Merc, the place in California you want to visit is San Luis Obispo.
I have a friend in LA who is an employed as a TV comedy writer and my roommate knows a bunch of people who work for the Upright Citizens Brigade. One of the specific appeals of LA would be a guided tour of the various comedy clubs. I also have some San Fernando area contacts who would model for me, if I felt like doing that. I'd also like to see the place where my folks lived when my father was first stationed in the Navy, out in Long Beach. I've seen hundreds of photos of it and of the area and I've always been curious about it.
My best friend had a GF who lived in San Francisco. Her ex's folks had a second home in Tahoe, and when they were a couple, my friend got a taste of the .01%-er life, including being able to private jet all over the west coast and dine at the French Laundry on a somewhat regular basis. My friend describes talks about the experience of getting a $500 meal from a three Michelin star restaurant as something I should definitely try at least once.
The PCH road tour sounds incredibly appealing, but only if I don't have to be the one doing the driving, too.
Yeah, it is. And frankly I think they should shut it down. However, they're not. Even though it's a second tier airport, it easily gets more air traffic than most first tier airports elsewhere, and should have a rail link. Even more so because of NYC's horrendous traffic congestion. The lack of a rail link just adds to that.
Chicago has been trying to get a third airport for my entire life, with the leading options either Peotone, an 75 minute drive south of downtown; or Gary. Gary actually makes good sense. There's a lot of space near the existing airport that would be dead cheap to turn in to flat pavement, tons of rail and it's reasonably close to every arterial interstate that runs through Chicago, but it would also require cooperation between state governments that are ideologically opposed on almost every possible level and also for basically-broke Illinois* to give up grants and a major revenue source to Indiana, a state that is permanently lubed up and ready to take it where ever any large business prefers to stick it. It's a logical and practical choice that's just never going to happen. Peotone is a useless distance from Chicago, only close to one of the arterial highways and lacks the rail infrastructure, but hey, it's in Illinois where land is still relatively cheap.
I suspect the difficulties of finding sites and the blood-frenzy of huge new construction projects and state and federal contracts means that it's always going to be easier to sink money into existing facilities than build anything new. You'd always hope the option to build something newer and vastly better would be on the table, but in my life, I'm pretty sure that Denver and Vegas are the only large airports that have been built and opened to entirely replace older facilities. It basically doesn't happen.
*Anyone who lives south of Interstate 80 in Illinois will say with a straight face that this is because degenerate overlord Chicago takes every dime produced by the good conservative folk outside of the city. The reality is that Illinois outside Chicago is 80% farm and has a population density similar to a Great Plains state. Illinois is basically the only place in the Midwest with functional social services for its citizens. It has borrowed and borrowed against the prosperity of the big city, which is the only reason Illinois is a remotely acceptable place to live.