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The Best of the Golden State

Whether you’ve been a Californian for life or you’re just one at heart, keeping up with the land of collagen coffee, healing stones and super-food trends (What? Kale isn’t cool anymore?) can be a full-time job. That’s why we’ve created a local’s guide to California just for you, written by our West Coast staff, brought to you by California Avocado and just in time for road-trip season.

Sacramento

Farm-to-table eats 

There’s a food rumble between San Francisco and Sacramento to own the farm-to-table movement. Sacramento has location on its side, as it’s right in the midst of the Central Valley, one of the most prolific growers of the world’s fruits and vegetables. Reserve a table at Grange and order the local pork shoulder and fennel salad; bunk up for the night at The Citizen Hotel for a boutique retro experience with bananas views of the capitol. Spend an outdoorsy day meandering the rose garden at McKinley Park and seeing the lions at the Sacramento Zoo.

Napa Valley

Weekend in wine country

Plan a weekend trip to wine country and pack it full of tastings. Sip sparkling wine at Domaine Chandon, sample a Cabernet at Chappellet, and pair olive oils with your Sauvignon Blanc at Long Meadow Ranch. Everyone knows The French Laundry is amazing, but good luck getting a table a year out. Instead, score a seat at Hog Island Oyster Company and slurp down Napa’s best hand-raised oysters with a bottle of Champagne. Sleep off all that wine at the Wine Country Inn in St. Helena for a cozy and scenic retreat.

San Francisco

Food truck heaven at Fort Mason

Fort Mason’s weekly Off the Grid event on Friday nights (March through October) is the best way to experience San Francisco’s top food trucks all in one place. While you’re there, grab a glass of sangria to wash down your lechón (pork) rice plate from the Jeepney Guy’s tent as you listen to a live band. Leave room for dessert, specifically the salted-caramel-and-olive-oil-drizzled Napa sundae from Frozen Kuhsterd. Spend the night in a food coma just a 15-minute cab ride away at the St. Regis, which puts you right in middle of the city center.

Malibu

Beach savvy in Paradise Cove

Skip the crowded sands at Zuma Beach (and the Santa Monica traffic you need to battle to get there) and head for Paradise Cove. It’s the next best thing to stretching out in front of your own Malibu mansion. Park yourself from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Paradise Cove Beach Café, an indoor-outdoor joint with lounge chairs and a wait staff that pours bubbly right on the sand, like a dreamy European Riviera spot. Pay only $3 for parking with restaurant validation (otherwise it’s $40). Take all the money you’ve saved and spend the night at the Four Seasons in nearby Westlake Village, where poolside foot massages happen and you should request a room near the gelato bar. For real.

Los Angeles

Fresh California avocados

There is nothing (and we mean nothing) like a fresh California Avocado. Since our avos are grown right here in California, finding a ripe one is easier than predicting who’s going to cry this week on RHOBH. While you’re driving in L.A., make a pit stop at a roadside vendor or a local market and squeeze one in your hand--if it’s firm but yields to gentle pressure, it’s ready to be sliced and scooped. And if you’re wondering how the locals take their avocados, think bacon avocado toast, avocado fries from 3 Square Café and avocado shaved ice from Simpang Asia.

Glendale

Burgers and sushi in L.A.

We know, we know, In-N-Out Burger. But if you want to eat local, head to the unadvertised pop-up burger joint called K Ramen. Burger. Beer. It’s situated upstairs from the fancy-pants Katsuya sushi restaurant at the Americana at Brand in Glendale. Order the house burger: two four-ounce beef patties topped with caramelized onion, tomato, American cheese and the signature Katsuya spicy mayo.

Hollywood

Music and comedy at a local club

In a town that’s all about self-promotion, the coolest performances happen in a decidedly low-key way. Largo at the Coronet is a minute venue (the smallest stage has an audience capacity of 65) that hosts music (think Nikka Costa and Aimee Mann) and some of the best comedy nights in the city. Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt often show up to host and perform alongside their comedy friends. Because that’s obviously what funny friends do together.

Can't Miss California Moments:

pebblebeach Gold Getaways/Joann Dost

The Scenic Route

Road tripping through California without driving at least part of the Pacific Coast Highway is like passing on truffle fries--something you could do, but never should. The winding coastline, the rocky cliffsides and the beautiful beaches are sights to be seen, and only in California. Stopping at Pebble Beach along the 17-mile drive through Carmel (arguably the best stretch of the highway) for photos and deep thoughts about life is highly encouraged.

sunset Telegraphy/Jeni Kling/Alamy

A California Sunset

Nowhere on the East Coast can you see a sunset like the ones in California. Watch one vanish through the redwoods in Big Sur or see it fall into the ocean at a La Jolla Shores. Or, better yet, catch a glimpse of both.