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13 Southern California Attractions to Check Out Now
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13 Southern California Attractions to Check Out Now

Whether you're looking for beaches, fun destinations, or historic locations, Southern California's attractions have you covered!

Roubina Al Abashian

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5 min read

January 13, 2022

Disneyland, Universal Studios, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame might be the first things to come to mind when you think of Southern California. And while you’re not wrong, there’s more to the region than meets the eye. SoCal is home to stunning national parks, architectural wonders, exciting amusement parks, and gorgeous botanical gardens you can explore for days. If you're planning on discovering Southern California's attractions for yourself, here's your cheat sheet.

Southern California Sites Worth adding to your itinerary

Behind some of the best beach sunset views in Coronado, San Diego lies the stunning Hotel del Coronado.

1. Coronado Beach

Nothing beats a day spent at one of San Diego’s best beaches—Coronado. This popular stretch of sand welcomes visitors who come to surf, swim, sunbathe, and enjoy bonfires too. Your pup is more than welcome to have fun in the sun with you as well. Don’t forget to check out the adjacent Hotel Del Coronado, one of the most beautiful and perhaps spookiest haunted hotels in California.  

Technically one attraction, but oh-so many beautiful backdrops await at Balboa Park.

2. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is San Diego’s green paradise sitting over 1,200-acres of land. There are 16 museums, historic structures, a world-class zoo, Spanish-Renaissance architecture, and acres of open spaces to picnic. The park is a staple in any Southern California itinerary. Even though one trip isn’t enough to cover the entire grounds, whatever you do fit in your schedule is sure to be picture-perfect. 

Did you know San Diego Zoo is one of the largest in the world? Bring your comfy shoes and prepare to be amazed.

3. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo needs no introduction—this zoo in Southern California is one of the most famous in the world as well as one of the biggest. Besides inhabiting over 650 species and 4,000 animals, it is also known for its conservation efforts. There's no lack of entertainment or opportunity to learn about animal life at the San Diego Zoo.  Don’t miss the chance to meet all the exotic animals up close and even go on a safari at one of the best zoos in the U.S.

La Jolla Cove is the ideal snorkeling destination in Southern California; it's rich in marine life, making for an ideal underwater experience.

4. La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is a quintessential Southern California attraction that you simply cannot miss. The small bay is full of gems waiting to be uncovered. Kayak towards the sea caves here and head north for some of the best tide pools in all of SoCal. It is also one of the most instagrammed locations in SoCal. 

A real bang for your buck, because Legoland truly is fun in the sun for everyone.

5. Legoland 

With plenty of California’s exciting amusement parks located in the region, Legoland is a favorite for fans of all ages. More than 60 rides, entertaining shows, attractions made of legos, and an entire waterpark inside make this Southern California theme park one of the area’s top attractions. Your inner child will thank you for adding this fun activity in Carlsbad to your itinerary and your actual children will be over the moon.

The Santa Monica Pier contains Pacific Park, a family amusement park with its solar paneled Ferris wheel, as well as an original carousel hippodrome.

6. Santa Monica Pier

There’s no doubt that the Santa Monica Pier is one of the coolest boardwalk in California. Packed with restaurants, shops, historic landmarks, and performers, the pier promises you all the fun, Indulge in theme park food, scream your lungs out on the rides, and marvel at the Pacific at this uber-cool and uber-beautiful SoCal attraction. 

It's vintage, it's charming, and it's adjacent to more Downtown, LA fun; welcome to the Bradbury.

7. Bradbury Building

California.com golden rule: if filmmakers love it, then you will too. One of Los Angeles’ architectural gems, the Bradbury Building is a sought-after film location in California and one of the best places to take pictures in the City of Angels. Open cage elevators, marble staircases, and a Victorian courtyard make the oldest standing commercial building in L.A. one of Southern California’s most unique attractions.

The Getty Center has around 1.8 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited museums in the United States.

8. The Getty Center 

The Getty Center is an impressive art gallery both inside and out. This top Los Angeles art gallery has been one of the most popular Southern California tourist attractions since it opened in 1997. With paintings, sculptures, and photographs from Europe and around the world on display, paying a visit to this architectural marvel in SoCal is a day serenely spent.

Don't think twice about going to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, as it's a sure way to provide a memorable and unique experience for the family.

9. Bob Baker Marionette Theater

As the oldest of its kind in Los Angeles, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is a popular spot to visit especially during the holiday season. Vintage marionettes, detailed woodwork, and unique storylines attract visitors from all over the region. See what the buzz is all about at this local attraction—it's also a great alternative for screen time your kids will probably be on board with.

As SoCal's largest recreation lake, Big Bear Lake offers seven miles of fun all throughout the year. You can rent a vacation home right on the lake!

10. Big Bear Lake

Known as one of the best lakes in SoCal, Big Bear is the perfect spot to paddleboard, windsurf, waterski, and have all kinds of fun during any season. This popular Southern California attraction boasts reputations as being a pristine lake getaway, one of the best California ski resorts, an ideal summer-fun weekend destination with wilderness and nightlife covered, and more.

Santa Cruz is one of the five ecologically rich islands in Channel Islands National Park, and is widely known for its fantastic caves.

11. Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park is one of the most mesmerizing places to see in Southern California. Covering 249,354 acres, the park comprises five underdeveloped islands that are accessible only by boats and ferries. Enjoy the fascinating flora and fauna and engage in watersports at this  California national park. Oh, and, paddling towards the sea caves is an absolute must

A cultural landmark and place of worship, Old Mission Santa Barbara also boasts a gift shop, a museum, a Franciscan Friary, and a retreat house.

12. Old Mission Santa Barbara

Old Mission Santa Barbara, also known as the “Queen of Missions,” is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Southern California. Established in 1786, the mission is recognized for its double bell towers, 17th-century artwork, and lush gardens. Touring this SoCal Mission will transport you back in time and should definitely be in your Santa Barbara agenda.

Badwater Basin, the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, and epic sand boarding dunes are just a few of Death Valley's wonders.

13. Death Valley National Park

Encompassing a total of 3,373,063 acres, Death Valley National Park is the largest, lowest, hottest, and driest park in the entire county. This Southern California tourist attraction is the perfect place to try your hand at sand-boarding. If you though SoCal is all about the ocean, think again—Death Valley is packed with desert adventures to try and flaunt to your friends.

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