June 21, 2017

Top Things To Do in Southern California: Summer 2017


The sun is shining, tan lines are forming, and the ocean sea breeze is calling your name. As you plan your to-do list for this summer, check out our top picks for events in Southern California. From dolphin and whale watching in Newport Beach, to painting classes at the Sherman Library and Gardens, there are endless things to do in Southern California this summer! Here are just a few of our top choices!

The Blue Whale Migration
5/1/17 to 10/31/17

Ever wanted to see marine life in its natural habitat? Whale watching might just be the perfect thing to try this summer. Giant Blue Whales (who were once known to be scarce), are thriving in the Pacific Ocean and can be seen up close off the coast of Southern California beach towns like Newport Beach, Balboa Island, and Dana Point. In fact, Southern California has the highest concentration of blue whales anywhere on earth ! And May through October are the perfect time to see them!

For a limited time, Newport Landing is offering $16 whale watching tickets , we suggest checking them out. If you're staying closer to Dana Point, check out Captain Dave's Whale Watching Safari , a consistently highly rated whale watching company.

P.S. Looking for more opportunities to see sea creatures this summer? Take a look at our guide to where to see marine life in Southern California !

July 4th at the Queen Mary
July 4th

Southern California is full of fun events to enjoy on July 4th, but one of our all time favorites is the Queen Mary’s “All American 4th of July.” At this ship wide celebration families can enjoy historical tours, live music, festive dining options, arts and crafts, and, of course, a firework extravaganza! Best of all, you'll experience all of these activities beside a beautiful sunset view of the harbor and ocean for an "all American" west coast experience.

The Queen Mary's 4th of July Celebration always sells out, so make sure to reserve tickets in advance!

Looking for other options for celebrating July 4th? Take a look at our guide to a family friendly 4th in Southern California .

Music Festivals

One of the best ways to get the most out of a summer in Southern California is by visiting a music festival! Whether you are looking for a weekend of crazy adventures, or an event for the whole family, Southern California always finds itself throwing another weekend full of music.

For a local, low-key experience out the Carlsbad Festival of Music , which runs from 8/25/17 to 8/27/17. Unlike large concert-festivals, this festival is a celebration of eclectic beachside music, “ranging from contemporary classical to indie rock, to world music, to electronic, to jazz, to musicians who work across genres and fall between the cracks.”

Be sure to check out local events like this one, where the Orange County artistic community come together to put on an education and entertaining show!

Or, take a look at some of these other summer music festivals:
  • Arroyo Secco Weekend (June 24-25): A family friendly event featuring more than 30 bands, not to mention a food park featuring local culinary delights.
  • FYF Fest (July 21-23): With a lineup featuring Missy Elliott, Bjork, and Nine Inch Nails, this festival is sure to be big and bold.
  • Echo Park Rising (Aug 17-20): Named the best music festival in LA, this festival is a great way to end summer, and it's free!

Night Markets
626 Night Market (June 30-July 2, July 21-23, Aug 11-13, Sept 1-3)

Looking for a unique food experience? Visit the 626 Night Market in Arcadia, or closer to home check out the OC Night Market in Costa Mesa, near many of our California vacation rental locations. With all sorts of Asian cuisine inspired by the street food and night market culture in East Asia, you are bound to have a blast trying new things and sharing them with one another. You'll also find lots of unique art pieces and crafts by local artists - get ready to be amazed by their creativity and talent!

Here are a few tips to make the most of your night market experience:
  • Go with a group and carpool. This will maximize your range of food options, and cut down on the amount you have to spend on parking.
  • Get to the night market EARLY! Arrive while there is still daylight to avoid crowds.
  • Bring plenty of cash since many vendors are cash only.
  • Wear comfy shoes. As the night wears on and crowds gather seating becomes scarce, so you'll be on your feet a lot.

Movies at the Park

Have all those music festivals and long nights at the night market worn you out? Maybe you need to kick back and relax with a movie! With summer nights rolling in comes another season of movies at the park. Many local parks offer these free and family friendly nights, so be sure to check your local listings! Here are a few near us:
Lots of local towns offer not only free movies, but also free family concerts during the summer. Take a look at some local listings here .

We love night movies at the park that welcome the whole family: like the San Clemente movies at the park, screening Sing on June 23rd ! So grab a picnic blanket, yummy snacks, and a friend and get ready for a relaxing and fun night out!

Pageant of the Masters
July 7-August 31

Consistently one of the most popular events to attend in Orange County, the Pageant of the Masters is beloved by locals and tourists. Check it out to see "living art"—recreations of classic art pieces by people posing in frames, made up to look just like the painting. A narrator guides each guest through the paintings as music plays in the background.

Sawdust Art Festival
June 30-Sept 3

If the Pageant of the Masters has you hungry for more art, be sure to check out the Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach ! At the summer festival you'll be able to see the creations of 200 local artists, participate in art classes, catch live entertainment, and more! There's plenty of food on site, and face painting and other activities for kids, so make a day of it!

Orange County Fair
July 14 - Aug 13

Summer in Southern California would not be complete without the OC Fair ! With something for everyone, the Orange County Fair is home to summer concerts, outrageous food, art exhibits, and farm interactive centers all summer long. From July 14th to August 13th, the Orange County Fair is the place the to be, despite the summer heat. Located at the Orange County Fair Grounds in Costa Mesa, this mecca of summer fun offers free admission days for a cause, suck as book donation day and canned soup donation day. These are great opportunities for families on a budget, as well as a good opportunity to give to the community!

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