California is the mecca of vacation attractions and excitement. It’s known for its beautiful scenery and infamous weather year-round. If you’re planning a family trip, you have your pick from Universal Studios Hollywood, Discovery Kingdom, Magic Mountain, Boomerang Bay, and Disneyland. Southern California is the place to create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re planning a trip to LA to build sandcastles, trek through rugged mountains, or lounge by the pool with a cocktail, Southern California has something for everyone.
Here are the best cities in Southern California to visit on your next vacation:
San Diego is a laid-back city with bistros, breweries, and sought-after beaches. Known as the embodiment of So-Cal, San Diego makes visitors wish they booked a one-way flight. Visit Balboa Park or Little Italy’s famous Italian fare. If history is your thing, explore Old Town while sipping on margaritas. There are several cantinas and tiki bars to choose from serving fresh fish tacos for lunch after a long day at the beach. The San Diego Zoo recently underwent a massive expansion which includes a $68 million Africa Rocks exhibit with six new habitats including a Madagascar landscape, West African forest, and Ethiopian highlands.
Carlsbad, California is also known as “The Village by the Sea.” If you’re wondering what to do in Carlsbad, your options are endless. This city has stunning sandy beaches with three lagoons, world-class sporting events, and fantastic shopping. It’s home to the LEGOLAND theme park featuring thrilling rides shows, and attractions the kids will love. Visit the famous La Costa golf course which has welcomed legendary players and tournaments. Omni La Costa Resort and Spa is home to Bob’s Steak and Chop House serving only fresh farm ingredients and seasonally-inspired menus. The Five-Diamond rated Vivace restaurant creates fine Italian cuisine in the Park Hyatt Aviara Hotel.
Set against the San Jacinto Mountains, Palm Springs is a desert locale with some of the most iconic 20th-century fashion, art, and architecture. Palm Springs was once a refuge for Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, and Bob Hope to name a few. Today, tourists can choose from over 250 events, film screenings, parties, lectures, and bike and bus tours. Palm Springs has an excellent culinary scene with a variety of diverse options from five-star Chefs. Here you’ll find classic American steakhouses, upscale modern cuisine at Workshop Kitchen + Bar, or fine Greek dishes at Koutouki.
The city of Angels makes star-gazing as real as it gets at the Art Deco Griffith Observatory located on Mount Hollywood. Los Angeles is home to the best beaches in the United States each with its own unique character. Venice beach is the most popular with numerous art galleries, street performers, and quirky shops. The kids will love the new addition of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter complete with Hogwarts Castle and themed rides. If you are headed to LA for a longer vacation of several weeks or more, consider shipping your car there instead of renting a car or using ride shares.
Santa Monica has the quintessential California vibe. It’s a beach and an amusement park in one, sitting atop two piers. There is no better spot for surf, sand, and people watching than Santa Monica. It’s the hotspot for rollerbladers, cyclists, surfers, and sunbathers. Take a ride on the iconic Pacific Wheel or watch the Ferris wheel light show after sunset.
There you have it – the best cities to visit in Southern California. With so much to do and so many to choose from, the hardest part will be picking which one to visit and which things to get done.