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6 Fun-Filled Los Angeles Vacation Themes
By Vicki Funes

Are you looking for a fun family vacation that all members of your family will enjoy? Travel to sunny Southern California, where you can choose from a variety of vacations...or mix 'n' match between them to savor a smorgasbord of California fun!

Theme 1: Beach vacations
Swim at one of the many Malibu beaches you'll find along its 27 miles of coastline. Stroll along the Santa Monica pier---a famous Los Angeles attraction that you WILL be seeing in TV shows and ads. (When you see it on your screen, you'll be able to say, "Hey, I've been there!) For a spectacular view, take a ride on the pier's tall ferris wheel. Or, for some super-screamin' fun, ride on the pier's roller coaster...the only coaster you may ever ride that's built OVER the ocean!

Visit wild and wacky Venice Beach...whose mural-enshrouded walls are seemingly stuck in a '60's "flower power" time warp! Try Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches, which are the sport of beach volleyball's "tournament central."

Head to Huntington Beach, where you can "do it all." Your family can skate, bike, jog or stroll along Huntington's miles-long bike path. Saunter out onto the Huntington Beach pier---California's longest. No matter when you go, you WILL find fishermen casting their lines...and surfers catchin' the waves in the ocean below.

Further south, you'll discover Laguna Beach, home to an art colony...and recently made famous by MTV. Then, head to San Diego where you can enjoy the rides of Belmont Amusement Park along the boardwalk at Mission Beach. And what will you find in between the beaches mentioned here? Why, still MORE great beaches, of course!

Theme 2: Theme park vacation
Did you know that there are 7 major theme parks in Southern California! (Wow!) They are (from north to south): Six Flags Magic Mountain, home to the wildest roller coasters on the west coast...and maybe in the entire USA; Universal Studios Hollywood, where you'll tour filming sets, watch stunt and special effects shows, ride exciting "movie themed" attractions, and enjoy the shopping/dining/clubbing district called Universal Studios CityWalk; Knott's Berry Farm theme park, where the once-time berry field now hosts dozens of attractions, both mild AND wild; Disneyland Park, nostalgic home of 51 years of fun...AND the 2nd most-visited theme park on the planet (after its own sister park, Walt Disney World); Disney's California Adventure, the newest Southern California theme park, where you can scream on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, view the Broadway-styled production "Aladdin, an Enchanted Musical," or enjoy that all-time favorite, the Disney Electrical Parade; Legoland California, where there's no "kiddie section"---the WHOLE PARK is for kids and their families; and SeaWorld San Diego adventure park, home of Shamu the Killer Whale and scads of delightful animal shows and attractions.

Theme 3: Hollywood vacations
Gaze at the Hollywood sign. Hunt for stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Enjoy a concert at the world-renowned Hollywood Bowl. Tour the still-new Kodak Theater, now home to the Academy Awards' annual Oscar ceremony. Shop and dine at the outrageous, "Babylon" themed Hollywood & Highland Center. Hear the restored Wurlitzer organ and take in a Disney movie at the historic El Capitan Theater, which was recently returned to its former glory following a lengthy, museum-quality restoration. Fit your feet into the famous footprints embedded in Grauman's Chinese Theater's courtyard. Attend a taping of your favorite TV show, or tour a movie studio. Look at movie stars' wax "doubles" in the Hollywood Wax Museum." (You might not see any REAL movie stars while you're visiting Hollywood, California...but you WILL have a good time!)

Theme 3: Mountain vacation
Take a drive on the Angeles Crest Highway, where you won't believe you're not in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Visit nearby Big Bear, California's lake and village, then behold a spectacular view by driving the Rim of the World Highway. Enjoy the "great outdoors" by boating and camping at Lake Arrowhead, nestled in the mountains behind San Bernadino, CA. Ride the alm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of a HUGE mountain, where you'll drink in a panoramic view below.

Theme 4: Shopping vacation
For a high-end shopping experience while visiting greater Los Angeles, head to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills---need I say more? Not your style? You can bag some direct-from-the-manufacturer bargains by visiting downtown LA's Jewelry and Fashion districts! For more bargain shopping, explore the Mexican market mecca of Tijuana, Mexico. (Except for a fence marking the international border, Tijuana is actually a part of the "continuous city" which makes up Southern California.)

If you enjoy outlet shopping, you'll quickly note that greater LA has MANY outlet malls. While you're visiting Tijuana, check out the still-new "Shops at Las Americas" outlet on the USA side of the border. Head to the hills...the hills back of San Diego, that is. There you'll find perhaps the lovliest outlet mall you've ever seen, the Native American-themed Las Viejas Outlet Center. If your family likes entertainment while they shop, head to the Ontario Mills Mall in Ontario, California, where you'll find a several entertainment venues, popular restaurants, and even kid-pleasing "attractions," such as the popular Build A Bear Workshop.

Theme 5: Island vacation
Want to get "away from it all" without having to travel miles from the city? Visit Catalina Island...only "26 miles across the sea," as the golden oldie says, but a world away in "atmosphere." You can go boating, snorkeling or scuba diving. You can tour the sparsely-populated isle. Or, is Catalina Island not remote ENOUGH for you? For a more isolated experience, visit one of the islands of the Channel Islands National Park. When you arrive on one of the Channel Islands, only your boat-mates...and the native wildlife...will be there with you!

Theme 6: History vacation
Visit Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles...where this city started! But, Mission San Diego de Alcala beats even Olvera Street for age...being the first of the whole California Mission chain. (Other Spanish missions in Southern California include Mission San Luis Rey, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Gabriel, Mission San Fernando, Mission San Buenaventura, and Mission Santa Barbara. All are diffent, and all are worth paying a visit.) While you're in San Diego touring the mission, you'll enjoy visiting Old Town, which was the Spanish core of the city. Nowadays, Old Town is a lively mix of historic displays, shopping, and dining. San Diego's Gas Lamp Quarter, another of San Diego's historic districts, is now a night life center...and home to the San Diego Padre's baseball stadium, as well. San Diego's waterfront Maritime Museum is a "can't miss" spot for enthusiasts of tall-masted sailing ships and the history of the sea. (If you don't love maritime history, visit the waterfront anyway. You'll find tasty seafood restaurants, a gorgeous view of San Diego's bay, and the quaint Seaport Village shopping and dining area.)

By now, you've certainly gathered quite a list of Southern California attractions that your various family members will enjoy. Pick your favorites! But, if you can't choose, there's no problem, either. Just visit exciting Southern California again and again...and enjoy them all!

Author Vicki Funes is a Los Angeles native and enthusiastic promoter of Southern California's family attractions. For more fun-filled vacation ideas, visit her photo-filled website, "Family Vacation Getaways at Los Angeles Theme Parks," where you'll find still dozens more ways that your family can enjoy themselves in California and the Southwest USA. Use the following handy link, and you'll be there!

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