Southern Californian locals tend to fulfil their stereotypes. We do spend a great deal of time at the beach; we do generally like to shop; and yes, we do drive our cars very badly and very fast. In fact, Southern Californians are renowned for driving everywhere, probably because we are always on the look-out for activities that will at least somewhat separate us from our stereotypes.
1) We all love burritos. True, Southern Californians are adept at finding the most hole-in-the-wall burrito shops, filled with drunkards and lit by neon “24-hour” signs. These shops always have the best burritos that are the size of babies and amazingly cheap.
Go to: Encinitas, CA. Filiberto’s is infamous in San Diego and is in prime location, right in the heart of downtown Encinitas, which is hippie and surfer central. One interesting note: it’s probably the only place in SoCal where it’s normal to see men in lobster costumes at midnight.
2) For beach-dwelling locals, nothing beats escaping the crowded coast like traveling inland. Some of the old, orchard-growing towns will have so many mouth-wateringly good apple pie cafes that you could spend a day bouncing between them all.
Go to: Julian, CA. The Julian Apple Pie Company is famous for their apple pies. Many people will drive the hour from the coast simply to get a slice of apple pie, then turn around and drive back home again.
3) Locals have a penchant for discovering cafes. There is nothing we like more than to spend a summer afternoon outside with an iced tea at some sort of thoroughly Californian establishment. Some beach cafes are converted old rail stations, others that are more inland are old adobe houses. The inland cafes are favourite night hang outs for locals: warm air, fire pits, and stars in the sky equal heaven on earth.
Go to: San Marcos, CA. The home of Jason Mraz has a distinctive vibe of its own, embodied in the laid back café known as The Old California Coffee House. At the OCCH you’re guaranteed to meet a cool stranger at one of the communal fire pits.
4) Cycling on the beach is as local as it gets. You can always tell the locals by their cruisers, sunglasses, and relaxed air (versus the tourists, who always look confused and worried).
Go to: Oceanside, CA. The Strand is the perfect place to ride a trendy turquoise bike, rented from one of the many bike rental shops.
5) Though much of Southern California is horrendously built up, there are some excellent hikes within the throes of suburbia, hikes that only locals are lucky enough to stumble on. Some have small streams, rivers, mountains, and secluded valleys. Many are on the banks of lush lagoons filled with wildlife (though the lagoons are often surrounded on all sides by grim, faceless houses).
Go to: Oceanside, CA, again. Guajome Lagoon is a favourite haunt of locals for picnics, nature walks, and fishing.