Top 5 things to do in Southern California
Our trip to California seems like a long time ago but it was only just a year ago. The whole idea for the trip came about because the American Orthodontic Association annual conference was going to be held in San Francisco. I usually try to go to the conference annually. Well when I found that out I very quickly started to look for flights. Not flights to San Francisco but flights to Los Angeles.
From the last post you probably realized I have a thing for Southern California and I always have. My husband always tells me that I belonged there even before I got there. I’m not a socialite nor am I a movie star, but what he means is that I would fall into the pilates, green juicing, Whole Foods junkie, beach, sun-loving, BoHo-ish, outdoorsy, hike-lover type of Southern California — and he’s quite right. I’m into all that and I couldn’t wait to do all of that on our trip.
Why fly into LA when the conference is in SanFran? You will understand when I tell you some
of my favorite things to do in Southern California.
- Do rent a car
If your going to splurge do it on this. I grew up road tripping with my family so this was a total no brainer for me. I thought this was a better splurge than staying at a fancy hotel because we barely spent anytime where we stayed. There was just too much to explore. So we stayed in an Airbnb in Alhambra. It was a small, clean apartment and it was in the perfect location near all the major highways. Excellent for getting around. Southern California covers a lot of ground and it’s worth getting a ride to explore it. In the 4 days we were there we went as far south as Laguna beach and as north as Yosemite National Park but that will be for another post.
While we were staying in Los Angeles though, we went as far north as Malibu. We planned each day out loosely, fitting in what attractions we wanted to see in the area. Driving the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is a must. Stopping at all the piers is so much fun. Lots of photo ops everywhere you look from the canyons in the southern part to the picturesque beaches and skylines. It’s hard to do all of this without a car. I’m sure it’s doable but probably would take a longer time and this would prevent you from seeing as much as you can.
Do drive and make lots of stops along the PCH
This is one of the best things we did. We stopped along all the piers for pics and treats along the way. This included the famous Santa Monica pier. Took some great shots of this pier and had some great fair food which included a delicious funnel cake with the works on it. Just strolling along the beach and bike riding in Venice and on Venice beach was so fun, we even got to see Pink taking a stroll with her child. I thought it was cool but that’s just me. I love celeb spotting and Southern California is definitely the place to do it. We took our time and enjoyed every stop including passing through beautiful seaport communities like Naples and Newport.
Do the touristy stuff
I’m not a snob to touristy stuff. Guess why? Well because when I’m visiting somewhere I am a tourist. So I do it all with no shame. Definitely walk the walk of fame along Hollywood boulevard. Check out Chinese theatre, Dolby theatre, Walt Disney concert hall building, take a walk down Sunset boulevard and Rodeo drive, and drive through Beverley hills. Go to the grove. Maybe not to shop but for a coffee and to people watch. That’s what we did and bumped into Kate Bosworth (more like walked right by her) while we were there. Try to include going to a farmer’s market while you are there. We went to the Grand Central Market and had some great coffee and eats. So much local food and produce I was in total heaven.
Do some cultural stuff too
A great place is the Los Angeles County Museum. The art outside the the building is cool in itself!! Lots of insta-worthy shots. Just make sure you check the times and days it’s open. Right beside it is the La Brea tar pits which is a prehistoric-fossil excavation site with a pretty park around it to stroll though as well. Don’t miss out on seeing the Getty Center.
The art, architecture and gardens are absolutely fabulous. Do check their website for details. There is no admission but you must pay a fee to park and then there’s a monorail you take to get there and back to the parking area. It’s all a cool experience. Totally loved it! We also loved the Getty Villa. Gorgeous property featuring Greco-Roman (of course I would love it) art, architecture and gardens. Check the website before you go for specific times and details. You need a timed-entry ticket to get in. We also went to the Griffith observatory. Expect long lines to see through the telescope but so worth it. Even if you don’t end up seeing the telescope I say it’s still worth the views especially during sunset.
- Do include some hiking
Hike to the famous Hollywood sign or to somewhere where you can get a cool view or pic of the sign. There are tons of great places to hike because there are so many parks, trails, and canyons. We did a 2 hour hike in Runyon canyon which was one of my favourite things we did. There were amazing views of the city, the Hollywood sign and we got some exercise in as well. Can’t beat that! It was super hot so my advice is to bring water, snacks and definitely wear a hat and sunscreen. Do your research ahead of time. There’s a few points of entry into the park and there’s several different paths at different degrees of difficulty. Best to check them up and choose the ones suited to you and to the time you have. We went to a Korean spa (Wi spa) afterwards for some dry heat therapy and an awesome Korean lunch. Soup, bibimbap, bulgogi and kimchi galore with of course a green smoothie.
A lot of the things mentioned here are free to see and do which is great. We didn’t have a kitchen at our Airbnb but we had a fridge so you know i made a few trips to Whole Foods and some of the Asian markets in our area and stocked up on healthy snacks and tons of fruit, and nuts. Perfect food for the road and we were on the road and stopping off places the whole trip so this worked for us. For dinners we went out to eat things that we don’t get here like Mexican and Vietnamese. We hit a few food trucks that we planned on checking out which is worth doing because you get great food for value. Some of the best tacos we had were from a food truck. And there’s so many options. Vegan vegetarian etc!! I can’t get authentic Japanese ramen here in Trinidad so I made sure to stuff myself silly with amazing ramen in California.
Overall we had a blast exploring Southern California and know you will too. There’s so much more I could right about but that would be pages long. We did so much yet I cannot wait to go back. There’s so much we didn’t see. I would love to go further south to San Diego but that will be for another trip.
Until then I will reminisce on how much fun we had exploring SoCal! I can also relive it through your suggestions too. Let me know what you love about Southern California.