Trendiest location in Southern California right now? I’d say the Anza-Borrego desert because almost everywhere you look you’ll spot a bright flower basking in the sun, flashing it’s irresistible color against the sand and luring every city dweller out there to see it, and smell it, in it’s full glory (sorry Hollywood). They say six times the amount of rain has fallen this year in the desert compared to last year, creating a ‘super bloom’. A tapestry of color covers the landscape and this is not only from flowers, but also from a cacti and a variety of green bushes, plants and grasses.
You’ll find fields of these flowers around S22, about 10 miles from Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, but if you’re not a crowd person, you might prefer driving around the area and finding them randomly in more secluded spots away from the huge crowds. The visitors center in Borrego Springs has great maps and printed guides and very nice people who have lots of advice on which spots are best the day you visit. If at all possible, I’d avoid going on the weekends.
I feasted my eyes on all the bright colors, which are pretty rare in the usually muted shades of brown you see in Southern California… but even though it was incredibly beautiful, what held my attention the most was the migration of thousands of Painted Lady butterflies making their way north from Mexico. They are a bit smaller than Monarchs. They surrounded us flying low and fast only stopping quickly for a bite to eat here and there, making it nearly impossible to get pictures. But we stopped for a while and just watched masses of them zoom by us and I swear I could hear the sound of their wings.
The cactus blossoms are just starting to appear, so soft and delicate against their spiny stems.
A few tips…
Bring food and lots of drinks. It can get really hot and many of the local restaurants fill up quickly.
Arrive early with a full tank of gas
Many of the roads are not paved. Make sure you go in a vehicle that can handle that.
The visitors center in Borrego Springs has maps and is worth stopping at for current updates.
Named after the triple set of waterfalls Three Sisters will not disappoint as one of the best waterfalls to visit in southern California after a good rain.
Even though this hike is not very long (4.5 miles) it is rated moderate with an elevation change of a 1000 feet and can be fairly challenging. Getting there is down hill the whole way so you’ll have plenty of energy to stop and take in the area which will awe you with it’s beauty.
We almost had the place to ourselves early in the morning.
The view of the falls from different spots along the way will take your breath away…
…and so will the vegetation
This was the old route to the falls where hikers would have to climb up / down using ropes, but the Forrest Service (A big thank you to these people) recently created a much safer trail just above this making it much easier to reach the falls.
You will still have to climb a little and the closer you get the more slippery the rocks can be.
When you arrive you’ll face this rock wall and it’s slippery. I recommend following the mud trail on top and then sliding down the side close to the waterfall. I didn’t do that… and had a hard time crawling sideways across it but made it without tumbling into the water. Thankfully..!
We started the hike pretty early and spent a few hours enjoying the area. The water was brutally cold at first but we got used to it. Take off those shoes and put your feet in. It’s clean and refreshing.
You can climb up the right side of the upper waterfall for a better view from above. This climb is challenging and not recommended unless you have experience doing this. Several hikers have been airlifted out of this area due to falling accidents so be very careful. But if you’re interested in mountain climbing and rock traversing you’ll love this part.
There’s a bit of rock climbing involved in getting to the lower pool. To me, it was easier to do this barefoot as I felt I had a better grip on the otherwise slippery rocks by the water.
Relaxing and refueling before the hike back up.
The trail can be pretty narrow in some spots, keep this in mind if you want to bring dogs. It can be difficult to pull a pet to the side to let others pass. The hike up is a lot more fun with friends but don’t forget to bring lots of water and snacks for everyone. Most rescues here are due to heat, so be prepared and rest when you need it.
Just a few things…
– There’s about 10 miles of fairly rough dirt road before reaching the trail head. We also had to cross a flooded road on the day we went. Go in a vehicle that can handle that.
– Arrive early. This will make parking easier and you’ll avoid the hottest part of the day.
– You do not need a permit for this hike.
– There are no restrooms, only a few porta potties by the trail head.
– Wear hiking shoes with a good grip because the rocks can be pretty slippery.
– Best time to go is winter and spring.
The peaceful feeling you get when you get out of your car and start strolling down the 1.7 mile trail is just incomparable. This is the perfect spot to take your date any time of the day for a picnic or to – you guessed it – watch an amazing sunset. Bring your camera!
There’s a lot to look at in the area. You can climb down the sandstone cliff on the steep access stairs and then slide / jump / climb over rocks at the bottom to reach the beach in the picture above here. It’s called Garbage Beach because it was once used as a landfill for locals. That was a long time ago though, so don’t let that name stop you from going. It’s definitely worth a visit. Best time to visit is during low tide.
Let the ocean splash you…
Watch local wildlife. This specific birds is named ‘Stumpy’ by locals. Keep an eye out for him.
Or just take in all the different scenery with people you care about.
Maybe spend some time thinking of someone you love …
The most incredible sunset pictures can be taken from inside this cave. The challenge is getting in there! It can be accessed from Garbage Beach during low tide but you’ll still be walking through a bit of water. And be sure you make it back before the tide comes in.
The trail is easy, but if you want more of a hike, I recommend continuing south and following the trails closer to the cliffs (not the main trail). You’ll pass through a tree tunnel which leads to a soccer field. Cross it, and you can keep going a long ways. There’s also a nice sandy beach with a remote wilderness feel to it here that you can visit.
A rare sight in Coronado. This ‘pier’ or what once was a part of a boat landing harbor, is usually fully covered by sand or barely visible. Sometimes though, after a good storm it’ll reveal itself like it did today. It is located on the beach right in front of the famous Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Beach.
The specific historical facts on it are hard to find and a bit of a mystery. Several locals report playing on it, calling it a pier, when they were young. But after searching through archives I’ve only been able to find photos of it as part of a landing harbor, with a pier being just a bit south of it. That pier isn’t there anymore and story is it was burned because the upkeep was too expensive.
The location of the actual pier was just beyond these rocks. Now, in that same direction and area and during low tide after a good storm, you might get lucky enough to see the famous shipwreck, the USS Monte Carlo. She was called the ‘worlds greatest pleasure ship’ in the 1930’s offering parties and gambling. In 1937 a bad storm loosened the ship from her mooring and she crashed onto the beach and stayed there. Legend has it that treasure can still to be found on there!
There isn’t much to her now.
But she’s somewhere under those waves today.
Coronado beach has been voted among the top beaches in the US many times. There’s a lot of history and beauty here and it’s definitely worth a visit. If you have time walk to central beach and climb over the dunes there. You’ll notice each dune is a letter and together they spell out C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O. In 1988 a local city worker, Armando Moreno, was tasked with cleaning up kelp on the beach and over a period of 2 years he formed the letters by burying the kelp and covering it with sand and then planting ice plants on top.
After all that climbing head to Hotel Del Coronado for a drink or s’mores on the beach or visit one of the many really great restaurants just a block away.
There’s so much to do in L.A and planning a stay there can be overwhelming. There are the obvious choices like the theme parks most people like to visit, Hollywood, Walk of Fame etc. But if you’ve read any of my other posts you know that I prefer less crowded places and those are hard to find there. I lived in Venice once (yes, very crowded) close to the Marina and I tend to venture back there when I go because of friends in the area. But also because Venice offers my most favorite thing to do in L.A. which is renting a bike and riding the bike lane either north towards Malibu (the farther you go, the less people) or south as far as you can handle going… or until the bike rental shop closes. You can rent a bike on pretty much any block in Venice or right in the parking lots in Santa Monica. Ask for a basket and bring water.
Muscle Beach is good place to start. There’s a parking lot just south of it by Venice Blvd. on the beach. If you like watching bodybuilding this spot will satisfy that need. It’s been located in the heart of Venice since 1963 and has hosted many famous bodybuilders and bodybuilding competitions.
As you head North you’ll get to ride under the iconic double-jointed Santa Monica Pier. It’s over a 100 years old and offers an aquarium, a video arcade, shops and restaurants, street performers and an original carousel from 1922. I like to stop here, go have a snack or two and maybe ride that red and yellow Ferris wheel or the roller coaster sometimes. It is probably one of the shortest roller coaster rides ever, but it’s pretty cool to go on rides on a pier over the water.
If you’re here during the summer when it’s really crowded watch out for pedestrians as you come out from under the pier.
After passing the pier, keep going north. You’ll see this really cute purple and pink house (favorite!) and then a little further up a new playground opened recently. I’d never get in the way of any child playing, so if there aren’t too many little kids in there a quick stop … is fun!
I love the area north of the playground. It’s less crowded and often it’ll feel like you have the place all to yourself. The ocean, the sand, the bike lane and then on the other side Santa Monica Mountains and the city.
I hope to see you out there on a bike! Next stop, my second favorite thing to do in L.A., hiking the trails by the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood sign.