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Enjoy a Southern California Vacation Staycation

By Edited Feb 19, 2015 3 5

Staycations You Will Love

At Popular Southern California Attractions

If you live in California, you might want to vacation at home this year. Staycations, as they are sometimes called, have become significantly more popular during the past few years. With the high cost of gasoline for the car, air transportation, hotels, restaurant meals and other vacation expenses, many people are looking around their own neighborhoods and discovering they can use their time off to enjoy the opportunities available right in their own back yard. If you live in Los Angeles, Orange County or San Diego there are plenty of activities to keep any family happy and busy if you decide to vacation at home. Here are some ideas.

Santa Monica Pier(74418)

Use this link for current Amazon guidebooks for Southern California.

Enjoy a Southern California Beach

There are fabulous beach towns all along the California coast, and each of them has their own amenities and personalities. If you love to surf, you may want to spend a day at Huntington Beach, the famous Surf City that the Beach Boys sang about. It is still a popular location for surfing competitions, and the USA Surf Team sometimes trains there. While you are there, go to the nearby International Surfing Museum at 411 Olive Avenue or see the Surfing Walk of Fame near the corner of Main Street and the Pacific Coast Highway.

Another beach town you might enjoy is Santa Monica Beach and Pier in Los Angeles County. There is a small amusement park and Ferris wheel located right on the pier. The beach is a popular place to relax, or stroll. At the nearby Third Street Promenade, you will find an abundance of ways to entertain yourself in the restaurants, bars and shops that line the street. During weekend evenings, the Third Street Promenade is alive with street entertainers vying for your attention.

Other popular California beach towns in Los Angeles, Orange or San Diego counties include Malibu, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, Oceanside, La Jolla, Mission Beach and Bay, and Coronado Beach. Each town has great shops and restaurants, as well as activities such as surfing, swimming, beachcombing and simple relaxing. At many of them, you can make arrangements to take surfing lessons, learn to handle a stand up paddle board, rent a kayak or go scuba diving.

Amusement Parks and other California Attractions

Few places on earth are as well known for their abundance of amusement parks as California. Among the best known parks are Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Legoland, and Sea World. However, there are other amusement parks in the area that are worth visiting, as well. For example, you may want to visit Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, the San Diego Zoo, or the San Diego Safari Park (formerly the San Diego Wild Animal Park). Another popular California attraction is the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It is wonderful way to entertain children who love the ocean!

If you are accustomed to only going to Disneyland when you explore Southern California amusement parks, you may have a lot of fun spending a day at one of the other California attractions mentioned above. Each of them has its own personality and appeal. If you happen to be looking for an amusement park during the month of October, be sure to check out Knott's Scary Farm, an annual event when Knott's Berry Farm is converted after dark into an amusement park full of haunted houses and frightening monsters. The kids are sure to love it!

Drive to the Mountains or Desert

In very little time, you can leave your home in Los Angeles, Orange or San Diego County and explore other fascinating areas in this region of California. Why not take a drive up to the mountains? During the winter, our family has been known to drive up to Lake Arrowhead in the morning, stroll around the village, have lunch, throw a few snowballs, and drive back home that afternoon to enjoy the mild, sunny weather in Orange County.

If you don't enjoy the mountains, the desert area around Palm Springs may appeal to you. There are lots of shops and restaurants, as well as places where you can go four-wheeling in the desert.

Use this link for current Amazon guidebooks for Southern California.

Free and Cheap Activities

Not everything that you plan to do during your staycation in California has to cost a lot of money. There are lots of activities that are either free or relatively inexpensive. For example, you may want to spend a relaxing afternoon at the Griffith Observatory. There is no price to visit the observatory and check out their science exhibits. They also have a free film you can see. If you decide to attend one of the shows in the planetarium theater, the prices are quite low.

You might also want to visit one of the fabulous museums in Los Angeles. There are two Getty Museums in the area. One is in Los Angeles, and the other in Malibu. Both have free admission, although they charge $15 per car to park. Other LA museums that are free some or part of the time include the Homestead Museum, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, and the California Science Center.

One of the most famous and popular Los Angeles attractions is viewing the Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Along the Hollywood sidewalks that are located near Grauman's Chinese Theatre, you will find over 2400 terrazzo and brass stars that have been imbedded in the concrete over the decades.

Rodea Drive

Window shopping on Rodeo Drive is another popular Los Angeles past-time. Rodeo Drive is the location of some of the most elegant and upscale shops to be found in California. You will occasionally see the street featured in movies, as well.

Do you like to watch game shows? Would you like to be in a studio audience? Residents of California, as well as out-of-town visitors who plan ahead, can get free tickets to be in the studio audience of a game show like "Jeapardy!" or "Wheel of Fortune." This is another fun way to spend a day when you plan to vacation at home.

If you are looking for more staycation ideas in Southern California, you may also be interested in reading one of these articles:

What To Do In LA

Take a Day Trip to Huntington Beach

Fall in Love with the Getty Museum

Explore the Universe at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

Top 10 Things to Do in Laguna Beach

Top 6 Things to Do Near Disneyland

Top 10 Things To Do In Newport Beach California

The Most Current Guidebook for Southern California

Fodor's Southern California 2014: with Central Coast, Yosemite, Los Angeles, and San Diego (Full-color Travel Guide)
Amazon Price: $19.99 $10.87 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 19, 2015)
This is the best way to find current prices, hours and additional suggestions for fun things to do in Southern California.


Dec 13, 2011 4:29am
This article has showcased some great places to visit and stay and as you say some are suited to the people that have to watch their budgets. Holidays are great but they can work out to be very expensive so we have to shop around.
Dec 19, 2011 12:52pm
There is so much to do in Southern California and you have listed some of the best things to do!
May 22, 2014 9:38pm
Yes, as you know, we have lots of things to keep us busy in this area!
Dec 26, 2011 8:14pm
You pretty much covered it all! Great article. At Hollywood and Vine you can sometimes find people on the street trying to round up audience members for a TV show. So it is possible to get into a show at the last minute.
Feb 19, 2015 3:42pm
There are so many fun things to do in Southern California, and many of them are very inexpensive or even free. If you live here, there is no reason to go anywhere else on vacation. If you don't live here, you'll love this article as a resource for fun things to do!
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