Many tourists flock to popular destinations in Southern California, including San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you're looking for a place that is a little further off the radar, check out these incredible destinations:
My husband and I lived mostly in California, but somehow missed these spectacular islands, which are classified as one of the US national parks. After seeing some stunning photos on the web, we sailed on a short boat from Oxnard to Anakapas as part of our weekend getaway.
If you decide to go, be prepared and bring materials. This trip is designed for adventurous people in good physical condition. You will need to climb 157 degrees to the top of this carpet on a small island with no food, services, water or floating toilets. Now I hate outer homes, but I tell you, the views of rocky shores, massive rocks and intertwined peaks were worth it. You can easily swim around the island in just a few hours with Insp insp Point, a great reward for your efforts.
We visited in June, when explosions of bright wildflowers covered the small island and thousands of adorable sea otters were found in every corner. Just beware of those protective mamas who will be very close to your head.
We returned a few years later and visited the greater Santa Cruz Island for an exciting kayak tour of historic sea caves. There by boat we saw a whale and two large schools of dolphins. At some points the waters may be rough, but the caves were amazing. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
Some consider these islands to be deserted, but if you have an adventurous spirit and a loving nature, the Kansas Islands are considered the Galpagos of North America.
Huntington Botanical Gardens
This is another stunning place we haven't been able to visit for decades. The magnificent wealth of Pasadena is home to over a dozen spectacular gardens spread over 120 acres. It's hard to say which garden is the most stunning, but my favorites are the aponia garden, rose garden, and California garden.
We didn't even get a chance to check out the art galleries. The Huntington Art Gallery, home to 18th and 19th century British paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, features the famous Blue Boy. And to my shame, we didn't visit the Huntington Library, one of the largest and most comprehensive research libraries in the United States.
Ventura County wine trail
Napa may be a highlight of California's wine country, but my husband and I enjoyed our journey along the coastal highlands in the coastal city of Ventura. We visited about 20 wineries and tasting rooms.
You can order one of the many wine tours on offer. However, we decided to get a map and study it ourselves. Starting at the junction of the 1st and 101th intersection of the Ventura Highway, we reached the Oja on Highway 33.
Surprises await this slightly lonely but charming way from the "smallest US post office" to the last place anyone has seen James Amy Dean alive. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery, which felt like a return to a simpler place and time where we were greeted by friendly folk and dogs. We enjoyed buying a bottle of wine and a picnic outside the tables enjoying the American view.
By the way, both Ojai and Ventura are worthwhile stops, with charming hotels, luxurious hosts and bed and breakfasts, as well as a wide range of outdoor activities. During the summer, the port of Ventura is a hotspot for festivals and live music on weekends.
This charming beach town is in the middle of Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 20 different picturesque tents, this beachfront area offers everything from surfing, rowing, snorkeling, kayaking and whale watching excursions.
Just beware, traveling to places can be rough. As a teenager, I decided to shake my body despite the floodwaters and wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys song: Heheheheheheee swept the ocean). In fact, I blame the Beach Boys for all this failure, because they went and romanticized this whole super pea with the songs I grew up with like the Surfer Girl. THIS is their sin.
However, the scenery cannot be overcome. Add chic restaurants and shops and art galleries, and you get the picture. There is even a baby boomer club with Saturday Night Dances. Every summer, they host Laguna Woodstock, where the baby boomers party is as it was in 1969.
Heisler Park is a starting point just north of the main beach, half a mile downhill, with spectacular views of the valley and soothing sounds of destructive waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and wave pools. Lots of benches, picnic tables and barbecues where you can enjoy great views. Hubby and I had a picnic at one of the parties, and it was great.
Treasure Island Park is another great place to stay at the base of the five star Montage Laguna Beach where they are truly rich. A few landscapes of beautiful landscaping benches line the winding path easily. The stairs and ramps lead you to the beach, where during low tide you can walk through a beautiful rock arch, find a place for sand in the sand and a large wave pool. In addition, there are plenty of grassy areas for parties. I would suggest some wine and cheese – a romantic sunset.
Big Bear Lake
I live in the wilderness, so nearby the Great Bear escapes to magnificent mountains with its majestic lake and delicate forests. Rowing, fishing, and hiking are all part of this small, slow-moving village.
Last summer my husband and I wandered around the lake, enjoyed a picnic, went down the alpine slide until about 30pm. We drove speed-train cards and had fun at the picturesque sky chair for terrifying views. After looking at people's lifts from the mountain bike, we put this on our to-do list next time.
Parasailing and zippering are also available for heart adventure.
El Matador Beach
Look down you see a breathtaking coastline with white sands, boulders, shattering waves, and rocky rock formations hidden in a half-ruined place.
Look no further than El Matador, located north of Malibu on the Pacific Ocean. It's easy to miss the small, brown sign pointing downhill to the small parking lot, so watch carefully between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. When you find it, be prepared to drive a 150-foot bluff with steep stairs.
Not for small children or for those who are physically challenged, but if you can get it down gradually, you are treated with a respiratory gaze. Locals know about this beach, and you can see some of the photo shoots we did.
There is little to do in this small but glorious stretch of beach, so bring a picnic lunch or some wine and find a hidden node to enjoy in an incredibly romantic setting.
By now you may have noticed that my husband and I are beach cabins. We found this beach by accident as we were looking for a neighbor to stay overnight to get out of LAX the next morning.
Redondo Pier is a port with panoramic views of the ocean and waterfront, which includes port navigation, seasonal viewing, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedestrian boats. Uth charm is well known, we didn't try any of these, but we loved the views on Tony Pierre where we enjoyed a Happy Hour.
There is also a large 16-foot white shark in Pieria, beloved by the name Ge Ge, which is displayed on a large Shark Attack tank on the Park. If you have grandchildren with you or are young in your heart, you can enjoy the translucent yellow submarine (bitter, now I got the Beatles song stuck in my head) for an underwater viewing of local marine life.
Of course, beating yourself at an airport hotel if you're flying from Los Angeles or Los Angeles.
This island is more famous than some of my previous offers, but it is a sentimental favorite. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 40 years ago and returned several times. This is a small, pleasant island with no stops or fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam has two golf carts and a bicycle built for two.
At our honeymoon, we rode a bike around Avalon, rode, toured the famous casino, and made a small beach of sunshine. We also traveled by bus to two ports, the only other village on the island of Catalina. Boosting, parasailing, fishing, downhill fishing, paddling, Segway tours, golf and hiking are other popular activities.
Decades later, we sailed our boat from Long Beach to the island, which turned out to be a wild ride. My husband and toddlers returned again to make our open water dives into the eternity of the marshmallow through the famous ham forests surrounded by bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time I want to try a new zip-line at 600 meters above sea level, with a single run that is 1,100 feet long, up to 30 mph. speed. Wheee!
As you can tell, Southern California has so many great places to visit, it's impossible to enumerate them all. I hope I gave you some ideas to get you started.