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Four inexpensive day trips in Southern California

It seems like it is almost impossible to be bored in sunny Southern California.  There’s always something to do, no matter what category your interests fall into. If you are looking to explore somewhere new, load up your car and go on a fun day trip to any of these four inexpensive towns that are all in Southern California.

Palomar Mountain

Looking to get out of the house and breathe in the fresh mountain air? Palomar Mountain is the perfect quick escape. The drive itself boasts a scenic overlook of North County. Once on the mountain, the perfect spot for lunch is Mother’s Kitchen.  This is a cozy vegetarian eatery with outdoor eating and delicious sandwiches and soup.  Next, enjoy the hiking trails of the almost 2,000 acre Palomar Mountain State Park.  If you want to experience the seasons, a great time to see the leaves change is in the fall and winter. However, this state park is 5,000 feet above sea level so even those hot summer nights can be cool and breezy on this day trip. Palomar Mountain is also a great adventure to go on if you are looking to see some wildlife.  All animals are known to be seen year-round so if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot gray foxes, hawks, bobcats and deer. To end the short trip, learn more about astronomy and visit the Palomar Observatory. It is free and open to the public and has three active research telescopes.


Reminiscent of the old gold-mining days, Julian is another charming mountain get-away.  In addition to historic hiking trails, Julian has a multitude of delicious restaurants and bakeries.  Any craving can be satisfied here.  Specifically, Julian is perhaps most famous for the Julian Pie Company.  Grab your favorite slice of pie and eat outside in the crisp mountain air.  Afterwards, explore the small town that is bursting with specialty shops.  One of the most notable is the Julian Soap Company, the one-stop shop for homemade specialty goods.  Occasionally, horse-drawn carriage rides are available along the main road. End the day by exploring Julian’s very own brewery: Nickel Beer Company.

Venice Beach

Aside from the mountain day trips, check out a more coastal one. Dive head first into the Venice Beach culture by strolling along Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  Here, you can check out the best places to discover world-famous food, art, and fashion. Take a break from the sun by trying homemade ice cream at Salt & Straw.  In addition, take a closer look between the shops, because captivating murals adorn the sides of buildings. They are the perfect spots for spontaneous photo-shoots. If you are looking for a more active day trip, try taking the bike path that takes you all the way to the Santa Monica Pier. This is a great way to explore all Venice Beach has to offer while excising.  Looking to take a rest? Grab a bite to eat and check out one of the only skate parks that is actually located on the beach. The Venice Beach skate park is great entertainment that is free and close to all of the shops. 

Newport Beach

If you prefer luxury over eccentricity, Newport Beach is the place to be. Hop aboard one of the many cruises that go on throughout the day.  These cruises offer live entertainment, dinner at sea, and whale-watching.  After enjoying the sea breeze, head inland and shop at the Fashion Island. This outdoor shopping center has panoramic ocean views and is home to more than 30 dining options. Stop in at the Orange County Museum of Art to appreciate captivating modern art pieces. It is only $10 dollars for adults and $7.50 for students. Finally, end the day on a magical note by seeing a movie at the iconic Lido Theatre.

While these are only four of Southern California’s fun-filled day trips, plenty more can be explored. If you are looking to escape for a day, consider mapping out a short trip that doesn’t require much money and see how it can be worth your time.

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