Naples Island, Long Beach

This Italian-inspired Long Beach community was developed in the early 1900’s as the “Dreamland of Southern California” and consists of three islands filled with narrow streets and walkways, canals, beautiful houses and boats, a plaza with a water fountain, excellent shopping and restaurants on nearby 2nd Street. This seaside neighborhood boasts picturesque bridges reminiscent of Italy’s Mediterranean shore: Naples.

Today it’s known as 2nd Street in Naples & Belmont Shore, and it has become a thriving shopping and dining district that connects downtown Long Beach with its very own coastal – beach regions to the south.

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The mysterious Ortega Highway: A dumping ground for serial killers

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.

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The Pirate’s Tower

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.

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The history of Crystal Cove State Park

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.

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Abalone Sea Cave & Portuguese Bend Palos Verdes

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.”

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Take in the views from Point Vicente

SAM_6154-001Set 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.

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The not-so-hidden mansion ruins of Malibu’s Solstice Canyon

Just off the Pacific Coast Highway, between Pepperdine University and Point Dume, Solstice Canyon, is an unusually scenic hike to the ruins of a once-grand private estate.

img_9994In 1952, “supermarket magnate” Fred Roberts and his wife Florence commissioned an architect to design a modern home for them at their family ranch at Solstice Canyon in Malibu. Fred had begun buying land in the area in the 1930s, eventually amassing almost 1000 acres.

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