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You’ll find a wealth of attractions and things to do around Southern California and can spend a few days taking guided tours of several zoos, gardens, museums, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re traveling with kids or enjoying a solo adventure through Southern California, make sure to make a pit stop at some of the country’s top zoos, gardens, aquariums, and other cultural sites.
One of the most popular attractions in Southern California is the San Diego Zoo. You can enjoy a full day of family-friendly fun at this zoo located in Balboa Park. It’s the place to see exhibits including Polar Rim, Lost Forest, Africa Rocks, and Urban Jungle. This is one of the oldest attractions in San Diego and does offer zoo tours.
You can also enjoy the wildlife and explore gardens with a variety of animals and birds around Southern California’s wildlife and zoo destinations. The Orange County Zoo is one of the largest in the region. Make your way to the Aquarium of the Pacific to see your favorite marine animals in action. Head to the Santa Ana Zoo or the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens for even more fun encounters with animals.
One of the most exciting things to do when visiting this area is taking a tour of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour & Museum. This is one of the landmarks of the entertainment industry and you can head here for a tour of all the sound stages, backlot streets, and props used in many hit Hollywood movies.
Southern California is also home to several gardens that are open year round. Make your way to Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Gardens to see some of the season’s blooms or head to the San Diego Botanic Garden for a tour on a sunny afternoon.
This part of California is steeped in history and you’ll find dozens of historic sites scattered across the region. Make your way to Greystone Park to see the historic Greystone Mansion and beautiful parkland. The mansion is a registered historical landmark and is surrounded by formal gardens and a fountain. You can also pay a visit to Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch, a 19th century adobe ranch house and gardens that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The ranch is now a museum that houses a collection of artifacts and is located right in Long Beach.
As you make your way to the southern tip of San Diego, take a tour of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. This lighthouse was one of the first eight lighthouses built on the west coast and is easily accessible from downtown San Diego.
For a taste of central California history, make a trip out to the Old Mission de Tolosa. It’s located about halfway between Monterey and San Diego and features two naves. It’s a fully functioning Catholic church that holds daily Mass and other services throughout the week. You can take an historical tour of the Old Mission for an in-depth experience. When you find yourself in Ventura, make your way to the San Buenaventura Mission, another active Catholic parish. You can take a tour of the mission to learn about its rich history and participate in services, including Sacrament of Reconciliation, baptisms and Mass.
If you’re interested in learning about ghosts and the paranormal, head to Calico Ghost Town in San Bernardino County. You can explore the Mystery Shack, visit Main Street to see old mercantile stores, and go on one of the Maggie’s Mine tours. The town also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Bluegrass in the Spring Festival, Calico Days and Ghost Haunt, and the Calico Film Festival.
When you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to visit some of the most well-known landmarks and attractions, including Graumans Chinese Theatre, the Walk of Fame, and the Dolby Theatre. Take a tour fo the area with Hollywood Starline Tours or head to the Port of Los Angeles for a boating adventure. The Queen Mary offers tours that tell the story of the Russian Cold-War era submarine and you can visit the Aquarium of the Pacific nearby.