PCH Road Trip in a Day

This past summer was full of adventures (when I could find time to squeeze them in, in between work and sleep). My friends and I made it a point to soak up as much Southern California culture as possible before we departed for college. One of my favorite day trips was a road trip down Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from Santa Barbara to Redondo Beach. I absolutely love planning trips like these (well, I like organizing fun events in general–it makes me really happy to bring people together, watch them have a good time, and share in on the fun to reap the “fruits of my labor”), and I’m pretty excited to exercise more organizational leadership skills at Rice! 🙂 While I would recommend extending this trip to last 2-3 days in order to spend more time at each stop than we did, here is an outline of places we visited if you are ever looking for a fun time on the California west coast (best coast):

1. Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara: Very cute gift shops, ice cream parlor (get strawberry cheesecake ice cream), and restaurants for breakfast/brunch. We got there ~8 am, but most places did not open until 9 am. Ended up walking on and around the wharf (great shopping destinations 3-5 blocks away from the wharf) and stopping here and there for browsing, penny tossing, etc.

Me at Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara in July 2013

2. Carpinteria State Beach, Carpinteria: Small yet not too crowded of a beach, clean water, great for relaxing with friends and blasting some tunes.

3. Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades: Beautiful gardens and unique museum exhibits. Free admission with ticket reservations (made online), but need to pay $15 for parking. I have immense appreciation for the rich ancient European history present within a city like Malibu, famous for tiny swimsuits and the vast properties of wealthy occupants. Moreover, J. Paul Getty is an inspiration for his channeling large sums of money to the restoration, maintenance, and exhibition of works of art and culture (the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu).

Me in the gardens at the Getty Villa in Malibu in July 2013

4. Redondo Beach Pier, Redondo Beach: Great for walking around and gazing at scenic views of the Pacific. The Redondo Fun Factory is an arcade with a diverse assortment of games, but be careful not to spend too much because it is easy to get carried away!

Other places that we did not have time to visit due to the time constraint:

  • Paradise Cove Cafe and Beach, Malibu: Very famous location to eat lunch. Beach has tide pools and hidden caves to explore. Scenes from Baywatch have been filmed here.
  • Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica: Fun ferris wheel and roller coaster. Beach is average and usually very crowded, so I would stick to the pier and the Third Street Promenade (~3 blocks of trendy clothing stores and restaurants).
  • Venice Boardwalk, Venice Beach: You’ve heard the stereotypes about Venice being a site of many freak shows–well, it’s true. And it’s an experience to browse among the local vendors’ booths, get a henna tattoo, and watch the street performers…
  • Fisherman’s Village, Marina del Rey: Very cool walk by the parked yachts and condos on the water’s edge. The village has numerous shops and restaurants and a great view of the sunset. The public transportation system is also very convenient and free (for rides around the marina and to Venice).

I have always loved exploring the nooks and crannies of my area or the “East Side” as we Southern California natives call the Pasadena/Glendale/Arcadia region, but before I left for Houston, I sought to broaden my horizons to the greater Los Angeles County and Orange County (and having a car certainly helped with achieving this goal). Thank you to my two friends who accompanied me on the PCH road trip and tolerated my craziness and girlish habits (they were two boys) for an entire day! I feel that this day really brought us closer together; it’s funny how the California coast has some sort of unexplainable magic. 🙂 Going to miss my home state so much, but I’m so glad I got to “live my own L.A. story” (credits to Sammy Adams’s “L.A. Story”) for 17 (almost 18) years, and in particular, during this entire summer!


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