No one can deny a little Southern California weather, style, and culture. The epicenter for fashion indeed.
In December I realized there wasn't going to be a good ski season here in Juneau, Alaska. So I headed south to warm my bones for a little sunshine and exploring for the month of January. I flew into Palm Springs where I rented a car, explored like crazy, then departed out of San Louis Obisbo. Here were my trip highlights while driving through Southern California.
A little desert city dedicated to leisure. With more golf courses than boutiques, this city is filled with entertainment to keep all the snowbirds and retirees busy. Since it's only 2-3 hours east of Los Angeles, there are concerts, restaraunts for days, casinos, and festivals happening ALL THE TIME!
Explore & Eat
Joshua Tree Park - Head north on highway 62 into Yucca Valley. An extraordinary National Park with a unique landscape. You can drive the entire park from one end to the other since both ends connect to I-10. $25 Entrance fee.
Lulu California Bistro - American cuisine done right! Outdoor seating right in the heart of downtown.
Las Casuelas Terraza - My favorite cantina with live music, delicious margaritas, and traditional Mexican goodness straight from their grandmother's recipes.
Raw Remedy - An organic juice bar, bowled smoothies topped with chia seeds, and various other fresh fruits, vegan burgers, tacos, and wraps. The deserts ultimate fresh stop!
A fun day trip, the Salton Sea is incredibly interesting because it's one of the biggest bodies of water in the area, yet it is horribly toxic from agricultural run-off and from pulling clean water in it leaving an unhealthy mixture. The State of California has recently been granted 50 million dollars to help in their ten year restoration plan. They hope to not only to bring environmental justice back to the area, but also wish to bring tourism to the Sea as well. Once you get to the Southern end, make sure to stop at Salvation Mountain. A curious and colorful religious dedication.
Historically a mining town, this mountain town has the best road leading to and from. Winding and twisting out of the desert an into the mountains. Julian has become a little tourist destination and is loaded with handmade candy shops and some serious pie makers!
My favorite high-end Southern California town. Learn to surf with Surf Divas down at La Jolla Shores, or browse the shops downtown. There are also snorkeling and diving opportunities that are lead into nearby caves! Tide pools, sea lions, and the Scripps Aquarium. So much to see and do for the ocean lover!
*Tip - Avoid hotels in this high-rent district by booking through Airbnb or VRBO. There are some gorgeous houses in the area so why not stay there?
The end of the line for cities leading south out of LA. This charming little city only has 46,000 people. Easy to navigate, great surf, a pier, and a train that runs right along the shoreline. A cute little downtown with great shops, my favorite being Kindred Boutique. A shop for the free spirit with boho SoCal style. I met the owner while at LA Market, if you stop in, please tell Isabella Cordova said hello!
If there were any Southern California town I'd like to live in, it'd be San Clemente! Great vibes, awesome little eateries, low-key, and killer beach!
Los Angeles - Fashion District
A fashionista's dream, the LA Fashion District is in the heart of downtown. The district spans several blocks filled with sewing machine repair and retail shops, fabric stores, makers, and nearly every brand with an established name. Boutique hotels, cafes, and more line the street floor while showrooms have taken over several of the surrounding areas and buildings above.
I spent two days shopping for the store and exploring the market. Not only was it incredibly laid back and sophisticated, it was also so inspiring to be surrounded by people dressed in all the latest styles, colors, trends, and fits. A younger crowd has definitely poured their heart and soul into the district and I can't wait to go back!
Top trends I saw for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2018
- 70's vibe is strong with belled sleeves, high-waisted pants, wide leg trousers, and fun hats.
- Small prints with a hint of 90's trends coming back, along with choker styled jewelry.
- Very bright colors for summer included reds, whites, highlighter yellows, and aqua blues.
- Fall colors included deep maroons, blacks, shades of navy, army green, and dark reds.
- Velvet is still sticking around, I did see some corduroy starting to sneak back in.
I loved LA for the outfits. LA is our country's trend setter, whatever you see women wearing there, you see in the stores 2 years later. This probably has to do with them creating and designing the clothes that they wear. It can take six months for the items to be made, another several months for marketing and to take them to trade shows to be sold to boutiques, then other few months before items actually hit the sales floor! This is why I was able to shop all the way through October while at Market, the items have yet to be made, but the brands are taking orders from their retailers and deciding how much of each style to actually have created. Quit the process and it's a beautiful one when you get to see it from start to finish!
A small beach town on the Central Coast just south of San Louis Obisbo. Known for the sand dunes, ATV riding, and camping! You can rent a surfboard for $15 from nearby shops, or gear up and rent an ATV for an afternoon. I loved this area, perfect temperature, not very crowded, extremely kid friendly, and each day you can do something different!
Favorite Spots & Things to Do
Mon Ami Crêperie Cafe - The sweetest little slice of heaven. Huge assortment of crepes, both sweet and savory, smoothies, delicious coffee. There's an outdoor secluded patio that's perfect for catching up on emails, soaking in the sun, or simply enjoying your delicious food!
Surfside Donuts - You must go! Handcrafted and silly shaped, fresh, and delicious donuts makes Surfside the coolest shop in town. Their main barista is one of the best, even has a tattoo of a porta-filter on her arm because she loves making coffee with a passion. She made me the most delicious coconut milk cappuccino, which if you know coffee, you know that's no easy drink to create!
Hearst Castle - Take an hour drive north to a ridiculously beautiful house built by a well-to-do family in the 40's. It eventually became an Organization that now offers tours and has because a museum unlike any other. Over 100 rooms make this castle the most spectacular structure on the Central Coast!
Take the Train for the Day - The California Coast is beautiful, following the ocean's edge most of the way. Incredibly convenient and low-key, it's a great way to explore California in a different way!
A fun and upscale city with old Spanish-style historic buildings that have been maintained beautifully. You must check out Helena Avenue Bakery, for breakfast, coffee, lunch, their baked goods, and their wine! A fun treat near the railroad tracks on an unbeaten path away from the downtown buzz.
I only spent a few hours roaming the town as I took the Amtrak Train down from Pismo Beach for the day. I highly recommend taking the train to a neighboring city, the Surfliner follows the coast and the stations are centered in the heart of each coastal town.
What to Pack & WearWhile the entire country is freezing their asses off, Southern California is like Alaska in the summer, think 60-80 Degrees. Perfect and easy weather with a cool breeze. Here is what I packed!
- 2-3 Dresses/Rompers/Jumpers
- Jeans - great for chilly days and traveling
- Light and layerable cardigan or flannel
- Light pants
- 2-3 tops or tees
- 1-2 Sweaters for chilly evenings
- 2 Swimsuits
- Beach towel + Beach Bag
Have you been to any of these towns? Which is your favorite and what would you add to this packing list?
Ta Ta for now,
Shop the Looks, and my suitcase!