Are you dreaming of a trip to sunny Southern California? Make sure you plan your itinerary carefully because you may need more time to check everything off your list! From the stunning Pacific coast to the majestic mountains and from the arid deserts to the vibrant cities, this region known as SoCal has much to offer!
Southern California has a wide variety of activities that will appeal to all tastes, whether you're looking for breathtaking scenery or fun activities. Check out these ten things for an unforgettable stay:
1. Take a hike in Joshua Tree National Park
Visit Joshua Tree National Park, just two hours east of Los Angeles, and marvel at its rocky formations and cactus-filled landscape. The Joshua Tree is just one of the more than 900 plant and animal species that call this reserve home.
A park ranger can lead you on a guided tour to learn more about the area, or you can wander the miles of trails in search of ancient petroglyphs. During much of the year, the night sky stays clear, which makes it an excellent place for stargazing!
2. Enjoy a stroll through Balboa Park
Explore San Diego's cultural oasis! Balboa Park's Spanish-style buildings make it one of the most enchanting places in California. This vast green space is home to more than 65 museums and gardens, as well as theatres and attractions. The architecture, dating back to the early 20th century, will make you feel like you've stepped back in time.
You can take a stroll or bike through the vast gardens, where you will find many exotic plants and flowers. Summer evenings are perfect for enjoying a performance at the open-air theatre or browsing the Mexican art collection at the Museo del Barrio. A number of restaurants in this area also serve delicious food in an outdoor setting surrounded by lush greenery.
3. Relive your childhood by visiting Disneyland
Take a trip to Disneyland for a day of magic! You can enjoy all Disney's attractions whether you're travelling with friends or family. Be sure to visit Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Take advantage of the parades, shows, and concerts, and have your picture taken with Disney characters!
Seeing the spectacular fireworks show over Sleeping Beauty Castle at night is a must for any visitor to Disneyland. A day at this iconic theme park will be unforgettable for both adults and children.
4. Admire Salvation Mountain
Get ready to have your mind blown! Salvation Mountain, located in the Colorado desert close to Niland, is a popular art site created by Leonard Knight, an artist who devoted his life to Jesus. This funky mountain, standing 15 metres high and 45 metres wide, is painted in vivid colours and messages of faith, making it one of the most unusual places in the region.
This artist's work has been designated a 'national treasure' and is visible for miles around. Make sure to take plenty of photos!
5. Learn to surf at Venice Beach
Venice Beach is the perfect place to take surfing lessons! Known as the birthplace of modern surfing, this beach offers ideal conditions for beginners and experienced surfers alike. There are several schools to choose from for surfing lessons and other water sports, such as paddle boarding.
In the evening, take a leisurely walk along the promenade, where street performers and shops await you. Be sure not to miss the excellent restaurants and bars located near this iconic beach.
6. Go whale watching at Dana Point (Orange County)
Embark on an adventure at sea! Several species of whales migrate through Dana Point, including gray whales, humpback whales, and orcas, making it a prime whale-watching destination. Also visible in their natural habitats are seals and dolphins.
Many boat tours will take you out to sea to look for these magnificent creatures. The best thing to do is to book in advance.
7. Walk down Santa Monica Pier
One of the most popular places in Los Angeles is the Santa Monica Pier. With its iconic ferris wheel and roller coaster, it's the perfect place for families, couples, and friends to spend the day. Stroll along the pier to enjoy the ocean views and excellent restaurants.
You can also explore some of the local shops and arcades or take a ride on the traditional carousel dating back to 1912. Remember to check out nearby Muscle Beach, where you can see many bodybuilders working out!
8. Explore Death Valley National Park
If you're planning a trip to Southern California, make sure you include Death Valley National Park on your list. The Mojave Desert has a fascinating landscape that will take your breath away. It is home to salt flats, sand dunes and steep canyons. Numerous trails are available for walking, biking, and even horseback riding, and there are also several scenic lookouts to enjoy.
If you want to take in this enigmatic landscape, you can also visit hidden oases such as Badwater Basin and Zabriskie Point, which offer a magnificent view.
9. Visit Catalina Island (off the coast of Los Angeles)
Plan a trip to the stunning Catalina Island, which is just off the coast of Los Angeles. Nothing is better than a relaxing getaway on a sandy beach with clear waters. You can go on a glass-bottom boat tour, take photos of the charming little towns, or explore its rugged terrain by bike or jeep.
Make sure you don't miss out on the delicious seafood that the island has to offer! While taking in the island's stunning scenery, treat yourself to delicious local dishes such as Catalina sea bass, garlic shrimp, or fish tacos.
10. Feel like a celebrity in Hollywood
Walk along the Walk of Fame in search of your favourite celebrities' names and experience Hollywood's glamour. Visit movie studios, tour iconic landmarks like Grauman's Chinese Theater or the Dolby Theatre, and even shop at designer boutiques. Even better, for around $100, you can rent a Ferrari for 30 minutes and pretend you're a famous person as you cruise through the Hollywood Hills.
End your visit with a trip to Madame Tussauds, where you can take pictures with life-size wax figures of your favourite celebrities.
The California sunshine awaits!
If you're looking for a vacation spot that can provide both rest and excitement, look no further than Southern California. Whether you want to enjoy whale watching, explore the desert landscape, stroll the beaches, or live the Hollywood life, these ten must-see places will make your trip unforgettable.
If you are planning a trip to California, be sure to contact a soNomad agent to discuss your travel insurance needs before you go!