Tying in with my latest post on Los Angeles, here are a few things that I did while living there that I highly recommend. These activities aren’t necessarily location specific but can be done within the greater L.A. area and most other places along the coast.
If not in California, where else would you go surfing? Get up early, join the locals and hit the waves.
Stay in the Los Angeles area, like Venice, and get a good instructor to help you out. My suggestion, if you’re a first-timer, is to avoid Newport Beach like the plague. The waves break so fast that you’ll be thrown off instantly and make you feel like you’re inside a washing machine. And while that may be fun for the first three or four attempts, it will wear you out after 10 minutes (speaking from experience).
Prices for board rental vary, as you can rent per hour or for a day. My advice would be to not save on the equipment or instructor, if you’re new to this.
Southern California is a great place to see whales, and a vast array, as well as dolphins, can be seen all year round. Blue Whales only pass the area from May to November, however, so plan accordingly, if you want to see those.
A short distance from the shore, different whales can be seen breaking the surface or throwing themselves in the air. Spotters would’ve already located the whales by the time you go out, so they’ll know where to take you to watch the whales in their natural habitat – but from a safe distance.
The company Harbor Breeze has tours that depart from Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Pedro multiple times a day, and prices start at $35 – check their website or TravelZoo for special deals. Drinks and snacks can be purchased on board (it’s America, after all).
Flying a plane
Tired of seeing the city from the ground? Well, why not see it from above – and at the same time learn how to fly a plane?
Whether you want to take control of the little propeller plane or not, South Coast Aeronautics hosts solo adventurers as well as groups and have different routes around the L.A. area. With this company, the starting point is always Torrance, but you can choose to fly above Hollywood, Catalina Island or circle around Huntington Beach. I did the latter, and it was awesome! The pilot was really nice, too.
There are no prices on their website, which (to me) usually means something is very expensive, but it isn’t that bad. I paid $100 (excl. tips) for the lesson, a 40-minute flight and memories and photos that will last forever. Would love to do it all over again!
Is flying a plane not adventurous enough for you? Then how about throwing yourself out of one?! Definitely not for the faint of heart, but worth the effort – even if only for the amazing view!
The Skydive Coastal California center is located in Camarillo, just 45 minutes from Los Angeles, and offers a breathtaking view over desert-like fields that reach all the way to the ocean. Their instructors are talented, fun and easy-going, and this memory will last a lifetime!
Don’t be scared off by having to sign a waiver that basically relieves the company of any injuries you may obtain from this activity – bad stuff very rarely happens 😉
If you feel safer on land, maybe talk shows are more your thing! If you plan ahead of time, you’ll be able to score some tickets to participate in the recording of several talk shows, such as Ellen DeGeneres in Ventura and Jimmy Kimmel in Hollywood. Which celebs appear on the shows is rarely announced in advance, so you’ll just have to pray that someone you like will be on it 😉
I didn’t get to go to one in L.A., but, in 2010, I went to the Late Night show with David Letterman in NYC, when Jane Lynch and Chris Rock were guests, and I was over the moon!
American Football game
Nothing screams American sports more than American football – especially college football – so, naturally, anyone visiting America should go watch a game. Whether it’s the NFL or something smaller, you go for the vibe, the venue, the halftime shows and the bad snacks (I mean, how boring are hotdogs in America!).
I went to see one game at The Rose Bowl, but I honestly don’t even remember who played other than USC. It was a fun experience, though, and I highly recommend it to any foreigner, if they want to experience something truly American! Be sure to catch the tailgating beforehand as well (which is basically a party in the parking lot outside the field) 😊
Baseball, as we know it today, was invented in America, which is why you have to watch one of those games there.
I was in San Diego on a day that their team, Padres, was playing against the L.A. Dodgers, and I had to go support my “hometown” – even if I didn’t (and still don’t) understand the rules. Just like American Football, I think baseball is the epitome of the country, and how could I live there and not watch a game?! Again, even if you’re not a die-hard sports fan, it’s all (or mostly) about the mood, the togetherness and taking part in American culture.
Despite being no. 1 on the list of the most obese populations (no offense), Americans are quite famous for their sports. The NBA attracts visitors from all over the world to their action-packed events, where you’re able to spot some of the most famous people in the world of sports.
Again, take advantage of your location to visit some famous landmarks, such as Staples Center in L.A. or Madison Square Garden in NYC, and really feel the excitement! I went to the latter on my trip in 2010 and saw the New York Knicks play against Miami Heat, which was pretty cool (even though I don’t remember who won). I do remember the terrible nachos I had there, though.
Feel free to leave suggestions for more things to do in the comments below!