Difference between revisions of "Southern California"
Revision as of 23:54, 26 February 2013
Southern California is a megapolitian region occupying the southern portion of the US state of California. The region is bordered to the east by the states of Nevada and Arizona, to the south by the international border of the United States and Mexico, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. There is no official definition for the northern boundary of Southern California, but most include all the land south of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Tehachapi Mountains. Southern California also includes several offshore islands such as the Channel Island, and also includes desert such as the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. The large metropolitan areas include Los Angeles (the nation's second largest metro area) and San Diego.
Southern California is a culturally diverse and well known area worldwide. Many tourists travel here for its fine year-round weather along the coast, open dramatic spaces, beaches, and numerous amusement parks. Southern California is a major economic center for the state of California and the United States.
Southern California as a whole is known for its mild and pleasant weather, especially the winters. However, there is a difference in climate between the coastal region and the inland region. The coastal region, streching from about Santa Barbara to San Diego, is dry and mild, and generally touted as having the most pleasant weather in the USA, outside of Hawaii that is. In this long but narrow strip, summer daytime highs are generally comfortable, running from the high 70s(F) to the low 80s(F). During the winter, daytime highs are usually in the high-60s(F), with occassional low 70s(F) temperatures thrown in. Year-round outdoor activities can be enjoyed day or night on the coastal region due to the mild climate that is dominated by Mediterranean-type weather.
The large inland region (which generally begins only about 35 miles inland from the coast and stretches all the way eastward to the Arizona and Nevada borders) enjoys mild daytime winter temperatures, but the winter nights may be chillier than the coastal region. Summer highs in the inland section can be extremely hot -for example, daytime temperatures in Palm Springs average 108(F) in July. Although it is a dry heat, hot is still hot!
Most rain comes between mid-November through the end of March for Southern California, and sunshine is a stable throughout much of the year!
Southern California is most easily divisible by counties. The following counties are completely in the Southern California region:
For San Diego, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties, the population is not uniformally distributed. The western portion of San Diego County, the extreme southwestern portion of San Bernardino County, and the extreme western portion of Riverside County are all heavily urbanized areas. The other portions of these counties are much less populated.
There are three major metropolitan areas located in Southern California: the Los Angeles-Long Beach metro with over over 12 million inhabitants; the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro (also called the Inland Empire) with over 4 million inhabitants; and the San Diego metro with over 3 million inhabitants. The close proximity of the Los Angeles metro and the Inland Empire also means they are combined together to make up an area called the larger Greater Los Angeles area. At 25 million people, Southern California is the nation's third largest megalopolis after the Great Lakes region with 54 million people, and the Northeast with 49 million people.
Although cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego are not high density city, many of their suburban counterparts are high density, giving Southern California as a whole a heavy density rate.
Some of the major cities and areas of Southern California include:
Urban Landscape. Southern California consists of a very heavily developed urban environment, along with vast areas that have been left undeveloped. Many Southern California suburban and satellite cities have dense populations, and the region is famous for its large, sprawling landscape and its dependence on automobiles. Public transportation is adequate enough in this region, but not as comprehensive as it should be for a region this size. The areas of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Riverside-San Bernardino, each of which are the center of their respective metropolitan areas, are composed of numerous smaller cities and communities.
Natural Landscape. Southern California consists of geologic, topographic, and natural ecosystem landscapes in a diverse setting. The region spans from the Pacific Ocean islands (such as Santa Catalina and Santa Cruz among others), to beaches, and to desert, through the Peninsular Ranges with their peaks, and into small and large valleys, and wine country. Every year the area has about 10,000 earthquakes, but nearly all of them are so small that they are not felt. Only several hundred are greater than magnitude 3.0, and only about 15-20 are greater than magnitude 4.0.
Southern California is home to numerous attractions such as:
English is the official language of California and is the predominant language in Southern California. However, Spanish is also spoken by large Hispanic populations and it is not uncommon in Southern California to see store and street signs written in both English and Spanish. Chinese, Tagalog, Japanese, Hindi, Korean, and Vietnamese are also spoken by various immigrant groups.
Unless you are visiting for a short stay, and/or have a short trip between where you will be lodging and your destinations, then a car is going to be the best option for you when visiting Southern California. A car also allows you the ability to reach certain areas where public transportation may not travel, such as mountains, deserts, and even certain neighborhoods. Transportation in Southern California consists of buses, rail transit, and taxis. However, buses may run anywhere from every 30 minutes to every 90 minutes depending on the route. The more frequent service usually is found on routes near the downtowns of Los Angeles or San Diego during weekday rush hours. Service outside the core of these two cities, as well as within the Inland Empire, is usually less frequent. Some routes may end service in the early evening or have no service whatsoever on weekends. The light rail lines of Los Angeles and San Diego have been growing over the years, but still are not expansive enough for the size of those regions. Taxis are required to be called to come and pick you up; they cannot be hailed off the street such as in New York City or Chicago.
An extensive, well laid-out network of freeways and highways are a trademark of Southern California. Freeways, particularly in the Los Angeles area, can get backed up with traffic anytime of the day, but they still are a better option than buses -that is unless your destination is a relatively short ride away, and multiple bus changes are not required.
Some public transportation in Southern California includes:
If using public transportation, just be sure to allow adequate travel time. Check travel schedules to ensure the bus routes you need will still be running upon your return as some routes end service in the early evenings. The local L.A. commuter train Metro, and its regional counterpart MetroLink  may connect you easier to any outreaching areas you need to reach in the L.A. metro area or Inland Empire. The Metrolink train system may come in handy when you need to get from one area to another, even with their limited schedule.
The San Diego Trolley is an option for light rail travel in the San Diego region.
The metropolitan regions of Southern California consist of many small cities that run into one another. It can be confusing while driving and you can get lost very easily if you do not have a map, even with detailed directions. A Thomas Guide, which contains detailed maps of all neighborhoods, is a useful tool if you plan on doing any driving in Southern California. This book can be found in local stores and bookstores.
Hitchhiking is not worth trying. Safety issues aside, each metro area of Southern Californa is so large that it may be extremely hard to find someone going your way. And with traffic generally being so heavy, most drivers will not want to veer off their routes to drop a hitchhiker off somewhere else. In the L.A. area, the best bets are the 101 north of Ventura, and the 5 north of Santa Clarita, where you have escaped the sprawling cityscape and may find it easier to find somebody traveling your way. In the San Diego area, north of Escondido on the 15, and east of El Cajon on the 8 may be better options.
Southern California is home to many motion picture, television, and recorded music companies, primarily located in the L.A. area. It is also home to the world's largest adult entertainment industry, located mainly in the San Fernando Valley. Hollywood is the center of the motion picture and television industries, at least in name. Located in Southern California is The Walt Disney Company, Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers all of which operate both movie studios and record companies. Paramount, MGM, Dreamworks, and 20th Century Fox are other major movie studios also located in Southern California.
SoCal is home to many sports franchises and sports networks. Professional teams that are located in the region include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas USA, and San Diego Chargers. Southern California also is home to a number of popular NCAA sports programs, such as the UCLA Bruins, the USC Trojans, and the San Diego State Aztecs.
Southern California is home to many movie studios that generally offer tours. Television production from the big four networks of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC is also a major industry in SoCal. These networks offer enjoyable tours where the public can see the sets of many popular shows or perhaps see a taping in progress.
Beaches are another staple of Southern California. Whether swimming or people watching, beaches are a great destination in SoCal.
Amusement parks are quite numerous in Southern California. There are several in the region such as Disneyland, California Adventure, Magic Mountain, SeaWorld, Knott's Berry Farm, and Lego Land.
If you feel like satisfying your cultural craving, there are plenty of options. Southern California has several zoos such as the large and wonderfully highly-ranked San Diego Zoo. Other zoos include L.A. Zoo in Griffith Park, and the smaller Orange County Zoo in the city of Orange, and the Santa Ana Zoo.
Griffith Observatory is a leader in public astronomy. The facility is located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood, providing an excellent view of Los Angeles. Shows are shown in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium at the facility.
The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier museum ship located in San Diego. The ship saw action in the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, and contains more than 60 exhibits.
The Getty Center in Los Angeles is a museum that specializes in pre-20th century European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The center sits atop a hill overlooking Los Angeles.
Most types of food can be found in the towns and cities of Southern Californian -especially popular are Mexican, Chinese, Soul, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, and Filipino.
Southern California is the birthplace of modern day American fast food such as McDonald's (now headquartered in the Chicago metropolitan area). One should not miss out on In-N-Out Burger, which has multiple locations throughout the SoCal region. The menu is pretty straightforward, but a "secret" menu allows you to customize by ordering "animal style" fries and burgers.
For a taste of California, you can visit a farmers’ market and rub shoulders with celebrity chefs and foodie insiders picking out the finest organic produce. You can also step into sleek restaurants serving innovative, ultra-fresh California cuisine. You can taste gelato made with locally-produced chocolate and toasted hazelnuts, or handmade cheeses from local farms. Drive down a tree-lined lane to wineries in grand chateaus, or relaxed, family-run vineyards where the guy pouring and chatting in the tasting room is a world-class winemaker.
The tourist areas of Los Angeles are generally quite safe, as well as many parts of Orange County and San Diego. Many residential neighborhoods in metro L.A. and the Inland Empire are generally safe. However, crime can also be high in certain parts of Southern California, particularly in, again, parts of the Los Angeles metro area and parts of the Inland Empire. The Los Angeles and Inland Empire areas both comprise a high proportion of gang members and activities, however, both these areas are large in geographical area, and therefore have both affluent as well as struggling neighborhoods.
In recent years, latino gangmembers who are illegals from Mexico and Americans of Mexican origin, have been killing black Americans in an attempt to run blacks from certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles, or from certain suburban L.A. cities entirely. These attacks have been ordered by the Mexican Mafia gangmembers inside prisons in Southern California. Their gangbanging latino counterparts on the outside have been ordered to kill random black people, regardless of whether the black person is in a gang or not, in an effort to drive them from certain neighborhoods and towns as part of an ethnic cleansing. Murders and/or attacks have been committed by gangbanging illegal Mexicans and Mexican-Americans against random black Americans in some areas of Southern California, where the latino population heavily outweighs many other ethnic groups, especially blacks. Federal prosecutors have stepped in to prosecute some of these crimes as they are motivated by nothing more than hate. These heinous murders and attacks have been concentrated in some areas of Los Angeles and its suburbs, but have not affected the San Diego area as of yet.
Some tourists may suffer respiratory problems because of the major cities' air pollution. Drink plenty of fluids and reduce outdoor activities.
There are some animals of which you may want to be aware in Southern California.