Summer is almost here, and there is no better time to explore the Golden State.

Whether your vacation plans involve nature, culture, or just finding a really good cheeseburger, LA Times travel writer Chris Reynolds has you covered.

He wrote his annual list of the 101 best California experiences and joined Lisa McRee on “LA Times Today” to talk about a few.

What You Need To Know

  • One mainstay of Reynolds’ list is Yosemite National Park

  • San Diego’s Balboa Park has been spruced up recently

  • Santa Cruz Island, Paso Robles wine country, and Big Sur also featured on the list

  • Wilshire Boulevard has become a hot spot for museums in LA

One mainstay on Reynolds’ list is Yosemite National Park. However, the park is easier to access from Southern California than the Bay Area this year because of closures.  

“This summer there is no reservation requirement for people who are making day trip visits, so the weekends are going to be really crowded up there. So if there’s any way you can get up there on a weekday, this would be a very good year to do that. Keep an eye on the Merced River because it’s running faster and colder and more powerful than it has in a long, long time,” Reynolds shared.

San Diego’s Balboa Park has been spruced up recently. Reynolds shared his favorite “underestimated” spots.

“Balboa Park is more than ten times the size of the San Diego Zoo, which is what most people think of when they consider Balboa Park. There are about 20 museums there. They opened a Comic-Con museum a couple of years ago. The Mingei Museum of International Folk Art spent a whole bunch of money on an upgrade with a new restaurant there,” he said.

Santa Cruz Island, Paso Robles wine country, and Big Sur are also featured on the list.


For visitors to Los Angeles, Reynolds offered a few favorite sites. 

“A very good place to start is Griffith Observatory. Ed Krupp, who’s been the director of the Observatory for decades, calls it the hood ornament of Los Angeles. Summertime outdoor movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. They have rock shows. Standup comedians in a cemetery or at least next to the cemetery. There’s yoga there every day… If you want to take an out-of-towner to a to a celebrity spot where you can count on celebrities being present, that cemetery would be one,” he said. 

Wilshire Boulevard has become a hot spot for museums in LA. 

“There’s the Academy Museum. There’s LACMA, which is about half open right now. But in the next year or two years, it’s going to finish reinventing itself. Across the street is the Petersen Automotive Museum. And, of course, the La Brea Tar Pits are just a few steps away,” Reynolds explained. 

Click the arrow above to watch the full interview.

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