The rest/best of Southern California

by Heather Vandenengel

BONNY DOON, CA — It’s been too long since I’ve written here, but I’m WWOOFing on a ranch outside of Santa Cruz and the days start at sunrise and go past sundown and after dinner I just want to drink tea and sit directly in front of the fireplace. But today is my day off, so I will attempt to do a bit of catch up. First: the rest of Southern California.

San Diego was warm and sunny and I drank a lot of good beer. There are 96 breweries and I visited six of them: Modern Times, White Labs, AleSmith, Pizza Port OB, Green Flash and Societe. Although I will always love Pizza Port and the pier at Ocean Beach, my favorite place where I drank a beer (Alpine Hoppy Birthday) was likely Panama 66, the new beer bar run in Balboa Park run by the Blind Lady Ale House people. And reading a book in a tree after said beer, and sandwich, was likely my favorite thing I did in San Diego. (And a huge thanks to Sarah for that recommendation, and for taking me on a fun brewery hopping night.)

In LA, I went to The Shelton Brothers Festival for the third year in a row. It’s my favorite beer festival, in terms of the wealth of incredible beers available and being able to meet so many of the brewers/cider makers themselves. I enjoyed it again this year, especially getting to hang with old Boston friends and make new ones, but I may have been a tad bit burnt out and disenchanted. But I think it’s me, not them. You should read this article to get an idea of how ridiculous this festival is.

The Long Beach/San Pedro area where the festival was held was so cool though. The Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach are the first and second busiest container ports in the United States. Driving over the bridge, there are shipping containers as far as you can see. As one friend said, it looks like a giant baby could stumble through the yard picking up colorful blocks and building towers.

I laid pretty low the rest of the time in LA, hanging with my friend Maddie and her roommates and friends. En route to see Interstellar in the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood we ran past Mark Wahlberg walking the red carpet, which felt about as Hollywood an experience that I could have.

And then I went to Santa Barbara for a few days, where I mostly worked and tried to recover from a cold by eating as many tacos as I could. Then Big Sur, which I’ll save for another post.

Here is San Diego and LA from top to bottom: Ocean Beach, San Diego; Balboa Park; Balboa Park; Reading in a tree in Balboa Park was the highlight of San Diego; I ate a frozen banana at the LA Original “Farmers Market”; stickers of food; shelves of hot sauces; I went to a beer festival; my friend’s cat is awesome.

Ocean Beach, San Diego


Balboa Park, San Diego

Reading a book while sitting in a giant tree was the highlight of San Diego

I ate a frozen banana at the "farmers market" in downtown LA.

Stickers of food, LA  Farmers Market

Hot sauces, LA Farmers Market

I went to a beer festival