50 Things to do in Southern California


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What to Know Before Visiting

Did you know that Southern California is home to the only place in the world where you can ski in the morning and surf in the sunset, all in the same day?

50 things to do in Southern California

Southern California, often abbreviated as SoCal, is a radiant region that beckons with its unparalleled blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and entertainment options. From the sun-kissed beaches of San Diego to the enchanting allure of Los Angeles and the serene deserts of Palm Springs, Southern California offers a diverse landscape that caters to every traveler’s dream. Here, you can surf the waves at dawn, hike through lush national parks by day, and immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of the city by evening. With its year-round pleasant weather, iconic landmarks like Disneyland and Hollywood, and a culinary scene that’s as diverse as its population, Southern California is not just a destination; it’s a vibrant experience waiting to be explored. For those intrigued by the endless possibilities and looking to create unforgettable memories, dive into our curated list of “50 Things to Do in Southern California.” This guide promises to unlock the very best of what this sun-soaked region has to offer, ensuring your adventure is nothing short of extraordinary.

Top Attractions in

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  • San Pedro
  • 4.7 of 5
  • (598 total reviews)

The Sunken City, nestled along the rugged coastline in San Pedro, Southern California, is an intriguing testament to the unstoppable forces of nature and the impermanence of human constructions. What was once a residential neighborhood in the 1920s is now a captivating landscape of ruins, with foundations of homes, broken roads, and scattered debris, all dramatically slipping into the sea due to a landslide. This unique area has become a magnet for photographers, urban explorers, and those fascinated by the eerie beauty of decay. Visitors are drawn to the Sunken City for its breathtaking ocean views, the artistic graffiti that adorns the ruins, and the serene, reflective atmosphere that the site provides. It’s a place that beautifully encapsulates the clash between man and nature, offering a truly unique experience that challenges our perceptions of permanence and evokes a sense of wonder and introspection. Whether you’re an avid history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply someone in search of off-the-beaten-path adventures, the Sunken City in Southern California promises an unforgettable visit.

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  • San Diego
  • of 5
  • ( total reviews)

Balboa Park, nestled in the heart of Southern California, offers a lush oasis that beckons travelers from around the globe. This cultural jewel of San Diego is much more than a park; it’s a celebration of the region’s history, art, and stunning natural beauty. With over 1,200 acres of verdant gardens, captivating museums, and historic architecture, Balboa Park provides a unique blend of experiences for all who wander its paths. Visitors can marvel at the intricate details of the Spanish-Renaissance style buildings, explore the vast array of art displayed in the numerous museums, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through the meticulously landscaped gardens. The park also hosts a variety of performances and events throughout the year, ensuring that there’s always something new to discover. Balboa Park is not just a destination; it’s an experience that encapsulates the spirit of Southern California, making it an essential visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty.

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  • 9800 Wilshire Blvd
  • 4.7 of 5
  • (196 total reviews)

The Golden Triangle from Southern California represents an iconic travel itinerary that takes you through the vibrant cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, offering a blend of diverse experiences that are quintessentially American. This route is a must-visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Southern California’s laid-back beach culture, San Diego’s historic charm, and the unparalleled nightlife and entertainment options of Las Vegas. From the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the serene beaches of Malibu to the historic Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego and the dazzling lights of the Las Vegas Strip, the Golden Triangle offers a unique mix of natural beauty, urban sophistication, and entertainment. Whether you’re a culture enthusiast, a nature lover, or someone seeking the thrill of world-class entertainment and gaming, this route promises an unforgettable journey through some of the most iconic destinations in the United States.

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  • California
  • 4.8 of 5
  • (6573 total reviews)

Crystal Cove State Park, nestled along the coast of Southern California in Orange County, offers a breathtaking escape into natural beauty and historical charm that beckons travelers from near and far. This expansive park spans 3.2 miles of Pacific coastline, backed by wooded canyons and offering an array of outdoor activities that make it a must-visit destination. Whether you’re drawn to the allure of sandy beaches and tide pools, the serenity of hiking trails that weave through coastal chaparral, or the unique opportunity to explore vintage beach cottages from the 1930s and 40s in the Historic District, Crystal Cove has something for everyone. The park’s commitment to conservation and education, combined with its stunning vistas and diverse ecosystems, make it an ideal spot for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and anyone looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of California’s coastal landscape. With its unparalleled scenery and rich cultural history, Crystal Cove State Park stands out as a jewel of Southern California, inviting visitors to explore its treasures and create lasting memories amidst its natural splendor.

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  • California
  • 4.8 of 5
  • (19097 total reviews)

Joshua Tree National Park, located in Southern California, is a mesmerizing natural wonder that beckons adventurers, nature lovers, and photographers from around the globe. This unique park is renowned for its fascinating geological features, including rugged rock formations and stark desert landscapes, which are beautifully contrasted by the iconic Joshua Trees scattered throughout the area. One of the park’s most compelling reasons to visit is its magical star-gazing opportunities, with the dark night skies offering an unparalleled view of the cosmos, free from light pollution. Hiking enthusiasts will find a paradise of trails, ranging from leisurely walks to challenging hikes, each unveiling the park’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife. Whether you’re seeking solitude, inspiration, or adventure, Joshua Tree National Park offers an unforgettable experience that connects you with the raw beauty of nature in the heart of Southern California.

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  • One Legoland Dr
  • of 5
  • ( total reviews)

LEGOLAND California, nestled in the sun-kissed region of Southern California, stands as a vibrant beacon of creativity and fun for families and LEGO enthusiasts alike. This unique theme park, located in Carlsbad, offers an immersive experience into the world of LEGO, with over 60 rides, shows, and attractions that cater to children aged 2 to 12 but can delight visitors of all ages. What sets LEGOLAND California apart is its incredible attention to detail, with entire landscapes and iconic scenes from around the world meticulously recreated using millions of LEGO bricks. From the adventurous rides in Pirate Shores to the interactive experiences in Miniland USA, there’s an endless array of activities to spark the imagination. The park also features a water park and the SEA LIFE Aquarium, providing even more entertainment options. LEGOLAND California is not just a theme park; it’s a celebration of creativity and innovation, making it a must-visit destination for families traveling through Southern California. Its unique blend of educational experiences, thrilling rides, and the sheer joy of seeing favorite LEGO characters come to life offers an unforgettable adventure that speaks to the child in everyone.

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  • 200 Santa Monica Pier
  • 4.6 of 5
  • (112881 total reviews)

The iconic Santa Monica Pier, located in the heart of Southern California, is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Golden State. This historic pier, which stretches out into the Pacific Ocean, offers a unique blend of entertainment, dining, and shopping options, all with breathtaking ocean views. Visitors can enjoy classic amusement park rides, including the world-renowned Pacific Wheel, the only solar-powered Ferris wheel, offering spectacular views of the coastline and the Los Angeles skyline. The pier also hosts the Santa Monica Aquarium, an array of delightful eateries, and vibrant street performers, making it a place of endless amusement and cultural exploration. Whether you’re seeking a day of fun-filled activities, a romantic sunset stroll, or simply to soak in the panoramic ocean vistas, Santa Monica Pier encapsulates the lively spirit and beauty of Southern California, making it an unforgettable destination for travelers of all ages.

Most asked questions about

What are some unique activities to do in Southern California?

In Southern California, visitors can explore the vibrant street art in Los Angeles, take a surfing lesson in Huntington Beach, or experience the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. Unique activities also include wine tasting in the Temecula Valley and exploring the historic missions dotted along the region.

Can families find suitable activities in Southern California?

Yes, Southern California is very family-friendly, offering a wide range of activities suitable for all ages. Families can enjoy days out at Disneyland Resort, educational visits to the San Diego Zoo, beach fun at Santa Monica, and interactive experiences at the California Science Center.

Are there any free things to do in Southern California?

Absolutely! Southern California boasts numerous free activities, including hiking in the numerous state parks, visiting some of the public beaches, exploring downtown Los Angeles’ art district, and enjoying scenic drives along the Pacific Coast Highway. Many museums also offer free admission days.

What are the best outdoor activities in Southern California?

Outdoor enthusiasts will find Southern California a paradise with its diverse landscapes offering opportunities for surfing, hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking. Top outdoor activities include exploring the trails of Griffith Park, camping in the San Bernardino National Forest, and whale watching off the coast of San Diego.

What cultural experiences can visitors have in Southern California?

Visitors can immerse themselves in Southern California’s rich cultural scene through its many museums, galleries, and theaters. Notable experiences include visiting the Getty Center in Los Angeles, exploring the historic Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, and attending live performances at the Hollywood Bowl.

How can visitors explore Southern California’s food scene?

Southern California’s food scene is as diverse as its landscape, offering everything from street food to high-end dining experiences. Visitors can explore the region’s culinary delights by attending food festivals, dining at local farm-to-table restaurants, and taking food tours in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego.

What are some tips for budget travelers visiting Southern California?

Budget travelers can save money by taking advantage of the many free attractions, eating at food trucks or local markets, staying in budget accommodations or camping, and using public transportation or ride-sharing services to get around.

Are there any hidden gems in Southern California?

Southern California is full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered, from secluded beaches and quiet hiking trails to lesser-known museums and boutique wineries. Exploring local neighborhoods, asking residents for recommendations, and venturing off the beaten path can lead to some wonderful discoveries.

What is the best time of year to visit Southern California?

The best time to visit Southern California is generally in the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) when the weather is more comfortable, and tourist crowds are smaller. However, Southern California enjoys a mild climate year-round, making it a great destination at any time.

How can visitors contribute to sustainable tourism in Southern California?

Visitors can support sustainable tourism by staying in eco-friendly accommodations, participating in responsible wildlife tours, using public transportation, supporting local businesses, and being mindful of their environmental impact while exploring natural areas.

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