Places to Visit in California
Throughout the year, M Accelerator gets new groups of international participants looking to develop their entrepreneurial management skills and learn innovative design tools. These participants are very excited at the prospect of coming to live in Los Angeles for a few months and discovering what the arguably best region of the United States has to offer.
For most participants, exploring California by itself can be quite the endeavor and can provide plenty of amazing experiences to be had with things to do for every inclination.
Besides Los Angeles, California has many other regions that each have a unique character that makes them special. Our international cohort has really treasured the memories that they were able to make by making trips out of Los Angeles.
These places will include nearby regions in Southern California such as Orange County and San Diego. In addition to that, we will have to consider the San Francisco Bay Area and some of its defining parts. After that, we won’t be forgetting Eastern California and the places beyond it in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. A person visiting Los Angeles will find many reasons to make their way out and travel to some of the places in this article.
In the very southern part of California, one will find a sunny and expansive paradise in San Diego. This region is rich in coastline and temperate weather often referred to as Sunny San Diego. Despite some conceptions, San Diego is a pretty heterogeneous region with a different spice to life in its many regions. From the surf towns of Encinitas and Carlsbad in Northwest county to the Latino influences found in Chula Vista, San Diego has some incredibly diverse ways of life.
Whether one is looking to escape a hot day or run to the sun, San Diego has great beaches in store for everyone. Holding these great beaches are what can only be described as quintessential beach towns. From Oceanside in the far north county to Imperial Beach at the southern border, San Diego’s beach towns are some of the coolest and most chill places in the United States.
A quiet little coastal town in the very north part of San Diego, Oceanside can be a nice place to stop for people heading to San Diego proper. The food is good, the weather even better, and the beach is sublime. Oceanside is a great introduction to all that is good in the county of San Diego and can set a solid tone for the rest of one’s visit.
Carlsbad and Encinitas are very similar to every other beach town in San Diego. What makes them different is an incredibly vibrant surf culture associated with the two towns. Pair the best surfing conditions in the pacific with a strong surfing culture and you will get Carlsbad and Encinitas. Living a day like a local would compel you to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch some waves and treat yourself to a burrito after.
La Jolla might just be the most pleasant city in America. And it’s beaches might just be even more pleasant. There’s something about the energy of La Jolla that lightens the spirits of anybody that finds themselves there. The weather is always temperate and traffic is even more light. One can enjoy eating delicious Mexican food and taking relaxing promenades around town in La Jolla.
This place has a unique energy to it thanks to the many amenities it has and its proximity to SeaWorld. Mission Beach feels like a fair on the coast, all year round. This place feels as if Venice beach learned to be a little less eccentric. Mission Beach is an attraction in and of itself, and it refuses to disappoint as such.
Just North of the Border
Heading down the coast, the continental United States must end at some point. those inclined to go so far south will find themselves nearing Chula Vista, sitting right on the American-Mexican border. Although this may be the last stop before the U.S ends, the fun and experiences one can have don’t end in Chula Vista.
With so many different cities in the country claiming to have the best Mexican food, it’s hard to know whose claim is true. It is hard, however, to not seriously consider San Diego’s claim when you take into account the proximity it enjoys to Mexico, it’s right next to it! San Diego residents are adamant that they have the best. In all honesty, SD seriously might be the burrito king of the country.
Orange County is hands down the best place on earth. With all of the features of Los Angeles and half the people, “the OC” is a little piece of paradise on Earth. Just like the rest of Southern California regions, Orange County enjoys amazing weather and sunshine year-round. Some great features of Orange County include great food, Disneyland, and one of the best beaches on the planet.
Dubbed “the happiest place on Earth”, Disneyland is a favorite for anyone lucky enough to come to California. This place puts out all the stops to giving Disney fans an incredible and magical experience. Visitors can ride iconic roller coasters or check out cutting edge attractions, run into Donald Duck, and enjoy a classic Disney fireworks display to end the night. The food might be a bit overpriced, but you can’t put a price on the memories you’ll make here.
This is absolutely my favorite beach in California and my own little happy place. The air is fresh, the breeze is invigorating, and the water is always inviting. This place is great whether you want to swim in the ocean or just lay in the sand. There are also plenty of little shops and restaurants worth checking out. The sunsets in Laguna Beach are absolutely incredible and will make for great moments to slow down and enjoy this life we have been given. One will want to stay forever in this little paradise on Earth.
Undoubtedly one of the most chill places in California, Santa Barbara is just simply a cool place. Located around 2 hours from Los Angeles depending on the severity of traffic, Santa Barbara is a great example of a nice coastal city. Whether you’re looking to go surfing or grab brunch next to the beach, Santa Barbara will treat you to a good time. An all-around pleasant place and the nightlife is said to be especially fun!
Palm Springs/Joshua Tree
All the way east and halfway between Los Angeles and the California-Arizona border in Palm Springs. Despite the connotations one might derive from its name, Palm Springs can best be described as an arid and windy desert city. Because of its proximity to Joshua Tree National Park, some of our international cohorts venture out over to this interesting city on their way over to Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree National Park itself is a must-see for people in the Southern California area. The park features impressive rock formations called gneiss and littered with strange-looking Joshua trees, the namesakes of the park.
Northern California H2
Our participants always make sure to take advantage of long weekends to make a trip up to Northern California. Although the San Francisco Bay Area and nearby regions can’t be truly considered to be Northern California, it’s North enough to be considered as such for us here in Los Angeles. The Bay Area and nearby places have distinct energy to them that helps separate it from Southern California, beyond their geographic distance. The SF Bay Area encompasses nearly 50 square miles and nine counties.
San Francisco Bay Area
People driving into SF via the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge are sure to be in awe of the sight awaiting them; this city is definitely the real deal. A true urban metropolis, San Francisco is dense and diverse in makeup. 5 districts make up the region, each with a set of historic neighborhoods that define the SF identity. One is sure to find something special in Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Mission, or anyone of San Francisco’s many great parks.
As aspiring entrepreneurs, our cohorts have always had an interest in visiting the indisputably most robust startup ecosystem in the world. Home to tech giants and trailblazing startups alike, Silicon Valley enjoys a unique place in the business world. Whether they’re looking to check out Google headquarters or network with VCs, an entrepreneur has much to find for themselves in Silicon Valley. Maybe some of the tremendous success this region enjoys will rub off on them.
Golden Gate Bridge
This iconic bridge is nearly 2 miles long and hard to miss when visiting San Francisco. Erected in 1937, this bridge has been a cornerstone of what people think of when they think of San Francisco. Besides being a great place to take pictures, this bridge has served as an important connection between SF and the North Bay. This is absolutely a can’t miss destination for anyone visiting the Bay Area or thinking of visiting in the near future.
One participant, Francesca, was especially enthusiastic about the trips that she made. She said, “driving on the American highway, seeing the desert, walking on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco” and “discovering new places was the best part” of her American experience.
On the border of Nevada and California is a desert known as Death Valley. Death Valley is famous for being one of the hottest places on earth with temperatures having reached as high as 134 °F or 56.7 °C. Depending on the time of the year or even time of day you’re visiting, you could be in for just about anything in a place like Death Valley. So make sure to bring appropriate clothing and make proper preparation.
Outside of California
Our participants do most of their trips in California but for the especially adventurous, states like Arizona and Nevada aren’t that far of a drive to make to see. California is super long from top to bottom, so going north for other states isn’t very practical but going east is incredibly feasible. Here are some places that are pretty accessible for people in the Southern California area.
Some 400 miles and a 5-hour drive away from Los Angeles is Las Vegas, Nevada. “Sin City” is quite the attraction spot for tourists the world over. There is something captivating about dazzling lights and glitzy sights in the middle of an expansive desert. This place might be overwhelming for the unprepared but should provide a great time regardless. What happens in Vegas is sure to be remembered for life.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic and something everyone who comes to the U.S must visit. This place is more than just a huge dugout, it’s the result of hundreds of thousands of years of geological activity culminating into a wondrous sight to behold. The magnitude of the Grand Canyon cannot be understated and is difficult to process even in person. The best advice is to take a deep long look if you’re ever able to see it. Just be careful not to lose track of your footing near the rim.
Another participant, Andrea, said that his favorite part of his LA experience was “Probably all the trips, especially the Grand Canyon one”
Zion National Park
This park, in the state of Utah, is a great place for people looking to escape the bustle of city life. Approximately 230 square miles, Zion National Park welcomes a little over 4 million people every year. Features of this park include steep red cliffs, a winding river leading to captivating waterfalls, and forest trails everywhere for hiking. One will discover some breathtaking sights of all things natural in this beautiful park should they choose to visit.
Hands down amongst the coolest places on earth is the Antelope Canyon. The Navajo name for this canyon, Hazdistazí, roughly translates to spiral rock arches. Because of these rock arches, the canyon has some really cool effects on display when lit by the sun. For those that love the outdoors, the Antelope Canyon is sure to be something that will make them fall in love with the great outdoors all over again.
With such an excellent variety of possibilities in store for them, all people visiting California have to do is pick the date and plan the excursion.