10 Awesome Hidden Gems in Southern California

Home to world-class cities like Los Angeles (the country’s second-most populous city) and San Diego (eighth on that list), sunny Southern California — otherwise known as SoCal — is an enormously bustling go-to destination. And for good reasons. Among the popular attractions and hidden gems in Southern California, you’ll find fabulous beaches galore in addition to unbelievable warm weather.

Maybe you’re excited about the region’s deep roots in the entertainment industry. Or, perhaps you’re wild about its long-standing history of classic surfer culture. Either way, there’s truly so much to love about this part of the country. Consider taking a drive along some of SoCal’s iconic coastal highways to catch amazing views of the stunning and varied landscape. But what if you’re looking to venture off the beaten path? We’ve found several standout SoCal hidden gems, so read on for our favorite spot.

1. Mountain retreat with sweeping views

Sweeping Views from a Mountain Retreat el cajon san diego rental
Source: Peerspace

Above all, what sets apart this standout among hidden gems in Southern California is its view. When you’re standing on the more than 1000-square-foot deck, you’ll feel as though you’re perched in a treehouse. You can gaze out at the city lights of El Cajon, which is close to San Diego, to your heart’s content. But in addition to the view, this space is also decorated in a unique yet classically SoCal fashion, with lots of beautiful earth tones and wood that perfectly complement the natural surroundings.

2. Funky Spanish-style apartment in the sky

Funky Vintage Spanish Apartment san diego rental
Source: Peerspace

Speaking of amazing views, this funky apartment has them in spades, of the bay, downtown San Diego, and even an airplane tarmac. And let’s face it, watching the planes take off from either of the bedrooms is sure to be the perfect combination of exciting and mesmerizing. The 100-year-old, Spanish-style building lends the space a great deal of historic character, from the vintage 1920s kitchen to the Art Deco-style bathroom. The host is a professional stylist, so you can even enlist her services for your photoshoot if you like!

3. URC Botanic Gardens

These gardens are part of the campus of UC Riverside, but anyone can come to visit them. This 40-acre gathering of plants contains over 3,500 plant species, including those from dry, Mediterranean-type climates like those of California and the neighboring desert in the Southwest. In addition to the more manicured plant collections, there are more than 10 acres of native plant communities, such as annual grassland and coastal sage scrub. With so many diverse plants to be seen, this spot is worth a visit for those who appreciate nature and all its botanical wonders. These paradisical gardens will make a dreamy photoshoot backdrop. Your only problem may be leaving because you surely won’t want to!

4. A quaint Silver Lake treehouse

treehouse in silverlake
Source: Peerspace

Our absolute favorite things about this cozy, inviting villa are its wild, woodsy furnishings and eclectic decor. But beyond these unique features, there’s so much more to love about this home. The bright blue couch and table with the surrounding wooden accent pieces are in beautiful contrast. There is also a small outdoor patio with exceptional privacy while still in the midst of Silverlake. This oasis with modern and retro vibes is by far one of our top hidden gems in Southern California.

5. Magical Frogtown cabin in Echo Park

frogtown magical cabin la los angeles rental
Source: Peerspace

We’ve shared quite a few spaces with gorgeous, private outdoor garden features that give the feel of an oasis in the city — are you noticing a SoCal trend yet? Despite being situated right in the heart of LA, this cabin is sheltered by nearly half an acre of trees (including some 100-foot pecan trees that provide much-needed shade). This is an absolutely charming space full of features that more than live up to the word “magical.” It’s a mini retreat that allows you to take some truly unique photos.

6. Redwood Grove in Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Most people associate enormous redwood trees with Northern California, but there are also redwoods to be found in Southern California! Take a trip to Carbon Canyon Regional Park in the city of Brea, CA, to visit this true hidden gem: a 10-acre grove of coastal redwoods. Planted as recently as the 1970s, they may not be as big as the ones you’ll find in the northern part of the state, but they’re still quite impressive. Take advantage of the opportunity to see a very special species of tree that you won’t find in many other parts of the world.

7. Hidden cactus sanctuary in Los Angeles

Magical Hidden Cactus Sanctuary los angeles rental
Source: Peerspace

This garden is a truly special place with an unbelievable variety of mature, 30-year-old cacti and tropical trees, as well as an array of flowering plants. We can’t think of a better place to gather with friends and family under cozy mood lighting and connect with one another next to the vintage outdoor fireplace. The hosts also recommend it for daytime events like workshops. Either way, the overall vibe of the space lends itself perfectly to meaningful human interactions and connections. 

8. Central LA’s secret garden loft

secret garden loft los angeles rental
Source: Peerspace

Here’s a quintessentially L.A. cool, two-story loft-penthouse smack dab in the middle of Hollywood. But it’s got a twist: greenery incorporated generously throughout that gives the feel of a lush garden. It’s designed for “classy gatherings,” as the hosts describe it, and that luxurious feel suffuses the entirety of the loft. Its prime location and lofty height mean you also enjoy incredible views of the Hollywood sign, lush, rolling hills, and more. A freight elevator makes it perfect for any type of production. Some of its many happy reviewers comment that it’s “nothing short of beautiful,” “exquisite,” “incredible,” and “a dream come true.” It’s certainly worth taking a look at the listing photos, at the very least, to get a sense of what this loft really has to offer.

9. Enchanting rainforest event space in Los Feliz

rainforest event space los feliz los angeles rental
Source: Peerspace

Looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life without actually leaving L.A.? This 6,000-square-foot backyard will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the middle of the rainforest. It contains waterfalls, ponds, a treehouse, fire pits, atmospheric lighting, an immersive sound system, and lots more.

As one Peerspace reviewer notes, “The space was so cool! We booked it for a rehearsal dinner with friends and family for 60 and it fit us really comfortably. Everyone remarked on how cool the space was. The foliage, lights and decorations really made the space look awesome in photos too. People loved the treehouse and how interesting the whole space was. Danny was super nice about letting us check the space out to plan too, and he was really accommodating with finding a power line for the cooking appliances, setting up a bar space and a table for the cake. It was great!”

10. Custom suburban outdoor living space, AKA C-Lounge

C- Lounge - A custom suburban outdoor living space chula vista san diego rental
Source: Peerspace

Located in Chula Vista’s quiet, welcoming Rancho Del Rey neighborhood, this is a fabulously unusual outdoor space that’s made extra dynamic by its multiple levels and layers. You and your guests will love discovering the outdoor kitchen, full bar, multiple fireplaces, waterfalls, and more before you chill out in any of the four seating areas throughout. Bask in the soft lighting and overall delicious ambiance. As one reviewer pointed out, there’s even a putting green, so you can play golf if it strikes your fancy! 

Find more hidden gems in Southern California on Peerspace


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