverly and Ross. Be sure to walk down a few of them on your trip.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

This is my favorite stop in Chinatown, and inside the small one room shop, you can actually see them making fortune cookies. When you visit, you can write your own fortune and have it added to into a cookie for $1, or you can buy a jumbo fortune cookie for $5. It’s a lot of fun, and you can read all about my time there at this post.

So there you have it, my favorite spots in Chinatown. Be sure to let me know what yours are in the comments as I am always looking for new places to explore in the city.

San Francisco’s Chinatown: 6 Places to Visit

Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest Chinatown in North America and it covers 24 square blocks of the city. It has been in the heart of San Francisco since the 1850s, and it is visited by more people each year than the Golden Gate Bridge. Taking a few hours to walk the streets, visit the shops and eat the food is something that I love doing in the city and something I recommend you do as well. Here are my six favorite spots in Chinatown that you need to see on your first visit.

Dragon’s Gate

When you walk into Chinatown from the Union Square area, Dragon’s Gate is the archway that welcomes you in. It is located on Grant St. and it really does feel like a new city when you pass under it. Be sure to check out the big concrete lions that are on either side of the arches as well.

Old St. Mary’s Cathedral

The Old St. Mary’s Cathedral seems almost out of place amidst the lanterns and painted walls of Chinatown, but this historic church has been here since 1854. It is a national historic landmark, and a unique gothic revival building to see in the city.

Far East Cafe

If you want to dine at a historic Chinatown spot then the Far East Cafe is a good choice. This restaurant has been here since the early 1920’s, so it has been welcoming visitors for almost a century. The food is a little pricey but it is decent, and it is just fun to eat at such a historic spot.

Tin How Temple

Located on Waverly Place, this temple is the oldest Buddhist / Taoist temple in the United States. It is situated in a small room on the fourth floor of the building, and when it is open, you can pay a few bucks and walk up the stairs to see it. Even when it isn’t open, it is still worth checking out from the street as the facade is beautiful as well.

Historic Alleys

Grant Street is the main walkway in Chinatown, but some of the best spots are off the historic alleyways that run alongside it. Two of the most impressive are Waverly and Ross. Be sure to walk down a few of them on your trip.

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

This is my favorite stop in Chinatown, and inside the small one room shop, you can actually see them making fortune cookies. When you visit, you can write your own fortune and have it added to into a cookie for $1, or you can buy a jumbo fortune cookie for $5. It’s a lot of fun, and you can read all about my time there at this post.

So there you have it, my favorite spots in Chinatown. Be sure to let me know what yours are in the comments as I am always looking for new places to explore in the city.

24 Hours in Torrance Itinerary: Restaurants, Beaches, Movie Locations & Malls

The city of Torrance is situated in between Redondo Beach and San Pedro. With its booming population and long history, the city has plenty to offer those that stop by for the day or stay for the weekend. I got a chance to spend a day there, and here are my recommendations for how to spend 24 hours in Torrance.

Video

Before diving into the post, here is a video I made on all of these recommendations as well.

Breakfast – King Hawaiian Bakery

To start your time in the city, there is no better spot for breakfast then the famous King’s Hawaiian Bakery and Restaurant. This purveyor of popular rolls is a great low key diner with fantastic food. I recommend the French Toast, which is made with the King’s Hawaiian Rolls. If you are feeling adventurous you can try the Spam Musubi as well, which is basically spam sushi; not for everyone, but it is a traditional Hawaiian dish.

Madrona Marsh

After breakfast take the 5-minute drive to the Madrona Marsh, a nice piece of open space right in the middle of the city. The one-mile trail will take you past vernal wetlands and let you see some fun wildlife including many types of birds. Read more here.

Biking the Strand Bike Trail

If you are still in the mood to be active, head over to one of the many bike rental spots near the beach for a nice ride on the bike path that goes all the way to Santa Monica. If you want a fun and less active way to do this, consider renting an electric bike from Pedgro in Redondo Beach and then you can ride the path and just take in the views without the workout.

Lunch – Yellow Fever

I would not leave Torrance without a visit to Yellow Fever, as it is my favorite spot in the city for food. The bowls here have fresh ingredients and never seem too heavy. I also recommend the ugly egg rolls, which are a great side to share (they are so good you might want to eat them all yourself though).

After lunch, you have four options for the afternoon. You can probably do multiple depending on how much time you want at each.

Option 1: Breweries

Torrance is full of craft breweries, and there are many great ones to recommend. Here are my top 3:

Smog City

Monkish

HopSaint

HopSaint also has food in case you skipped lunch.

Option 2: Toyota Auto Museum

The Toyota Auto Museum is by appointment only, and it is the only museum for the auto manufacturer outside of Japan. There are over 140 cars there ranging from vans to race cars, with some famous ones like the Minority Report car thrown in for good measure.

Even if you are not a car lover, this is a fun museum to check out in the area. Be sure to email them to schedule a time to come though.

Option 3: Del Amo Fashion Center

If you are a shopper then this mall is where you will want to go. At one point in time it was the largest in the United States, but now it is just “one of the largest.” The mall is massive, easily taking up many city blocks and you can probably spend a half day here.

Option 4: Hollywood Movie Spots Tour

Torrance has been a popular movie and TV location over the years. If you are into visiting film spots then here are four to check out.

Buffy’s the Vampire Slayers House

Located at 1313 Cota Ave

Torrance High School (90210, Bruce Almighty, She’s All That, many more)

Located at 2200 W Carson St.

NWA Studio (Straight Outta Compton recorded here)

Located at 1327 Cabrillo Avenue.

Torrance Beach (Batman TV Show)

This is where Batman surfed against the Joker in one of the most famous scenes from the TV Show.

Mitsuwa Marketplace

Before dinner, consider stopping by the Mitsuwa Marketplace (Or you can eat dinner here too). Mitsuwa Marketplace is a Japanese Grocery Store, and it has a ton of fun and unique foods. If you go with your family, consider trying to find some of the most unique things you can to eat.

Dinner – Ramen Yamadaya

Ramen Yamadaya is in the north part of Torrance, and it is a great spot for some quality ramen. Ramen Yamadaya is very small though so you might have to wait, especially on the weekends, it is worth it if you like ramen though.

Sunset – Torrance Beach

For sunset, head down to Torrance Beach and take advantage of the proximity to the water for great shots of the sun going down over the ocean. I recommend getting here at least 45 minutes before the sun goes down as it is a great spot to relax and take in all the views.

Hotel – Marriot Torrance

For hotels, it is hard to beat the Marriott Torrance as it is right in the heart of town, across the street from the mall. The hotel has a great lounge area with outdoor games, a pool and a nice bar. It was a excellent spot to hang out in the city, and I recommend it.

So there you have it, my recommendations for how to spend a day in Torrance. Let me know what I left off that you like doing in the comments.