5 Places to Visit in Southern California

The Los Angeles basin can look very enticing and glamorous to a visitor, (I still haven't figured out how those bloggers make LA look so lovely on their Instagram's) but I'm here to tell you, that as a local, we avoid LA at all costs. Brian and I tend to avoid it a little more than most, but I assure you, the locals avoid getting within a 20 mile radius of Los Angeles unless they are attending an event, have to be there for work, or are picking someone up from LAX (and even then, I know plenty of people who have booked a shuttle for their loved ones). So, having said all that, here's my top five places to visit in SoCal (that aren't in LA):


1. Disneyland, California Adventure, and Downtown Disney (Anaheim, CA)
These three are all clustered in what we lovingly refer to as the "Disney Bubble" which begins just beyond Harbor and Ball in Anaheim, and continues until just past the parks. I don't need to spend a ton of time on these things, but you need to plan at least a weekend to do all three. Yes, you can do both California Adventure and Disneyland in a day if you're an adult. With a kid, I'd say plan a day and a half. Downtown Disney holds some neat restaurants, and the coolest Lego store around.


2. The Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)
This is, in my opinion, one of the coolest attractions in SoCal and I love visiting it. I recommend planning the better part of a day to go down, check it out, tour around, and enjoy yourself. This is generally more of an adult attraction, but during the winter there's a large winter festival that your kids are bound to love. PS The Queen Mary is a sort-of sister ship to the Titanic, so if you're into that, you'll love this.


3. Coronado Island (San Diego, CA)
San Diego is worth a two-day trip by itself and Coronado is worth one of those days. Not only does it house a large naval base, but it's also got one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world (Silver Strand Beach), the Hotel del Coronado, and offers a glimpse at island life. On your way out to the island be sure to stop at the Midway Museum. This is Brian and I's very favorite museum, ever. On the mainland, Sea World and San Diego Zoo may seem attractive however, here's a helpful hint: Sea World isn't great (pretty run down and exactly the same as when you were a kid, only less cool cause of Black Fish) and San Diego Zoo is amazing, but I've heard Safari Park is 1,000 times better. I haven't been there yet, but did you know you can camp in a yurt with the animals? I KNOW!


4. Palm Springs (Palm Springs, CA)
Something a tourist would likely not put together? The fact that Palm Springs is a day trip. Sure! You can spend a weekend there, or a week, or whatever. But, it's about two hours away from Los Angeles (maybe more) and it's completely worth the trip. Take a stroll down the main drag, stop at a bar or two, shop till you drop and then hit the local favorite Agua Caliente hotel and casino for the night! PS Palm Springs is the place I experienced 120 degrees in outside temperature. Remember this when planning your trip (January or February are best).


5. Buena Park (Buena Park, CA)
You might be thinking: What the eff is Buena Park? And to that I say, ever heard of Knotts Berry Farm? How about Medieval Times? Or Pirate's Adventure? Or the permanent home for the Titanic and Bodies museum's exhibits? Yep, all of this is in Buena Park. You may not spend a lot of time there, but it's important to consider stopping in for a few things. I personally love Medieval Times, the Titanic Exhibit, and Knotts Berry Farm. I've also heard really good things about Pirate's Adventure (which is like a dinner theater). Definitely a place to consider stopping.

These are my top five for SoCal but if you ever find yourself in Northern California, you'd be remiss if you didn't check out Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Paso Robles, and Cambria!


  1. I would avoid LA too! You have given some awesome family friendly alternatives!

    1. Avoiding LA was my passion for the six years I lived in SoCal, lol.


High five!