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Top 10 Lesser-Known Places To Visit In Southern California

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Southern California is full of both beautiful and memorable spots! If you’re looking for some slightly lesser-known spots, here are 10 places you’ll want to consider adding to your future plans. 

Top 10 Lesser Known Places To Visit In Southern California

1. Julian, CA

This sleepy mountain town is nestled in the Cuyamaca mountains. A historic gold mining town, it is now well-loved for its delicious pie! The town is also home to several shops and eateries, making it a great destination for a day trip!


2. UCR Botanic Gardens

Head over to Riverside, CA to check out these gorgeous botanic gardens! Sprawling across 40 acres, they feature all manner of lush and beautiful foliage. The botanic gardens are currently open to the public with limited hours. 

UCR Botanic Gardens

3. La Jolla Sea Caves

A hidden gem located in San Diego, the La Jolla sea caves are a well-loved and gorgeous attraction just off La Jolla. If you’re looking to experience one of the caves without getting wet, you’ll want to check out Sunny Jim’s sea cave, which offers walking entry into one of the largest caves. It is also possible to view the other caves via kayaking or snorkeling trip! 

La Jolla

4. Malibu Creek State Park

Head over to this state park for some great hiking spots as well as the scenic Malibu Lagoon. The park is a great place for all sorts of outdoor recreation, including camping. A fun historical fact is that the park was closed to the public until 1976, and was used to film several notable movies including the original Planet of the Apes! 

Malibu Creek

5. Pioneertown

Pioneertown was developed in the 1940s with the goal of creating an “Old West” style town! The themed town became a popular place for filming in the 40s and 50s, and nowadays is a great spot to visit to see the unique buildings! You can look forward to exploring the Old West-style storefronts, viewing a fake gunfight, or enjoying live music and some good food at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. 


6. Anza Borrego State Park

Anza Borrego State Park is home to hiking trails, a desert oasis, and a unique field of metal sculptures. This beautiful desert landscape is located in San Diego County. Due to the area’s climate, going in the summer is a great way to explore the park while beating the heat, making the upcoming months a perfect time to visit. An early spring visit – typically in March – can bode well for seeing wildflowers, too!

Anza Borrego

7. Green Valley Lake

Green Valley Lake is the name of both a mountain lake and the small town nearby it! This is a great option for those looking to get away from the city. The lake offers various recreation activities including kayaking, paddleboarding, and pedalboats. Boat rentals are available on the lakeshore from Memorial Day through October 31st!

Green Valley Lake

8. Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach is a gorgeous beach town situated between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A little further north than other options on this list, Pismo Beach is still worth the drive. You can look forward to stunning views, unique shops, and of course – a beautiful beach! 

Pismo Beach

9. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve 

This natural reserve is a great place to experience all the southern Californian coast has to offer! The reserve offers several nature trails, and is a great spot for Scuba diving as well!

Point Lobos

10. Wild Willy's Hot Springs

Take in some gorgeous views while relaxing in warm waters with a visit to Wild Willy’s hot springs! These hot springs are undeveloped, meaning you won’t find too many amenities near them, however, they are a great way to get back to nature! The hot springs are open year-round, though road access may be restricted due to weather occasionally. 

Wild Willy's Hot Springs

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Friday 1st of October 2021

Great recommendations - For something on the macabre side, visit the L.A. County Morgue gift shop located in the lobby of the county morgue. Yes, it is a real thing, no joke. If you think about it, any famous person that’s died in the the county has passed through there - celebrities - and they have books chronicling who has passed through and other clever trinkets.


Saturday 16th of October 2021

@Jim, I like your way of thinking, interesting