Thursday, February 14, 2013

Things to do in Southern California

I usually advocate exploring the state over heading elsewhere on vacation, but sometimes you just have to get away. Arizonans escaping to Southern California can choose from these entertainment options:

For a wild experience, visit this wolf conservation and research center, home to rare wolves. It's located 50 miles east of San Diego.

Picnic, hike, camp, explore caverns and soak in picturesque views of the giants Sequoias or Kings Canyon. 

Splurge or catch a movie at the open-air shopping center featuring more than 140 retail stores and restaurants, which cover 1.5 million square feet of retail space.

Experience the non-stop action at this thrill-ride haven, with exciting rides such as the Full Throttle, debuting in 2013, the world's tallest and fastest-looping roller-coaster. 

Farmers Markets
Shop for and sample local foods at various farmers markets throughout Southern California.

Enjoy dinner and a concert at the 1,400-seat water-side outdoor theater, located next to Humphreys Restaurant. It generally runs May-October and spotlights local and national talent.

With three locations in Southern California, music fans can rock out to songs from talented artists.

Bike Trails
Scenic bike trails abound, whether beachside or in valleys, grasslands, and parks.

Embark on a sailing adventure to the fun-filled island with plenty of activities to fill your days, including snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, shopping and boating.

Big Bear
Hit the slopes at Southern California's winter playground. There are myriad activities for the other seasons as well, including fishing and biking.

See the action unfold onstage at one of the professional theater company's many shows this season. 

This is not your average dinner theater: special effects, aerial stunts, swordfights and duels add excitement to guests’ meals. The show is set on a replicated 18th-century Spanish galleon. 

Stroll along the longest wooden pier on the West Coast, fish for California halibut and many more varieties or take the 25-cent shuttle to the restaurant on the end.

Sports fanatics will enjoy the multisport 68,000-square-foot museum, which contains valuable memorabilia, a state-of-the-art theater, displays ranging from amateur to professional sports and an interactive media center.

Nonstop laughs await at the nationally acclaimed improvisational comedy show, appropriate for all ages. Comedians perform based on audience suggestions.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park
The historic venue features the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ and offers year-round organ concerts on Sundays.

Mosey along tranquil paths, check out the exhibitions, admire the koi pond, relax in the Zen garden or sip tea at the Tea Pavilion. Garden tours and classes are available.

Admire the acclaimed contemporary outdoor art installations displayed at UCSD. The campus is on a mesa overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Many yoga centers are found throughout Southern California, offering health and spiritual enlightenment through a variety of classes. Practice your poses at an oceanfront yoga class.

Venissimo, Mission Hills, San Diego or Del Mar
Cheese lovers will appreciate this fromage heaven. Attend the Academy of Cheese to learn how to make your favorite variety.

Let the kid in you out at this theme park, which is home to more than 60 rides, attractions and shows. Dino Island, Pirate Reef adventure ride and Land of Adventure are among the fun options.

Check out the Manta flying coaster, greet animal friends, check out the aquariums, get soaked on water rides, get up close to dolphins, dine with Shamu or catch a show at the 173-acre park. Education is also emphasized as you learn how to help the animals.         

Disneyland and California Adventure
Classic rides such as Matterhorn are now accompanied by Cars Land, which brings Radiator Springs to life.

*This list may grow.