07/10/2012 05:09 pm ET | Updated Jul 11, 2012

SoCal Close-Ups, LA Times iPad App, Serves Up A Visual Feast (PHOTOS)

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- For Christopher Reynolds, a long-time travel reporter with the Los Angeles Times, a 2011 decision to canvass Southern California for its most quintessential experiences made him realize how small his vision of "LA" had really become.

"Until I started this project, I hadn't been to Venice in probably three years," admitted Reynolds to The Huffington Post. "And I'm sure there are many people in Venice who can say the same about Los Feliz."

Like many Angelenos, Reynolds had hunkered down in his own little neighborhood, rarely straying far from routes to work and tried-and-true spots on the weekends. He called it his "survival technique" for living in Los Angeles, and he suspected that a lot of residents do the same.

Which is why he has high hopes that the finished project, an e-book called SoCal Close-Ups: Your Vacation Guide, will become a must-read not just for out-of-towners, but for locals as well.

In the e-book, Reynolds mines Los Angeles and Orange Counties for the best places to eat, sleep and explore in Southern California. An announcement from the Times said that Reynolds sampled more than 300 hotels, museums, parks, piers, trails, restaurants, bars and shops to put together a 40,000-word guide on the best of Southern California.

In addition to the e-book, Reynolds' guide is also available in the image-rich Los Angeles Times SoCal Close-Ups iPad app -- what he called a "visual feast" of Times video and photos, broken up into 12 chapters: Downtown, Inland Orange County, Parks Neighborhoods, San Fernando Valley, Costal Orange County, Long Beach, Venice, the South Bay, Westside, West Hollywood, San Gabriel Valley and Hollywood.

"Someone's bound to say, 'Why didn't you include this?' or 'Why didn't you include that?' " said Reynolds, chuckling. "Happily, LA is so big and inexhaustible that you can't do a comprehensive guide ... once you finish, you'd have to start all over again."

SoCal Close-Ups is available as an ebook for Kindle, Nook and iBooks for $4.99. The iPad app, which contains more images and video, including interactive 360-degree photos, costs $.99 per chapter.

Below is a selection of some of Reynold's most memorable experiences researching the e-book.

Selections From SoCal Close-Ups

Reynolds is hoping to cover more ground with updated information in future editions of the e-book and iPad app. To reach him with questions or make a suggestion about what should be included, contact him at