10 Southern California Cities You’ve Never Heard of But Have to Visit

Cities like Los Angeles and San Diego are internationally known, and for good reason—they’re full of fun (and famous) things to do. But there are also plenty of mid-sized cities and small coastal towns so charming, they’re worth exploring, at least for a day or two.

If you’re planning to visit the Los Angeles area in the near future, you should stay as long as possible and check out some of the surrounding areas. Super Cheap’s Los Angeles car rental packages make it easy—we want you to stay and explore as long as you’d like. And with plenty of budget-friendly car rental Los Angeles options to choose from, you’ll have plenty of cash leftover to help you enjoy your trip to the fullest.

If you’re not familiar with the Los Angeles area, you’ve probably never heard of these 10 Southern California spots. These are just a few of the cities and towns we highly recommend visiting on your next vacation here.

 

  1. Balboa Island

Newport Beach is a charming nautical town about 45 miles south of Los Angeles, and it makes for a great day trip. Balboa Island is accessible by car or by ferry, and it’s a truly magical place that everyone should experience at least once. Everything seems frozen in time here, from the candy stores and swimsuit shops to the old Bay Arcade and the Balboa Fun Zone.

 

  1. Solvang

To those from out of state, Solvang may be a mystery. But to those who call Southern California home, it’s the perfect tourist destination. This old world Danish community is really something special, and if you like wine, it’s even better. We highly recommend making an overnight trip to Solvang from Los Angeles—it’s about a two-hour drive, and there’s enough to see that you’ll want to spend a night.

 

  1. Encinitas

Surf’s up! This little beach town has a claim to fame: It’s home to Swamis Beach, the surf spot the Beach Boys sang about in their song “Surfin’ USA.” The surfing here is, obviously amazing. But even if you’d rather not try it, you can check out the beach views from the nearby meditation garden. The botanical gardens and ecological reserve here are also not to be missed.

 

  1. Los Olivos

Los Olivos is a tiny town in the Santa Ynez Valley, located about 130 miles north of Los Angeles. And what it lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in beauty and charm. In the downtown area, you’ll discover wine tasting rooms, upscale restaurants, craft breweries, boutiques and galleries for browsing.

 

  1. Morro Bay

If you decide to visit Morro Bay, plan on spending the night in the area—the drive from Los Angeles takes about four hours. Famous for Morro Rock, an enormous volcanic plug that sits right on the beach, this is a total Instagram-worthy spot. And if you love the outdoors, check out the many coastal hikes and bird-watching spots at the Morro Bay Estuary.

 

  1. Solana Beach

Located slightly north of San Diego, Solana Beach is often overshadowed by the neighboring town of Del Mar, but it can certainly hold its own. The Cedros Avenue Design District is home to dozens of retailers and art galleries, and the streets are lined with tantalizing restaurants and craft breweries. Solana Beach is also a great place to go vintage shopping.

 

  1. Coronado

The main attraction of San Diego’s neighbor, Coronado, is definitely the impressive historic Hotel Del Coronado. Built in 1888, this impressive structure just gets better with age. Spend the day relaxing on the property and enjoying the beautiful beaches that surround it.

 

  1. Wrightwood

Peaceful and picturesque, Wrightwood is located a mere hour from Los Angeles, but you’d never know it. Featuring amazing mountain views and a laid-back vibe, this town is mainly known as a ski destination, but there’s plenty to explore in the offseason as well.

 

  1. Torrance

Torrance is actually located on the outskirts of LA, and it’s one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Filled with leisurely shopping spots, delicious cuisine, craft breweries and remarkably uncrowded beaches, it’s perfect for those who desire a more laid back vacation while being close to the excitement of Los Angeles.

 

  1. Santa Margarita

Santa Margarita is the tiny town located just north of the more popular city of San Luis Obispo. The main attraction here is the Margarita Adventures zip lines, which allow you to fly right over pinot noir vineyards. This “only in California” experience is an absolute must, as is soothing your nerves afterward at the ranch’s Ancient Peaks Winery tasting room.