We find ourselves in Southern California during the winter months to stay warm and inspired while living full time on the road. Typically we'll start out in Los Angeles. When we're done with work and tired of the city, we'll venture out to nature spots or smaller cities up and down the coast. There's still quite a bit to explore, but over the three winters of officially becoming snowbirds we covered a lot of land.
After painting 3 separate Greetings murals in San Diego, it's safe to say we both love this city. Our favorite food spots include Oritz's Taco Shop for the best California burrito and Northside Shack for acai/pitaya bowls. Sundays are best spent at La Jolla where you can park all day along the cliffs, watch all the seals hop around and catch sunset. Sunset Cliffs is another great place for that. Liberty Station where we painted our 2nd SD mural is a serene place to walk around as well as Balboa Park for its botanical garden. Coronado is a casual bike riding spot, again not a bad place to watch sunset.
Heading up the coast, our favorite smaller cities to visit are Encinitas and Oceanside. Both places are great surf spots with an abundance of coffee shops where people strike up genuine conversations with strangers just to say hello.
Victor's childhood friend Jason recommended this place and we were both stunned when we got there. Rolling up, it appeared to be quite abandoned. We camped a night at Borrego Springs Campground to get water and take 6 minute coin operated showers. The next day we hiked the oasis trail connected to the campground which turned out to be a favorite hike of all time. Moving along, we planned to camp on BLM land, but got a knock on the door from other RV lifers who recognized us from our work. They invited us to their camp just down the road. For sunset, they took us up to Font's Point where you need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get there. Strong winds were blowing over the tall cliffs down to the badlands, but we stuck it out to see the sky change colors.
The last free place in the United States! No laws and off the grid living in Southern California certainly attracts RV owners and squatters. We stayed there one night in February 2016 during the night of the Super Bowl. As the sun was setting, the silhouette of a man slowly walked through the desert towards our RV. I was about to have a panic attack, but then the man politely asked us over to watch some football and Beyoncé.
Salvation Mountain is the thing to see in Slab City. Artist Leonard Knight dedicated his later years to this folk art installation. Preservation is a concern, as tourist visits are increasing and the mountain is made a straw and paint. I found out about this place after watching the movie Into The Wild. Leonard has since passed, but his dedication is still evident and it's a very special place to visit.
Sometimes smelly, but mostly really beautiful, Salton Sea is another spot in this area we both enjoy visiting. The 'sand' there is actually all fish bones. The dead sea has no waves causing a nice glass effect when birds glide by. Sunsets here are pretty epic too.
Imperial Sand Dunes
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is a great place for star gazing, free camping and you guessed it - massive sand dunes. We spent a night here, but could have stayed longer. Careful of ATVs while climbing the dunes!
Joshua Tree is a great getaway for the adventurous ones living in LA. A short trip from the city and you're in a giant natural playground. Make a stop with vintage shopping and one of the best honky tonk bars, Pappy + Hariett's. When we need a campground (to shower and dump) we stay a couple miles outside the park at Joshua Tree Lake RV and Campground. If our RV doesn't need refreshing, we boondock on BLM land outside of the Cottonwood entrance.
This National Park can get very busy considering it's proximity to Los Angeles. The location is famous for its rock formations, so you'll also see a large community of serious climbers. Other people find this place to be very spiritual and healing. If you're into that, check out Integratron and book well in advance. Easy hiking trails are accessible through the park loop that runs over 50 miles. We've done most of the hikes and would gladly do them all again.
One other thing to consider about Joshua Tree is the fact that it's in the desert. Some of our windiest nights spent in the RV were in this area of the country. Expect warmth in the daytime with colder starry nights to follow during the winter.