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Bi-weekly podcast

Southern California's Greatest Hits

From San Diego to Los Angeles and east to the desert, discover some of the most exciting attractions and experiences in the region

In this special episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson revisits some Southern California hotspots, hidden gems, and mouth-watering local cuisine featured on previous episodes. It’s a whirlwind tour through sunny SoCal that focuses on quantity and quality and will no doubt inspire a future road trip.

Listen in as Johnson secures detailed directions for a perfect family outing in San Diego’s Balboa Park, gets the inside scoop for visits to both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and then talks to a master builder at LEGOLAND California. After that, Johnson gets a taste of Orange County's delicious Asian food scene from a Los Angeles Times food blogger before turning his attention to L.A.’s thriving hotel culture. The episode then heads east, with stops at the idyllic mountain town of Idyllwild and at the majestic Sunnylands Center & Gardens in Greater Palm Springs.


Jennifer Davies, Director of Cultural Tourism at Balboa Park

Rick Schwartz, spokesman for San Diego Zoo Global

P.J. Catalano, Master LEGO Builder at LEGOLAND California

Lucas Kwan Peterson, host of video series Off Menu

Courtney O'Dell, lifestyle blogger, Sweet C's Designs

Elizabeth Conway, tour guide with Bikes and Hikes LA

Jacqui Gifford, editor in chief of Travel + Leisure

Ann Marie Brown, author and travel writer

Janice Lyle, Director of Sunnylands Center & Gardens


Balboa Park’s Jennifer Davies highlights the must-see spots in San Diego’s gorgeous greenspace.

Balboa Park

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Automotive Museum

Comic-Con Museum

San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Natural History Museum

Fleet Science Center

Wildlife conservationist and spokesperson for the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park Rick Schwartz shares a few pro-tips for your next visit.

Caravan Safari

San Diego Zoo Inside Look Tours

Master Builder P.J. Catalano shares some of his favorite spots at LEGOLAND California.

Miniland USA

LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure

The Los Angeles Times' Lucas Kwan Peterson, host of Off Menu, dishes on the best little-known eats in Southern California.

Little Saigon

Bien Hen

Banh Cuon Luu Luyen

The taco is a staple of Mexican-American cuisine, but according to Sweet C’s Designs blogger Courtney O'Dell, SoCal takes the taco to a whole new level.

Taco María

Playa Mesa

Tour guide Elizabeth Conway of Bikes & Hikes LA details some of the best ways to get around Los Angeles without a car.

Runyon Canyon

Griffith Park

Mt. Hollywood

Greek Theatre

Griffith Observatory

Greystone Mansion

As Travel + Leisure’s Jacqui Gifford can tell you, these L.A. hotels exude some serious Hollywood glamour.

Beverly Hills Hotel

Hotel Bel-Air

Sunset Tower Hotel

If there’s a hiking trail nearby, Ann Marie Brown surely knows about it. She has plenty of insights to share about the outdoorsy town of Idyllwild.


Mount San Jacinto

Humber Park

Café Aroma

Janice Lyle, Director of Sunnylands Center & Gardens, delves into the estate’s history and shares her top tips for exploring Greater Palm Springs.

Greater Palm Springs


Annenberg Foundation

About the Host

Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis, Calif., in 2016 and is just getting to know his surroundings. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson will use the California Now platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.

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