My perspective: Heat, dust, crime. Pick anyplace in the entire area. It's horrible.
Suggested alternative: Anywhere but Sacramento
Place: The beach
Last visited: June
My perspective: It doesn't matter which beach. When I was a kid in Glendale, we always thought of the beach as a place where everything was mellow and everyone was beautiful and friendly. Often we found what we expected. It was fun and exciting to travel to Santa Monica or Redondo or Leo Carrillo. But now it's different. Any beach town is just like any other Valley town or anywhere in Kansas or New Jersey, only with more parking meters. The homogeneity of commercial sprawl has overtaken any charm or quirkiness the beach communities may have had, and the fortress mind-set of the residents of these places makes it unfriendly even to walk around. There are more "No Parking" signs in a linear mile of Malibu curb space than in all of Montana. Once you get to the sand, it's a competition for an open patch. And don't even think about the public restrooms. Ewwww. And if you do brave the facilities, someone will probably jack your towel, cooler, Frisbee and even your dog if he isn't in your backpack. Your probably illegally parked car will get towed or broken into and all your stuff stolen. All in all, the beach is a terrible trip.
Suggested alternative: The big pool at Hansen Dam
Place: Laguna Beach
Last visited: September 2007
My perspective: Laguna Beach is overcrowded, with not much to do. There is a dearth of quality, reasonably priced restaurants, with most of the restaurants offering abysmal seafood, considering the coastal location. The downtown is hit-and-miss for shops, and the art galleries are overrated. This beach town is beautiful but disappointing.
Suggested alternative: Encinitas
Last visited: October
My perspective: After an hour on a golf cart, there is nothing left to do. Oh, wait. You could drink. That seems to be the only activity on the island. The golf course is horrible. The water is cold. There is no beach to speak of. I'm not sure how anyone could spend more than half a day in Avalon.