3. Ride the iconic Santa Monica Pier roller coaster

The historic 100 year old pier is complete with carnival games, rides, restaurants, and a small aquarium. The fun roller-coaster is not your ordinary amusement park ride, rather one filled with stunning 360 degree ocean vistas. This is one of my favorite stops along The Strand bicycle path – a welcome treat after biking 20 miles! On an interesting side note, did you know that the pier marks the end of the famous Route 66 highway?

Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier  Santa Monica, CA 90401
Santa Monica Pier Website

Santa Monica Beach in California

Rollercoaster at Santa Monica Pier

Route 66 sign at the Santa Monica Pier


4. Bike, surf & enjoy the views in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach is one of my favorite beach towns in Orange County. In addition to an 8 mile long bike/walking path, you will also find plenty of unique restaurants and shops and exciting events all year long. Known as the “Surfing Capital of the World,” the Huntington Beach pier is a great place to observe surfers in action. The US Open of Surfing is held annually each summer. Those without a shark phobia, can sign up for a lesson!  If you are going to learn to surf in Southern California, you might as well learn to do so in the Surfing Capital.

Address: Main & PCH Huntington Beach, CA 92646 (Pier)
Huntington Beach Website

Surfers in Huntington Beach, California

Huntington Beach, California

Bird on the Huntington Beach, California pier

5. Visit the San Diego Zoo

Sure, it is one of the priciest (50 bucks a person) and toughest zoo walks around (the course is very long and hilly!), but nevertheless well worth it for the gorgeous landscaping, diverse variety of animals (one of few US zoos home to the Great Panda), and unique attractions (check out the Skyfari tram ride). This large zoo, set on 100 acres in gorgeous Balboa Park, will take 4-5 hours to walk in its’ entirety, so plan on getting in one fabulous workout! To save a few bucks on zoo admission & avoid the long line (hundreds of people will be lined up at least a half hour before opening), purchase discount tickets on Trusted Tours & Attractions.

Closeup of a panda at the San Diego Zoo

Koala bear looking straight at the camera at the San Diego Zoo

Tiger relaxing at the San Diego Zoo

Address: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
More info on the San Diego Zoo