Places to stay in Southern California
With attractions ranging from fun-filled and family-friendly Disneyland and California Adventure to Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm, the theme parks around Los Angeles seem to never end. After a thrilling roller coaster or a studio tour, walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame or take a trip to the coast - myriad coastal cities and beach town dot the coastline, all the way from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
Situated about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, gorgeous Santa Barbara is the gateway to Southern California and averages about 300 days of sunshine a year, so you won't want to forget your sunglasses.
Popular area events include the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which happens every year in late January/early February and brings a bit of Hollywood glamor up north. And speaking of films, much of the movie Sideways was filmed on location in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, which is less than 30 miles northwest on Highway 154. For a quick and easy day trip from your vacation home, you'll definitely want to plan a day trip to the picturesque towns of Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Buelton, and the idyllic Danish village of Solvang to savor the local pinot noirs and enjoy the charming and rural landscape of the area.
Head east to the Coachella Valley desert for a different landscape and even more sun. Home to relaxing and beautiful cities like Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indio, this star-studded area serves as an escape for Los Angeles movie stars looking for some R&R away from work.
From Palm Springs or Los Angeles, it's an easy drive to beautiful San Diego. Make your way down the coast for a chance to explore historic Old Town, Mission Bay, and more.
Outdoor activities in Southern California
Like the Central California Coast, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do here. The Southern California Coast is the prime spot for whale watching, as California gray whales migrate through the Santa Barbara channel in February through early April. From May to September, Blue Whales, Minke Whales, and Humpback Whales can be viewed, as well as dolphins and plenty of other aquatic creatures.
Between the Santa Ynez mountains and the sea, there are countless scenic day hikes offering stunning scenery and ranging in skill level. And for surfers, check the daily surf report, grab your board and catch some sweet waves at Rincon Beach.
Southern California wine and cuisine
Dining options are numerous with everything from pizza at Olio Pizzeria, to wine country cuisine at Bouchon, to expertly prepared espressos and cappuccinos at the French Press. Every June the Casa Pacifica Wine and Food Festival in Camarillo celebrates and samples the culinary aspects of this great region with wines, microbrews, and gourmet foods from local restaurants, all while supporting a community non-profit.
While Northern California is pretty much the king when it comes to wineries and vineyards, Southern California can hold its own. Visit the wineries of Temecula, Fallbrook, or San Diego—just to name a few.
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