There are many nice areas just outside of Los Angeles that offer a quieter, more relaxing experience away from the hustle and bustle but are also close enough to everything the city has to offer.
One of those areas is South Gate, which is a suburb of Los Angeles. In fact, Azalea City (as it’s known to locals) is only seven miles from the downtown area.
With almost 100,000 people and a central location in the greater metropolitan area, South Gate has everything you need and want in a launching point for your explorations of Los Angeles County and beyond.
Visitors to South Gate enjoy access to nine city parks covering about 170 acres of green space, and the Pacific Ocean coast is only ten miles away. A number of restaurants and shops are located at Tweedy Mile and around the city.
On Mondays, South Gate Park hosts the South Gate Farmers’ Market, where you can find fresh produce, baked treats, flowers, and more. Several events are held throughout the year, including the South Gate Children’s Christmas Lane Parade and the Southern Avenue Bike Pedestrian Way.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around South Park, California.
1. Visit the South Gate Civic Center Museum
South Gate and its surrounding areas have an interesting history. The best way to learn about that history is with a visit to the South Gate Civic Center Museum. Here, the region’s history is preserved for locals and visitors to enjoy.
During your visit, you’ll see a variety of artefacts, displays and exhibits, including one on aeronautics.
2. Explore the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Situated in nearby Los Angeles, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is a must-see for anyone visiting the area.
During a visit, you’ll pass through billions of years of natural history and see many exhibits, galleries, interactive displays, and artefacts. While California’s natural history is the main focus, there are also exhibits dedicated to the natural history of many places around the world.
Some of the permanent exhibits include Becoming Los Angeles, The Discovery Centre, Insect Zoo and the Spider Pavilion.
The Dinosaur Hall is one of the more popular exhibits in the museum and features 300 genuine fossils and 20 complete dinosaur skeletons. The North American Mammal Halls feature replicas of various ecosystems, including redwood forests and prairies.
A variety of gemstones, minerals, gardens, and shells are also on display, and several temporary exhibits are set up throughout the year.
3. Combine Nature with Learning at Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory
Griffith Park is one of the biggest parks in the state and features a wide variety of attractions and activities, including the Los Angeles Zoo, a planetarium, theatre, riding centre, golf courses, tennis courts, and walking trails.
While exploring the trails and scenic drives of the park, you’ll witness spectacular views and pristine natural areas.
The Griffith Observatory, another popular attraction in the park, is situated on the north slope of Mount Hollywood, high enough to be a perfect location from which to watch the night sky and enjoy views of the city below.
During a visit, you’ll have the opportunity to view the moon and planets when you look through the Zeiss telescope. You can also check out the interesting exhibits within the astronomy museum and watch a film about the history of the observatory. Also on site is a solar telescope used for viewing the sun.
4. Stay Active at South Gate Park
It’s not hard to get fresh air and stay active when South Gate is home to nearly 100 acres of green space and recreational facilities at South Gate Park. The vast park (the largest in the city) has a variety of facilities for all ages.
Basketball courts, athletic fields, a tennis court, an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool, skate park and picnic areas are just some of the facilities you can enjoy at this park.
5. Immerse Yourself in the World of Art at The Getty Center
If admiring diverse art collections is a favourite hobby of yours, look no further than The Getty Center, is a beautiful building comprising 1.2 million square feet of galleries and exhibits.
Medieval works and paintings by famed painters (such as Monet and Van Gogh), 19th and 20th-century photographs and sculptures are on display, and a cafe and gift shop are on site.
Outside, in the well-manicured grounds perched atop the Santa Monica Mountains, you’ll enjoy access to beautiful gardens with stunning views of Los Angeles.
6. Every Night is Wing Night at Wing Stop
Whether it’s day or night, if it’s wings you crave, Wing Stop in South Gate has what you want. For more than 20 years, Wing Stop has been serving delicious, fresh, quality chicken wings to diners who crave authentic wings with an assortment of flavours. Also on the menu are a variety of appetizers, sides, combos and desserts.
7. Admire Cars at the Petersen Automotive Museum
If you love cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum can’t be missed. Inside this stunning structure is an extensive collection of cars, some of which date as far back as 1886. There are modern cars and motorcycles, too.
Some exhibits are permanent, while others are temporary. For an extra fee, you can take a tour of the private vault, where you’ll see rare collectibles.
8. Go Shopping on Rodeo Drive
Undoubtedly, the most famous shopping district in the world is Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. After all, this is where the world’s rich and famous get outfitted. Rodeo Drive is not just a place to shop, though; it’s an attraction that’s worth a few hours of your time while in Los Angeles.
Even if you can’t possibly afford the high-ticket items, it’s still fun to window shop and admire the glitz and glam of one-of-a-kind designer items. Guided trolley tours are available from Beverly Hills, and many chic eateries serve up delicious meals and snacks.
Don’t forget to watch for celebrity sightings as you make your way around the shops.
9. Learn About Science at The California Science Center
While the interactive exhibits at the California Science Centre provide a unique and engaging way for children to learn about science, visitors of all ages will find the many artefacts and displays interesting.
The main draw is the Mission 26: The Big Endeavour exhibit that houses the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Here, you’ll see many items and gain knowledge of the mission and the people who made it possible.
During your visit, you’ll also see exhibits focusing on technology, nature, and inventions. An Ecosystems exhibit displays a large tank with various marine creatures and plants.
While many of the exhibits are permanent, a number of special exhibitions are on display at various times throughout the year, and an IMAX theatre is on site.
10. Enjoy Coffee and Treats with a Latin Twist
Tierra MIA Coffee in South Gate is the perfect place to take a mid-day break. Enjoy Latin-inspired food and drink. Coffee, lattes, mocha, cappuccino, espresso, frappes, tea, and various cold drinks are available, along with a wide variety of flavour shots and additions.
Various bean and rice-based dishes and sweet treats, including pastries, are also served.
11. Browse Local Merchants at The Original Farmers Market
If you are looking for unique souvenirs or fresh, local food to enjoy during your visit to the South Gate area, look no further than The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles.
Since 1934, this market has been serving locals and visitors. It has grown from a simple food stand to an ever-expanding market featuring various vendors, specialty shops, and eateries.
Whether you are craving some fresh fruit or a tasty sweet treat, the food vendors offer much to choose from. In the specialty shops, you’ll find a variety of household items, toys, and jewellery.
During select evenings in the summer, the market hosts entertaining events, including free concerts.
12. Enjoy Sun and Sand at Venice Beach
Venice Beach is more than just a sandy stretch of paradise. It’s a fun and exciting place to spend a day browsing unique shops, eating in diverse restaurants and cosy cafes, watching street performers, and taking in the carnival-like atmosphere.
Spend your day sunbathing, swimming in the warm waters, and walking the scenic boardwalk. Biking, rollerblading, and jogging are also popular activities in the Venice Beach area.
13. Visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame
A trip to South Gate and the greater Los Angeles area is not complete without a visit to a star-studded attraction.
You may not get to see actual celebrities at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but you can see the 2,600 stars dedicated to many of them on a sidewalk along 15 city blocks.
During your stroll along the Walk of Fame, you’ll see celebrity look-alikes and have a chance to browse the shops.
14. La Brea Tar Pits
Situated in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, La Brea Tar Pits is a unique and highly interesting attraction that allows visitors the chance to witness live excavations of fossils while learning about the process involved.
The 40,000-year-old fossils found in the tar pits were formed when animals passing through the area were trapped in oil seeping from the rock.
At the on-site museum, you’ll see the process of rebuilding skeletons for display, reconstructed fossils of various animals – including sabre-toothed tigers and mammoths – and an outdoor exhibit of extinct animal replicas.
15. Spend an Evening at the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is a popular place to spend nice, warm evenings, and it’s not too far from South Gate. For over a century, locals and visitors have congregated at this landmark to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery and spectacular sunsets.
Walk along the pier and take in the fresh air and vibrant ambience, or enjoy the amusements, which include an arcade, carousel, Ferris wheel, and roller coaster.
There are also some food stands and eateries in the area and Third Street Promenade, where you’ll find more shops, restaurants and street entertainment only a short walk away.