Top 12 So Cal Destinations to Photograph This Summer Vacation

Because who doesn’t love a good photo that is not a selfie every once in a while

Story By Nick Moore


Photography. Once a very restricted field to get into. People had to have an “eye” for the job, knowing what needs to be where in order for the perfect squared picture. back in the day, Kodaks were the only way for everyone to save the special moments on a trip.

Thanks to the growth of technology and the rise of smart phones, that has all changed.

Now anyone, with an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or an LG, can be a photographer. It is also just as easy to show their artwork around the world on the variest of social media networks.

As summer nears, college students, as well as high school students, prepare for many trips to go, the many sites to see, and as much photos to be taken. Of course, people will want to share the experience with others, and none other than Instagram will be the place for that.

Whether it is a picnic at a zoo, a swim in the Salton Sea, or just sightseeing in City of Angels, here are the top 10 captivating places to photograph in Southern California.

12. LA Observation Deck

There are very few places in Los Angeles where you are able to see Disneyland, Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign all in one spot. However at the Observation Deck at the top of LA City Hall, people get a 360 degree angle of the city.

Although it is not open on weekends, or after 5 p.m., it is one of the rare adventures that is free in Los Angeles. There is even a floor with different artifacts donated from various countries in the globe. So if someone ever wanted to feel like an owl, now is there chance.

Address: 201 N Main St Los Angeles, CA 90012

11. Old LA Zoo in Griffith Park

After an attraction changes, prior locations usually turn into rubble and are forgotten. Yet not the abandoned L.A. Zoo, which has been kept in good shape for photographers and others to go explore on a nice weather day.

After getting past the Griffith Park Merry-go-round, there will be a trail to lead towards the picnic area at the zoo. From there is a large field of grass with past animal exhibits. Proceeding on is a way to hike to the top of Bee Rock. So many photo shot opportunities in small area.

Address: Griffith Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027

10. Ruins of Bombay Beach

What was supposed to be California’s version of the French Riviera, turned into a wasteland for people to dump their trash. Bombay Beach rose to fame as the Salton Sea became a playground for vacationers in the 40s and 50s. After a flood and increased salinity, the town was demolished. What stands are just trailers and broken-down homes.

What can be seen as an apocalyptic area would be the best place for instagrammers to shoot. Just make sure to wear a surgical mask when you are there.

Address: 9500 Ave E Niland, CA 92257

9. Nitt Witt Ridge

Another destination full of trash on the list is the Nitt Witt Ridge. Founder Arthur Beal built the landscape from the ground up until he died at the tender age of 96. Largely made out of trash, Beal made the house his own musuem with toilet seats hanging from the walls as picture frames to some walls that were built with cans inside. There is even a toilet on the roof, where Beal would sit and watch people go by his home.

Since 1999, Michael and Stacey O’Malley became the owners of Nitt Witt Ridge. They have since repaired some of the house and cleaned up the gardens. O’malley is an official tour guide of the property. Tours are available by reservation only and include a four-minute video of the poor man’s Hearst Castle.

Address: Hartford St, Cambria, CA 93428

8. Salvation Mountain

No one has to be read the Bible to be amazed by the art Leonard Knight has created on this small mountain. Located just outside the Salton Sea, Knight has been painting for 30 years, in which his he and his work has been featured in such films like Into the Wild.

What makes Salvation Mountain truly unique is that it is filled with Bible verses and references to the Bible which sets it apart from many modern pieces of art.

Photographer Josh McNair said this is one of his favorite places to visit every year. “I feel like I see something new there every time!”

Address: Niland, CA 92257

7. Slot Canyon: Anza Borrego

Make no mistake, this is not the like the ones in Utah and Australia, but the Slot Canyon in Anza Borrego is definitely a must-see for hikers, photographers or both. The natural formated park, about an hour East of San Diego, is free of charge to view the abandoned mines and canyons.

The three-and-a-half mile round trip is very narrow. At some point, hikers will have to walk sideways for a portion of the trip. Three-fourths of the way you will reach the natural rock bridge, a nice place to stop and partake in the moment of a rock 100 feet above their head.

Address: 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004

6. Bridge to Nowhere

Once again, another abandoned place on the list is the bridge to nowhere, located in Mt. Baldy. The bridge was originally built to be a road that connects Azuza through the mountains to another highway. Unfortunately, in 1938, a flood ruined those plans and has been left as a 10-mile roundtrip hike.

Ten miles may be a long walk, but there is so much to see. The trek starts with a river crossing. Next is the trail that still has shards of the black top that was suppose to be the road. Then a small waterfall, and finally the bridge with small river pools below that make the trip worth while. Add in a few photos here and there and its a wonderful day-trip.

Address: Mt Baldy, CA 91759

5. Gaviota Wind Caves

Toward the very end of the San Luis Obispo drive is Gaviota. There, people will be able to find a much interesting state park with caves. Yet theses caves have been carved by the way the wind blows through the hills. Not only that, but it gives photojournalist many aspects to capture from the caves to the view of the ocean outside, to the gigantic mountains overlooking the highway.

The wind caves is definitely a trip to remember for anyone who goes. McNair wrote after his trip, “There are plenty of small and large caves to explore. It was a challenging and fun hike to a unique formation.”

Address: 10 Refugio Beach Road, Goleta, CA 93117

4. Catalina Island: Avalon

Off the coast is Catalina Island, a place to visit for a full day’s adventure. Seeing the lifestyle of a different group with a whole different background than all the California girls is something to pay attention to. However, McNair recommends that if anyone were to take a day trip to the Island they show specifically go to the town of Avalon.

“They mostly have art, some clothing and cheap souvenirs but some good finds can be had there, especially if you are into the unique art that is prevalent on this island,” McNair said.

Cheap activities that range from $7 to $20 (pending meal prices each person), people can weather in the views while playing a round of mini golf, or take a walk towards the flagship building on the coast. This trip will not disappoint.

Address: Santa Catalina Island California, Avalon 90704

3. Shipwreck Hike

Anyone planning on going to the beach for the summer? Of course. How about a beach with on Rancho Palos Verdes? Even better. Will there be a wreckage of a ship on the shore? Now that is a sight for sore eyes.

The Shipwreck Hike is the sight of an abondoned ship life in pieces at the beach. The two-mile round trip starts with a trail on a hills that takes you to the entire ocean. The wreckage, as seen in the photo above, is scattered across many rocks for a few yards.

A beautiful beach area with a beautful view to take in, and who doesn’t want to go to the beach on a sunny day?

Address: Rocky Shore, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

2. Lava Tube

People may think the desert towards Las Vegas, is just a plain old desert for miles on end. Maybe Area 51 is out there, but no one is going to go searching for aliens. Yet drive out in the middle of Halloran Springs and , anyone will be in for a trip of a lifetime. Inside Lassen National Park is the Subway Cave, which will take its tourists to the depths of the lava tubes.

With the light shining through the holes onto the cave floor, it could a small glimpse of heaven. McNair comments in saying it is “one of those crazy natural phenomenon that you just have to experience.”

Pictures in the cave will be blow anyone’s mind away.

Address: Mojave National Preserve, CA

1. Murphy’s Ranch

Thia place is truly into another world. After reading what McNair had to say on Murphy’s Ranch, it makes people’s minds wonder what other interesting things are out there to find.

This abandoned Nazi camp in the rich area of the Pacific Palisades free to hike, with no soldier to stop anyone. The story behind the home and the ranch is a story of it’s own. The graffiti all over the hose to the torn down shed in the back, even the gated entrance, it all is hyped up to be a great visist for anyone willing to take on the elevation and long hike there.

“For the photographer I cannot recommend Murphey’s Ranch enough,” McNair said. “It is a super unique place to capture a ton of different photos while exploring this strange part of LA history.”

Address: Sullivan Fire Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Is there any other place I forgot to mention? Leave a response and tell me what other fantastic places are out there to go on my Instagram feed.

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