By Mary Bodel
I’ve lived in Southern California since September of 1981. In that time, I’ve managed to find quite a few attractions that aren’t always booked solid, and many are just as enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorites:
1) California Missions: Many of the old missions have been or are being refurbished, both to bring in tourists and to make them up to current seismic codes. My favorite is San Luis Rey de Francia, located near Oceanside, CA. San Juan Capistrano is also good. Most of them have restored or rebuilt areas that were used by the Native Americans, including what their homes looked like and even where they washed their clothing.
2) Hiking: The mountains and foothills in SoCal are inviting and they range from relatively easy to “bring your backpack, ropes and pitons” in nature. One of my favorites (and one of the few I can actually climb anymore) goes up to a cross. The original was planted there by Father Junipero Sera, as a landmark to help the priests find their way between missions. The original has had to be replaced many times, including at least once in the recent past due to a brush fire.
3) Rose Palace: At times, this is a venue for concerts and other activities. However, as the New Year approaches, it gears up to build the floats for the Rose Parade. People are encouraged to come and tour the site when volunteers work on the floats. Those who wish to work are also welcome. The group we’ve gone with is called the “Petal Pushers.” We volunteer our time, working on several floats, in order to pay for our own, the Lutheran Hour float. It really is worth the time to visit.
4) Seaworld: Of all the theme related parks I’ve been to in SoCal, this is my favorite. I will warn you that if you sit in the “splash section” with the orcas, you will get very wet. Those animals displace a lot of water. I enjoyed feeding some of the animals (trainers watch to make sure the animals get the right foods and not too much). The penguin display is probably the funniest, though.
5) USS Midway: This ship is now decommissioned and serves as a museum. It’s a huge ship, and you can see just about everything from crew bunks to the infirmary and even up on the flight deck. One of the things that astounded me (though I don’t know why it should) was the size of the links for the anchor. I don’t know if I could even pick one link up, let alone the chain.
There are a lot of neat things to do in this area, and it would be a shame to only hit the most popular. Have fun, then tell your friends and family about your trip. They may want to do the same.
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