Southern California Close-Ups Travel Guides

Southern California Close-Ups Travel Guides
Carpeted with sawdust and illuminated by a jumble of neon signs, the Grand Central Market dates to 1917. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

These micro-itineraries bring together two or three neighboring destinations to make a single adventure. Others stand alone, like those odd, irresistible Joshua Trees out in the desert. Try a few, and maybe you'll see L.A. anew.

Head in the clouds in the Southland's Mountains

The vaulting, pine-dotted altitudes of Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Idyllwild invite skiing, boarding, hiking or quiet contemplation.

SoCal Close-Ups: A date with the Coachella Valley

Palm Springs and environs are the most famous cities, with their tony shopping and midcentury splendor. Nearby are such timeless charms as date shakes and camel races.

Southern California Close-Up: Santa Barbara County wine country

Santa Barbara wine country isn't all 'Sideways.' It's a place of Oak-dotted hills. Rugged coastline. Kitschy Solvang going chichi. Raucous Cold Spring Tavern.

SoCal Close-Ups: San Diego's North County more than just a pretty face

Yes, the beaches are gorgeous, but head inland and you can go on safari, tour a plastic kingdom, eye topiary musicians or kick back at a hacienda.

Southern California Close-Ups: The gentle and genteel Santa Barbara

The region, known for its red tiles and retreats, isn't just for the elite anymore. From stops in Ojai and Simi Valley to strolling State Street and luxuriating on the beach, here are 11 micro-itineraries.

Southern California Close-Ups: San Diego, Coronado and La Jolla

San Diego sights include San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, East Village, Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Old Town, Point Loma, Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, Torrey Pines.

Southern California Close-Ups: Joshua Tree National Park and Desert Hot Springs

Joshua Tree and environs offer camping, hiking, unusual sites (the famed Integratron), hotels, restaurants, watering holes and spas, where you can take a well-deserved soak.

Southern California Close-Ups: Going Hollywood

There's much more than stars to check out in Hollywood, where nuns, horse trails, the Magic Castle and Cirque du Soleil await.

Southern California Close-Ups: Pasadena and environs

The area has its traditions, including Craftsman homes, Old Pasadena, and Rose Bowl games and flea markets, its greenery such as San Marino's Huntington Library, its Asian flare such as Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants, and its fun and funky side at eateries in Eagle Rock.

Southern California Close-Ups: West Hollywood, Fairfax, Wilshire, Koreatown

Highlights of a visit to these Southern California neighborhoods include the Sunset Strip, Chateau Marmont, Farmers Market, Canter's, Pink's, Melrose, La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA.

Southern California Close-up: Westside of Los Angeles

The Westside of Los Angeles: Exploring Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Westwood and neighborhoods south of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Southern California Close-Ups: The real South Bay

In Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach, you can pedal the Strand, see a Jay Leno live comedy show, explore the piers, visit a beach hangout. Also: LAX hotels, the Theme Building and Marina del Rey.

Southern California Close-Ups: Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu

The odd humanity of Venice's Ocean Front Walk. The fun-filled Santa Monica Pier. Getty's ancient art in Pacific Palisades. The sun-kissed beaches of Malibu. The area lets you mix with the masses or take a solitary trek.

Southern California Close-Ups: San Fernando Valley

San Fernando Valley has many attractions and activities that date from the 18th century (Mission San Fernando) to the latest ride at Universal Studios.

Southern California Close-Ups: Los Angeles' park neighborhoods

Griffith Observatory, Time Travel Mart, Dodger Stadium, Marty and Elayne at the Dresden, Richard Neutra buildings, Victorian homes on Carroll Avenue, tiki drinks at Tiki Ti, gorillas at Los Angeles Zoo —there's much to see and do.

Southern California Close-Ups: Inland Orange County

Yes, Orange County is freeways and Disneyland, but it's also Old Towne Orange, Santa Ana's arts district, the Nixon library, the Angels and Ducks, and a whole lot more.

Southern California Close-Ups: Downtown Los Angeles

Whether you live in Los Angeles or are just visiting, it's time to explore downtown. So get ready to visit the Central Library and Chinatown, and see the Derby Dolls.