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After spending several years in social services, Nicole has finally followed her lifelong dream of being a full-time writer. In addition to her work for The Hudsucker, Nicole is also a staff writer for Womanista. An avid comic book fan, BBQ aficionado, professional makeup artist and first-time mom, Nicole can be found exploring Kansas City rich history when she's not blogging about suburban life at Suburban Flamingo.

Travel Guide: Southern California

Southern California is a big vacation destination for a lot of people. With beautiful weather, miles and miles of beaches, and major attractions (like Disneyland) there is no shortage of fun things to do. Sometimes, though, the real gems of a vacation adventure are the less-known experiences. Here are eight, off-the-beaten-path places to check out in Southern California.

VG Donut & Bakery

Address: 106 Aberdeen Drive, Cardiff, CA

Doughnuts are having a moment, but as far as I can tell the best place to have your doughnut moment in SoCal is at VG Donut & Bakery in Cardiff. The VG stands for “very good” and these doughnuts are definitely that. The cake doughnuts are the perfect balance of light and chewy, all but melting in your mouth. The glazed are a great balance of sweet and savory and the doissant (the VG take on the cronut) is far superior to any other croissant-doughnut hybrid out there. Come hungry, but be prepared to be patient: even half an hour before their 9 p.m. closing time there are still lengthy lines.

Coronado Beach

Address: 1800 Avenida de las Arenas, Coronado, CA

Sparkling beaches that are prime for seashell hunting, a charming town with lots of little things to explore, and excellent waves for surfing all come together to create the perfect California beach experience. Even on a day where there are lots of people enjoying the beauty of Coronado it doesn’t feel crowded. The big, gentle waves keep everything relaxed. Try your hand at surfing while you’re here or check out some of the rest of the island for a truly relaxing and refreshing getaway.

Primo Food Mart

Address: 1535 W Vista Way, Vista, CA

Taco Tuesday? Always good. Taco Tuesday at Primo Food Mart? So good it will ruin you for other tacos forever. With their amazing tacos at sixty-nine cents on Tuesdays and Fridays as well as a variety of other incredible food choices (I suggest the carnitas burrito) you absolutely cannot go wrong at Primo. And it isn’t just food to go. Primo is an actual market so you can get staples and produce there as well.


Farenheit 451 Books

Address: 325 Carlsbad Village Drive, Suite B-1, Carlsbad, CA

Carlsbad is a beautiful city to visit with no shortage of things to explore, but one of the best places to check out in downtown Carlsbad is Farenheit 451 Books. Packed with new, used, and vintage books in every genre you can imagine the store truly lives up to its “candy store for your mind” tagline. Almost as much fun as combing through the stacks for the perfect read is the proprietor, PJ Phillips. Knowledgable, well-read, and witty he is a great guide to help you leave with not only a good read but a great story.

West Coast Tavern

Address: 2895 University Ave, San Diego, CA

West Coast Tavern is one of those interesting restaurants that serves modern takes on classic dishes in a beautiful, historic building. And that building? Connects to a fantastic concert venue so you can take in a show and have dinner, too. No matter what you’re there for, though, definitely checkout the cocktail menu. West Coast Tavern has some interesting offerings you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. High recommended? The Bluebird.

Pacific Coast Highway

Address: California State Route 1

If you’re in a driving mood and craving breathtaking views of the Pacific you have to head up the Pacific Coast Highway. Start your adventure in Los Angeles and head north. The views are stunning and will make you feel like you’ve left real life for the movies. And be sure to take your time: there are so many incredible beaches and coasts you will want to stop and enjoy, especially Big Sur. No trip to California is complete without these views.

Record Surplus

Address: 12436 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Vinyl has seen a huge return to popularity in the last several years, but the quest for great vintage vinyl and newer pressings can sometimes be a challenge. If you find yourself in Los Angeles that challenge disappears when you come across Record Surplus. You can find anything here, from first pressings of Beatles albums to old-school big band to contemporary indie rock. A listening station allows you to check out your selections before you buy. They also have a fantastic selection of 45s so you can definitely find some great tunes without investing in whole albums. A must stop if you love music.

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Do you have a favorite place in Southern California that you think everyone should check out? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image: Printinghistory.org

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