Probably El dorado park, May actually be in LA, But I love the nature trail. I have scouted out a few spots for an outdoor adventure. I like seal beach, Its a small and quaint community. Generally any park or place where there are not too many people. I enjoy the quiet and beauty of nature.
Laguna beach is nice for people watching, I like the art and galleries and the people are so california! Many good memories there.
I used to tool around on the Crest and Malibu, but the past few years have been mostly commuting. :/ Most of my friends abandoned street riding in favor of trackdays and racing, so I've been up to Willow Springs a couple times, as well as Vegas Speedway. Sadly, I don't have the time, money, or truck to race- and if I get hurt, I don't have a desk job that'll continue to pay while I heal, lol, so I just take it easy. However, I am considering riding to Monterey to watch GP this year!
That from a man who cut his teeth in Motocross 40 years ago, has accrued over 500,000 verifiable street miles on BMWs alone, and several hundred thousand more on other varied brands. I'm more discerning of when I go out riding nowadays. Drivers "texting" brought a whole new, omnipresent danger into general urban riding.
I've toyed with the idea of "track days"; but as you said its more "money", and maybe it's best to keep an o'l racer like myself from such visceral temptations.
You've got to ride Ortega on Saturday morning. I've been doing that on a regular basis for years. Stop at Lookout Roadhouse, have some coffee or breakfast, talk to the other riders in the parking lot, and be on your way home by 10-10:30- too many cars after that. Or head out to Lake Henshaw/Palomar and get lunch there, or on out to Julian if you want to make a day of it.
Sunday is bad on Ortega for the reasons you mentioned- too many cars and too many squids. Oh, and there's always a cop or two parked within a 1/4 mile either side of Hell's Kitchen, so use caution going through there. You should be slowing down in the village section anyway, just for common sense and safety reasons.
I'm ten minutes from Hwy 18 into the SB Mountains. That first 10 miles of 4-lane highway snaking up that hill is a little bit of moto heaven about 7am on Sundays & solemn holiday observances. The adjoining labyrinth of mountain highways and vistas is icing on the cake.
I heard the back side of Angeles Crest (Newcombe’s –Wrightwood) re-opened, and then closed again; but the tarmac is/was new, and reportedly very nice.