Van Nuys Airport (VNY) has all the elements of a blockbuster film—action, adventure, war, world records, movie stars, mystery, and suspense. It’s the story of success, defeat, and reinvention—the ultimate "little engine that could" —and yet it can be considered one of the largest "hidden gems" in Los Angeles because there is so much to learn and experience—and much of it is free.
There may be no greater concentration anywhere of the young, hip and beautiful than in the bars and clubs of this infamous stretch of road. The 2.6-kilometre strip of Sunset Boulevard is situated in the lively city of West Hollywood and upholds that lively city's reputation as a nightlife hotspot.
From the heights of swanky hotel rooftops like the Mondrian’s SkyBar and the Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel, to the glam-grunge of rock clubs like The Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go, there’s a setting to suit your style and mood. In addition to venues that showcase artists ranging from indie singer/songwriters to major-label headliners, there are iconic comedy clubs such as The Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store. Or head to The Roxy—where Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered in 1974—for live music in an intimate, 500-capacity venue.
Sunset Strip isn’t just rock and roll. Spend the afternoon shopping at Sunset Plaza, which contains more than 20 stores, including Armani Exchange and H&M. Book lovers, don’t miss the iconic Book Soup, LA’s largest independent bookshop, with floor-to-ceiling shelves that contain more than 60,000 titles, many of which are limited edition.
Includes a 7.5-acre rose garden, with 15,793 rose bushes. The garden was an attraction for the 1932 Olympics. It is currently among the three major public-display rose gardens in Southern California and one of the most important in the state.
Grand Central Art Center is located on a promenade on Broadway and 2nd Street in the heart of downtown Santa Ana. The center is easily accessible through both the Interstate-5 Broadway and Main Street exits.
Located in La Cañada Flintridge, the 160-acre Descanso Gardens was originally developed in 1936 by newspaper magnate Elias Manchester Boddy, whose numerous interests included horticulture and politics. Descanso Gardens offers numerous areas for exploring, including a bird sanctuary, five-acre rosarium, Japanese tea garden, water-wise garden, Oak Woodland, California garden, and the world’s largest collection of camellia flowers.
The world’s most famous sidewalk boasts 2,500 stars and counting!
When you’re in Tinseltown, posing with a sidewalk star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame is practically a rite of passage—and it’s also one of the city’s most beloved free attractions.
Honoring luminaries in motion pictures, television, radio, live theatre, and recording since 1960, the famous sidewalk includes both sides of Hollywood Boulevard from Gower to La Brea, plus both sides of Vine Street from Yucca to Sunset. The handsome terrazzo-and-brass stars (each costs about $30,000 to install and maintain) are unveiled at free public ceremonies, which are often attended by honorees and their celebrity entourages—a great way to see stars if that’s one of your Hollywood goals (and isn’t it everyone’s?).
And don’t think this is about honoring has-beens or where-are-they-nows: Getting a star is still considered an honor, with an impressive roster of recent honorees (Javier Bardem, Viola Davis, James Franco, Kevin Spacey, to name a few). Want to find a particular star? Use the Walk of Fame’s online Star Search tool to send you to the location for your dream photo op.
Pasadena's only dedicated free public garden, Arlington Garden was built in 2005 on the former site of the historic Durand Mansion. The garden includes thousands of California-native plants such as poppies, sunflowers, cactus and succulents, orchards of orange and olive trees, and many more species. Arlington Garden also features a variety of benches and tables, birdbaths and statuary. A classical, seven-circuit Labyrinth was built at the garden in October 2010. In November 2008, 21 crepe myrtle trees were donated and permanently installed at Arlington as part of Yoko Ono's Wish Tree series.
This garden is not only friendly to people and pets, but also exists as a refuge for Pasadena’s native fauna. Birds, bees and butterflies are particularly abundant and can be seen throughout the year.
One of the world's most iconic cinemas, the TCL Chinese Theatre opened as Grauman's Chinese Theatre on May 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings. Thousands of people lined Hollywood Boulevard for the theatre’s grand opening. The theatre opened to the public the following day, on May 19.
The Hollywood landmark has hosted many movie premieres since then, as well as three Academy Award ceremonies and numerous events. The TCL Chinese Theatre boasts the single largest IMAX auditorium in the world, and the third largest commercial movie screen in North America. The theatre welcomes more than four million visitors from around the world every year.
Besides its Chinese design, the theatre’s most distinct feature is the famous Forecourt of the Stars, with nearly 200 celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs immortalized in the concrete. Visitors can literally touch Hollywood history, from Marilyn Monroe to Tom Hanks, Betty Grable’s legs, Jimmy Durante’s nose, and the magic wands of Harry Potter’s heroic trio. While the origin stories vary, the theatre's official account in its books and souvenir programs credits actress Norma Talmadge for inspiring the tradition when she accidentally stepped into wet concrete. Sid Grauman himself claimed in a radio interview that he came up with the idea when he stepped in soft concrete - his autograph and handprint, dated 1927, remain today.
Looking for a picture-perfect view of the Sign? For many visitors to Los Angeles, there is no more coveted photo than a shot of the world famous Sign. Though it is visible from all over the city from its lofty perch on Mt. Lee, it can actually be surprisingly difficult to get a well-angled shot.
Stunning views of the Hollywood Sign unfold at your own pace on hiking trails that meander through the rolling chaparral of the Santa Monica Mountains. Trails originally blazed by paws, hooves, and yucca-thatched moccasins now connect us to cultural as well as natural wonders. The western frontier of Griffith Park offers hikers amazingly close encounters with the Sign, which is off-limits to human hands, just below the ridgeline at the 1,708-foot summit of Mt. Lee. On the longest hike, you can ascend above and behind the Sign’s 45-foot-tall aluminum letters, where you look out over a windswept vista encompassing the DOOWYLLOH sign, the dreamy towers of downtown Los Angeles, and, on a clear day, the ageless blue Pacific.
Griffith Observatory is a Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Since opening in 1935, Griffith Observatory has been a world leader in public astronomy, an icon of Los Angeles, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California’s most popular attractions. Visitors can look through a telescope, see a live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, explore the exhibits, and enjoy the spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign.
In addition, its iconic façade has been featured in more than 300 films and television shows. The Observatory is a Los Angeles landmark and worldwide tourist destination for over a million visitors a year.
Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of over 135,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of art history from new and unexpected points of view. A museum of international stature as well as a vital cultural center for Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collection with the Greater Los Angeles County and beyond through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over 1.5 million visitors annually, in addition to serving millions more through community partnerships, school outreach programs, and creative digital initiatives.
At the Natural History Museum discover your world past and present. Encounter dinosaurs, experience nature, explore our dioramas, marvel at one of the most impressive gem and mineral collections in the world, and learn how L.A. went from tiny pueblo to sprawling metropolis in our Becoming Los Angeles exhibit. Seasonally, take stroll through our Butterfly and Spider Pavilions, or check out one of our upcoming special exhibitions.
Music is power. And at the GRAMMY Museum you can experience that power first-hand through four floors of exciting interactive exhibits in vibrant downtown Los Angeles. On the fourth floor our touch-screen Crossroads table allows you to explore over 160 genres of music. On the third floor, you can pretend you’re a rock star in our Roland Live corner. And on the second floor you’ll find our latest special exhibit, along with our Clive Davis Theater, where both Taylor Swift and Ringo Starr have performed, plus many others.
he California Science Center is a dynamic destination where families, adults and children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs and awe-inspiring films.
The Science Center is open to the public seven days a week, 362 days per year, with free general admission to its permanent exhibit galleries. The facility, which opened in February 1998, spans more than 400,000 sq. feet and includes four major exhibit areas. World of Life probes the commonalities of the living world, from the single-celled bacterium to the 100-trillion-celled human being; Creative World examines the ways people employ technology to meet their needs for transportation, communication and structures; and Ecosystems, a major expansion opened in March of 2010, features an unprecedented blend of nearly 400 species of live plants and animals, and hands-on exhibits in 11 immersive environments. Ecosystems highlights include a 188,000 gallon kelp tank populated with live kelp, fish, and other marine life, a desert flash flood, and a special gallery dedicated to the urban ecology of Los Angeles. The Ecosystems experience empowers explorers with the science knowledge to become better stewards of the environment.
Gone are the glory days of the Wild West, but you can still get in on the action at the Autry Museum of the American West. Just across from the entrance to the L.A. Zoo in Griffith Park, you’ll find this 3,345 sqm complex with over 500,000 works of art and artifacts from the American frontier.
Co-founded by musical western star Gene Autry in 1988, it’s natural that the museum would dedicate space to cool Western film memorabilia, from the pistols used by Steve McQueen to costumes from 2005’s Brokeback Mountain. There’s even a replica movie set of an Old Western town with storefronts. (Little-known fact: The first-ever feature-length movie filmed in Hollywood was a Western—the 1914 silent film The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The camera used to film it is here, too.)
A bronze statue of “the singing cowboy” Autry greets you at the entrance, but the museum covers much more than just Hollywood gunslingers—you’ll learn all about the real Old West, too. You’ll find engraved golden pistols given to Annie Oakley by her husband Frank Butler. There’s an extensive saddle display, a mail stage coach from 1855, Smith & Wesson revolvers, pioneer portraits, cowboy hats, buckskin jackets—even a saloon with a mahogany bar and roulette wheel.
For over 50 years the Ahmanson Theatre has presented a wide variety of dramas, musicals, comedies and classic revivals. A unique, state-of-the-art reconfiguration proves a variable seating capacity from 1,600 to 2,000. It currently enjoys the largest theatrical season ticket base on the West Coast in a year-round season from early fall through late summer.
The Bradbury Building is the oldest commercial building remaining in the central city and one of Los Angeles’ unique treasures and make this one of downtown's most photographed icons.
Built in 1893, this building’s light-filled Victorian count rises 50 feet with open-cage elevators, marble stairs and ornate iron railings. In the true spirit of Los Angeles, it has been featured in many movies, from DOA to Blade Runner.
Find a full day of action-packed entertainment all in one place: thrilling Theme Park rides and shows, a real working movie studio, and Los Angeles’ best shops, restaurants and cinemas at CityWalk. Universal Studios Hollywood is a unique experience that’s fun for the whole family.
Go behind the scenes of a real working movie studio! Visit 13 city blocks on four acres of historic studio lot in the largest set construction project in studio history, built with creative consultation from Steven Spielberg himself.
Or see what awaits you inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it’s all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, now open at Universal Studios Hollywood. Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade, and sample fare from some of the wizarding world’s best-known establishments. Plus experience pulse-pounding rides and attractions that transport you into a world of magical thrills and excitement.
Enter a magical kingdom where you can sail with pirates, explore exotic jungles, meet fairy-tale princesses, dive under the ocean and rocket through the stars! Disneyland Park is a beloved Southern California destination where generations of families have made their Disney dreams come true. Walt Disney’s original Disneyland theme park, which first opened on July 17, 1955, is now divided into 8 extravagantly themed lands: Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, Critter Country, New Orleans Square and Adventureland.
You know you’ve arrived in Santa Monica, California when you see the iconic Ferris wheel of the Santa Monica Pier jutting into the inviting waters of the Pacific Ocean. Set at Santa Monica’s westernmost point, the Santa Monica Pier is a staple of this picturesque seaside community. Packed with family-friendly activities, restaurants and shops, it also has stunning views and over a century’s worth of history. Here’s everything you need to know about the Santa Monica Pier, the area’s most recognizable landmark.
Constructed in 1909, the storied Santa Monica Pier was the first concrete pier on the West Coast. It quickly gained a reputation among locals as the best fishing spot in Santa Monica. The Looff Hippodrome, now a National Historic Landmark and home to a beautiful carousel, opened in 1916, followed by the iconic carousel in 1939. In 1941, the iconic Santa Monica Yacht Harbor neon sign was unveiled; this is the place for the perfect selfie!
A visit to the Getty Villa offers an experience of ancient Greek and Roman art in a setting that recreates a first-century Roman villa. Home to the J. Paul Getty Museum antiquities collection, the two-floor museum displays art that spans the 7,000 years from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman empire.
The presentation of the collection focuses on the development of art among the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. Visitors are invited to explore how and why the styles, subjects, and ways of making art resemble each other and differ across cultures and times.
The Getty Villa has four gardens that blend Roman architecture with open air spaces and Mediterranean plants.
In ancient times, gardens served both practical and aesthetic purposes at Roman country homes. They let fresh air and light enter the home, and also acted as gathering places to have conversations or to escape the heat.
Malibu Pier isn’t one of the longest piers in California, but it is in one of the best locations. West of the pier you can walk for several miles when the tide isn’t high. In that direction you’ll cross Carbon Beach, La Costa Beach, and Las Flores Beach (the latter two are not easily visited from Pacific Coast Highway). East of Malibu Pier is Surfrider Beach where longboard surfers and stand-up paddleboarders play in the mild rolling break. Farther to the east, Malibu Lagoon State Beach offers a unique setting without million dollar mansions behind (although they are never far away in Malibu). The Adamson House and Garden (Tour) between the lagoon and the pier is cool to see when it’s open. Malibu Farm Cafe and Restaurant is at the end of the pier and has healthy food for hungry visitors. Nobu and other restaurants are nearby as well. Parking is available in the lot next to the pier and along PCH.
Point Dume State Beach features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access. The beach is presently operated by Los Angeles County, which also operates Zuma County Beach. These facilities are noted for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing. Point Dume is a perfect place to watch for California gray whales during the December to mid April migration period.
At the end of Westward Beach Road, access to Point Dume Nature Preserve begins from the cul-de-sac. A gradual ascending trail leads to an ancient coastal bluff sand dune. Visitors are asked to stay on the trail in an effort to help reserve this unique sand accumulation. An incredible view encompassing the entire Santa Monica Bay, north Malibu Coast, inland Santa Monica Mountains and distant Catalina Island may be enjoyed from the top on a clear day. A boardwalk, just below the summit, leads to a viewing platform - it tends to be more sheltered on a windy day. A stairway from the east side of the bluff-top preserve allows access to a more isolated beach and fine tidepooling opportunities.
Everything for an exciting day out whether you want to climb a rock, surf, swim or just relax in the sun. Check out the nearby restaurants for full sit-down meals with great views over the sea. Hike the ridge, or watch the Dolphins and Seals. It's all hear at your beach, Zuma Beach!
Think there’s no wide-open countryside left in Los Angeles? Think again. The Santa Monica Mountains stretch for 80km across the northwestern boundary of the Los Angeles basin. Within the range lie more than 60,000 largely undeveloped hectares of grassy swales, rock-studded hillsides, tree-shaded glens, and windswept beaches. A mosaic of state, local, and federal preserves protects this land, all managed under the umbrella of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the nation’s largest urban national park.
One of the few mountain ranges in the United States to run east to west rather than north to south, the Santa Monicas can claim big nature bragging rights. Considered to be a “botanical island” in L.A.’s urban corridor, the slopes that run straight down to the Pacific are covered in chaparral, coastal sage, springtime wildflowers, and oak and sycamore forests. More than 20 species of endangered plants and animals thrive here. This is a place where you might see a bobcat stalk its prey, a coyote lope across the grasslands, or a golden eagle fly overhead.
William Wrigley Jr. commissioned the construction of Catalina Casino in 1929 to mark the 10-year anniversary of his 1919 purchase of Catalina Island. Nearly 90 years later, this 11-story icon stands as a reminder to Catalina’s historic beginnings as a romantic escape for the millions who made the 26-mile trip across the sea to enjoy a movie, dinner and dancing during the Casino’s early days as the hub of Avalon nightlife.
Also Catalina Casino offers three narrated walking tours—Discover the Casino, Behind the Scenes Casino and Twilight at the Casino. Each gives you a unique perspective of this Art Deco masterpiece, from the first theatre built specifically for “talkies” on the lower level, to the world’s largest circular ballroom on the top level, where thousands once danced the night away to the sounds of big band music.
Located inside Avalon’s historic El Encanto building, Island Spa Catalina blends 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor bliss into Catalina's only complete destination spa. Reflecting Catalina’s rich history and relaxed seaside vibe, the Spa incorporates intrinsic island botanicals into a variety of thoughtfully-selected treatments and therapies designed to rejuvenate your mind and body, including massage therapies, facial treatments, and more.
Spa amenities include nine treatment rooms, luxurious lounges, private suites, Jacuzzi, soaking pool, dry sauna, eucalyptus steam room and expansive relaxation deck with beautiful ocean views. Let life's little worries melt away at Island Spa Catalina.
Lovers Cove is on Pebbly Beach Road just a short distance east from Avalon on Catalina Island. It is a short walk to this cove from town and even shorter from the Catalina Express ferry landing dock. Unfortunately there isn’t much of a beach between the road and the water at this location. This rocky shoreline is mostly a snorkeling destination. Inquire in town about nearby snorkeling spots and they might send you to this location. Snorkeling gear, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, bikes, golf carts, and more can be rented in town to explore the area. The Catalina Express operates boats daily to Catalina Island from the mainland in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Dana Point.
For more than 60 years, the Catalina Island Museum has collected, preserved and presented the rich cultural heritage of Catalina Island for visitors from all over the world to enjoy.
Located in the brand new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building on Metropole Avenue, the Catalina Island Museum invites you to discover more than 7,000 years of Catalina history through dozens of engaging and visually exciting exhibits.
Ever wondered what it's like to live on an island? Who discovered Santa Catalina Island? What rich-and-famous people have lived on Catalina throughout the decades? Catalina Island Museum’s knowledgeable staff and guides will help lead you through the unique history of our special island so you can get the most out of your visit.
Attend a lecture, workshop or special event to get a personal perspective of Catalina island history. Take a piece of Catalina home with you from the Museum gift shop. Discover Catalina at the Catalina Island Museum!
The Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden is a thirty-minute stroll up Avalon Canyon from town center. The Botanic Garden is the primary gateway to access one of the Island's most popular hikes, the Garden to Sky Trail.
The Wrigley Memorial honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr., who lived from 1861 to 1932. Although best known as the founder of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, largest manufacturer of chewing gum in the world, he also played an instrumental role in the history of Santa Catalina Island.
Legoland California Resort has more than 60 rides, shows and attractions including the new Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Mini land Model Display with a 16-foot long Finalizer model made completely out of LEGO bricks plus six more scenes! Conquer dragons, battle pirates and discover ancient treasures at the Resort, also home to Legoland Water Park, Sea Life Aquarium; and Surfers’ Cove – a water park expansion featuring racer-water slides.
Spread across 190 acres on beautiful Mission Bay Park, SeaWorld is known for its amazing animals, interactive attractions, aquariums, rides, beautiful landscaping and education programs for all ages. Unforgettable experiences begin immediately at SeaWorld's interactive arrival experience, Explorer's Reef. Guests enter under an iconic wave sculpture and are immediately immersed into an undersea adventure where they can touch a shark, interact with a ray and feel tiny cleaner fish gently nibble at their hands.
An urban paradise for all ages, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see in Southern California, with more than 4,000 rare & fascinating animals. See giant pandas, Komodo dragons, orangutans, koalas, flamingos, polar bears, and more. With animal encounters, interactive experiences, and a lively atmosphere, it's a great place for family fun and gathering friends.
Maritime Museum features historic ships that display both permanent and temporary exhibits on board. You can see what it was like to live and work on these vessels at Maritime Museum of San Diego. Look into the cabins where ship crew mates would sleep, walk by the kitchen and dining areas to see where they had meals and satisfy your curiosity by seeing the very small bathrooms and showers. San Diego Maritime Museum offers daily public tours so that you and your friends or family can explore this place often - and learn plenty about ship life.
Maritime Museum San Diego has public events that make for great experiences and quality bonding time with family and friends. During the Family Overnight Adventure at San Diego Maritime Museum, you and your loved ones can spend a night on the Star of India. Maritime Museum will tell you all about how the immigrants and crew lived and worked on this ship. Guests can participate in ship chores. You might raise the sail or rig a bosun's chair at Maritime Museum of San Diego. Your kids will know how to hoist cargo and sing sea chanteys like they were the original passengers on this ship after a fun day at the Maritime Museum.
Balboa Park, originally called City Park, used to be 1,400 acres of undeveloped land. Landscaping began in 1892, followed by the construction of water systems and roads through 1910. In 1915, San Diego was to be the host of the Panama-California Exposition.
Nature lovers have a lot to see in the gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego. The 1935 (Old) Cactus Garden at San Diego Balboa Park features massive cactus and succulent plants. Visitors will even find exotic African and Australian Protea plants at this area within Balboa Park San Diego. The Botanical Building and the lily pond in front of it are some of the most popular areas that are photographed in Balboa Park - and with good reason. There are over 2,100 permanent plants inside the building and a changing collection of cycads, ferns, orchids and palms. The California Native Plant Garden shows visitors thousands of plants that thrive here in their San Diego habitat.
Bring your kids to the Balboa Park Carousel. This fun destination is adjacent to the San Diego Zoo and features plenty of hand-carved animals so that your kid has lots of choices. All but two of the hand-carved animals on the Balboa Park San Diego Carousel are original from 1910! While you're on the merry-go-round, you can even play the brass ring game. Balboa Park's Carousel is one of a small number around the world that still have the brass ring game for riders to play. The Balboa Park Miniature Railroad takes families on a fun journey across four acres.
The Railroad Museum in San Diego in Balboa Park presents one of the largest indoor train models in the world, and it is also the only accredited railway-themed museum in the United States. San Diego Model Railroad Museum is educational, exciting and interesting for adults and children of all ages. Whether you grew up creating and playing with your own train models or you are a railway connoisseur, the Railroad Museum San Diego will provide you with entertainment as you admire the impressive designs and learn about the history of the railway systems in California. Guests will witness the transformation of trains and the railways through time and gain facts about the early railroad women in history.
Visitors at the San Diego Railroad Museum will recognize the miniature version of famous San Diego sites and landmarks while trains zoom through the landscapes. The San Diego Railroad Museum features imaginary prototypes and the hypothetical design of the Pacific Desert Lines that were surveyed but constructed. The Railroad Museum San Diego also presents the real-life mountain scenes in the Tehachapi Loop and the Goat Canyon trestle on the San Diego and Arizona Eastern line, as train history and authenticity is preserved in each exhibit. The toy train gallery is also an exciting must-see attraction as it has four tracks and operating accessories. The kids will enjoy pressing the buttons to operate the coal trains, which blow horns, whistles and even smoke at the San Diego Railroad Museum.
The William B. Kolender Sheriff’s Museum in Old Town, San Diego preserves and promotes the history of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for the enlightenment and education of visitors of all ages
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was founded in 1984 and is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing more than 600 species on display. Sea life on exhibit includes stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, sea horses, and numerous other native marine species, which can be viewed above and below the waterline. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of very few in the world to exhibit both bluefin and yellowfin tuna, and is one of the few aquariums to successfully care for the ocean sunfish in captivity. The centerpiece exhibit in the aquarium is a 1,200,000-U.S.-gallon Open Sea exhibit, which features one of the world's largest single-paned windows. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has attracted more than 47 million visitors and has won awards for its exhibits, architecture, and cultural and educational impacts.
The small surf community of Pleasure Point is located in an unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, nestled between Moran Lagoon and 41st Avenue, adjacent to the Monterey Bay. Nearly a dozen famous surf breaks make this an ideal destination for skilled surfers. It’s a classic beachside town and the genesis of surf culture in Santa Cruz – home to wetsuit pioneer Jack O’Neill – where locals mix effortlessly with visitors eager to capture that authentic surf vibe.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History (SCMNH) has been connecting people to the wonders of nature for over 100 years. Located above Seabright Beach, the Museum highlights the region’s diverse plant, animal, and human communities from the shoreline of Monterey Bay to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We strive to fulfil our mission to connect people to nature and inspire stewardship of the natural world through an array of educational programs and exhibits focused on the natural and cultural history of the region.
Overlooking internationally renowned surfing hotspot Steamer Lane, this little gem of a museum has photographs, surfboards, and other interesting artefacts tracing over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz. The museum shop specializes in great surfing books and surfing-related items.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a classic seaside amusement park located along a beautiful sandy beach in a friendly beach town.
The Boardwalk features more than 40 rides and attractions including two National Historic Landmarks: the world-famous 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the beautiful 1911 Looff Carousel, plus many scream-inducing thrill rides, gentle kiddie rides, casual restaurants, gift shops, games, indoor arcades, and miniature golf.
West Cliff Drive ridiculously, scenic pathway traverses one of the most inspiring settings along the California coast. Hugging the shoreline of the majestic Monterey Bay, the waterfront thoroughfare stretches from the sandy beach at Natural Bridges State Beach to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Along the way, you’ll pass vivid, succulent-covered cliffs, secluded beach coves, and some of the region’s most famous sights including big wave surfers at Steamer Lane, playful pups at Its Beach, and the Santa Cruz Surf Museum at Lighthouse Point.
This park and beach is an excellent vantage point for viewing shore birds, migrating whales, as well as seals and otters playing offshore. Further along the beach, public access tidepools offer a glimpse of life beneath the sea. Low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. The park also includes a large area of coastal scrub and grasslands, with bright native wildflowers in the spring. Moore Creek flows through the park, forming freshwater wetlands and a salt marsh before it reaches the sea.
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center offers hands-on immersion into the world of ocean exploration and discovery. With a 20,000-square-foot visitor center, guests can touch a shark, explore the latest discoveries in ocean science, and take in the spectacular Monterey Bay, called the “Serengeti of the sea,” for its incredible diversity of marine life. Powered by the Long Marine Laboratory, a world-renowned university research facility, our exhibit hall offers a deeper dive into the fascinating and varied work of scientists studying the oceans here in Santa Cruz and around the world.
The GVM home is the first floor of the Science Community Center on the west campus of Modesto Junior College. Our museum focuses on the natural history and various habitats of the Central Valley of California.
At this 135-acre outdoor, living museum, you can also explore the Hummingbird Trail to seek out the rare, elusive white hummingbird, and sniff pleasing scents of lavender, jasmine, and oregano in the fun Aroma Garden.
The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden’s rich and diverse collection contains representatives of more than 300 plant families of Mediterranean climates. The garden maintains collections of rare and threatened plants of unusual scientific interest. Particular specialties are world conifers, primitive angiosperms, and bulb-forming plant families. Large assemblages of plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and California natives are displayed on the grounds. Many of the species in these collections are not otherwise available for study in American botanical gardens and arboreta.
On the forefront of astronomical research since 1888 (before there was even a road up Mount Hamilton) the Lick Observatory is nothing short of an icon, with its foundation set firmly in Silicon Valley innovation and technological prowess. Beyond the stunning views from 4,209 feet above the valley, the brilliant history of how these giant telescopes were even dreamed up (let along how they came to be) and the mind blowing discoveries that have taken place with them, just being able to see light years away through the lens is enough to send one into orbit. Add in tours, music series, lectures by leading researchers doing cutting edge work, and other special events and you have one of the most unique and powerful experiences of the city.
Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad and the forest. In the 1880s, narrow-gauge steam locomotives were used to haul giant redwood logs out of the mountains. Roaring Camp's steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing regularly scheduled passenger service in America.
Mount Hermon Adventures has grown immensely since it began and has become an internationally recognized provider of adventure experiences and team development programs. They now operate the world-famous Redwood Canopy Tours, multiple aerial adventure courses, intentional Team Building programs, and provide Mount Hermon overnight guests with mountain biking, surfing, sea kayaking, target sports, aquatic facilities, paint ball, skate park and more. Guests experience Mt. Hermon's core values of quality, authenticity and inspiration with the final goal of living a transformed life.