The aquarium in Long Beach, California, is one of the largest aquariums in the United States, with more than 12,000 ocean animals and nearly 50 exhibits requiring more than a million gallons of Pacific seawater. With its sweeping, curving, wave-like architecture, the Aquarium of the Pacific is designed to emulate the ocean. It is the only aquarium in the world to focus solely on the Pacific Ocean.
Nestled in the center of busy streets, multi-million dollar homes and shopping malls is a small body of water that is teaming with life: the Newport Back Bay. The reserve encompasses the inland delta that connects the Upper Newport Bay and Newport Harbor.
Malibu Creek State Park is a sprawling, magical landscape; complete with massive jagged mountains, cliffs, and vast gorges that were formed over two million years ago.
Just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the park has over 4,000 acres, featuring hiking, fishing, bird watching and horseback riding opportunities. There are 15 miles of stream side trail through oak and sycamore woodlands and chaparral-covered slopes.
Hiking is one of the few activities where there is no shortage. There are countless mountains to conquer, waterfalls to see and views to take in.
Nature offers something that being indoors simply can’t. It is motivating to walk among the trees and tramp along the trails, focusing on nothing more than the path ahead. You notice the shape of broken tree branches, how a blade of grass reacts to the wind flowing through it, and how clouds form into shapes and images.
A scenic road winding through mountains, pine forests and pastoral valleys, connecting South County and Lake Elsinore, is a crucial link for commuters, and a weekend thrill ride for motorcyclists, and also a dumping ground used by criminals who wait for the cover of night. It is the stuff of mystery novels, a place where people with secrets push them over steep cliffs or bury them under a thick layer of brush.
The 44-mile Ortega Highway is a twisting two-lane stretch that connects Riverside and Orange counties via the Cleveland National Forest — and it has a killer reputation.
California’s Laguna Beach, usually brings to mind images of modern mansions and sunny, sandy shores, so finding a relatively hidden gem like this was exciting. It is quite hidden and hard to get to. First thing you have to accomplish is finding a parking space, and then you need to locate these isolated stairs that lead down to the secluded beach.
Orange County may not be known for its hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor adventures, but the free-spirited outdoorsman/woman knows much better. I’ve been exploring Orange County for two years and have never found myself unsatisfied by all of its opportunities.
The history of Crystal Cove is as fanciful and seemingly unreal as the place itself. Archeological findings indicate that as far back as 4,000 years ago, Native Americans camped at the small natural cove near Los Trancos Creek during the summer months, feasting on mussels, crabs, and sardines.
Smoke from fires set by Native Americans, hunting game on the hillsides overlooking San Pedro Bay, inspired Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo to name this natural harbor Bahia de los Fumos or “Bay of Smokes.”
On October 8, 1542, when Cabrillo noted in his log that the bay “is an excellent harbor and the country is good with many plains and groves of trees,” this indented coastline was little more than swampy marshland. Though the expedition did not go on land during their brief visit, they did speak with a group of Gabrielinos in a canoe, who told them there were other white men in the interior (probably survivors of the ill-fated Coronado expedition). Over the next century, other European explorers infrequently skirted Palos Verdes shores, leading natives to tell tales of the ominous “great houses on the sea.”
Set on the curve of a steep cliff, where it has stood since 1926, the San Vicente Lighthouse is a historical beauty that continues to renew its usefulness with every passing night. The Vicente Lighthouse has long been one of the area’s jewels. To the landsman, the lighthouse is a scenic delight and continual attraction to tourists, photographers and painters. To the mariner, the lighthouse is an aid to navigation, which marks the northern end of the Catalina Channel on the Pacific coast.
Who can forget the terrifying house of horrors from season one of American Horror Story? Surely, anything so outrageously scary can’t be real. Um … guess again.