Headed To The Super Bowl? Here’s Where To Extend Your California Vacation

The stage is officially set for the 2022 Super Bowl: The Cincinnati Bengals will square off against the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 13, and the latter team gets to play on its own turf at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. (For non-sports fans, there’s a football match scheduled to take place at an epic concert featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige).

But in addition to the football showdown and a much-anticipated halftime show, Super Bowl LVI will give the world a formal introduction to SoFi, which is being heralded as the most high-tech stadium in the world thanks to its amenities like a 70,000 square -foot, dual-sided video board that’s center hung 122 feet above the playing field.

If you’re in town for football’s biggest event, here’s some ideas for how to extend your vacation in the Golden State. (Or, consider this inspiration for planning a California vacation, something you might get the urge to do after watching Visit California’s planned pre-game commercial that spotlights the state’s vast attractions and is set to Queen’s mega-hit “Don’t Stop Me Now “).

Ahead, three quintessential California trips you can take along the state’s famous coastline.

Stay in Town: The Sporty Side of Los Angeles

You’ve been introduced to Los Angeles as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” a city with 100 plus museums, including the new must-see Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. But it’s also a bona fide sports town, a reputation that’s bolstered by the high-tech SoFi Stadium and the forthcoming, $1.8 billion privately funded Inuit Dome, which, in 2024, will become the Los Angeles Clippers’ shiny new state-of-the- art arena.

Immerse yourself in the sports culture of LA by syncing your schedule up with a game while you’re in town, whether that’s at SoFi, Crypto.com Arena (home to the Clippers and Lakers), or, come spring, Dodger Stadium.

Another option for sports buffs? A behind-the-scenes tour of LA’s most iconic stadiums.

Learn about the high-tech design of SoFi Stadium (home to the Chargers as well as the Rams) during an hour-long stadium tour. You’ll get a glimpse of native California landscape that Studio-MLA seamlessly wove into the indoor-outdoor stadium and learn about the earthquake-proof construction of the 70,000-seat stadium. The tour culminates with a high-energy “Tunnel Run” that leads you to the turf (there’s 76 million blades of artificial grass covering the field) where you can participate in football challenges.

For a nice juxtaposition to the modern architectural marvel that is SoFi, schedule a tour of Dodgers Stadium, a true cathedral of baseball. Built in 1962, the 56,000-seat stadium is one of the nation’s most historic ballparks, with baseball relics on display, Dodger dogs headlining the concession menu, and live music played by an organist. Tours include an exclusive look at the 2020 World Series trophy.

Restaurant to Try: Get a side of history with your beer cheese asada fries and expertly made craft cocktails at Homebound Brew Haus. The architecturally stunning Bavarian beer hall with Art Deco influence is tucked away in the Union Station and inside a former Fred Harvey restaurant, a chain that operated alongside railroads more than a century ago. (Judy Garland starred in a movie about The Harvey Girls, who were the young and attractive women recruited to work in the railway restaurants and stay in on-site dorms). Craft beer, bratwursts, and bacon-wrapped LA dogs are on the menu and there’s plenty of televisions to catch a game.

Where to Stay: Make the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live your base camp. Located in the heart of downtown in the energetic LA Live entertainment district, the luxury hotel neighbors attractions like the GRAMMY Museum and Crypto.com arena and is also near a slate of restaurants (sushi at Katsuya, soul food at Fixins – Soul Kitchen, contemporary French at Le Petit Chef). Marble bathrooms and luxe linens, a fourth-floor pool with spectacular views of downtown, and a palpable energy in the lobby, especially on game days, are perks.

Head South: An Exciting Expansion of Arts and Culture in San Diego

With postcard-perfect beaches, phenomenal restaurants, and plenty of outdoor adventure, San Diego is a well-rounded vacation destination. But what’s exciting us most about this sunny southern California destination right now is the graceful expansion of its arts and culture scene—which can be witnessed throughout the city’s neighborhoods.

Considered California’s birthplace, Old Town is colorful and lively with mariachi band performances and servers in ruffled dresses serving margaritas. Now, amid the preserved buildings that give a glimpse into colonial life is a new arrival: Old Town Urban Market, a small and soulful food hall. Find bone marrow birria tacos at Michelin-recognized Tuetano Taqueria, Baja style ceviche at Mar Rustico, and provisions like chamoy rim dips and scratch-made tortillas and salsas sold by vendors. A wine bar, coffee shop, and donut spot are coming next.

Witness a comeback in Barrio Logan, a Mexican-American neighborhood where vacant warehouses are turning into cutting-edge art galleries and Latinx murals fill Chicano Park on the north side of the neighborhood. At Barrio Dogg, owner Pablo Rios’ menu offers a culinary tour of the world through gourmet hot dogs like red cabbage sauerkraut-topped German dogs and an Asian style hot dog topped with hoisin barbecue, pickled vegetables, crunchy garlic and wasabi sesame seeds. The hot dogs here are cradled in a sweet and fluffy Sonora-style roll. Find the perfect bite in the El Pueblito, which is topped with poblano peppers, queso, cotija cream sauce and, for a plot twist, fresh pomegranate.

Cover as much ground as you can in the 1,200-acre Balboa Park, which is considered the cultural heart of San Diego with 17 museums, as well as performing arts venues and gardens galore. But if you only have a day here, though, check out what’s new. Play Pac-Man arcade games, immerse in the world of “Archie” comics, and see the macabre art of Chas Addams at the the Comic-Con Museum, which opened its doors in Nov. 2021. A highlight in the museum are the letters and historic memorabilia celebrating “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s life. Then, make your way to the Mingei International Museum, which recently underwent a top-to-bottom renovation. The folk art museum features 25,000 items from 141 countries. A fun place to start is on the first level where you can find a curation of whimsical play objects from around the world, like a smirking carousel pig from France and alebrije fantasy figures from Mexico.

Restaurants to Try: Diners are in for a surprise when they step foot off the elevator onto the 19th floor of InterContinental San Diego and enter the Roman-inspired Seneca Trattoria, which has transportive powers and is perhaps the city’s sexiest restaurant. Dimly lit with lush greenery and views of both the bay and skyline, the menu highlights include pulled tableside mozzarella (get your camera ready), fresh pasta dishes, and branzino.

California cuisine and flavors of the Mediterranean coastline collide wondrously on the menu at Callie, a concept from San Diego native Chef Travis Swikard. Generously spread dips like avocado labneh or smoky baba ganoush on the pillowy, bubbly pita bread. Share raw and cured plates with your dining companions (think: Japanese Kanpachi with green Israeli hot sauce) before diving into larger plates like pasta dishes or fresh-caught fish. Better yet, trust the chef to curate a five-course family-style menu for the table from dips to dessert.

Where to Stay: A 400-room contemporary waterfront hotel, the InterContinental San Diego has floor-to-ceiling windows. Get up early, make a cup of coffee, and watch the sunrise paint the San Diego Bay a shade of cotton candy pink. The hotel is close to the Gaslamp District and Little Italy, and a short walk to Portside Pier, a collection of restaurants serving seafood, Mexican, pub fare, coffee, and gelato.

Head North: A food and wine paradise in San Luis Obispo

With the lull of waves providing a soundtrack and sunny skies above, it’s not uncommon to see hammocks tied to the Pismo Beach pier with remote workers logged on to their laptops, working from a beachfront cocoon. That’s completely on brand with the relaxed vibe here San Luis Obispo County (or SloCal for short).

About four hours north of Los Angeles, SloCal is a destination for those who like to split their vacation itineraries between exploring the great outdoors and enjoying leisurely farm-to-table meals with bottles of vino. The Mediterranean climate and rolling hills yields some excellent grapes which have put the central coast of California on the map as a must-visit (but lesser-known) wine destination. SloCal is rich with culinary traditions, which include eating barbecue-drenched tri tip sandwiches on toasted butter rolls at Firestone Grill, strolling farmers markets, and spooning creamy clam chowder from bread bowls at Pismo Beach’s Splash Cafe. (Early clammers in Pismo Beach used horse-drawn plows to find clams in the sand).

Spirits and wine lovers can enjoy a tasting trifecta, sipping beer, whiskey and wine at SloCal outposts. A good place to do just that is at SLO Brew Rock, a 30-barrel brewhouse with creative brews like Margarita Agave Seltzers and a Pink Lemonade Lager joining IPAs and blonde ales. The best way to enjoy a flight is outside by the rock outcrop that the brewery built around.

Pop in next door for a whiskey tasting at Rod & Hammer’s SLO Stills, a cowboy-meets-surfer tasting room. Spirits are cut with purified Pacific Ocean water and Rod & Hammer is making waves with The Barrel Club, which allows whiskey lovers to craft their own experience by aging a 5-gallon new American Oak Barrel of whiskey in the tasting room. Get a good introduction to the area’s wineries with a tasting reservation at Tolosa Winery, which is in the heart of Edna Valley and specializes in pinot noirs and chardonnays. Much of Tolosa’s fruit comes from the Edna Ranch, which has 60 soil types and a variety of microclimates that yield a spectrum of terroirs. The winery is a part of the SLO CAL Sustainable Wine Trail.

Restaurant to Try: A local favorite, Ember is a cozy restaurant in Arroyo Grande that serves dishes cooked by woodfire and made for pairing with local wines. The menu rotates with the seasons, but to give you an idea, chefs fold locally foraged wild chanterelle mushrooms into ravioli and make citrus-forward desserts with lemon chiffon cake and tangerine custard.

Where to Stay: Stay in style in downtown San Luis Obispo at the SLO Brew Lofts, a collection of five art-filled lofts with exposed brick, artistic tiles, and fun chandeliers. A Smeg refrigerator holds a stash of local beer and you’ll find Instagrammable moments throughout the space, including the floral arrangements on a wall in a common area.

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