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11 Fun Things to Do in California: The Best of SoCal

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Full of long beaches, great hikes, and plenty of sunshine, you can never get bored in Southern California! With so many fun things to do in California, and places to see, it's easy to spend weeks on end here. 

We've made a list of all different things for foodies, nature lovers, and beach bums alike. Here are 11 of the most fun things to do in California (in the south).

Fun Things to Do in California #1: Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier is an absolute classic when it comes to Southern California. Located right outside the heart of LA, you can enjoy the rides and games along the boardwalk, or just enjoy the large stretches of sand beneath.

Santa Monica is iconic and great for that post card worthy moment. So grab your camera and enjoy it during golden hour or sunset for it at its best!

Fun Things to Do in California #2: Manhattan Beach

Looking for another great beach and boardwalk area? Manhattan beach is a little quieter than the famous Santa Monica Pier. However, it is perfect for cute shops, trendy dining venues, and that stunning golden hour. Have a drink on the seaside as you watch the sun melt into the horizon behind the boardwalk.

Manhattan Beach, fun things to do in California

Manhattan Beach is great for the sunset.

Fun Things to Do in California #3: Inn n Out

When over on the West Coast, you absolutely need to stop by Inn n Out. This iconic burger chain is known for their traditional diner themed venues, and classic American burgers. Head over to the one right outside LAX to enjoy the planes sweep above your head as you dive into your juicy patty.

inn n out, fun things to do in California

There is an Inn n Out right outside the airport where you can enjoy your burger while the planes fly in.

Fun Things to Do in California #4: Side Car Doughnuts

Truthfully, we're not such donut fanatics, but this place is really something else! Your taste buds will absolutely explode at side car doughnuts. 

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Want a sinfully sweet dessert? Dive into the decadent flavors such as dulce de leche churro or the triple chocolate. How about an indulgent breakfast? You'll have to try their maple bacon donut, or even the eggs benedict stuffed donut! Gluten Free? They've also got you covered.

Side Car donoughts, spots in Southern California

Side Car Doughnuts have the most interning flavors you could think of!

We visited the location in Hollywood. However, they also have several other storefronts scattered through LA, and other parts of Southern California like San Diego and Newport Beach.

Fun Things to Do in California #5: Laguna Beach

Have you ever seen the show the OC? Well this is where it is filmed, and it's no wonder that it has become so popular. Laguna Beach is an affluent town located right on the beach, just between LA and San Diego. Therefore, the perfect day trip to take from either of the larger cities!

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Laguna Beach is also home to some of the most beautiful tide pools. Although they aren't all easy to reach, they are worth the hike. So get ready for some beach adventures, and head over to this little slice of Californian paradise.

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Fun Things to Do in California #5: La Jolla Cove

Let's head a little further South and get to the deep SoCal area! Just down the coast from LA and right before San Diego lies the picturesque area of La Jolla cove.

Admire the cliffs, have a picnic along the coast, or check out the hundreds of sea lions who call La Jolla their home. Want a little adventure? Then head over to Potato Chip Rock for a fun and photogenic hiking spot!

La Jolla, fun things to do in California
La Jolla, fun things to do in California
La Jolla, fun things to do in California

La Jolla is a great place to visit outside San Diego, and is full of sea lions.

Fun Things to Do in California #7: Balboa Park

Want to feel as if you've just teleported to Europe? Then go on and discover the beauty that awaits you in the heart of San Diego. Balboa Park covers an impressive 1,200 acres.

La Jolla, fun things to do in California

With its cultural and historical buildings alone you could spend hours here! Admire the architecture, as well as the beautiful greenery of this urban park.

Balboa Park, fun things to do in California
Balboa Park, fun things to do in California

Fun Things to DO in California #8: Sherman Library & Gardens

Here's a spot you'll definitely want to check out for a quaint and relaxing afternoon. Sherman Library and Gardens feature ornate plant and floral decorations, fountains, and art installations. This is the perfect place to stroll around and enjoy the perfect blend of nature and design.

Sherman Gardens & Library, Newport Beach

There is also a small cafe with a light and tasty menu, hosting an outdoor seating area. Sherman Library & Gardens is open daily from 10:30 am to 4 pm, and is located in Newport Beach. Admission is free for members, and just $5 for non-members.

Want a little treat afterwards? Well there is also this adorable candy store right down the street that is super colorful and has the best homemade ice cream!

Ice Cream Shop Newport Beach, fun things to do in California

Fun Things to Do in California #9: The Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign is without a doubt one of the most iconic symbols of LA. But did you know there are tons of different ways to see the sign? We actually didn't realize there were so many different hikes until we were there!

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Our personal favorite takes you up close to see the front of the sign, but also around the back as well! This is the closest you can physically get to the sign, as there is no way to actually get up close enough to touch it. 

Hollywood sign, spots in Southern California

Fun Things to Do in California #10:  Malibu

This is one of our favorite spots in Southern California! Located just north of LA, this area is covered with the most beautiful houses, long stretches of sand, and some of our favorite hikes.

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Not only is it close to Los Angeles, but it is also just an hour from Santa Barbara, which is another awesome area to check out. Malibu is the perfect place to have that mix of beach and mountains all in one.

Malibu, Spots in Southern California

Fun Things to Do in California #11: Sandstone Peak

While you're in Malibu, make sure to check out some of the awesome hiking trails that this area has to offer! We love the hikes here because you can enjoy both sunrise and sunset, the rugged landscape, as well as the glistening ocean below.

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Sandstone Peak is just a short drive inland from Malibu, and is a pretty easy 45 minute hike (if you take the right path!). The views are stunning, and if you're lucky, you may even get to experience a cloud inversion. This is when a layer of clouds forms and it feels like you are truly on top of the world.

Sandstone Peak, Hikes in Southern California

Southern California is full of so many great spots, and these are just a few of the highlights we found! With long beaches, beautiful hikes, and delicious food, there is something for everyone in this corner of the US.

Traveling through the US and want to explore some other great places? We have plenty of other guides throughout the country.

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