Southern California Bucket List

I created this Southern California Bucket List to give you some really cool ideas of things to do, whether you already live in the area or you’re just visiting. You might find some new ideas!

SoCal has a TON of things to see and do, and most of them are within a two-hour radius. As someone who was not born and raised in California, everything is new to me, so I have been trying to discover all of the amazing things to see and do ever since moving to Orange County.

This list includes 50 things to do in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Palm Springs, and more.

I challenge you to complete some of these activities along with me and share your adventures on Instagram using the hashtag #socalbucketlistchallenge! Have fun!

Prefer to print it? Download the printable bucket list.

The Southern California Bucket List Challenge

Walk of Fame Hollywood

Things to Do in Los Angeles County

1. Hike to the Hollywood Sign
2. Find your favorite Movie Star on the Walk of Fame
3. Take in some of the best views of LA from Mulholland Drive
4. Have a picnic on the Getty Center lawn
5. Watch a hockey game at the Staples Center
6. Ride a “bird” down the Venice Beach Boardwalk
7. Ride the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier
8. Eat healthy at Malibu Farm
9. Cruise on over to Catalina Island
10. Eat fresh seafood at the San Pedro Fish Market

Sunset at the Hungtington Beach Pier

Things to Do in Orange County

11. Watch a sunset at the Huntington Beach Pier
12. Take a surf lesson in Surf City USA
13. Eat at Ruby’s Diner on the Huntington Beach Pier
14. Have a beach bonfire in Newport
15. Kayak through one of the richest areas in OC at the Newport Marina
16. Search for whales with Davey’s Locker
17. Be a kid again at Disneyland
18. Hike to OC’s Grand Canyon “The Sinks” in Limestone Canyon
19. Ride the Orange Balloon at Irvine’s Great Park
20. Sit inside the Dana Point Sea Cave
21. Stay overnight in a historic beach cottage in Crystal Cove
22. Find the Pirate Tower on Victoria Beach
23. Hike to the “Top of the World”
24. Attend a Festival in OC’s Art Capital

The Galleta Meadows Metal Sculptures

Things to Do in San Diego County

25. Get a photo of your favorite metal sculpture in Galleta Meadows
26. Hike “The Slot” in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
27. Stargaze in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
28. Cross the border into Tijuana for some authentic Mexican food
29. Experience a magical sunset from Sunset Cliffs
30. Paraglide over the coastline at Torrey Pines
31. Think of a unique photo idea for your hike to Potato Chip Rock
32. Kayak through the caves in La Jolla
33. Visit the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park
34. Stay at the famous Hotel Del Coronado
35. Watch the sea lions and seals in their natural habitat in La Jolla Cove
36. Go on a Harbor Cruise
37. See how the military used to live on the USS Midway
38. Camp out at San Onofre State Beach

Retro Airstream at Joshua Tree Acres

Things to Do in the Southern California Desert Areas

39. Stay in a Retro Airstream Trailer in Joshua Tree
40. Take a Sound Bath in Joshua Tree
41. Drive through all of Joshua Tree National Park
42. Make a donation at Salvation Mountain
43. Take a photo with the Palm Springs Windmills
44. Stay in a funky motel in Palm Springs
45. Take the tram up to Mount San Jacinto

Ski lifts used for mountain bikes at Snow Summit Big Bear Lake

Things to Do in Other Areas of Southern California

46. Take the train to Santa Barbara for the weekend
47. Ride a Hot Air Balloon in Temecula
48. Taste the Wine in Temecula
49. Experience snow and the beach on the same day with a drive up to Big Bear Lake
50. Snow Ski or Mountain Bike at Snow Summit in Big Bear

I’m so excited to continue checking these things off my list and sharing them with you!

How many of these things have you already completed?


The Best Stops Along Orange County’s Pacific Coast Highway

What to Pack for Southern California

6 Reasons You Have to Visit Orange County, California

16 Quick & Easy Road Trips in Southern California

How to Cure Wanderlust When You Can’t Travel

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29 thoughts on “Southern California Bucket List”

    • Yay!! If you can, stop through Orange County…it’s so pretty and so many people overlook it! This is exactly my goal…to give you a master list of things to do! Have fun!!

    • Wow, that’s a lot! Any adventures that you think I need to add to this list? Definitely hike to “The Sinks”, it’s very pretty! You do have to sign up though since it’s not an open-access park. You can sign up for the open access day at

  • Really fun and creative idea. If I ever find myself in Southern California again I will certainly use this for inspiration and hopefully I will tick a few boxes of. Beautiful pictures as well. Especially like the last one, it reminds me of Sweden:)

    • Usually that’s the very first thing people want to do when they visit LA! I have a few with the sign, but I still need to go back and do the hike that takes you up behind the sign. Hope you get there soon!

    • Awesome!! Which one out of the 6 was your fav? Do you live in the SoCal area? I’ve done 27 so far after living here for 3 years! And I have a ton more that I did not include on this list, only because I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming 🙂

  • I like your way of splitting California and adding different things to do for every county. Never been to the States yet so I do not know what I would choose to visit my first time! However, I think hiking Hollywood sign, riding the orange balloon and watching sea lions are my top 3!

    • Hi Val! I know, it’s so hard to choose what to do during your first trip somewhere! I think you chose some really great options, I love all 3 and, they are cheap or even free! Can’t get any better than that!

  • A great list with lots to do. I visited a few years back – Old Towne, Orange County was the most memorable, followed by Venice Beach and the Light show at Disney Land. I crossed a few off your list on my last visit but looks like I’ll have to return now 🙂 Thx for the inspiration.

    • Hi Karletta, I am so happy to inspire you to come back for another visit! I have yet to make my way up to Old Towne, but I recently came across some things I want to do there! Venice Beach is always a fun time, and the light show at Disney was spectacular I’m sure! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • These are fantastic lists to check off when visiting California. I’ve been to some of the places you are quoting – and I’m looking very much forward to explore those I don’t know yet.

  • Awesome list. I lived in Napa valley and loved Cali. I didn’t go or see half of the list but definitely would next time I visit.

  • This is such a great list!! I love all the options and for sure want to go back to California to do some of these great ideas!!!

    Liz @

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