Many people like to take many short trips, during the year, giving them the chance to have more than one vacation. Some people prefer to take a more leisurely vacation getting to see more of what the destination they are visiting have to offer. Both types of travelers will find that a vacation in Southern California can fit into their traveling pattern. These 5 top cities offer lots of attractions along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, or inland, where one can enjoy activities on the land and on the sea.
These five cities are near enough to each other to allow combining them for one long stay, or visiting each individually for a quick getaway. Travel time between Santa Barbara, the furthest north, and Oceanside, the furthest south, is only a few hours and easily reached on one or more of Southern California's freeways.
Oceanside Pier at Sunset
Oceanside is the northern most city in San Diego County and it borders Orange County. This summer the city is marking it's 125th birthday on July 3 with community celebrations and special hotel deals. The small town spans the 5-freeway however most of the activities take place on the ocean side where the 1,000-slip Harbor has shops, restaurants and parking for the many motor homes that bring visitors to enjoy the best weather in the southland.
Among the spectacular attractions is the 1,900-foot long pier which was dedicated in 1987; Mission San Luis Rey the king of California's Spanish Missions; the California Surf Museum; microbreweries; arts & craft events, paddle boarding and surfing.
It is the spectacular sunsets, the 3.5 miles of white sandy beaches that allow many sports activities, and the pedestrian friendly Strand good for walking and rollerblading that visitors remember when they return home.
Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach a city well known for it's beaches, yachts, high priced homes, and luxury hotels is perfect for a getaway. The city has a lot of accommodations to choose from, best known of them is the Balboa Bay Club & Resort that sits on Pacific Coast Highway beside the ocean. This popular city is best visited during the week, especially in the summer when it becomes very crowded.
It's year round Mediterranein climate, world-class shopping at one of the largest malls in the southland - Fashion Island -, close proximity to Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and Legoland, large range of ocean activities such as sailing, paddleboards, fishing, surfing and other aquatic activities, make it the ideal vacation getaway.
Venture is one of the little known gems of Southern California, great deals to offer the casual weekend visitor and lots more for those who stay longer. It's rich history, adventure activities, cuisine that showcses the local organic farms and seafood fresh from the sea, it offers a taste of the real California.
Nearby is the breathtaking Channel Islands National Park with it's large range of outdoor activities that include whale watching, hiking, Kayaking through sea caves, diving, camping and nature walks led by Naturalist guides. Visiting is made easy as Boats leave the Harbor Village daily. Other options include visiting the National Marine Sanctuary, Los Padres National Forest, a 13-mile coastal bikeway, historical sites, and still more. Visit here to see where to stay, what to do, restaurants and events.
Solvang - Little Denmark
Solvang this city is not on the ocean it offers another side of California which showcases the descendents of Denmark in a Danish Village setting. Just 2 hours from Los Angeles and from Ventura, in the Santa Barbara wine country, it has the feel of Europe while enjoying California weather.
Solvang, known as "Little Denmark" dates back to 1911, here visitors will be delighted with the Scandinavia culture featured in the unique shops, restaurants, and galleries found along the European style streets which lets visitors get around on the Trolley a street car pulled by horses, a surrey bicycle rented from 'Wheel Fun Rentals' or 'Segway tour'.
If possible visit during ther Food & Wine Festival in March, theMission's Fiesta in August, the annual 'Danish Days' festival in September, or Julefest in December.
Santa Barbara is known mainly for the many movie stars, celebrities and east coast millionaires who have homes here. But the city has lots to offer the casual or long term visitor. It's Spanish-style architecture is one of it's many charms where restaurants, museums and theatres can be found under red tiled roofs and the downtown area includes many historical buildings.
This is a city that one might want to stay longer than a weekend as it has so much to offer. Often referred to as the 'American Riviera' there is no lack of activities - in the harbor is Stearns Wharf and other restaurants as well as many events throughout the year; the Zoological garden where one can see, not only the animals, but 30 acres of lush gardens that have magnificent ocean views, a bird sanctuary, and easy access to the Santa Barbara Wine Country where on April 10 - 13 they are having a special event "The Grand Tasting'. A good way to see it all join a walking tour led by locals, through the cities historical districts and beautiful neighborhoods. They also offer Seway Tours, and self-guided tours.