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California Coast Musings

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Just bits and bobs of favorites up and down the coast...by no means comprehensive, but a few to consider when constructing a trip.
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Ocean Beach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Ocean Beach is a massive, four-mile-long stretch of sand. Surfers talk about it in terms of the block they surf. I surf Pacheco or Moraga Street. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
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3639 Taraval St, San Francisco, CA 94116, USA
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The Riptide is a fun bar with a brick fireplace. It is a great place to hang out in the winter. They host a surf movie night on Wednesdays. 3639 Taraval St., (415) 681-8433, riptidesf.com. This story appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.
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3940 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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They do their own blend of beans called Elbow Grease, and it’s high-octane stuff.
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3876 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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This bakery just opened across the street from Woodshop. It’s a godsend. It’s been rough finding good coffee out here, but they serve Blue Bottle Coffee and breakfast sandwiches on house-baked biscuits.”
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4035 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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An artist and an architect curate a cool mix of practical things here. You’ll find books on furniture and design, and interesting items like wooden radios and pencil sets. Lots of it is handmade. The store also sells chairs and tables that Luke...
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3901 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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The owners wanted a neighborhood pizza joint like they had growing up in Boston. The Dimitri is a pie they named after the guy who runs Noriega Produce up the road. It has every crazy thing on it: sausage, pepperoni,mushrooms, garlic. The bar...
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4001 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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Outerlands is an Outer Sunset institution. The small restaurant near Ocean Beach serves local, organic cuisine in a rustic-chic setting. Covered floor-to-ceiling in warm, rough-hewn wood, the interior invites lingering over an artisan cocktail or...
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4500 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA
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Mollusk is a neighborhood surf shop that sells clothing and great boards. They carry my surfboards and handplanes [for body surfing]. They occasionally host art shows and live music. The shop is sort of like the cornerstone of the Sunset. 4500...
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57 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94104, USA
It doesn't matter how well you think you know a place—there's always somewhere new worth exploring. San Francisco is packed with secret hideouts. One of my all-time favorites has to be the Mechanics Institute Library and Chess Room—and the rather...
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I discovered this Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge on one of my very first trips to San Francisco. In my three-plus years living in the Bay Area, I still haven’t found a view to top it. My favorite time to visit is just after sunset,...
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Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Sometimes all it take to make a road famous are eight, tight hairpin turns. This one way street was designed in this manner to compensate for the steep incline (27 degrees) of the hill it’s on. Traffic on the hairpin area is reserved for eastbound...
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Pier 15 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Ask anyone you know who grew up in the Bay Area about the Exploratorium, and they’ll likely be able to share stories of class trips and seeing their hair stand on end at an installation about electricity or fun-house mirrors that...
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One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
Outdoor markets always tell a story about their city: what goods are for sale, what foods are locally grown and how the residents interact with one another as they buy and sell their wares. San Francisco's Saturday Market at the Ferry Terminal...
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600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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With no sign above its unassuming storefront, Tartine is most easily recognized by the line that snakes out its door and down Guerrero Street. People patiently wait for flaky pains au chocolat (the best outside Paris, in my opinion), decadent...
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375 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
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A key player in the "third wave" coffee movement is Four Barrel Coffee, founded by Jeremy Tooker—who has a particular love for light roasts and the bright, acidic flavors that come with this method. Don’t let that description deter you, though;...
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Ferry Building, One San Francisco Bay Trail #8, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA
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Blueberry Boy Bait may sound like a B-side song from an alternative band, but it's actually just an ice cream flavor offered by Humphry Slocombe, a small shop in the Mission District. Owner and former pastry chef Jake Godby has made the name...
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370 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
The Streets of San Francisco Bike Tour company is not only a must for any visitor to the city, it's also an ideal way for locals to soak up something special about their own backyard. Founded by former international bicycle tour guides that have...
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1026 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Another key player in San Francisco’s "third wave" coffee revolution, Ritual Coffee is dedicated to making the best cup of coffee you’ll find in the city. Since opening its flagship store in the Mission in 2005, Ritual has worked to...
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10 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, USA
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We stopped in to Flying Goat Coffee in Healdsburg to feed our caffeine fix during a day of wine touring. The coffee was terrific, and the highlight was definitely my aztec mocha. It was spicy with just the right amount of chocolatey coffee...
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2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
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Mind, blown and belly, full. Brown Sugar Kitchen is the place in the East Bay for your brunch in search of food for the soul. Created by the master head chef Tanya Holland (known for her celebration of community as well as her gifts in the...
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798 Arguello Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
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This cozy, community minded, all-things-bicycle-inspired cafe on Arguello (and a block from Golden Gate Park) is the perfect place to meet cycling buddies for your pre-ride fuel spot. You'll see the red, ceramic decorated bicycle hanging above the...
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797 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
This creative collective founded by Ann Hatch, is a brilliant example of encouraging, supporting and showcasing artistic talent. In the heart of the cool Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, you'll know you're in the right spot immediately-...
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610 1st St, Napa, CA 94559, USA
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“If you go to our own local market in Napa called the Oxbow, there’s a spice company there, and you get to open up all the lids and smell the spices,” says Pam Starr. “I like to go and be inspired by different smells. They...
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1634 Jerrold Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124, USA
Even the blackest of thumbs can find inspiration at Flora Grubb’s eponymous nursery—or at least a good cup of coffee. Grubb runs the enormous space (complete with Ritual Coffee Roasters bar) with a gallery-like ethos, rotating in new displays...
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11250 CA-1, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, USA
Toby's Feed Barn in the heart of Point Reyes Station has been a general store and operating feed barn since 1942. Organic and fresh local goods are on hand as well as a yoga studio, community garden and one fabulous little coffee bar. Start your...
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151 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA
It had been a long wait for modern art lovers, but after a three-year closure and a $305 million renovation and expansion, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) reopened in May 2016, and was it ever worth the wait. A new 10-story...
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1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Since it was constructed at the top of Telegraph Hill in 1933, Coit Tower has been an integral part of San Francisco’s downtown skyline. Named after a 1920s patron to the city’s firefighters—but not designed to resemble a firehose, as the urban...
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20215 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940, USA
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Stop at Scribe Winery and pick up a bottle of their newly released rosé to pair with oysters at Hog Island in Marshall, CA. Picnic tables overlook Tomales Bay and must be reserved in advance. Throw the oysters on the grill or eat them raw and don’...
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941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
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You know you are near Zazie's in the Cole Valley neighborhood by the crowd out front. It is big. There is a sign up sheet on the door, put your name on it, and head to the Irish bar next door to wait the hour it'll take to get seated. But when you...
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Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA
If you want to discover Haight Ashbury from a true "insider," then consider the Flower Power Tour created and given by the ebullient Izu Interlandi. Izu is not a native to the hippie district of Haights Ashbury in San Francisco, but she could very...
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1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
Just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Muir Woods National Monument, a 554-acre park; old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest trees in the world, cover 295 of those acres. Peaceful and lush, the forest is ideal for simply communing with...
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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, USA
Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the park’s more than 1,000 acres. Over 13 million...
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55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
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The California Academy of Sciences is an unfortunately stuffy name for an institution that is anything but staid. The country's largest natural-history museum includes an aquarium, a planetarium, an enormous rain-forest exhibit under a...

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3639 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Pickup the best local food products the bay area has to offer at Bi-Rite Market. The Mission was not always the pantheon of San Francisco nouveau cuisine that it is today. Now, the area—especially the block of 18th Street between Guerrero and...
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Lower Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA, USA
Bourbon and Branch is a traditional speakeasy. Their 8 house rules—hushed voices and no cell phones among them—encourage neighborly conversation in a very relaxed setting. It's a great way to meet people if you're traveling alone as...
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2401 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA
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Some of the best pasta outside of Italy done with that San Francisco farm-to-table vibe drizzled on top...almost impossible to book, best bet is to show up early and hope for space at the bar while you enjoy a glass of wine and chat with other...
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6413, 20 Cosmo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94109, USA
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A bit of a holdover from days gone by, this is still a favorite spot. Delicious food (especially the Bo Luk Lac) and cocktails in a setting that makes you want to laze the night away...tucked down an alley on the edge of the Tenderloin and Union...
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Stinson Beach, CA 94970, USA

What a cute town! With a population of 486, there isn't much to the town except for one small main road. Cute little restaurants (actually I think there is a total of three in the whole town) and a small general store provided everything we...

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San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Alcatraz—the very name conjures dark images of impregnable prisons, infamous criminals, and daring escape attempts. But the island is not all murder and mayhem. “The Rock,” set a few kilometers offshore in the San Francisco...
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46800 California 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, USA
The best way to sit amid the Redwoods while watching your worries wash away is to grab a seat in the middle of the river. This inn isn't fancy, as it doesn't want to compete with natural beauty.
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7615 Stage Rd, San Gregorio, CA 94074, USA
Still functioning as a general store for the fishermen and farmers who populate the area, this has become a crossroads of community, with live music on the weekends and a bar that serves bikers and bicyclists from near and far.
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210 Pigeon Point Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
I stumbled across this Hostel while driving up the Coast Highway and took a quick pitstop. The view was amazing with cliffs on either side of us, a lighthouse in the middle, and ocean everywhere in front.
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10510 Cabrillo Hwy, Pescadero, CA 94060, USA
Parking by the side of the road along northern California's Cabrillo Highway and following an anonymous footpath toward the sound of the surf often leads to the discovery of a gorgeous stretch of sand under towering cliffs. Surfers know the best...
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CA-1, California, USA
South of Carmel all the way to Hearst Castle is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of America to drive through. On one side the Pacific, on the other the hills and mountains. And when there is fog, things get more interesting.
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Paso Robles Dr, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405, USA
All my life my mom was trying to drag me and my dad on a trip to Hearst Castle, and we always told her no. I probably wouldn't have appreciated it anyways in my younger years. However, before I moved to Hong Kong for work, I took a trip with my...
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1306 Tamson St # 201, Cambria, CA 93428, USA
Cambria is worth a brief stop when driving between San Francisco and L.A. on the Route 1 Pacific Highway. It's best known for its proximity to Hearst Castle and the sun bathing seals at Piedras Blancas, but the town itself has a cute main street...
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11560 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, CA 93117, USA
Some call it glamping, but I prefer cappuccino camping - meaning the General Store here makes good coffee. So, whether you choose a canvas safari tent (which has comfy beds and linens as well as electricity) or a canyon cabin along the creek or up...
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CA-46, California, USA
Highway 46 in California runs East - West and connects Paso Robles with Cambria. This windy road takes you through the most incredible vistas and winding country roads. James Dean died on this hwy over 50 years ago. My favorite road in the U.S. is...
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302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023, USA
Part house, part maze, all bookstore. Ojai's famous Bart's Books started out in 1964 as a collection of books by owner Richard Bartinsdale that got so overwhelming he had to construct bookshelves on the sidewalk to accommodate his entire...
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3277 E Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023, USA
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A cozy spot on the very edge of Ojai before you descend into the twisted Cypress and citrus groves, this red-and-white checked tablecloth place delivers on its promise. With amazing homegrown tomatoes in its Caprese and Strawberry shortcake to die...
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1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA
Perched atop a stunning hill in the Santa Monica Mountains, this outpost of the J. Paul Getty Museum overlooks the vast cityscape of the greater Los Angeles area. Its exceptional contemporary architecture, wide array of pre-20th-century art,...
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17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, USA
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What a perfect LA excursion for the history and nature buffs alike. Take a drive part of the way up PcH and enjoy the sun, breeze, and exhibits.
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Venice Canals, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Before L.A. became a concrete network of high-speed freeways, gondoliers used to glide through a series of manmade canals that were built in 1905 to recreate Venice, Italy in Southern California. The remaining two miles of waterways are a peaceful...
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Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is possibly the trendiest street in Los Angeles, where boho-chic beachgoers glide along the sidewalk like it's a runway, with besties and beaux at their sides. Open up your wallet at boutiques like Scotch & Soda, with...
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1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA
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At the intersection of Hyperion and Sunset is the heart of Silver Lake, the source of the pulse; Intelligentsia Coffee. Fueling the neighborhood with crafted cups of caffeine, Intelligentsia has become the east side center of community and...
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1205 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA
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It's said that the best pizza in the United States is made in Cafe Bianca in Phoenix, AZ and as a pizza aficionado I can stand behind that statement. Enter Local 1205. When asked how Local 1205 created a pizza as good as Bianca they responded, "We...
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1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291, USA
The TOMS flagship store on Abbot Kinney in Venice is less of a shop and more of a grownup Little Rascals clubhouse, complete with a patio, backyard, and coffee bar. Founded by Blake Mycoskie out of a nearby apartment in 2006, TOMS has helped...
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1636 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026, USA
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Living in Los Angeles means that when you have to go on the other side of town, it starts to feel like a roadtrip (if you are not pressed for time). So, anytime I have to leave the Santa Monica Beach and head to Silver Lake, I always stop at LA...
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3926 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA
You wouldn’t know there was a store there unless you lived in the neighborhood, but the owner, Chris, has an amazing list of cheeses. I love his shop because he sells what he likes, not what people tell him is good. He’s also got an...
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Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA, USA
In Los Angeles, the cliché is that people drive one block to get a soda. But there are lots of staircases hidden in the hills of L.A. In Silver Lake, I like a two-and-a-half mile loop of stairs known as the Music Box. Parts remind me of...
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Venice Fishing Pier, Venice, CA 90292, USA
The Pacific Ocean is a force that calls to some to jump in and join the dolphins that frequent its waters. Temperatures are warmest in August and September, but wet suits are available to rent year-round. Go surfing or take a stand-up...
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8 Dudley Ave, Venice, CA 90291, USA
During an afternoon exploring the Venice Beach Area I was delighted at all the murals that were hiding around every corner. This urban art creates a public gallery of cement walls and encourages a closer look down alleys and around corners.
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1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291, USA
The mecca of bodybuilding in the United States is Venice Beach, California. Venice Beach is the place where Gold's Gym was founded, and the epicenter of it all is here at Muscle Beach. Just steps from the sand you will find an amazing outdoor gym...
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Arts District, Los Angeles, CA, USA
If you head just a bit farther east out of downtown LA, you will stumble upon an outdoor street art museum all over walls, garage doors, light poles, and pretty much any surface that will hold paint. Old industrial warehouses near the LA River and...
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1727 E 107th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002, USA
The Watts Towers by Simon Rodia in the Watts district of Los Angeles, California, is a collection of 17 interconnected structures, two of which reach heights of over 99 feet (30 m). The Towers were built by Italian immigrant construction worker...
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42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265, USA
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A dive for the rest of us, this seafood haven is perfect after a day of surfing or as a destination from the city. You can order divine fried clams and the like or pick your seafood live and have it prepared - but check the website for hours, as...
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9575 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035, USA
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I'd be hard-pressed to find a rival to what has become not only my favorite neighborhood watering hole but just my plain favorite eatery in LA - not least due to the attention chefs Steve and Zach put into making the space as welcoming as...
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5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA
The largest art museum in the western United States, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) offers permanent and rotating collections that span from ancient Egyptian objects to modern art like Claes Oldenburg's giant pool balls. It's...
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5772 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019, USA
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Mid-city is thanking their lucky stars that Paper or Plastik has brought stellar coffee in from the edges of LA. But, blissfully, they have gone above and beyond in creating a true melting pot for this vibrant neighborhood and encouraging actual...