Happy Thursday! What is better than a sunny SoCal vacation? I’m so excited to have my friend Elise here today to share 10 places to visit in Southern California during your next vacation. So whether you are at your desk or actively planning a trip, today’s post is for YOU! Hi friends! My name is Elise and I blog over at Polka Dotted Blue Jay about crafts, parties, and sweet desserts. I “met” Kait online in 2017 when she was featured on a post about the behind the scenes of an Influencer Post. I immediately started following her adventures on Instagram and loved her refreshing take on life, travel, and her anti-shopping point of view. Like Kait and Dane, my husband and I decided when we were engaged that we wouldn’t celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays with gifts; we would rather take the money we would spend on those assorted gifts and spend it on travel instead. Making memories, simplifying our home, and eliminating the stress of needing to find a “perfect gift”, yes please. We live in Southern California and are about 2 hours (or less) from so many great places to visit for the day or during a week-long vacation. Now that we have a baby in tow our traveling by plane has mellowed out but we still love to go have an adventure on the weekend and especially if it can be done on a budget.
10 Places To Visit On Vacation In Southern California
Palm Springs – Saguaro Hotel
The Saguaro is one of those Instagram locations that is a must-visit in Palm Springs. The bright rainbow-colored hotel lends itself to some pretty beautiful photography both inside and out. Brace yourself for the heat of the California desert – it will be hot!
I am a lifelong Disney fan – I think I was born singing a Disney song. We have so many magical memories at the park, but my favorite is when Houston proposed to me on Main Street USA. A visit to Disneyland can be pricey, but here’s one of my money saving tricks: Houston and I pack a freezer bag filled with water bottles and snacks. We rent a locker for the day on Main Street to hold our extra snacks, water bottles, and jackets (if we stay for fireworks) and pop back to the locker once or twice to re-stock during the day. I would much rather spend my dollars on a delicious dinner at the Blue Bayou than on water bottles. It is also a great opportunity to drop off any souvenirs you pick up during the day – no sense in hauling stuff around the park if you don’t need to.
The Getty Museum
If you love art, gardening, or just enjoying a book on a grassy lawn, a visit to the Getty is for you. If you enjoy air conditioning on a hot Los Angeles afternoon, then you will opt to visit the numerous indoor galleries and installations. It is a great way to spend the afternoon and, if the sky is clear, you can get a great view of the Downtown skyline.
San Diego – Del Coronado Hotel/Island
A drive over the Coronado bridge is a must if you’re staying in San Diego and a stay at the historic De Coronado Hotel is an even bigger treat. The island has plenty of parks and delicious restaurants that make a day trip worth the drive and the bridge toll. Find a shaded spot at a park and enjoy a picnic!
The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa
The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is beautiful year-round but is an extra special location during the holidays. The Festival of Lights runs from Black Friday through the first week of January. The Main Street in Downtown Riverside is filled with vendors for shopping, hot cocoa drinking, ice skating, and fresh mini donuts. The entire hotel and spa is decked out in millions of Christmas lights and it is magical. It is a great place to visit any time of the year, have a wedding, or just stop by to eat at one of the amazing restaurants.
Long Beach – Paddle boarding or Kayaking around Naples Island
Naples Island in Long Beach is full of beautiful homes on man-made canals – It is like being in Venice, Italy with a smaller travel time! Many of the homes have small boats tied to their docks (they look like the jungle cruise boats from Disneyland) and they dress them up for the holidays. We love to walk down to the beach and rent a kayak for an hour. We get a little exercise, sunshine, and get to enjoy the view of the homes from the water. You can also rent a paddleboard, if you want.
Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is iconic (that Ferris Wheel!) and full of carnival-like fun. The weather is always perfect but beware of the rush-hour traffic on weekdays.
San Diego Amusement Parks (Zoo, Lego Land, Sea World, etc.)
San Diego is perfect for a California vacation. With several parks to visit, you will find the outing that best fits your family. Young families flock to Lego Land but Houston and I love walking around the San Diego Zoo. We enjoy the cool sunshine, beautiful animals, and the winding jungle-like walkways through the zoo. Also, free parking makes the Zoo one of my favorite stops in San Diego. Sea World and the San Diego Safari Park are also great options in San Diego.
Hollywood – the list is endless!
The landmarks in Hollywood are so much fun. Concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, hiking in Griffith Park, photos with the Hollywood sign; Hollywood is full of fun places to visit and even better photo opportunities. One of my favorite locations is the Pantages Theater – I am a sucker for a good musical.
Richard Nixon Presidential Library
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library is located in Orange County and is the birth and final resting place of President Richard Nixon. The library is full of exhibits in chronological order from the early years of President Nixon’s life to his death. The outdoor gardens are beautiful and there is a Marine One helicopter that you can walk through.
It is awesome being so close to so many amazing locations and being able to take mini vacations throughout the year. Tell me what location would be on your vacation itinerary in the comments and be sure to say hello over on Instagram.