San Gabriel Valley- includes communities like Pasadena, Covina (which has a charming downtown), West Covina and Pomona.
Pluses: has some good communities for living, diversity, mountain views.
Minuses: perhaps too ordinary to brag about; not much to see here as a tourist, aside from Pasadena.
Check out my take on Pasadena
Mix in with the locals of San Fernando Valley-often referred as "the valley", though there are other surrounding valley areas. It is the northern zone of greater Los Angeles that is strongly loved and hated by locals. Known as the porn capital of the world, as it is home to many adult movie prouctions.
Pluses: good number of health-conscious markets and restuarants, great spots for living. Minuses- dreadfully high temperatures in the summer, some ugly undeveloped spots
Cities to see here: Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills. (quality places to stay, ecletic shopping, hip and fashionable stores & salons)
try to avoid: Van Nuys, Pacoima & North Hills (so blah and less safer)
Get to Know the "Inland Empire"
--this is a growing area of California that includes the cities of Riverside, Corona and Norco. Place to see here include the historic Mission Inn in Riverside and various casinos throughout the desert areas.
Pluses: more economical place for living; more open space.
Minuses: further away from more exciting parts of greater Los Angeles, hot as hell in the summer!
WE WALKED AROUND A LOT OF STREETS IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT WERE OFF THE BEATEN PATH. YOU GET A REAL SENSE THE THE NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WAY. IF GOING TO SALSALITO FOR THE DAY WONDER AWAY FROM THE MAIN STREETS AND UP INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
This is my friend Sally's house (she is the farmer in the picture above). The house was built in 1902 and is classified as a historical monument :) (Remember, this is California...everything will seem new to visitors from other countries)!!
In Santa Barbara - go to the Mission, and after your tour, bear off to the right and take the road that rides along through residential area built into side of mountain. AWESOME -
Sorry, I can't remember the name of the streets, but if you are at the mission and bear to your right, you will find it.
The views are SPECTACULAR --- houses beautiful - kind of congested as obviously they tried to pack many in to this prime real estate!! Road is curvy and narrow - be careful as locals drive pretty fast on it! Well worth traveling down this road.... not very long, maybe two - three miles, but we found it only because we were meandering.
On US101 north (ocean road) to the Oregon border, is the pleasant city of EUREKA with lots of old photogenic houses.