Damon Dominique and Joanna Franco are travel experts, authors, and digital content creators who host a YouTube channel with more than 48 million views and 750,000 subscribers. They met the summer before entering college and bonded over their mutual love for travel and adventure. The young entrepreneurs began creating content while studying in Paris, showcasing their adventures and experiences on Facebook.
Today the duo boasts a following of nearly one million across their combined social channels. They are developing a Facebook Watch series called “Damn Millennials”; recently released their first e-book, Woke; and run the travel site Shut Up and Go.
Where do you live?
Jo: I moved with Damon to make our YouTube channel a full-time thing. We both figured that without the noise pollution, volatile weather, and absurd rents of New York City we might actually have a chance to succeed as digital entrepreneurs. Our logic proved accurate: Within three months we had become full-time YouTubers and bloggers. Plus, we now had the luxury of wearing flip-flops to business meetings—because it’s Los Angeles!
Damon: We chose Koreatown for the international vibe and access to public transportation—and because it was the cheapest neighbourhood in central L.A.
Who or what is your greatest California love?
Jo: The explosive sunset in Venice Beach always gets me in a spiritually grateful mood. It’s a unique sight that always makes me appreciate nature.
Damon: I can ride my bike any day of the year—and L.A.’s golden hour is beautiful.
What is the biggest misperception about Californians?
Jo: That they’re slow. Californians are way slower than New Yorkers but they still manage to get things done. Californians seem to have mastered work-life balance, while people in most other states are still struggling to figure it out. I’m pretty sure it’s because we’re spoiled with nature.
What is the stereotype that most holds true?
Damon: It’s the healthiest state I’ve ever been to. People care about working out and what they eat. No one’s going to tease you for eating a kale and quinoa salad with toasted goat cheese, drinking a kombucha, or snacking on an acai bowl.
What is your favourite Golden State splurge?
Damon: Going up and down the Pacific Coast. I say “going” because I’ve done it via car, train, and even public bus, and the views never fail to impress.
Jo: An uninterrupted day at a white sand beach.
Time for a road trip—where are you going?
Jo: I would head down to Laguna Beach, visit Inspiration Point, and enjoy the little local shops. I’d keep driving until I hit a tiny fish shack, eat fresh fish overlooking the water, and continue on until I make it to San Diego so I could catch the sunset on the beach in Coronado.
Damon: I would drive up to see redwoods in the northern half of the state. The air is brisk and the trees are humongous—you really feel like you’re somewhere special.
If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be?
Jo: Eating fresh fish outside by the Pacific Coast Highway.
Damon: Avocado toast with a poached egg.
How do you define California style?
Jo: Super laid-back—the Birkenstock kind of style where ripped jeans and a white tee are all you need to get through the day. Stylish sunglasses and occasionally a wide-brimmed floppy hat. Bohemian vibes with beads dangling from wrists and necks—for men and women alike.
Damon: Casual and cool. Vintage light denim with a thin white linen shirt and some dirty white Converse sneakers is the uniform I find myself in nearly every day.
Best California song?
Damon: Los Angeles puts me in an alternative surf-rock kind of mood. “What You Were” by the Drums makes me want to drive along Pacific Coast Highway in a red drop-top. Their album Portamento always puts me in a good mood and makes me realize life doesn’t have to be so crazed.
How would your California dream day unfold?
Jo: First I would hit the beach early in the morning to paddleboard or boogie board. Next I would get a breakfast burrito with an iced coffee and then go for a walk on the Venice Beach boardwalk. After that I would take a nap on a hammock at a nearby bungalow. Wake up for a California-themed cooking class in a cool restaurant, or go to a salsa class. Finish the afternoon on a rooftop where the sunset is the main show. Spend the night at a beach bonfire!
Damon: I’d make it an early morning, sipping on a flat white as I walk along the palm-tree-lined promenade in Santa Monica. I’d make my way to this spot where you can sway on a swing set in the sand. After that I’d try looking for a vegetarian lunch near The Grove but would probably end up at Veggie Grill. I’d do some thrifting on Melrose Ave. and then make my way to downtown Los Angeles for a night out. I'd go to Clifton’s Cafeteria, or to a hip-hop club hidden in a Hollywood strip mall, or maybe to Mid-City for a night at the World on Wheels roller rink.
See a movie star. Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar at sunset. Slip on a pair of designer shoes in an ultra-luxurious boutique in Beverly Hills. Play at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, explore world-class museums, or dance the night away in a starlet-filled club. Welcome to California’s liveliest city, entertainment capital of America, with megastar wattage and nonstop activities.
“You know, you’re really a nobody in L.A. unless you have a really big door.” –comedian Steve Martin
The main hub is the City of Los Angeles, with legendary Hollywood northwest of downtown, the San Fernando Valley to the east, and the inviting beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu to the west.
Award-winning chef Curtis Stone was born in Melbourne, established his culinary chops in London, and rose to fame on TV, appearing on...
Curtis Stone and his brother Luke both began their culinary careers in an Australian butcher shop, so it makes sense that their joint venture,...
For Zoey Deutch, movies are the family business. Her mom, Lea Thompson, starred in Back to the Future, and her dad, Howard Deutch,...
Barely 30 minutes from the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles, and just north of Pasadena, the urban jungle gives way to the forests, rugged...
Think there’s no wide-open countryside left in Los Angeles? Think again. The Santa Monica Mountains stretch for 50 miles across the north western...
Margaret Cho has been doing stand-up since high school, and her ability to make audiences LOL has afforded her opportunities in all genres—from...
Homegrown Los Angeles fashion runs the gamut from red-carpet-ready looks by Rodarte to slouchy, soft T-shirts by James Perse, which makes this county a ...
On HBO’s Silicon Valley, Martin Starr plays Bertram Gilfoyle, a pompous computer programmer who specializes in deadpan putdowns. But the Santa Monica-born actor, a veteran of cult TV...
Your trip begins in California’s largest city. L.A. has nonstop action and things to do, but it can be a challenge to navigate, so planning your trip in advance is a big plus. Start in the coastal city of Santa Monica, with a wide, uncrowded beach, a signature pier topped by carnival rides and...
Famous for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons, and roaring rivers, this tandem set of parks have plenty to see, even though they are less well known than Yosemite, roughly 75 miles/120 kilometers north. Within the borders of...
Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...
Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...
Take one part water, one part sand, one part sun-soaked coastal charm, and you have the recipe for some of California’s most appealing destinations. The Golden State’s beach towns stand out for...
From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...