Southern California is home to so many amazing places that it’s easy to overlook some incredible destinations when you have so many options in front of you. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 delightful spots in SoCal that shouldn’t be overlooked. From a magnificent hike with soaring ocean views to a rustic steakhouse out in the middle of nowhere, you’ll want to make sure to experience these SoCal destinations for yourself.
1. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Did you know there was a secret garden hiding in the town of Claremont? It's not a secret exactly, but it does appear to be an underrated local gem that many people don't know about and we'd like to change that. The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is located at 1500 N College Ave., Claremont, CA 91717. You'll find a picturesque 2.5-mile trail that can be walked at a leisurely pace. Along the route, you'll spot a variety of native California plants and flowers that are a delight to the senses.
2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Palm Desert is a location that is often overlooked for a day trip, but it's one destination in SoCal that deserves another visit, especially if you plan to visit The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. In addition to the abundant wildlife and natural scenery you'll find at The Living Desert, one highlight this SoCal zoo offers is the opportunity to feed the giraffes by hand. How adorable is that? You can find the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens at 7900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, CA.
3. Torrey Pines State Reserve
Perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping destinations for a hike, Torrey Pines State Reserve will leave you speechless as you look out at the stunning view. Once you arrive, you'll find several trails to hike that range from easy to moderate. Pictured here: the Guy Fleming Trail. You can find Torrey Pines State Reserve at 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla, CA 92037.
4. Gardens of the World
Gardens of the World is one of the prettiest public gardens in SoCal and yet there are many people who tell us they never even knew it existed. Wander through this spectacular stretch of land tucked inside Thousand Oaks and you'll get to explore a variety of gardens including an Italian garden, French garden, Japanese garden and an English rose garden, just to name a few. You can find Gardens of the World at 2001 E Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA.
5. Three Sisters Waterfalls Trails
Tucked inside the small town of Julian, you'll find a little-known hiking trail that leads to one of SoCal's most refreshing swimming holes. Three Sisters Falls Trail is a moderate four-mile trail with a refreshing surprise at the end. Make sure to pack your swimsuit as you'll want to jump in and cool off after clocking those miles on the trail. To reach this trailhead for Three Sisters, just head to 1450 Boulder Creek Rd., Julian, CA 92036.
6. Big Falls
In the event one waterfall isn't enough to satisfy you, we'll let you in on a secret about another waterfall in SoCal that just so happens to be the tallest waterfall around. To reach Big Falls, take the Big Falls Trail which can be found at 3994 Upper Lopez Canyon Rd., Arroyo Grande, CA. You'll enjoy a moderate 4.5-mile hike on your way to this stunning waterfall that is quite the sight to see in person.
7. Prospect Park
We have so many beautiful parks in SoCal that often get overlooked. One of our favorite parks that is quite underrated is Prospect Park. You can find this peaceful escape out in nature at 352 Prospect Drive, Redlands, CA. Whether you enjoy wildlife, nature trails, or just want to escape the heat in a park filled with trees, Prospect Park is a picture-perfect place to be.
8. Stars Antique Market
In addition to the many underrated outdoorsy destinations that can be found in SoCal, there are also a few indoor destinations that get overlooked. Stars Antique Market, located at 526 Pier Ave in Hermosa Beach, CA, is a splendid place to score a treasure. Whether you're an antique collector or you just love finding great bargains, Stars Antique Market is a joy to discover.
9. Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse
It's hard to resist a great steakhouse. Especially one that's out in the middle of nowhere as getting there is half the fun. Located in Trabuco Canyon, you'll find a charming steakhouse that serves mouthwatering meals in a rustic setting that can't be beat. You can find Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse at 20782 Trabuco Oaks Drive, Trabuco Canyon, CA.
10. Griffith Observatory
One of the most remarkable places to experience in SoCal that locals often forget about is Griffith Observatory. Not only for tourists, this stunning destination in SoCal is perhaps one of the best day trips a local can take. And it's free. You can find Griffith Observatory at 2800 E Observatory Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90027.
What do you think of this list of underrated places? Any favorite spots that come to mind that you think we should add to this list?
For another fun place to add to your Southern California explorations, make sure to check out the
most enchanting town in all of Southern California.