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A Guide to Sightseeing in Southern California
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A Guide to Sightseeing in Southern California

We created the ultimate guide to sightseeing in Southern California so you can cross out the essentials from your bucket list.

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5 min read

October 03, 2021

No matter what your interests are, SoCal will never let you down. Lakes, museums, spas, roadside attractions; there’s so much to see and do. With that said, finding what’s worth seeing could get a little overwhelming at times. And we totally get it—all the coolest places are found right here. To help you out, we created the ultimate guide to sightseeing in Southern California so you can cross out the essentials from your bucket list.

Sightseeing in San Diego

Balboa Park hosted the 1915–16 Panama–California Exposition and 1935–36 California Pacific International Exposition.

Balboa Park

If there’s one place in San Diego you should go first, it’s Balboa Park. Acres of gardens, 17 museums, charming ponds, and the San Diego Zoo are all found within its premises. Located in Downtown San Diego, this top California attraction is a must-visit whenever you’re in the area. Get to know the culture, nature, and science of America’s Finest City on your next visit to SoCal.

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Coronado Beach And Dog Park

It’s bonding time with your pup and you’re looking for a fun way to spend the day with your four-legged best friend—naturally, you’re going to Coronado Beach and Dog Park. This local favorite dog beach in San Diego invites your dog to run around leash-free on its white sands. The Coronado Surfing Academy even gives your pup the chance to ride the waves on dog-friendly surfboards with you. This is what we mean when we say let’s splash around San Diego.

The USS Midway Museum is a historical naval aircraft carrier museum located in Downtown San Diego at Navy Pier.

USS Midway Museum

Sightseeing in San Diego is incomplete without a visit to the iconic USS Midway Museum. This museum in San Diego is the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century and has 29 restored aircraft on board, some of which have flown during WWII and the Korean War. Check out the crew’s sleeping quarters, ship's jail, and control room while touring the aircraft. Whether or not you’re a history enthusiast, paying a visit to this museum will entertain anyone and everyone.

Legoland

It’s colorful, it’s fun, and it’s a can’t-miss adventure with the familyLegoland is all about entertainment. The 120-acre theme park has everything to keep anyone busy all day long. Travel through the Lego Jungle and go on a Lego safari while admiring the creative and imaginative structures. No matter how you choose to spend the day, make sure to spend time splashing around the waterpark. This California favorite amusement park will bring out the child in you.

Palm Springs Sightseeing

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was constructed as a way of getting from the floor of the Coachella Valley to near the top of San Jacinto Peak.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The best way to explore Palm Springs is by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway—the world’s largest rotating tramcar—and enjoying the bird's eye view. During your 2.5-mile trip, you’ll have a Palm Springs sightseeing experience that’s unlike any other. The cliffs of Chino Canyon, the untamed wilderness of the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area, and spectacular views of the valley below will take your breath away. All we can say is: “Enjoy the ride!”

Coachella Valley Preserve

If anyone tells you there are no cool and fun things to do in Palm Springs, we’re about to prove them wrong. Head to the breathtaking Coachella Valley Preserve, where 3,709 acres of natural beauty shine bright in the scorching hot desert. This hiker’s paradise has miles of lush vegetation almost all year long and is home to the spectacular Thousand Palm Oasis. Explore the trails on foot or ride a horse to discover the depths of the preserve—make sure to keep an eye on fringe-toed lizards; they’re not found anywhere else in the world. 

The Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is a one-acre family-owned botanical garden specializing in cacti and other desert plants.

Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium

Touring the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is like visiting a thousand different deserts in one place. With over 3,000 cacti and desert plants, this botanical garden is a plant mom’s definition of paradise. Every visit to this unique Palm Spring attraction ends with checking out the Mediterranean-style Moorten family home.

Sightseeing in Los Angeles

Rodeo Drive is one of the world's most exclusive destinations and an unparalleled hub at the intersection of luxury, fashion, and entertainment.

Rodeo Drive

Retail therapy and Rodeo Drive go hand in hand. One of the most iconic streets in the City of Angels, this top sightseeing spot in Los Angeles is where all the high-end boutiques, shops, hotels, and restaurants are found. Shop ‘til you drop and pamper yourself to the max, ‘cause you totally deserve it. 

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is an iconic L.A architectural masterpiece. It sometimes feels like architect Frank Gehry designed it for the sole purpose of providing us with an amazing place to take pictures. Tour the hall, see the large concert organ, learn about the history, and simply have your jaw dropped.

The Bradbury Building was commissioned by gold-mining millionaire Lewis L. Bradbury and constructed by draftsman George Wyman.

Bradbury Building

Skyscrapers touching the sky, lots of busy districts, and gorgeous architecture make Downtown L.A so recognizable. One of the architectural landmarks in this area is none other than the Bradbury Building. The five-story office building was built in 1893 and hasn’t lost its vintage feel since. With a skylight rooftop, period stairways, and several walkways, this is a historic landmark that belongs on your to-do list. 

Santa Barbara Sightseeing

Known as “Queen of the Missions” for its exceptional beauty, the Santa Barbara Mission was founded by the Spanish Franciscans in 1786.

Old Mission Santa Barbara 

Check any Santa Barbara sightseeing tour and you’ll notice the historic Old Mission Santa Barbara on every list. Nicknamed the “Queen of Missions,” the religious outpost was built in 1786 with two enormous bell towers, beautiful gardens, and a museum that takes visitors back to the 17th century. Despite being the tenth out of 21 California missions, this is easily one of the most visited. 

Arlington Theatre

You don’t need a reason to visit Santa Barbara—you just do. But if you did, visiting the Arlington Theatre will be one of your reasons. After all, who wouldn’t love sitting under a starry roof surrounded by Spanish village decor and enjoy a show? Built in 1931, the Arlington Theatre still feels as authentic as it once was and is currently host to the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Set foot inside its walls to understand why A-list celebrities keep showing up at this place.

Ignite your mind at MOXI, Santa Barbara's one-of-a-kind destination for hands-on scientific and creative experiences.

MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

To fully experience the American Riviera, paying a visit to MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is a must. This top Santa Barbara museum has a ‘look and touch’ policy, allowing visitors to explore everything around them. Kids will especially have a blast exploring the exhibits like the Speed Track, Sound Track, and the famous Sky Garden. Give yourself the chance to explore this unique museum and enjoy being astonished at the exhibits. 

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