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Southern California is a mecca of popular tourist destinations. And while those places are all wonderful, sometimes it’s nice to veer off the beaten path and explore some new territory. Have a unique adventure on your next vacation and check out a few of these spots.

Related: See the Hidden Beaches of California

The Venice Beach Canals

Houses on the Venice Beach Canals in California. USA

Did you know that, just like the iconic Italian city, Venice Beach has beautiful canals? They’re peaceful, picturesque, and will make you feel like you’re strolling along ancient European streets. Start near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue at the corner of Washington and Strongs Drive. There, under a small sign that says “Venice Canals Walkway,” turn in and begin exploring.

Balboa Park, San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 25, 2016: Plaza de Panama in Ba

Okay Balboa Park isn’t really hidden, but it’s so big and has so many things to see that much of the park gets overlooked. It’s definitely worth exploring around this magical place where nature and culture meet, especially when there’s an event happening.

Point Dume Nature Preserve, Malibu


Point Dume definitely has some of the most spectacular views you’ll find anywhere. The 32 acres preserve in Malibu has several fenced trails, and since it’s a protected area, the trails are where you must stay. There’s a viewing platform on a boardwalk below the summit, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to Santa Monica.

Bernardo Winery, San Diego

oSource: Yelp

Located about 25 miles north of downtown San Diego near Escondido, this winery dates back to 1889. Even if you don’t enjoy wine, it’s worth going just to check out the beautiful property. You can shop, enjoy a nice lunch and possibly even see some live music when you visit. And if you do like vino, you’re in for a treat – the tasting room is open daily from 10-6.

Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Brea

Carbon Canyon Road

Think redwoods are just a Northern California attraction? Think again. This Orange County park has 10 acres of them, which you can view from a 1.1 mile nature trail. Carbon Canyon Regional Park is located 25 miles inland from Huntington Beach, so this park would make a great day trip destination.

Alta Laguna Park, Laguna Beach

bigs-Alta Laguna Park top of the world orange county CA (Large)

Alta Laguna Park  is known as the “Top of the World Park” to Laguna Beach locals, and for good reason. It has an amazing playground for children, a soccer field, hiking trails and sweeping views you won’t find anywhere else in the area.

California Citrus State Historic Park, Riverside

California Citrus State Historic Park

Riverside, which is located about 58 miles from Los Angeles, has an open-air museum dedicated to preserving the history of the citrus industry in the county and the state. California Citrus State Historic Park offers free guided tours that include plenty of tastes… in fact, sometimes you’re even given a bag of oranges to take with you.