As we say goodbye to California next month, these are some of our favorite things that we did during our time in Southern California. If you’re headed here on vacation, these are the best places to visit in Southern California.
I was just looking back through my Instagram and ran across a post from 2013 where I talked about our White Family Bucket List. I said we’d made a list of things we wanted to do before we moved away from California someday.
It kind of breaks my heart a little bit that this day has finally come and that in just a couple of weeks we’ll be off to Texas.
But after six years in California, I can truly say we’ve done everything we wanted to do! NO REGRETS HERE.
These are a few of the things our family has loved in Southern California the very most:
The Best Places to Visit in Southern California
Our favorite beaches in Southern California
Huntington Beach. This was our home for four years, so of course it’s our favorite. But honestly, it’s the best beach. Super wide, amazing sand, and lots of things to do. We recommend parking on 9th street or close by because 9th street has a stop light that makes it really easy to cross the busy road with kids. Plus it has a ramp down to the sand, a brand new playground, bathrooms (I mean, they’re super gross, but at least they’re there), and a walk way halfway down to the sand. Perfect for strollers so you don’t have to lug your stroller all the way down to the water. Only halfway.
Crystal Cove. Our very favorite thing was to do a family hike in the morning and then head down to the beach afterward. Park at Crystal Cove State Park (I think it’s $15 for the day for one car), and choose one of the hiking trails. There are tons, and they have spectacular views of the ocean. When you’re done hiking, grab your beach stuff from the car (we always wore our swimsuits to hike — the boys wore their swim shorts and a tee and I just wore exercise leggings and a tank over my suit), and walk under the road over to the beach. It’s a big, beautiful beach and if you go at low tide you can even check out the tide pools!
Our favorite kid friendly places in Orange County
I wrote a whole post about our favorite parks, museums, splash pads, and more RIGHT HERE!
Our favorite restaurant areas
Pacific City. They built this big, beautiful place a mile from our home when we lived down there, and we walked down so many times. It has amazing restaurants, play areas for kids, a big patio to sit and watch the sunset, cut coffee shops, and just an overall really fun vibe. If you’re looking for a good place to stay when you come for spring break, pick somewhere right around here.
Also, as long as you’re close by, if it’s morning, grab a donut from either Sidecar Donuts or The Donuttery. Both are incredible.
The Circle at Orange. We loved coming down here on date night, and also it’s the cutest at Christmas time with a giant tree in the circle. Lots of good restaurants, antique shopping, and just a cool vibe.
Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen and Citrus Grille are the best in the area. And also you should grab an almond croissant from Pandor while you’re down there.
Newport and Corona Del Mar Areas. Literally so many good spots in this area. Incredible bakeries for brunch, spots on the water for dinner, and fun places to walk around after dinner.
Our favorite close vacationing spots
Terranea in LA. If you’re looking for a kid free getaway and are willing to spend a few bucks, this place is downright magical.
Paradise Point in San Diego. We went down to Paradise Point in the fall of 2018 and it was the most incredible weekend. Make sure you get one of their water front bungalows, because you open your door straight onto the beach and my boys were in HEAVEN. There’s also a big pool, tennis courts, restaurants, and fire pits on the sand. I wish we had time to go back here!
Carlsbad. If you’re going to go, do yourself a favor and go during the spring so you can see the Carlsbad Flower Fields. They’re open for a couple of months and they’re spectacular. Also the boys are dying to go to Legoland again before we move. We LOVE the Omni La Costa Resort – so good for families!
Palm Springs. We went down to Palm Springs a bunch of times during our six years here. Our trip where we stayed at the JW Marriott was one of the highlights.
Santa Barbara. Philip and I did a little kid free getaway here when we first moved to California. And I went back for work last year. It’s dreamy.
My favorite places to go for Fabric in Southern California
Mood fabrics. If you’re coming into town and want some good fabric shopping, Mood is the place to go! It’s the same fabric store they shop at in Project Runway, and I have to say between the NYC and the LA locations, I personally like the layout of the LA one better!
Michael Levine. This is a really good fabric store in the heart of the fabric district in LA. They have tons of great apparel fabric, a home fabric store across the street, and a store full of really good and inexpensive fabric scraps on the second story above the home fabrics.
Angel Textiles. This is my go-to for knits. They have tons of good printed knits, and they’re super inexpensive!
If you’re headed to Southern California this year, definitely add some of these to your list!