Whether you’re just passing through Southern California or you’re taking an extended holiday right here in paradise, you may be wondering where you can find all the hidden gems only the locals know about. Although we can’t reveal all of our secrets, we thought we’d let you in on a few that are a delight to discover. Here’s a list of 10 of our favorite hidden places that everyone should experience at least once.
1. Myrtle Creek Botanic Gardens
Whether it's secret gardens you adore or wild bird sanctuaries, you'll find both at this local gem in SoCal located in the peaceful town of Fallbrook. Stroll through the paths and take in the scenery at this fairytale setting dripping with tons of charm.
Address: 2940 Reche Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028.
2. The Lummis House
Unless you're a local, you most likely had no idea there was a hidden castle in Southern California that's open to the public for tours. Officially on the National Register of Historic Places, The Lummis House is a SoCal treasure that dates back to the 1800s. Built entirely by hand, this work of art must be seen to be believed.
Address: 200 E Avenue 43, Los Angeles, CA 90031.
3. UCR Botanic Garden
You don't have to be a student or a professor to appreciate this hidden botanic garden in Southern California. Just head to the University of California in Riverside and you can stroll through the UCR Botanic Garden, a lush and green 40-acre garden that's blooming with more than 3,500 different plant species.
Address: 1 Botanic Gardens Drive, Riverside, CA 92507.
4. Keys Creek Lavender Farm
Although the lavender season is officially over in SoCal, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a trip to this magnificent lavender farm. More than just a lavender farm, Keys Creek also offers a variety of classes and special events throughout the year including high tea, shopping, and even soap making classes. Although we highly recommend making a visit to the farm when the lavender is in full bloom, they offer so many fun events all year long that you simply can't go wrong whenever you decide to show up.
Address: 12460 Keys Creek Road, Valley Center, CA 92082.
5. Magic Castle
If hidden castles intrigue you as much as they intrigue us, then you'll want to make a visit to Magic Castle in Hollywood. Home to the Academy of Magical Arts, this little-known castle is invitation-only but so worth the effort to try and get in.
Address: 7001 Franklin Avenue, Hollywood, CA.
6. Trails Cafe
If you've spent any time in Griffith Park you already know it's packed with trails galore that offer the most epic scenery. But what most people don't know about, unless you're a local, is that you'll find the coolest little cafe hiding inside the park that serves the most mouthwatering sandwiches, baked goods, and coffee. Hiding under a canopy of trees, Trails Cafe is just what you need when you're seeking a little pick-me-up while you're hiking along the trail.
Address: 2333 Fern Dell Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068.
7. The Pirate Tower
You may have heard about this fabled 60-foot pirate tower in Southern California, but perhaps you never knew where to find it. To see this beauty for yourself, you can head to Victoria Beach in Laguna Beach and spot this local gem that is worth seeing with your own eyes.
Address: 2713 Victoria Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.
8. Millard Canyon Falls Trail
Taking a day trip to the Angeles National Forest will lead you to many beautiful surprises. Perhaps the best surprise of all is discovering this hidden waterfall along a short and sweet three-mile hike on the Millard Canyon Falls Trail. It's so easy even the kids will love it!
Address: Sunridge Trail, Altadena, CA 91001.
9. Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens
There's something so inviting about Casa Romantica Cultural Gardens. Replete with ocean views and blooming gardens, this hidden gem in SoCal is a breath of fresh air.
Address: 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente, CA 92672.
10. Shipley Nature Center
Take a day trip to the town of Huntington Beach and you'll find all sorts of fun surprises. One of our favorites, the Shipley Nature Center, is a lovely place where you'll find nature trails filled with a variety of wildlife and an interpretive center that is fun and educational. It's a destination that most of the locals know about as well as support, so it's definitely one spot you'll want to add to your list.
Address: 17851 Goldenwest St, Huntington Beach, CA 92647.
So many beautiful places to discover in Southern California. Which spot is your favorite? If you had to add one more destination to the list, we’d love to know what you would add. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.
Looking for another secret gem to visit here in Southern California? For those who love shopping and beautiful architecture, you’ll definitely want to make a visit to
this outdoor village. It’s definitely a local secret here in SoCal.