5 Activities In and Around Los Angeles

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Sunrise in Pismo Beach, CA

Everyone who visits Los Angeles takes a selfie with the Hollywood sign and watches street performers on Venice Beach, but most people fail to experience the diversity of Southern California. Whether you take a road trip up the Pacific Coast, scream your lungs out at a theme park, take a boat trip to a nearby island, or explore LA’s diverse neighborhoods, dig in deeper the next time you’re in the City of Angels.

Travel the World in LA’s Neighborhoods

You probably know that LA is one of America’s most diverse cities, with people of different races, faiths, and backgrounds mingling on almost every street corner. What you might not realize, however, is that the city is also home to a number of international neighborhoods. From Thai Town in East Hollywood to Little Ethiopia in the Mid-Wilshire District to Historic Filipinotown just south of Echo Park, LA is a veritable patchwork of the world’s people, culture, and cuisine.

The best part about these international neighborhoods? They’re close enough to hot spots like downtown and Beverly Hills that you can still stay in some of LA’s most celebrated hotels after you finish exploring.

Ride a Boat to Catalina Island

As you lounge on the beach in Malibu or Santa Monica, you might notice a large island just off the coast. That’s Catalina Island. It’s a natural paradise that feels like it’s a world away from LA, although it’s only an hour away via the Catalina Express Ferry. You can board the ferry at convenient ports like Long Beach and Marina del Rey, which makes it easy to plan a day trip to hike, picnic, or simply relax on Catalina Island.

Fly Like Superman at Magic Mountain

One of my favorite memories from growing up is riding rollercoasters. By far, my favorite place to do this is Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita, just north of Los Angeles on Interstate 5. From the speeding bullet that is Superman: The Escape to the topsy-turvy X2 to the aptly named Goliath hypercoaster, Magic Mountain hosts some of the most thrilling rides on the planet. These thrill rides are sure to make for an exciting addition to the ordinary LA getaway.

Take a SoCal Road Trip

One of America’s most celebrated roads, the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, passes through LA. Follow it northward toward Morro Bay and Big Sur, or go south toward San Diego to enjoy some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery on the planet. You can also head inland into California’s desert, stopping along the way in the resort city of Palm Spring or at the mythical Joshua Tree. The U2 album of the same name makes a great soundtrack for this trip!

No matter where you go, these ideas are only the beginning. With tens of millions of people and thousands of square miles of open space, Southern California is a canvas just waiting for you to paint your adventure on it. Where in the LA area will your curiosity take you?

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.

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