Big Bear Lake
Los Altos Hills
South Lake Tahoe
Pack a sweater! Because
is in California and a beach town, many people think it will be warm and sunny. Actually, it can get surprisingly cold. Also, don't count on swimming in the ocean, unless you wear a wetsuit. As with most of Northern California beaches, the water is freezing.
I've been to
, San Diego, and San Francisco. Los Angeles is good if you want to experience "Hollywood". Other than that, if you want to experience social beaches I would head to San Diego. If you want a really great city experience, nothing beats San Francisco. There is a lot to do in Los Angeles but be careful because places like ritzy Beverly Hills will very quickly go into some of LA's very ghetto destricts. Same with Hollywood -- past the main touristy area, the town becomes very ghetto. My experience is nothing feels quite as scary as downtown Los Angles at night. By all costs, stay clear of South Central. Venice is an interesting place and so is Santa Monica for some classic social, if not eclectic, culture. Traffic's horrible. Air is terrible. Hey, it's Los Angeles.
There is a Farmers Market festival every Thursday in
, with music and lots of food. Great location for Disneyland, Knox Berry Farm, California Adventure, and other scenic adventures.
Of course most visitors to
go to Telegraph to shop, but there are plenty of other areas that offer a completely different type of shopping experience, if the begging teenager/dirty hippie scene isn't your thing. Try College Ave (go several blocks past the dorms) and Fourth Street. Fourth Street is a bit trendier, but both are pleasant, though too yuppie-ish for some.
If you are only going to be visiting San Francisco I would advise that you stay in San Francisco. Being in
and having to travel to San Francisco would take an hour or more. Also if you go out at night in the city you would not have to worry about making it back to Oakland.
Big Bear Lake
is an awesome town hidden in the mountains. I felt like I was in the Alps! I stopped there on my way to Las Vegas and Joshua Tree. I stayed for three days when I only planned to stop for the night. I went kayaking and hiked to Castle Rock which has great views of the lake and alpine forest. I'd love to come back in winter and try snowboarding!
-- it's a tranquil place. I suggest enjoying a delicious coffee in the naked lounge -- it's great!
… Ocean Beach (OB) is not known for respectful people, so be forwarned. However there are lots of cool bars around and a colorful array of people in OB. Basically a slacker town with priorities that are not exactly much in the way of production, mostly destruction.
… Mammoth is for rich folks -- don't stay there unless you have a platinum card and thousands of dollars to waste.
… I just used the hot springs yesterday and last weekend. No fee. Not co-ed. No clothing. Wonderful as always.
… I was staying there. There were lots of trees and greens! It's great and you can meet people from different places around the earth!
… If you don't want to wait in line for the cable cars that run from Market Street to Fisherman's Warf, it's best to go try the California cable car line instead (from Market to Van Ness on California Street). It isn't as hilly, so it's not quite as much fun, but there's almost never a line. Or if you do take the other lines, at least go at night when there's usually much less of a wait (check the schedule at transitinfo.org).
… Not a bad place -- stands out by a country mile as the cheapest accomodation in town. Very small common area, standard dorms. Cool guys working there at the moment; there seems to be a good deal of turnover.
… It sucks -- it is overpriced and too small.
… Wonderful wildlife, and nearby towns, a nice cozy environment.
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