23. Search for colorful seashells/seaglass
Beachcombing is always a fun activity to add to any beach vacation as you can walk away with a few free souvenirs to remember your trip. Silver Strand State Beach in Coronado is a hotspot for all different types of seashells, while La Jolla Cove in San Diego is your best bet for seaglass. While the seaglass is not as spectacular as that which you would find at the Northern California beaches (check out Ft. Bragg’s stunning Glass Beach for the highest concentration of seaglass in the world), you will find some nicely tumbled shades of green, white, and brown.
Addresses: Silver Strand (5000 CA-75, Coronado, CA 92118), La Jolla Cove (Coast Blvd, San Diego, CA 92037).
24. Treat yourself to a great meal at an authentic Mexican restaurant
Southern California is home to some of the best Mexican restaurants in the country. It would be silly to waste your time here eating at the same chains you can find at home. Why not try out something different and delicious? One of my personal favorites is Casa Guadalajaro in Old Town San Diego. The food, service, and setting are all exceptional!
Address: 4105 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110
25. Visit Disneyland during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
We all know Disneyland is amazing anytime of year, however, nothing beats an October visit for the super festive Halloween extravaganza. Known as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, this festive annual event requires a special ticket after regular park closing, thus helping to thin out the crowds. Trick or treat stations for everyone (yes adults are welcome too!), a special Halloween fireworks show and parade, Halloween decor everywhere, and a special Nightmare Before Christmas themed version of the Haunted Mansion ride, make this one event that Halloween lovers do not want to miss out on! And there’s so much more – endless Halloween photo opportunities, Halloween music, special pumpkin treats, and everyone is free to dress up in costume. I love this event – it’s the top Halloween event period.
The best part of all is next to no wait time for the majority of rides. Because the traffic is centered heavily on the Halloween festivities, popular rides like Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Space Mountain have next to no wait. The longest we waited was 30 minutes for the Haunted Mansions. Although you have limited time at the park, you will get out just about every ride.
Other fun ideas…
*Stroll around the quaint Earl Burns Miller Japanese Gardens in Long Beach at CSULB. What a gorgeous place away from all the congestion! The Koi pond is so beautiful! Too bad photography is not allowed here.
*Take your pic by the famous Hollywood sign. Of course, you cannot leave L.A. without taking your pic by the iconic sign. As mentioned above, hiking the trails at the Griffith is your best bet for quality up close photos. Otherwise, drive up to the Griffith and you can enjoy some pretty spectacular views from the observation deck. Not as up close as the hike obviously, however, for those not keen on hiking through the desert, it is your next best bet.
*Enjoy a fun & scenic water adventure at Kayaks on the Water in Long Beach – Fantastic views and affordable prices make for the perfect weekend activity in beautiful Long Beach.
*Sign up for the Long Beach Half Marathon. If you want your first half to be a scenic one, it doesn’t get much better than the Long Beach course! Enjoy a mostly flat course, immense support from the community, and gorgeous never ending views of the Pacific! Running this race was absolutely beautiful and to this day is still one of my best times 🙂
*Stroll the 2nd Street shops in Long Beach’s Belmont Shores neighborhood – This beautifully landscaped shopping and dining area is the perfect place for a summer stroll!
*Hike Joshua Tree National Park, a quiet and peaceful alternative to the more touristy places in Southern California.
*Beach volleyball! It is hard to envision Southern California and not think of volleyball. Dozens of beach volleyball nets are set up everywhere along the beaches in California, especially Hermosa, Redondo, and Huntington. Whether you want to play a game or just be a spectator, the choice is up to you!
*Visit the Long Beach Museum of Art. It’s free every Friday! Beautiful works of art and even better views of the coast!
*Take a tour of the historic, haunted Queen Mary. Halloween is a particularly perfect time to visit ;).
*Check out the Aquarium of the Pacific, frequently rated amongst the country’s best! As an added bonus, this aquarium is located in the gorgeous Shoreline Village area of the city, where you can dine alongside the water, take a cruise, view the lighthouse, browse souvenir shops, and much more!
*Plan a day trip to Catalina Island. Beaches, snorkeling…the relaxation opportunities are endless. Pricey, however, you can receive a free ride on your birthday!
*Shop/dine/play at the Pike at Rainbow Harbor. I love this area in Long Beach because there is just so much to do and it is easily walkable from the beach/Shoreline Village area, so you can hit all 3 in the same night. Here you’ll find shops, pubs, restaurants, and even a Ferris wheel with great views of the city and coast. One must visit is the Sgt. Peppers Dueling Piano Bar!
*Get tix to a California State University basketball game. What a fantastic experience with lots of dedicated fans!
*Check out Universal Studios. Universal is always a great time for anyone looking for some youthful fun! The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter just opened at Universal, and it is an amazing experience for fans!
*Explore the beautiful Getty Museum. It’s free all the time and regarded as one of the best art museums in the world.
*See a movie on the beach – During the summer months, various cities offer free movies on the beach. This is a really neat experience, especially for tourists visiting from colder climates. I have seen movies in the park before, but watching one of your favorite 80’s movie on the beach is that much better! Long Beach offers a particularly nice lineup and setting.
*Ride the Ferris wheel in Long Beach – Although this isn’t a common tourist activity, nor is it likely to be featured on any top travel lists, it should be! The views of Long Beach and the ocean are fantastic and it only costs a mere $3! Some of the best views I experienced during my time in Southern California!
*Attend annual celebrations – There is plenty of fun to be had in LA and Orange County during the holidays, especially over the 4th of July weekend. There is no shortage of events, entertainment, parades, and firework shows this weekend!
*Spend the afternoon at The Grove – The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles is one of my favorite outdoor malls. It’s a major plus to be able to shop and still enjoy the nice sunny, warm California year-round weather. There is a cute trolley which takes you from one end to the other. The mall is clean, nicely landscaped, has a variety of restaurants and shops, and you can get your parking validated with any restaurant purchase! Free concerts and movies are held throughout the summer months. They always seem to be taping something here, so you might just catch a glimpse of your favorite celeb. At one point, Extra with Mario Lopez was filming here – what a nice treat for Saved by the Bell fans!
More to come soon…check back for updates!
It’s Your Turn!
What are some of your favorite things to do in Southern California? Leave a comment below so we can get the ultimate list going!