The Purpose Of The 1969 Woodstock Music Festival Was To Hidden Gems in Southern California

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Hidden Gems in Southern California

Many tourists visit popular Southern California destinations such as San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you’re looking for somewhere a little off the radar, check out the following great spots.

Channel Islands

My husband and I have lived in California most of our lives, but somehow we miss these amazing islands that are part of one of the US National Parks. After looking at some great pictures on the internet, we took a short boat ride from Oxnard to Anacapa Island as part of a weekend forest trip.

If you decide to go, be prepared and bring supplies. This tour is for the physically fit and adventurous. You have to climb 157 steps to the top of this rough little island with no food, service, water or flush toilets. Now I hate outhouses, but let me tell you – it was worth it to see the rocky shores, huge cliffs and jagged peaks. With Inspiration Points as a reward for your efforts, you can easily walk around the island in a few hours.

In June, we visited the small island as it covered thousands of cute seagulls in every nook and cranny. Watch out for their protective mums who will smack you in the head if you get too close.

A few years later, we returned to the larger island of Santa Cruz for an interesting kayak tour of the historic sea caves. While boating there, we saw two large schools of whales and dolphins. The water can be rough in certain spots, but the cave was amazing. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

Some people consider these islands uninhabited, but if you’re adventurous and nature-loving, the Channel Islands are the Galapagos of North America.

Huntington Botanical Gardens

This is another amazing place that we haven’t been to in decades. Located in Pasadena, this magnificent property has more than ten magnificent gardens spread over 120 acres. It’s hard to say which garden is the most exciting, but the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the California Garden are my favorites.

We didn’t even get a chance to see the art gallery. The Huntington Art Gallery houses 18th and 19th century British paintings, sculptures and decorative arts, including the famous Blue Boy. Shame on me as a writer, we didn’t visit the Huntington Library, the largest and most comprehensive research library in the United States.

Next time.

Ventura County Wine Trail

Napa may get all the attention as California’s wine country, but my husband and I had fun cruising the rolling hills along the coast near the coastal town of Ventura. We visited two of the nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms.

You can book one of the many wine tours on offer. However, we decided to get a map and explore on our own. Starting in Ventura at the intersection of Highway 1 and Route 101, we took Highway 33 to Ojai.

From “the smallest post office in the US” to the last place James Dean was seen alive, surprises await on this lonely but fascinating journey. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery, which made us want to go back to a simpler place and time with friendly people and dogs. We drank the bottle of wine we bought and took a walk outside to soak up the views of America.

By the way, Ojai and Ventura are also worthwhile stops for a variety of outdoor activities, including charming hotels, luxury spas, and bed and breakfasts. During the summer, Ventura Harbor Village is a hub of activity with festivals and live music on weekends.

Laguna Beach

This charming beach town is located between Los Angeles and San Diego. With more than 20 scenic coves, this beach offers everything from surfing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching tours.

Be careful, surf is everywhere. As a teenager, I decided to go bodysurfing against the tide and got wiped out on a huge wave (Beach Boys song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!). Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this failure because they romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with the songs I grew up with as a Surfer Girl. So it’s their fault.

However, the scenery can’t be beat. Add in some ultra-chic restaurants, shops, and unique art galleries, and you’ll have your picture taken. There’s even a Baby Boomer club with Saturday night dances. Every summer they host Laguna Woodstock, where baby boomers party like it’s 1969.

Heisler Park is a great place to start, located just north of Central Beach, a half-mile walk down a paved path with stunning views of the beach and the soothing sound of the waves. You can take one of the paths to the beach and pool. Benches, picnic tables and grills abound to take in the spectacular views. Hubby and I hung out on one of the grass fields and it was great!

Treasure Island Park is another amazing place located on the five-star Montage Laguna beach, where the real rich live. Beautifully landscaped, several observation benches line the winding path for easy walking. Stairs and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through beautiful rock arches at low tide to find sunbathing areas in the sand and large tide pools. Plus, there’s plenty of grass for picnicking. We recommend bringing wine and cheese for a romantic sunset.

Big Bear Lake

I live in the desert, so nearby Big Bear is a wonderful mountain escape with its magnificent lakes and pristine forests. Boating, fishing and hiking are some of the activities in this small and peaceful village.

Last summer, my husband and I biked around the lake, went on picnics, went down the mountain slide, went go-karting at speeds up to 30 mph, rode the beautiful sky chair, and enjoyed the amazing view. After watching people ride mountain bikes on chairlifts and down the trail, we put it on our to-do list for next time.

Parasailing and ziplining are available for the adventurous.

El Matador Beach

Looking for a stunning beach with white sand, towering cliffs, crashing waves and rock formations in a semi-hidden location?

Look no further than the town of El Matador, just off the Pacific Coast Highway north of Malibu. It’s easy to miss the small brown sign to the small parking lot at the trailhead, so keep an eye out between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. Once you find it, be prepared for a 150-foot climb down a steep flight of stairs.

Not for small children or the physically challenged, but if you can climb down the stairs, the view is breathtaking. Locals know about this beach and you might see some shots – we did!

There is very little to do on this small but wonderful beach, so bring a picnic lunch or wine and find a hidden corner to enjoy the wonderfully romantic setting.

Redondo Beach

You’ve probably noticed by now that my husband and I are beach bums. We found this beach by accident while looking for a nearby place to stay the night before our flight out of LAX the next morning.

The Redondo Pier is an oceanfront and water activity destination that includes harbor cruises, seasonal whale watching, kayaking, canoeing, and pedal boating. To be honest, we didn’t try any of these, but we loved the view from Tony’s on the pier where we enjoyed Happy Hour!

At this pier is a 16-foot great white shark known as Georgette, who is housed in a large tank at the dock’s shark attack facility. If you’re with the grandkids, or if you’re young at heart, you can take the semi-submersible yellow submarine (poor me, now I have the Beatles song in my head) to see the local marine life underwater.

If you’re flying into or about to fly into Los Angeles, staying at an airport hotel is a must.

Catalina Island

This island is more popular than my previous recommendations, but it’s an exciting favorite. My husband and I honeymooned 40 years ago and have been back several times. It’s a small, quaint island with no traffic lights and no fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam includes two golf carts and two person bicycles.

On our honeymoon, we happily biked around Avalon, rode horses, toured the famous casino, and sunbathed on a small beach. We also took a bus to Two Harbors, the only village on Catalina Island. Other popular activities include scuba diving, parasailing, fishing, glass-bottom boating, canoeing, Segway tours, golfing, and hiking.

A few decades later, we took a boat from Long Beach to the island, and it turned out to be one wild ride. My husband and grown children returned again for an open water dive to get their certification in the famous kelp forest surrounded by bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time we visit, I want to try out the new zipline, 1,100 feet long and 600 feet above sea level, at speeds of up to 30 mph!

As you know, there are so many great places to visit in Southern California that it would be impossible to list them all. But I hope I’ve given you some ideas to get you started!

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