Southern California is home to so many favorites, for tourists and locals alike. From Disneyland to the Hollywood sign, the tree-lined beaches to the San Bernardino Mountains, there are countless places to visit and things to see. So where do you begin your long list of experiences in the southern half of this enormous state? Here are four essential stops to get you started.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a must-see when you’re in Southern California. Known for its diverse permanent collection and more than 120,000 pieces divided over four buildings, there is something for everyone to see and enjoy. Even the building is of great cultural intrigue, as it’s been built and enhanced over the years by world-renowned architects like William Pereira and Renzo Piano. It also houses popular installations like Urban Light by Chris Burden and Levitated Mass by artist Michael Heizer.
2. California’s Highway One
You don’t have to stay inland to find an incredible experience. Hopping in the car and driving up the coast via California’s Highway One can be one of the most special opportunities of your time here. Whether you decide to try to ambitious stretch from Dana Point to the Northern Californian city of Leggett or just drive along for a couple of hours, the breathtaking views will stay with you long after you end your drive. Make sure to stop by a local city or two along the way!
Just under 150 miles north of Los Angeles, this unique town will make you feel like you’ve just transplanted into a European town at the center of a Hans Christian Anderson novel. Solvang, California bears strong roots from Danish immigrants and is cheerfully adorned with half-timbered houses, horse-drawn tours, and large wooden windmills.
From fresh aebleskiver to medisterpølse, you can also enjoy a taste of Denmark in California. Additionally, the town hosts a top-notch farmer’s market where you can sample spicy olive oil or juicy strawberries proudly grown by local farmers.
4. Joshua Tree National Park
While California is home to more National Parks than any other state in the US, if there’s one that you really can’t pass up, it would be Joshua Tree National Park. It’s home to unique rock formations, a sprawling desert landscape, and of course, Joshua trees. But perhaps its most extraordinary attribute is its classification as an International Dark Sky Park.
This is a distinction given only to areas that have a unique or distinguished nocturnal environment and a higher quality chance of clear starry nights. Typically this distinction is only given to remote locations but Joshua Tree is in a highly-populated area, just two hours east of Los Angeles.