Southern California Bucket List

This California bucket list has been updated for 2021 and includes all outdoor activities so you can safely explore Southern California! Always check the latest restrictions and business information to make sure they are open before you head out.

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.

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

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The Ultimate Southern California Bucket List

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. See the best views of LA from the Griffith Observatory
4. Have a picnic on the Getty Center lawn
5. Visit The Huntington Botanical Gardens
6. Cruise the entire Venice Beach Boardwalk
7. Ride the Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica Pier
8. Hike Point Dume in Malibu
9. Cruise on over to Catalina Island
10. Hike Mt. Baldy, the highest point in LA


Sunset at the Hungtington Beach Pier

Things to Do in Orange County

11. Take the car ferry to Balboa Island
12. Learn to surf in Surf City USA
13. See history at the Mission San Juan Capistrano
14. Roast s’mores on the beach in Huntington Beach
15. SUP in Newport’s Back Bay
16. Search for whales with Davey’s Locker
17. Explore all 20+ beaches in Laguna Beach
18. Hike to “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. Road trip to see the metal sculptures in Galleta Meadows
26. Hike “The Slot” in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
27. See the Carlsbad Flower Fields
28. Cross the border into Tijuana for 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. Walk the Zoo and Balboa Park
34. Go on a Zoo Safari
35. Watch the sea lions in La Jolla Cove
36. Go on a Harbor Cruise
37. Bike, walk, SUP, or kayak in Mission Bay
38. Camp out at San Onofre State Beach


Retro Airstream at Joshua Tree Acres

Things to Do in the Southern California Desert Areas

39. Go glamping in Joshua Tree
40. Roam the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Springs
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. Play in the sand dunes in Glamis
45. Take the aerial tram up to Mt. San Jacinto


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

Things to Do in Other Areas of Southern California

46. Eat an apple pie from Julian
47. See Temecula from a Hot Air Balloon
48. Taste SoCal’s Wine in Temecula
49. Drive up to Big Bear to see the snow
50. Downhill Mountain Bike in Big Bear Lake

And finally, one of the most important things to do in Southern California is to take a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway!


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?

READ NEXT:

The Best California-Themed Gifts Found on Amazon

What to Pack for Southern California

16 Quick & Easy Road Trips in Southern California

How to Cure Wanderlust When You Can’t Travel


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35 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!!

  • This is such a fun list! I’ve not been back to southern California for a long time, so now I have plenty of things to do when I visit.

    • 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 letsgooutside.org

  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 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.

  • What an awesome list of things to do! I will be planning a roadtrip in Cali soon and this will definitely come in handy!

  • Awesome list. I lived in Napa valley and loved Cali. I didnโ€™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 @ thespectacularadventurer.com

  • These images alone have me wishing I was in So.Cal…. especially that Joshua Tree glamp site. The metal sculptures are pretty amazing too! I saved & pinned this post to help w/ Cali travel planning.

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