Located in Orange County, the world-famous Disneyland Resort (disneyland.disney.go.com) plays host to the Disneyland theme park, Disney California Adventure Park, and Downtown Disney, an outdoor entertainment complex filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels. Combined, the family-friendly theme parks offer more than 85 attractions, including Matterhorn Bobsleds, Space Mountain and the California Screamin' roller coaster.
Hollywood Boulevard features famed landmarks like the Hollywood Walk of Fame (hollywoodchamber.net) and Grauman's Chinese Theatre (chinesetheatres.com), a functioning movie theater with movie stars' footprints and handprints located in the entryway. The Hollywood & Highland (hollywoodandhighland.com) entertainment complex includes numerous shops, restaurants and the Kodak Theatre, home to the annual Academy Awards ceremony.
The Hollywood Bowl (hollywoodbowl.com), a massive outdoor music venue, serves as the summer home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a wide variety of different musical acts. Perched on a hillside, the Bowl allows picnicking, including bottles of wine, throughout the grounds and inside the venue itself before and during performances.
The San Diego Zoo (sandiegozoo.org) lies inside Balboa Park and features more than 4,000 animals, including giant pandas, African elephants, polar bears, meerkats and cougars. The zoo also provides a 35-minute tram tour, various animal stage shows and 10 on-site restaurants and casual eateries.
Built in 1909, the historic Santa Monica Pier (santamonicapier.org) features numerous carnival rides, including a roller coaster and towering Ferris wheel. The pier also offers a vintage 1922 carousel, an aquarium and arcades, as well as multiple snack carts, sit-down restaurants and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
Catalina Island (catalina.com) sits approximately 26 miles off the coast of Southern California. The island retreat features bike-riding paths, hiking trails, zip lining and golf courses, as well as excellent snorkeling and scuba-diving conditions. Catalina also plays host to numerous boutique hotels and resorts. Although most visitors arrive via boat or ferry, some companies offer chartered helicopter rides to the island.
Located approximately 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the midst of the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake (bigbear.com) serves as a year-round destination. The mountain town offers a host of outdoor activities, including fishing, boating and horseback riding, as well as winter skiing and snowboarding resorts. The region also features a zoo and various spas.
The desert resort town of Palm Springs (visitpalmsprings.com) lies 110 miles east of Los Angeles. Offering approximately 350 days of sunshine a year, Palms Springs features numerous golf courses, an aerial tramway up to Mount San Jacinto, and the Living Desert, a 1,200-acre wildlife and botanical park. The region also includes a host of chic hotels decked out in midcentury decor.
Universal Studios Hollywood (universalstudioshollywood.com) theme park offers a behind-the-scenes tram tour of various film sets and prop pieces, including Psycho's Bates Motel and the shark from "Jaws." The park also includes roller coasters, stage shows and 3-D thrill rides. Located directly outside the park, the outdoor Universal Studios CityWalk (citywalkhollywood.com) features sit-down restaurants, casual eateries, specialty shops and a large concert venue.
SeaWorld San Diego (seaworld.com) plays host to a wide variety of marine life, including penguins, dolphins, turtles, sharks and killer whales. The theme park also features numerous aquariums, animal-themed stage shows, and thrill rides, such as aerial tramway gondolas, river-rafting tubes, and a combined water flume and roller-coaster attraction.