Summer vacation is a perfect moment to leave your bubble and visit interesting spots outside of Orange County. If you like road trips, and you are curious about new places, this travel guide might give you some new ideas.
This Old West mining ghost town in Yermo will make you flashback to 1881 when the miners abandoned it. The park is surrounded by a desert, but there is lots of life inside the town. You will see its rich history, take a ride on the train to hear the history of mining, join a ghost tour, pan for gold panning and purchase photos of you and your friends dressed in miner gear. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and museums open for visitors. Calico Ghost Town is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and regular admission is $8. If there is a festival at the ghost town, the prices vary from $10 to $20. Note that the attractions have a separate fee from the entrance fee.
Have you ever feed an ostrich or emu? It is rare experience to see these birds in this part of the world, and you have the opportunity to feed them for $1. At Ostrich Land in Solvang, you can have personal time with the birds for only a $5 admission fee. Ostrich Land is open every day from 9 a.m. to dusk. It is about a three hour drive from Santa Ana, but you will hit the famous Pacific Coast Highway, offering unforgettable pictures of the ocean and mountainous cliffs.
Forever Wild hosts many exotic animals, allowing visitors to interact with them from a short distance. The place is small and gives you unforgettable personal experiences you cannot have at the zoo. Tigers, lions, pumas, monkeys, snakes, birds and many other animals are available to see. The regular entrance costs $10, while guided tours are $15 each person. You can even feed one of the big cats for an additional price. Forever Wild is a happy-home for captive-bred animals that zoos will not take in. The sanctuary is dedicated to protect the lives of abused, abandoned exotic animals through rescue, rehabilitation and education. Forever Wild is located at Phelan and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
If you like wild animals, there is a possibility to shoot photos with wolves. Wolf Mountain Sanctuary is located in Lucerne Valley, where you are introduced to each of the wolves, their stories and importance in the ecosystem. During the trip, you can pet some of the wolves, and take pictures and selfies with these animals. It is important to call before you go, because there are scheduled tours. The tours are one hour long and are available Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The last tour can be scheduled at 1 p.m. Tickets cost $25.
If you get your kicks on Route 66, don’t miss the original McDonald’s that opened in 1940, claiming to be the first of the chain. You cannot purchase a burger here, because the building serves as a museum of history and memorabilia of the famous brand. Even if you are not fan of the chain, it is interesting to see how the company grew into a worldwide icon. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Admission is free.
The Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale hosts free tours for visitors interested in Sriracha, the popular hot chili sauce made from jalapeno chili peppers. Take the 40 minute tour and learn how they make this famous sauce found in restaurants nationwide. The factory is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are available only during weekdays and require a reservation from the website.
Fans of the Jurassic Park franchise need to know that the museum in Culver City has nothing to do with the movies. You can see there is some natural history, science, microscopic sculptures and art. The regular price is $8 or $5 for students in full time education. The place is open on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays to Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Pictures are not allowed in the museum.
Sometimes it is hard to leave the beach when it is summer. That is why there are free films being hosted in Long Beach. Presented by the Port of Long Beach, moonlight movies start around 8 p.m. and are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at three different locations. There is nearby parking, restrooms and food trucks available. All movie showings are free.
Cabazon Dinosaurs is the most iconic roadside attraction located on the desert. On the road to Palm Springs, Cabazon is a convenient stop to take photos with a T-Rex and Brontosaurus. There are two giant figures that are available to see for free, but you can also go inside the T-Rex, where you will find a museum with small dinosaurs. The attraction is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 6:30 p.m. on weekends. Admission to the T-Rex museum costs $13. When you are done admiring the attraction, there is a Burger King and gas station also available.