Expert Advice

How To Savor The Sunshine In SoCal

Discover some of my Southern California favorites for a long weekend getaway

Raeanne V
A Hilton Grand Vacations Owner and her mother with the Hollywood sign in the background on their trip to Southern California

Pack your bags and head to Southern California, the perfect place for a long weekend getaway full of sunshine, beaches and outdoor adventures.

Whether you want a laid-back beach day or a hike through the hills, here are a few of my favorite things to do to make the most of your time in Southern California.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Owner enjoying the sunset at Santa Monica in Southern California 

Los Angeles

What To Do

A visit to Griffith Observatory — nestled in the scenic hills of Los Angeles — is a must. This stunning art deco structure boasts sweeping city views, including the famed Hollywood Sign. There is also a 53-mile network of trails, fire roads and bridle paths for those looking for a touch of nature in the L.A. cityscape.

Then stop by Santa Monica, one of my favorite SoCal spots, to enjoy a little bit of everything. Hit the beach to soak up some rays while playing volleyball, biking and kayaking. Or stroll through Third Street Promenade, peruse dozens of stores, dine at one of the many restaurants and enjoy the vibrant energy of this coastal city.

The night isn’t over once you bask in that spectacular West Coast sunset. The iconic Santa Monica Pier is open daily until 10 p.m. so that you can enjoy the amusement park, concession stands and street performers.

Where To Eat

Head to Urth Caffe, known for its organic coffee, tea and sustainable food options

A Hilton Grand Vacations Owner poses with a bundle of balloons at Disneyland in Southern California 


What To Do

Traveling with family and love a little dose of nostalgia? Disneyland® is a Southern California classic less than 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Maximize your day with the Park Hopper ticket. Start your day at California Adventure and explore exciting attractions like Avengers Campus and Cars Land. Then make your way to Disneyland in the afternoon. Indiana Jones Adventure, Galaxy’s Edge and Space Mountain are a must.

Once the sun sets, prepare to be enchanted by the breathtaking fireworks display and timeless music at either Sleeping Beauty Castle or Fantasmic! in Frontierland

Where To Eat

Venture outside the park to Anaheim Packing District, a food hall with a diverse selection of restaurants, bars and artisanal food vendors. I enjoyed a matcha lavender latte from the Pie Hole and a Korean barbecue grilled cheese from Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar.

A table of food from a restaurant in Malibu, California 


What To Do

Malibu is the perfect coastal escape for vacationers who are less serene-in-the-city and prefer beachfront bliss. Malibu is situated on California’s Pacific Coast and offers miles of sandy beaches and secluded coves with spectacular views.

Feeling adventurous? Take a surf lesson or rent a stand-up paddleboard and explore the waves. End the night chasing the West Coast sunset. My favorite sunset view in SoCal has been at El Matador State Beach

Where To Eat

Check out Malibu Farm — a casual cafe with a beachy vibe — and Nobu Malibu – an elevated Japanese dining experience with panoramic views of the Pacific.

A Hilton Grand Vacations Owner holding a surfboard on Huntington Beach, California 

Orange County

What To Do

Huntington Beach is located south of Los Angeles and is renowned for its stunning surf beaches and pier. I love Huntington Beach because I’m obsessed with surfing and sunset views. I highly recommend renting your gear from Huntington Surf & Sport. If surfing isn’t your cup of tea, you can still relax on the beach and observe some talented pro surfers catch gnarly waves.

While Huntington's Main Street is smaller than Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, the lively restaurants and charming shops are just as delightful to explore. Plus, the serenity of Huntington is a refreshing contrast to the bustling crowds of Santa Monica.

Where To Eat

Wahoo’s Fish Tacos are the perfect afternoon bite to bring to the beach.

Final Thoughts

Southern California is a treasure trove of picturesque beaches, quaint coastal towns and big-city fun. There’s no shortage of things to discover in SoCal, from vibrant nightlife to family fun. Pack those shorts and sandals and start chasing those California sunsets.

Stay close to the action at MarBrisa, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club in Carlsbad, California. Read “Your Sustainable Travel Guide To Southern California” for even more sun-soaked vacation ideas.

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Hilton Grand Vacations Owner Raeanne surfing while on vacation in Hawaii

Raeanne V

Raeanne’s been an Owner since 2019. One of her highlights of ownership was using her ClubPoints to WFH (work from Hawaii) for three nonconsecutive months. Follow Raeanne to satiate your travel bug for adventurous vacations.

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