#1 Check out the amusement parks
Southern California has some of the best and most iconic amusement parks in the world. From beachside boardwalk roller coasters to the home of Mickey Mouse, families young and old should be ready for some thrills.
There’s Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier or Belmont Park in San Diego if you’re looking for a low-key carnival-style amusement park. But, if you want to bring out the big guns, check out Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim or Universal Studios Hollywood.
#2 Visit the famous beaches
In southern California, there are countless beaches that will leave you stunned. But, there are a few that stand out as noteworthy hot spots.
Huntington Beach is an all-time-favorite for locals and tourists alike. And Venice Beach is where you’re sure to see something off the wall. It’s home to street artists and wacky style, so we recommend adding it to your list.
#3 Ride along a shoreside bike path
Rent some bikes and choose a bike path with epic views. The Strand Bike Path where you’ll pass by Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica Pier is a crowd favorite. But most beach boardwalks will have the option to bike along the water.
Try out the Long Beach bike path or bike along Mission/Pacific Beach in San Diego.
#4 Take a hike
Another way to stay active on your trip to southern California, while also experiencing something incredible, is to take a hike.
Runyon Canyon is a popular hiking spot for locals or you might prefer to hike the Santa Monica Mountains. Check out the Griffith Observatory and hike just a bit further to get a glimpse of the famous Hollywood sign.
Wherever you’re staying in southern California, there’s likely to be a hiking trail nearby and it’s a great way to see the area.
#5 See nature at state parks and preserves
If you’re a nature lover who’s mildly obsessed with animals of all kinds, visiting southern California will be a dream come true for you.
You might enjoy taking a nature walk at Torrey Pines State Preserve where you can hike, enjoy your surroundings, and even go paragliding. Or spend a peaceful morning at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach. You could even kayak at La Jolla Cove before seeing the sea lions basking in the sun.
With so much to do out in nature in southern California, you can spend your entire trip outdoors and still barely scratch the surface. The gorgeous year-round weather makes it that much easier to enjoy its natural beauty as well.
#6 Get tickets to a TV show taping
Southern California is known for its iconic film and television studios. It’s the home of entertainment heavyweights such as Paramount Pictures and NBC. So, why not get the full experience by taking a studio tour or participating as an audience member for one of your favorite talk shows.
The Ellen Degeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! are just two of the many shows that are filmed in southern California. Plus, most studios run tours where you’re able to see iconic sets and the sound stages where the most beloved films and TV shows of all time were filmed.
#7 Shop on Rodeo Drive
Ok, maybe just window shopping will suffice. Have you seen those price tags?!
Rodeo Drive is known for its luxury stores and high-end shopping, so, even if you can’t afford anything, just walking around and taking a peek will make sure feel that Beverly Hills glam.
#8 Eat authentic Mexican food
Being so close to the border, southern California has some of the most incredible authentic Mexican restaurants in the country.
Forget Taco Bell, you can get the real deal on almost any street corner. Even Mexican food trucks will have some of the best tacos you’ve ever had.
Try Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in La Jolla or Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, San Diego. But chances are, any Mexican restaurant you go to in southern California will knock your socks off.
#9 Get cultured at Balboa Park in San Diego
Ranked as one of the best parks in the world, Balboa Park is a unique experience. It’s the largest urban cultural park in the US featuring 17 museums, botanical gardens, and the famous San Diego Zoo.
It’s sort of like the Central Park of southern California and it should definitely make it onto your itinerary.
#10 Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
Finally, as you enter or leave southern California, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway is an absolute must.
Most commonly, travelers will drive from San Diego to San Francisco – or even further north toward Portland and Seattle. And if you can, it’s one of the most iconic road trip routes in the world.
But, even if you’re sticking to southern California for your West Coast experience, hopping on Highway One to see at least part of the scenic drive is something you should definitely make time for.
Article written by Ashley
(Photo by jeffreysullivan via Flickr)