How To Experience California Like A Local In 7 Days
Sep, 01 2018 | | California

California is mountains and beaches and palm trees and celebrity sightings. California is sunny days, wineries, theme parks, national parks, and waterfalls. California is one of those places people dream about visiting, a bucket-list kind of place that feels unlike anywhere else in the country. And for those lucky enough to visit, planning a trip where you can experience both the authentic and flashy parts of Hollywood, where you eat like a local but take selfies like a tourist, can be a bit of a challenge. If you have seven days to spend in California, here are some of the best things you must see and do to get the full Golden State Experience.

Top Tourist Attractions

There’s so much more to California than the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland and the famous sign up on a hill. However, these, along with a few others are must-sees when in the area. Although they can be considered tourist attractions, there’s a reason why millions of people flock to Cali to see some of these iconic landmarks. Don’t leave California without:

  • Hugging a giant Redwood tree in Redwood National Park. Go see General Sherman!
  • Sunbathing on Venice Beach. The palm trees, the beautiful weather (and people) the blue skies and stunning white sandy beaches are about as “California” as it gets
  • Taking a selfie by the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Hike in Yosemite National Park
  • Finding your inner child at Disneyland
  • Driving through Big Sur
  • Taking an Instagram worthy shot in the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe

You may be wondering why the Hollywood Sign and the Walk of Fame didn’t make the list. These are things that although iconic in California, don’t necessarily make the list of “must-sees” The Walk of Fame is unimpressive at its best, as it is located on a sidewalk surrounded by gift shops, dentist offices, and insurance firms. Nice to see, but not necessarily world-changing or worth a day of your vacation.

Where To Stay

When you get to California, you have about a billion options when it comes to where you’ll stay. You’ve got everything from primitive camping sites in Yosemite National Park, to luxury rooms at the Four Seasons Resort Biltmore Santa Barbara that’ll cost you around $700 a night. There’s no shortage of vacation rentals all throughout the state, which can be a more comfortable and affordable option that will allow you to experience the city like a local. Depending on the type of California experience you’re after, there are many different areas to start your search for a vacation rental.

For a California vacation in the mountains, check out Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead offer the tranquility and peace of the mountains while still being close to grocery stores,restaurants, and shopping venues.

For a California beach vacation, you’ve only got about 840 miles of coastline to choose from. For a sunny southern California beach experience, Malibu and Santa Monica are on the pricey side but can really put you steps from the beach. There are trendy and modern apartments in San Diego that put you a block from the beach, and stunning waterfront mansions in Venice Beach if you’re bringing a bunch of friends.

If you want to up your chance of seeing a celebrity, swanky hotels like Chateau Marmont and Sunset Marquis are known for being favorites of A-listers in California. Of course, they might cost you between $400-800 a night, but it could be worth it!

Where To Eat

Foodies love California because no matter what you’re craving or when you’re craving it, you can find it in California. During your week-long California adventure, you should visit both the well-known restaurants as well as some secret spot that the locals don’t want you to know about.

Pink’s Hot Dogs

Hot dogs here are more than just meat and buns. These massive dogs are covered in savory toppings like bacon,  nacho cheese, bbq sauce or jalapenos and named after famous Hollywood Stars.

California Donuts

This sweet spot takes donut to a whole new level. Move over boring glazed donut; the Lucky Charms donut is here.

The Penthouse

If you want a delicious dinner with a side of breathtaking ocean views, The Penthouse in Santa Monica is the place to go. Serving every meal of the day, this trendy American restaurant combines incredible food with unparalleled service and an elegant and stylish atmosphere.

Chomp Chomp Nation

For the most exquisite food on four wheels, track down the Chomp Chomp Nation food truck for the best tropical Chinese food you’ll ever taste. And if you love food trucks, LA is packed with weekly food truck events!


If you’re looking to dress up and splurge on an elegant Californian fine dining experience, (try to) make a reservation at Providence in Hollywood. Fresh seafood, gorgeous sides, and an extensive wine list, this place is the go-to for an elegant and upscale dinner.

Other must-try restaurants in California include:

  • Kim’s Key Lime Pie and Lotus Kitchen for breakfast
  • The Coffee Quarter for coffee and breakfast
  • Larchmont Bungalow for brunch
  • The Sycamore Kitchen for brunch
  • Coasterra for lunch on the water
  • The Marine Room for fantastic ocean views
  • The Bigg Chill and Churro Borough for dessert
  • Firefly for an ultra-sexy and romantic date night

If You Have More Time

You can spend seven days eating, exploring and traveling California and not even see half of it. However, if you’re lucky enough to see and do everything you’ve come to see and do, add a few of these fun excursions to your itinerary.

  • Explore Sunny Jim’s Cave
  • Go snorkeling with sharks
  • Eat bizarre food at Crazee Burger (antelope, anyone!?)
  • Take a selfie on Potato Chip Rock (but be careful!)
  • Schedule a ghost tour through the haunted Whaley House
  • Look for celebs at LAX, The Ivy or the Studio City Farmers Market

Owning Property In California

It’s clear that people love to visit California, which means it’s a great spot to own property and use it as a vacation rental. If you get to California and fall in love (which you will) and want more information about where to buy property and how to generate an income, contact Gia Property and Rental Management today! Owning a home in California means you have a place to go whenever you miss the beach, and make money when you’re not there. It’s a win-win!