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25 Best Places to Visit in Southern California & Things to Do

With its vast beaches and great weather, visiting SoCal is sure to be a great time. To help you plan the perfect SoCal itinerary, here’s a list of the best places to visit in Southern California.

SoCal is a top destination spot for tourists and locals alike, and there is no shortage of things to do in this sunny state.

From exploring the Hollywood Walk of Fame to going on a safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SoCal has something for everyone. Be sure to check out our list of the best places to visit and things to do in Southern California the next time you’re in town.

Stunning beaches, family-friendly attractions, and year-round sunny weather make Southern California (or SoCal, for short, for its sun-kissed locals) one of the most famous vacation destinations in the world. While there are an array of sights to see here, you’ll want to hit the highlights when pressed for time.

Another thing that makes this region of California so unique is the variety of activities and attractions that are available. There are plenty of things to do in Southern California, no matter what your interests are.

What to expect in Southern California

Southern California

Southern California is where natural beauty merges with modern sensibilities. Stretching west from deserts and mountains and into the crystal blue shores of the Pacific Ocean with plenty of urban action in between, SoCal is packed with sights to see and things to do, regardless of where your passions lie. 

  • Are you a sun and sand adventurer? There’s a beach town wherever you are, just a stone’s throw away.
  • A culture vulture, perhaps? Hop into any of LA’s art museums or take an epicurean escapade at Santa Barbara. 
  • Or do you prefer more natural highs? Hike Joshua Tree’s scenic trails or get lost in Anza-Borrego’s twisting slot canyons.

If none of these exhilarate you, the happiest place on earth surely will – SoCal is home to Disneyland, the world’s most famous amusement park. 

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With so many attractions condensed into a single region, Southern California has become a road tripper’s paradise wsaith plenty of family-friendly activities to keep you and your kids busy. 

PRO TIP: At the cost of incredible sights and year-round sunshine, Southern California cities are not cheap.

Consider booking and grabbing deals from sites like, Kayak Hotels, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and Amex Platinum to get the most out of your travel budget!

Best Places to Visit in Southern California & Things to do

Here are the best things to do and places to visit in Southern California:

1. Visit Disneyland

Disneyland in Anaheim

Disneyland is Anaheim’s main draw, and while the happiest place on earth is this city’s most iconic attraction, there’s plenty to see that goes beyond the Mouse House.

This world-famous amusement park is Anaheim’s main attraction, so if you happen to find yourself this side of SoCal, then this world-renowned theme park is one of the best kid-friendly places to visit in Southern California.

The Disneyland Resort of Anaheim consists of two separate theme parks: Disneyland Park and the adjacent Disney California Adventure Park. No matter where you go, you’ll find an almost endless selection of rides and themed attractions that will keep you entertained. 

See Related:  Fun & Best Things to Do in Fallbrook, California

2. Spend a weekend exploring Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley National Park

The name may send shivers down your spine, but Death Valley National Park is very much alive. Several superlatives are often used to describe this national park, but ‘hottest, lowest, and driest’ are among the most common.

If you’re looking for unparalleled views of the wild desert wilderness, then Death Valley is one of the best places to visit in Southern California. 

Explore geological wonders.

Artists Drive is a scenic 14.5-kilometer drive that winds through multicolored hills created by several types of volcanic deposits. At the end of your journey, you’ll be able to check out the area around Artists Palette where parts of Star Wars Episode IV were filmed.

This is a great way to explore Death Valley if you’re not looking to take an exhausting hike. 

Take a hike.

The Golden Canyons in Death Valley are a true sight to see, especially if you’re a hiker looking for scenic trails.

While hiking through these picturesque badlands of maze-like hills and canyons, you’ll notice that your surroundings change color dramatically based on different lighting conditions. Towering walls, ripples formed by ancient water, and colorful side canyons create an otherworldly sight.

Explore a low point.

Looking for unique places to visit in Southern California? At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is considered the lowest point in North America. This extraordinary hiker-friendly location, which extends 200 square miles, features salt flats made of sodium chloride, gypsum, borax, and calcite.

While almost everything here is slathered in salt, the pool’s high salinity is the perfect place for some organisms to thrive, including an endemic snail and plants like pickleweed. 

See Related: Fun & Best Things To Do In Cambria, California

3. Spend a weekend in Santa Barbara

houses in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is the perfect weekend getaway for those who want to relax and enjoy some of the best that California has to offer. Santa Barbara is home to some of the best wineries in the state, so wine tasting is a must-do activity.

There are plenty of tour companies that offer wine tastings, so you can choose one that fits your budget and interests. Santa Barbara is also one of the best places in California to go whale watching.

You can often see whales right from the shore, or take a boat tour for a closer look. And finally, Santa Barbara has plenty of hiking trails for those who want to explore the great outdoors.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend away or an action-packed vacation, Santa Barbara has something for everyone.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Anaheim, California

4. Visit Anaheim for entertainment beyond amusement parks.

Anaheim for entertainment

Anaheim is a popular destination for travelers looking to experience the best of what Southern California has to offer. Anaheim is located between Los Angeles and San Diego right in the middle of Orange County, making it a convenient stop for those exploring the region.

The Anaheim area is home to some of the most popular attractions in California, including Disneyland Park and Knott’s Berry Farm. Visitors can also enjoy the many beaches in the area, including Huntington Beach, known as Surf City USA. Anaheim is also home to a number of museums, such as the Battleship Iowa, The Discovery Science Centre, and Marconi Automotive Museum.

Angels Stadium is one of the happiest places on earth for sports enthusiasts. If you’re more of a foodie, you’ll find a cornucopia of delicious culinary creations at the Anaheim Packing District, which is a bustling shopping and entertainment district.

Go on a culinary adventure.

Head south of downtown, and you’ll find the Anaheim Packing District, a processing plant-turned-food hall that features trendy eateries, fresh produce, and world-class culinary talents.

The Kroft offers quirky and creative mash-ups like cheeseburger egg rolls and chicken tikka poutine or enjoys delectable farm-to-table food at Poppy and Seed. 

Celebrate sports.

As the home of the Los Angeles Angels and Anaheim Ducks, Anaheim is a haven for sports enthusiasts.

The Angel Stadium hosts public tours of its grounds from March to September. The Honda Center, when not jampacked throughout the hockey season, hosts other sports events such as USA basketball and professional wrestling as well. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Temecula, California

4. Spend a day in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach

SoCal is home to some beautiful beaches, and Laguna Beach is one of the best. This beach town is located in Orange County and is known for its crystal clear water, rocky cliffs, and stunning sunsets.

Laguna Beach is a great place to spend a day relaxing by the ocean. There are also plenty of. things to do in the area, such as visiting the Laguna Art Museum, hiking in Heisler Park, or strolling through the shops and restaurants on Forest Avenue.

This is a great drive along the coast of the Pacific Ocean as well. If you have time, squeeze in a stop at Newport Beach to take in another perspective of this amazing ocean.

See Related: Best Things to do in San Diego, CA

5. Santa Catalina Island

Catalina Island California

Known for being a getaway for Hollywood elites, Santa Catalina Island (or Catalina Island for short) is now the go-to destination for Angelenos looking for a quick and relaxing vacation.

This rocky island located southwest of Los Angeles is well-known for its wildlife, dive sites, and a host of outdoor adventures that make it one of the best places to visit in Southern California. 

Go nature tripping.

Billionaire gum czar William Wrigley Jr. was responsible for the development of Catalina, so the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens was developed to honor his name. Take a stroll around this 37-acre garden, which showcases plants endemic to California and the Channel Islands. 

Around 165 miles of scenic trails offer even more ways to appreciate nature, where you’ll most likely come across a wide array of wildlife, including tiny foxes and bison. 

Enjoy outdoor activities.

There are plenty of excursions here for high-octane adventurers looking for their next adrenaline fix. Blast through the water at blazing speeds on a rib craft boat, tower over forest canopies 600 feet above on a zipline, or take an exhilarating tour of the island’s rugged and mountainous interior atop a Hummer. 

Learn about the island’s history.

Get the scoop about island history at the Catalina Island Museum. Over a century ago, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. bought the island to turn it into the ultimate vacation destination

There’s more to this story than meets the eye, so prepare to dive deep into the island’s fascinating history with over 10,000 photographs, a unique collection of Catalina pottery and tile, and several archaeological digs. 

See Related: How to Spend a Weekend in Los Angeles

6. Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Pacific Coast Highway

There’s something special about road trips. They give you the opportunity to unplug from the world, clear your head, and just enjoy the drive. And there’s no better place to take a road trip than this region of California. With its sunny weather and stunning scenery, SoCal is the perfect place to hit the open road.

One of the best things to do in SoCal is to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. This iconic stretch of highway runs along the coast, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, you’ll pass through quaint towns, state parks, and beaches.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Ramona, California

7. Spend a day in beautiful Pasadena

Pasadena skyline

A delightful combination of an urban environment, historical charm, and cultural experiences make Pasadena one of the best places to visit in Southern California.

Situated along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, this sprawling city 10 miles northeast of Los Angeles is famous for the Tournament of Roses, where college football teams compete at the city’s Rose Bowl Stadium. 

To mark the start of the tournament, the equally famous Rose Parade takes to the streets.

Here flower-covered floats and marching bands beckon hundreds of thousands of spectators. Beyond the annual football tournament, a myriad of cultural experiences abound. 

Enjoy books and botany.

The Huntington Library is located just across the border in San Marino, but it’s still one of the best places to visit in Pasadena. While a visit to the library should only take a few hours, there’s a treasure trove of things to do here.

There’s plenty of art to appreciate, books to read, and outdoor spaces to hang out in (don’t miss the gorgeously landscaped Japanese garden).

Explore the Rose Bowl.

Built-in 1922, the Rose Bowl Stadium is famous for hosting the Tournament of Roses, but there’s plenty more to learn about this historic structure.

If you’re curious about this National Historic Landmark, you can take a guided public tour last Friday of every month.

Here, you can get up close and personal with the field and visit the original 1922 Locker Room, among other activities. 

Walk around Old Pasadena.

With more than 200 retailers and a hundred restaurants, it’s hard to take a stroll around Old Pasadena without spending anything. This historic downtown district is home to Colorado Boulevard, where bars, restaurants, and shops set up shop in turn-of-the-century brick buildings. 

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Venice, California

8. See the real stars (not Hollywood stars) at Joshua Tree National Park

rock formation at Joshua Tree National Park

Looking for one of the best cheap places to visit in Southern California? Try Joshua Tree National Park.

Rolling mountains, giant granite boulders, spectacular night skies, and a wide array of desert wildlife make this national park one of the best places to visit in Southern California. 

Check out our Joshua Tree National Park experience from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Joshua Tree National Park | Top Hikes & Things to Do [4K HD]

Take a stroll by the Cholla Cactus Garden for unique desert flora, or go on a relaxed hike through the self-guided Hidden Valley Nature Trail.

Being an International Dark Sky Park, Joshua Tree National Park boasts of low light pollution, which gives you splendid views of the stars.

Campgrounds here come at very affordable rates (especially if you’re bringing your own RV), making Joshua Tree one of the best cheap places to visit in Southern California. 

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Murphys, California

9. Spend a day in Long Beach.

Long Beach California

Long Beach’s gorgeous weather will woo you into paying a visit, but the great local culture will convince you to stay.

This ocean-side playground offers plenty of activities for art enthusiasts, making it one of the best places to visit in Southern California for cultural vultures.  

Go on water-themed adventures.

As an ocean-side destination, Long Beach has plenty of water activities in store for travelers. The Aquarium of the Pacific features 11,000 animals and over 500 species. Drop by the Shark Lagoon to see over 150 sharks or the June Keyes Penguin Habitat to spy on adorable penguins flopping about. 

Take an educational cruise of the Long Beach harbor with knowledgeable guides for a chance to witness harbor seals, sea lions, whales, and marine birds, or hop aboard The Queen Mary for a ‘haunted’ night tour of the ship’s hallways. 

Explore local art.

At Long Beach, there’s always a performance or art exhibit happening at every corner. For world-class shows, visit the Long Beach Symphony, Long Beach Opera, and Music Angelica.

Enjoy regular theater performances at venues like P3 Theatre Company, Long Beach Playhouse, and International City Theatre. 

This region is known for two museums, The Long Beach Museum of Art and The Museum of Latin American Art.

The latter features a breathtaking 15,000 square-foot sculpture garden, while the latter sits on a bluff with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. Like what you are hearing? Check out these best things to do in Long Beach, California.

Looking to go on a California vacation? Grab our free travel guide to help you explore California.

See Related: Best Travel Sandals for Beach Destinations

10. Visit the World-Renowned San Diego Zoo

red panda

The San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern California, and for good reason. With over 4,000 animals from 800 species on display, it’s one of the largest zoos in the world.

The zoo also boasts a number of unique exhibits, including the world’s largest aviary and a rainforest exhibit with misty waterfalls and tropical birds. In addition, the San Diego Zoo is home to several endangered species, including the giant panda and the California condor.

Visitors can also take part in educational programs, such as behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters. Whether you’re a keen animal lover or just looking for a fun day out, the San Diego Zoo is sure to delight you.

See Related: Best Tropical Vacation Spots

11. Sip on some wine in Temecula

Hot air balloon rides in Temecula

Good wine isn’t just found in Napa and Sonoma. In fact, some of the best wine in California comes from Temecula, a world-famous wine region located just an hour from Los Angeles. This scenic area is home to more than 30 wineries, making it the perfect place to explore diverse vineyards and taste exquisite wines.

And what could be more romantic than a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque landscape? Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or a curious novice, Temecula is sure to please. So next time you’re looking for good wine in California, don’t forget about this hidden gem.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the United States

12. See a show at the Hollywood Bowl.

Hollywood Bowl with fireworks and show
Image by Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl is one of the most iconic venues in Southern California and has been host to some of the biggest names in music over the years. Hollywood Bowl is located in Hollywood and was built in 1922.

The Hollywood Bowl is an amphitheater-style venue that holds around 18,000 people. Hollywood Bowl has several different ways you can experience a show. You can sit in the audience, on the hill, or in a box. Hollywood Bowl also offers dinners to be catered to your box seats so you can have a more upscale experience.

Hollywood Bowl is one of the most popular venues in Southern California and definitely worth a visit whether you’re a music lover or not.

See Related: Fun & Best Things To Do In Richmond, California

13. Spend a day at Balboa Park.

Balboa Park view

Balboa Park is one of the best places to visit in Southern California if you’re traveling with kids. This 1,200-acre park is home to the famous San Diego Zoo, the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theater, and the kid-friendly Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. For a dose of art, there are plenty of options.

The San Diego Museum of Art is here, as well as the Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum. Balboa Park has something for everyone – so whether your kids are animal lovers, theater buffs, or budding artists, they’re sure to have a great time here with all the great San Diego museums right within walking distance of each other.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Oceanside, California

14. Stroll along the Venice Beach Boardwalk

People with bicycles in the beach

Venice Beach is one of the most popular attractions in Southern California, and for good reason. Stretching over 2 miles along the shoreline, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is a mecca for people watching, shopping, and outdoor activities. Visitors can rent bikes or rollerblades to explore the Venice Beach Boardwalk at their leisure.

There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants lining the boardwalk, so visitors can grab a bite to eat while taking in the sights and sounds of Venice Beach.

If you are feeling ambitious, you can walk the beach to several other well-known beach spots here such as El Segundo Beach, Manhatten Beach, and Hermosa Beach. So make a day out of it by renting a bike and taking in all the beach culture that LA has to offer.

Venice Beach is a must-see for anyone visiting California, so be sure to add it to your list of things to do!

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Del Mar, California

15. Enjoy a desert weekend getaway in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs

Imagine a desert getaway, now make it posh. That’s Palm Springs in a nutshell.

This iconic playground of movie stars is well known for its mid-century modern architecture, pool parties, upscale restaurants, breathtaking hikes, and being the Golf Capital of the World.  Whether you’re visiting on a day trip or spending a few nights, there’s plenty of fun to be had.

Palm Springs, California: Things to Do and See [4K HD]

Watch more videos like these on the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Hang 5,800 feet above the ground.

Looking for one of the most unique places to visit in Southern California? How does hanging 5,800 feet above mountains sound to you?

The Aerial Tramway takes you 5,800 feet above the ground on a rotating vehicle suspended by cables, giving you unmatched views of the mountainous terrain below. Once at the summit, you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, or hike before heading back down via a tram. 

Go hotel hopping.

There are tons of traditional accommodations here, but Palm Springs is more known for its unique boutique hotels.

Get an outdoor massage and sip on Moroccan tea at Korakia, attend a raging pool party at the vibrantly designed The Saguaro, or sip on masterfully crafted cocktails at the trendy Ace Hotel and Swim Club

Check out these other best things to do in Palm Springs.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Palm Springs

16. Tour a real movie set at Warner Bros Studios or Sony Pictures Studios

LA is home to Universal Studios Hollywood, a movie studio-come-theme park that offers plenty of activities for film buffs.

More than anything else, the main draw here is the studio tour. Narrated by Jimmy Fallon, this tram-ride tour takes you on an informative journey through real Hollywood movie studios, and past sets from films like Psycho, War of the Worlds, and Jaws. 

While you’re there, enjoy the theme park as well. Get a chance to relive your favorite movie scenes from iconic movies and shows like The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park in realistic sets! 

PRO TIP: Marriott hotels in LA are exceptional. If you’re staying over, consider booking a night using your Marriott Bonvoy credit card to grab deals and earn points! 

See Related: Priority Pass Review: Is It Worth the Price?

17. Take in all of San Diego’s world-class cultural attractions.

San Diego skyline

With more than 90 diverse museums, a slew of gorgeous beaches, nine art districts, and an explosion of world-class breweries, San Diego really does deserve the title of America’s Finest City.  Scoff at that name all you want, but not before you’ve paid a visit. 

Take a dip.

Slather on some sunscreen because this city is home to 70 miles of glorious coastlines. Head far north for wild waves and rocky cliffs, or down to Coronado for more solemn waters, with the iconic Hotel Del Coronado as your backdrop.

If you’re planning to ride the waves, head to Black’s Beach for great ocean swells year-round. Consider renting a car in San Diego so you can venture to all the awesome beaches and nearby cities.

Go on a craft brewery tour.

This city is recently becoming more and more famous for its craft beer industry. With more than 150 breweries, San Diego is one of the best cities in the USA for beer sommeliers or just anyone looking to take a delicious swig.

Start your beer-tasting journey with local pioneers like Stone Brewing Co., Karl Strauss Brewing, Coronado Brewing, and Ballast Point. 

See Related: San Diego vs Los Angeles: What’s the Difference?

18. Visit Santa Monica & the Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Those looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles should travel to its more ‘chill’ but equally trendy neighbor – Santa Monica.

Flanked on both sides by mountains and beaches, Santa Monica’s beachside charm has mesmerized many, but there’s more to this seaside destination than its piers and beaches.

Whether you’re lounging in SanMo’s beautiful parks or biking at Marvin Braude Beach, you’ll find plenty of things to do while away the hours. 

Go beaching.

Santa Monica State Beach stretches three and a half miles and is massively popular for its soft sands, great weather, and attractions.

Take a trip to the Santa Monica Pier, play arcade games at the Pacific Park, or sweat it out at the iconic Original Muscle Beach – a retro outdoor 1930s-era bodybuilding gym. 

Indulge in retail therapy.

Third Street Promenade is one of the area’s most popular shopping destinations. You’ll find a bevy of major chain stores in this open-air shopping mall, including H&M and Urban Outfitters, as well as unique boutiques like Kenneth Karmiole.

Once you’re done getting your retail fix, grab some grub made from local ingredients at any of the location’s outdoor dining options.

Go cycling.

Scenic biking and hiking trails along with the great weather make Santa Monica a good place to visit in Southern California for cyclists. The Marvin Braude Beach Trail, along with picturesque thoroughfares like San Vicente and Main Street, are perfect locations to go biking.

Since the city is located south of the Santa Monica Mountains, you’ll find plenty more trails for mountain biking! For a more convenient adventure, check out biking tours from Viator

PRO TIP: Staying over? In terms of lodging costs, this area is one of the most expensive in California. Consider renting a room or guesthouse for more savings.

You’ll find a variety of top-rated vacation rentals via Airbnb or VRBO, from private garden cottages to dreamy guesthouses situated in great locations.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Burbank, California

19. Explore Malibu.

malibu beach

Malibu is a city located in Los Angeles County, California. It is known for its beaches and rugged coastline. Malibu is a great place to visit if you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors.

Some of the best things to do in Malibu include exploring its beaches, hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, and dining at its world-famous restaurants. Malibu’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in all of California. Zuma Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Malibu, and it’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.

The Santa Monica Mountains offer great hiking trails with stunning views of Malibu and the surrounding area. There are also many restaurants in Malibu that are perfect for enjoying a meal with a view.

Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the great outdoors, Malibu is a great destination for travelers of all types.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Los Angeles?

20. Visit the Griffith Observatory.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is one of the most popular tourist attractions in California. Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory’s home, is one of the largest urban parks in North America.

Griffith Observatory is located on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above the Los Feliz neighborhood.

The Observatory is a center for public astronomy, where visitors can see the stars and planets through telescopes, as well as learn about the history and science of astronomy. Griffith Observatory also offers spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.

The Observatory is open every day from noon to 10:00 pm, and admission is free. So whether you’re a visitor to California or a local looking for something fun to do, be sure to add Griffith Observatory to your list.

21. Spend a day at Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park is one of the more underrated places to visit simply because it’s not easy to get to. It’s also one of California’s most underrated national parks, in my opinion.

This series of islands is a great spot for nature lovers where you’ll experience some of the Pacific Ocean’s rawest and most untouched camping experiences in the United States. 

The Channel Islands offer plenty of things to do for visitors including hiking, kayaking, whale watching, and even snorkeling with sea lions! One of the best things about this park is that it’s relatively untouched by humans which means wildlife is abundant. You might even get lucky and see some dolphins or seals swimming near the shore! 

If you’re looking for a secluded, beautiful spot to visit that offers plenty of things to do, I would highly recommend checking out the Channel Islands. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in California.

22. Go on a culture trip in LA.

Los Angeles

The entertainment capital of the world will never disappoint. For most travelers, Los Angeles is a city where dreams are made. Every year, thousands of young hopefuls pour into the city, aiming to make it big on the screen or stage. 

Jive to the pulse of the city’s creative energy with a visit to Hollywood or the Getty Center.

LA has more theaters and museums than any other city in the U.S. If you’re a creative soul, prepare for a jam-packed itinerary. The Getty Center in Brentwood, Broad in Downtown LA, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art offer a spectacular collection of exhibits.

Get your film fix at the Underground Museum or watch a world-class performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  

Downtown Los Angeles is one of the best places to experience all that Southern California has to offer. There is a rich history and culture in downtown LA, with many different neighborhoods that each have their own unique flavor. Boyle Heights is a great place to explore the arts scene, while Little Tokyo is perfect for a shopping spree.

Downtown LA is also home to many different restaurants, so you can find something to suit every taste. The best way to experience all that LA has to offer is to spend a day exploring the area.

23. Angeles National Forest

sunset in the forest

The city has its fair share of nature too, with Angeles National Forest being one of the most popular day trips for locals and visitors. 

One of the top tourist attractions in this National Forest is the impressive Sturtevant Falls are certainly an essential highlight of any trip into the Big Santa Anita Canyon. The waterfall is easily accessible to visitors.

You can reach the falls by hiking a relatively straightforward 3.5-mile route from Chantry Flat. Your hike starts with a fairly steep descent down a gravel trail (keep in mind that you will have another similarly steep ascendance at the end of your hike), before leveling up the path through the shade.

24. La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is a beautiful location to while away your days sunbathing and relaxing in picturesque surroundings. The lagoon, where La Jolla Cove is located, is part of the San Diego Ecological Reserve, which makes for diverse aquatic life.

La Jolla Cove’s transparent waters make it an exciting area to snorkel and dive even catch a glimpse of a seahorse or sea turtle. The coastal cliffs that surround La Jolla Cove make for dramatic scenery, and there are plenty of opportunities to take great photographs.

You can get everything you need in the town to go on an adventure with a kayak to explore the caves and coves, including rentals or guided tours. La Jolla Cove is one of the most popular beaches for sunbathing and relaxing in beautiful surroundings.

25. North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area

two people in the dunes

The North Algodones Sand Dunes are one of the largest North American sand dune systems, and they’re situated near the southern edge of SoCal.

The massive dune system is approximately 81 miles in diameter and 40 miles long, making it a popular destination for hikers, campers, and off-road enthusiasts.

The wilderness areas in the dunes provide intrepid hikers with an immense trailless expanse to explore, and those who prefer to camp in the backcountry will find all the necessities on hand, including water.

It’s important to note that it’s illegal to use any vehicles in the wilderness areas, but off-road enthusiasts can enjoy the Imperial Sand Dunes and Glamis north of the wilderness. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just want to enjoy the incredible views, the North Algodones Sand Dunes are definitely worth a visit.

How to plan a trip to Southern California

So, you want to take a trip to Southern California? Luckily, there are many ways to make your trip affordable and enjoyable. As you can see from any map of this region, there are many attractions in the area, so you’ll never be bored. Plus, the region is serviced by several small airports, so you can easily find a cheap flight.

I recommend flying into Long Beach Airport if you’re coming from out of state. It’s centrally located and it’s easy to get around, even if you don’t have a car. Once you’re in the area, you can explore by walking or taking public transportation. There are also many scenic drives that will allow you to take in all that Southern California has to offer.


What are fun things to do in Southern California?

There are loads of fun things to do in Southern California – from hiking and biking in the summer wet weather to hit the beach or surfing in the fall and winter. Many people come to Southern California for the year-round great weather and the abundance of outdoor activities.

What are the best months to visit Southern California?

September and October are fantastic months to visit California because the climate is ideal for spending time at one of the many amazing beaches, hiking trails, or outdoor parks.

Why is SoCal famous?

Southern California is famous for its great weather, amazing beaches, and diverse landscape. From the bright lights of Los Angeles to the rugged coastline of San Diego, this region is unlike any other place in the world.

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