Southern California Attractions

5 Places To Visit In Southern California Before School Starts

For that one last, great, Instagram Post.


I moved to Irvine, California in 2003. Northern California was my birthplace, but Southern California is where I grew up, lived, and loved. For those of you lucky enough to call this great place home, or for those of you who are just visiting, here's a list to the best places to visit before leaving or returning elsewhere for college- ranked in no particular order.

1. Sunken City, San Pedro

Located in the sleepy town of San Pedro, there is a rich history to these scenic spots. Sunken City has gained popularity recently, especially with Instagrammers, as its dystopian and graffiti-covered ruins provide a haunting backdrop for breathtaking photos. Created in the 1920's as an idyllic village filled with beach bungalows overlooking the ocean, a devastating landslide plunged the resort-like area into the rocks below, creating what would eventually become known as the "Sunken City" to locals. This area is now a popular hiking spot and provides a thrill for those seeking adventure, as it requires a bit of trespassing to access. This is by no means an encouragement, but if you do decide to check this spot out, be mindful of the restrictions and hazards it poses.

2. Pirate's Tower, Laguna Beach

There are 5 beaches that every Southern Californian knows: Huntington, Newport, Dana Point, Corona Del Mar, and Laguna. However, in between these massive and popular spots, are hidden gems tucked away with their entrances often harder to reach, and sometimes in residential areas. Pirate's Tower, as affectionately known by locals, is located within Victoria Beach. The history of this structure spans back to the 1940's, where a wealthy landowner was inspired by the gold-like quality of the beaches and desired to possess a piece of architecture that would bring him back to the tales of pirates and sparkling islands he loved. Beyond being a spot for captivating photos, there are legends that coins were buried beneath the foundation of the tower. This is most definitely a spot worth checking out.

3. Potato Chip Rock, San Diego

Beyond the thrilling, and rather unsettling picture it gives, I have a fond connection with Potato Chip Rock- simply because it reminds my fat ass of, you guessed it, potato chips. Located on top of Mt. Woodson in the middle of an 8 mile long trip hike, this particular scenic spot is not for the faint of heart. Although the trail to reach this iconic land mass is nothing too challenging, expect a full day of hot sun and trudging through inclined pathways. Attempt with only the closest of friends and family. If you make to the ascent, however, you'll be rewarded with one of the best views of San Diego, with a cool photo on top of a thin sliver of rock to boot. Be warned though, this rock can and will one day break, so best see it now and exercise caution while doing so.

4. Watt's Towers, Los Angeles

From afar, these art structures blend into the L.A. Skyline with their industrial and utilitarian silhouettes. Artist Simon Rodia worked for 34 years, since 1921, to singlehandedly build these towering monuments to a "Nuestro Pueblo" (our town) out of simple materials and pure ingenuity- without any scaffolding or modern equipment. Today, these structures are a fun and enriching area to visit, as well as a beautiful and different backdrop for the perfect photo. Entrance requires a small fee, and you can hear more about Rodia's passion and message, as well as see his other works once inside. It's definitely worth a look around.

5. Deep Creek Hot Springs, San Bernardino

Two weeks out of Japan, I found myself horribly missing one of the best experiences I had in the country: Hot springs. Called "onsen", the Japanese have had a long history with these beneficial bodies of water, and it is thought to cleanse and reinvigorate the soul to bathe in an onsen. Unfortunately, America, or more specifically, Southern California is not quite as abundant in its hot spring water sources, and what little exists lies often at the end of an arduous hike and without the luxurious offerings of the Japanese ones (my favorite was this little place, tucked away in the town of Hakone that featured a fresh milk vending machine from a local farm!). Since returning home, I began my research on places that could scratch this incessant need and stumbled upon Deep Creek Hot Springs, a natural basin of sulfurous spring water located in a 3.6-mile trail just outside Hesperia. Although quite well known, this spot was utterly relaxing and soothing after the dusty hike, and I found it to be sufficiently uncrowded during the weekday that I went. unforgettable memory taking a day trip to.

Southern California is a wonderful place. In N Out greets visitors and residents alike with their iconic red, white and yellow, and you are never more than 90 minutes from a local beach. These are just a few of the places that I believe would make a great day trip- however, there are undoubtedly more. Los Angeles alone is home to countless trendy rooftop bars, quirky museums, and hidden hot spots. Don't even get me started on the San Diego County. Before you return to a full schedule and nights of stress, treat yourself and/or your loved ones to a day or night out to a scenic and unforgettable memory.

Popular Right Now

I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say, "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing.

My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from "Shameless."

"Shameless" is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out of place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum, it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone, however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by "Shameless."

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

10 Vacation Destinations That Are Worth Hopping Over To During Easter Break

Colored eggs and chocolate are not the only treats you can get for Easter Break.


Easter is a time to spend with family, have time away from school, go out with friends, and remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, it is also an opportunity to visit many fun and exciting locations. Whether you love swimming, dancing at clubs, indulging in five-star restaurants, or getting a massage, there are a variety of activities that will make anyone's Easter more enjoyable. Here are 10 vacation locations that will meet the needs of any family this Easter.

1. The Royal Hawaiian

Hawaii is one of the best places to visit for vacation. Families will love walking along the shore, getting delicious food or drinks at one of the many bars, and even stopping by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for a massage at the Abhasa Waikiki Spa. If you are courageous enough, head out to the beach for surfing or just to relax. With so many sites to explore, this is a vacation that will bring lasting memories.

2. Berry Springs Lodge

Here is a nice and quiet location that is definitely a treat if you want to experience a less hectic vacation. The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is great for anyone who loves taking photos or exploring landscapes. There are two Whirlpool Suites with a fireplace, deck, and whirlpool that gives you an awesome view of the mountains. Activities include playing a game of pool and going on a mountain bike through the nearby trail, so try to stay observant and take in the environment.

3. Lake Austin Spa Resort

If you plan on traveling to a much warmer state for the holiday break, then this would a good choice. This resort is just a short drive away from Austin and is an excellent place to take it easy. Here you can stay at one of the cottages, take a nap by the fireplace, stroll through the outdoor garden, get a massage at the spa or have a seat in the hot tub. This is a vacation that will certainly take your stress away.

4. Fredericksburg

This is another city located in the state of Texas that features a special Easter tradition that families will love. Dress up for the Easter pageant and have a fun time. Visitors can see the Easter fires in the surrounded area that light up the night. There are plenty of food, drinks, and activities to keep everyone occupied, and ensure that they will have a happy Easter.

5. Bay St. Louis

Here is a vacation spot in Mississippi to celebrate Easter. All families will enjoy watching the sunrise and hunting for Easter eggs. Other activities to check out include the Stella, Blues and Barbecue festival for some tasty food and fun. There is also a yelling contest in which participants scream "Stella!" which is a reference to "A Streetcar Named Desire." No matter what you choose to do, this location will result in plenty of excitement, laughter, and possibly a sore throat.

6. Flagstaff

If you are traveling with a small or big family and do not mind the heat, then head down to this destination located in the very hot state of Arizona. The land is beautiful and gives photographers a chance to capture the amazing forests and mountains there. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the Snowbowl Ski Resort or if you want to take it slow, there is always Humphreys Peak where you will see gorgeous landscapes. Lastly, make sure to visit one of the restaurants that they have to offer for a delicious breakfast for an amazing start to the day ahead.

7. Lake Powell

This destination features cool rock landscapes and is located on the border of Utah and Arizona. Despite the place being surrounded by boulders, families can still have a fun time. You can take photos of the environment or visit a petting zoo. Take a walk around the land, find a spot to catch some fish for dinner, and you will agree this vacation definitely rocks.

8. Santa Monica

Here is an awesome vacation spot for anyone who loves working out and engaging in various outdoor activities. This is the place where you will find the Half Marathon for Easter. There are other options like the 5k, 10k, or 15k run, as well. The weather is sunny and it's a nice place to go for a swim, visit a farmer's market or participate in other Easter themed events.

9. Savannah

Do not let the heat discourage you from visiting this location. There are multiple gardens and parks to check out, along with markets and a music festival. If you are looking for additional fun, there is a Savannah Riverboat Cruise for families to travel around the city. There are a variety of delicious options for brunch or dinner, and other surprises for your holiday.

10. St. Augustine

During Easter vacation, there are so many things to do with family and friends. If you decide to travel to this location, you will enjoy the Easter parade known as the Parada de los Caballos y Coches or the Parade of Horses and Coaches. If you are looking for a nice family event, head on down to the parade and listen to the music. The horses and carriages are great to see as well, and there are multiple restaurants located around the city when you need a break from the festivities.

Related Content

Facebook Comments