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More Than Disneyland


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There is more to California than its theme parks and celebrity culture. Sure it's fun to drive around and see the houses where Lucille Ball and Charlie Chaplin used to live. It's exciting to wander in and out of the same stores that your favorite actors shop in or know that you could run into Charlie Sheen at a Whole Foods. But the true fun of California is all of the little out of the way places that you won't find in most of the guide books.

Fans of independent stores will love shopping for music in Amoeba. Amoeba began in 1990 as a retaliation against the corporate conglomerates that were quickly buying up all of the independent music sellers and replacing them with top 40 chain music shops. Amoeba, unlike its corporately backed competitors, sells new and used music in every format. Yes, you will find original vinyl here. You'll also find iPods. The original store opened in Berkeley and was quickly followed by a San Francisco and a Hollywood location. If you're tired of shopping at Sam Goody, you will find a musical Oasis in the California independent music seller: Amoeba.

Orphan Andy's is quite possibly the best hamburger joint in California and it is located in the Castro district of San Francisco. This is a twenty four hour diner and yes, you will have to wait for a table-even at two in the morning! Be careful, the apartments upstairs frequently have parties and party goers are not careful about where they spill their drinks or flick their used cigarette butts. Orphan Andy's, in addition to it's fantastic food, has affordable prices-broke college students can eat here without having to worry about whether or not they'll be able to afford the bus fare home.

The Egyptian theater isn't exactly off the beaten path: It's right on Hollywood Blvd. It is, however, a California classic. It was once one of the most famous theaters in California and was famous for its glitzy movie premieres. Then it went through a period of being “just another theater. " Luckily, it recently went through a restoration and transition period and now it is back to its “old days" glory. It shows older movies and there isn't a bad seat in the house! You can't go to California (especially Los Angeles) without partaking of a little bit of Hollywood history!

California also has plenty of natural beauty as well-its mountains and coastline are the envy of everywhere. East Coast residents will readily tell you that the Atlantic Ocean just isn't as magnificent as the Pacific Ocean. For those who love to hike or bike ride or camp, there are plenty of great places to do just that-the redwoods up north and the surfing beaches down south-California has it all!

This blog entry is sounding a little bit like a love letter to California, and there are already television commercials that do that. The truth is, no matter what the hype: California is worth exploring. Everyone should take a California vacation at least once.

For more information on California, visit and


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