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Archives for August 2013

Labor Day: 5 free (or low-cost) So Cal Staycations

Palisades Park Santa Monica is a popular spot for a walk, workout or picnic.

Staying in town over the Labor Day Weekend? There are plenty of fun places to explore across Southern California, without spending much money. And, with gas prices at their lowest levels in months, why not hit the road? Here are five free (or nearly free) So Cal day-cations.

Palisades Park: Santa Monica

Palisades Park stretches several blocks across a bluff overlooking the Santa Monica shoreline and Pacific Coast Highway.  Stroll along the tree-lined pathway from San Vicente to the Santa Monica Pier or Third Street Promenade as you take in the gorgeous views. Pack a picnic, or choose from a variety of restaurants to enjoy a meal. The famous Santa Monica Pier is an easy walk from Palisades Park, and admission is free to the pier amusement park.  Tourists from around the world visit Santa Monica and the Malibu coast, so it’s definitely worth the drive across town.

Related: Parking in Santa Monica

Malibu, CA

California's Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) between Oxnard and Santa Monica offer is one of the most beautiful drives in the USA. The New York Times calls this drive through Malibu one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the USA! Here are some photos I took along the way. Story to follow soon, in case you want to try this 30 mile coastline drive yourself. I highly recommend it!

[img src=]59580Point Dume Natural Preserve, Malibu
Point Dume offers a hiking trail down a hill to a beautiful secluded beach.
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[img src=]7580Point Mugu Lookout Point
[img src=]6380Beachside Camping Malibu
How's this for a camping spot?!? Thornhill Broome Beach State Park is an ideal place to cool off in the summer. Bring your camper, motorhome or fifth wheel and you're all set!
[img src=]5620Malibu Country Mart
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[img src=]5600Getty Villa, Santa Monica Bay
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[img src=]5010California's Finest Drive: Route 1 Santa Monica, Malibu, Oxnard
This stretch of California coastline is among the most beautiful in the state. Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) is also a great alternative to the 101 freeway when traveling between Ventura County and Los Angeles.
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Malibu Coast

Pacific Coast Highway will likely be very busy over the holiday weekend, but if you’re patient and feel like a scenic road trip, the PCH drive through Malibu (Santa Monica to Oxnard) offers some of the most stunning views of the California Coast. North of Point Dume, to Ventura County, the coast is undeveloped. You might even recognize the view since it’s a popular location for new car commercials.

A cascading fountain greets visitors at the entrance of Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks, CA

A cascading fountain greets visitors at the entrance of Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks, CA

Gardens of the World

Soak up botanical beauty at this best-kept Conejo Valley secret, located across the street from the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center.  Admission is free to Gardens of the World, a stroll through the grounds will take you on a tour of lush landscapes from around the world.

Balboa Island, Orange County

Balboa Peninsula and the Fun Zone arcade are a quick ferry ride away from Balboa Island.

A stroll on Balboa Island will have you feeling like you’re in New England. The quaint streets and bayfront homes are surrounded by water, which will help to keep you cool.  Parking is tight on the island, especially on a holiday weekend. You might want to park in Newport Beach, and walk  across the small bridge that leads to Balboa Island.

Hollywood Bowl

It’s a Los Angeles landmark, but a lot of locals have never been to The Hollywood Bowl.  Movie music takes center stage this weekend, with a concert by John Williams ( Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Arc) and a tribute to the Henry Mancini and director Peter Sellers (The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s) fans will enjoy the tribute to Henry Mancini and director Peter Sellers.

I recently attended a Hollywood  Bowl show at the last minute and was surprised to get a ticket for well under $20. You don’t need the best seats in the house to enjoy the experience. This weekend, tickets start at just $15, and you can avoid online ticketing fees when you buy tickets on site at the box office, just call ahead to make sure it’s not close to a sell out.


Spontaneous L.A: Hollywood Bowl

You don't need to have the best seat in the house to enjoy an evening at the Hollywood Bowl. For under $40 a friend and I enjoyed an L.A. Phil concert, which was being filmed for television.

There’s still time this summer to enjoy a concert under the stars at The Hollywood Bowl, and experiencing the beauty of this iconic venue doesn’t have to require a lot of planning  or burst your budget. A friend and I recently enjoyed a spontaneous evening at the Hollywood Bowl for under $20 each.

On a whim, my friend Judy called  in the late afternoon saying she’d read good reviews in the L.A. Times about Verdi’s Requiem with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and it’s new music director. She called the Bowl and there were plenty of tickets still available, starting at $16.50.  She picked me up and we headed to the Bowl intending to buy the least expensive seats.  Despite being rush hour, getting there was a breeze. We enjoyed the evening of music under the stars for about the same price as popcorn & a movie.

You should try this, too. Regardless of what you see, it will be a memorable experience. And, with just a little more planning, pack a picnic meal (bringin in food, drinks and even bottles of wine are often allowed, check ahead of time), or purchase gourmet snacks and beverages on-site. Arrive early, so you can get a spot on a comfy bench with small table top to enjoy your nosh.

Traffic411 Tip:  Save time and money on parking (Hollywood Bowl lots have stacked parking, you can’t leave early) Take the Bowl Parking Shuttle, or public transit.

Distance from LAX: 25 miles

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