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5 Reasons to Avoid Southern California

Don’t let the glitz, glamor, and Instagram trick you; Southern California isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While most of the West is anything but wild, parts of Southern California still resemble the Wild West. You might feel like a bait-and-switch victim if you plan a vacation here.

While you can find portions of the Golden State worth exploring, we think you should skip Southern California.

Today, we’re sharing five reasons we think you might want to pass on any opportunities to visit SoCal. Let’s dive in.

About Southern California

Southern California, nicknamed SoCal, comprises ten counties in the southern-third section of California. It includes the two largest cities in California, Los Angeles and San Diego, and is home to nearly 23 million residents.

Many headed west in the mid-1800s in pursuit of gold. However, Southern California saw tremendous growth in the late 1800s after the gold rush. Trains started arriving in the area in 1869, and by the early 1900s, the state had a railroad system connected with multiple states.

The area’s economy relied heavily on agriculture, shipping, and oil. However, once the entertainment, aerospace, and electronic industries set up camp, the region quickly boomed. The state became a national phenomenon and grew as Americans moved west for the promise of living the glitz and glamor of the American Dream.

Surfers in California
Dreaming of surfing along the California Coast? You may want to avoid Southern California.

What Is Southern California Known For?

Southern California is mostly known for its massive presence in the entertainment industry. This includes professional sports, theme parks, and the production of many television shows and movies.

For most people who have never visited the state, Southern California’s popular beaches and the famous Hollywood sign come to mind. However, Southern California is unique, and a vast majority of the state is nothing like this portion popularized in media.

Pro Tip: While road tripping through California, keep an eye out for these 5 Incredible California Castles.

How Often Do Earthquakes Occur in Southern California?

In a typical year, Southern California experiences more than 10,000 earthquakes. However, they’re typically so small that they go unnoticed by most residents.

Several hundred of the area’s earthquakes register more than 3.0 on the Richter scale, and only about 15 or 20 have a magnitude of more than 4.0. So if you visit the area, you’re almost guaranteed an earthquake. However, you likely won’t feel it.

Blonde woman smiling on California beach
California might seem picture perfect, but there are downsides to South Cali.

5 Reasons to Avoid Southern California

Southern California has some beautiful landscapes and unbelievable sunsets. However, in a city that knows how to use special effects and lighting, we recommend you peek behind the curtain. What you see might cause you to avoid Southern California for now.

Fuel Prices

California is home to some of the highest fuel prices in the country. This is primarily due to a more than $.50 tax per gallon on gasoline and $.38 per gallon on diesel.

Gas prices have hovered around $6.50 per gallon and nearly $7.00 per gallon for diesel. Prices are so bad in Southern California that even drivers with the most fuel-efficient vehicles feel the pain at the pump.

FYI – Is it better to fuel up in the morning?

Horrible Traffic

It’s hard to drive anywhere in Southern California without fighting traffic. Bumper-to-bumper traffic clogs the freeways and causes serious delays. Don’t expect to get anywhere fast or on time when visiting. You’ll need to build plenty of time into your schedule to reach your destination.

Imagine the worst traffic you’ve ever experienced and multiply it by 27. Seriously, driving in Southern California can be highly stressful and anxiety-inducing. It doesn’t help that drivers have a reputation for being short-tempered and quick to honk. Not much can cause anxiety for a driver than an angry person honking at you.

Everything Is Gimmicky

Much of what attracts tourists to the area is simply gimmicks. You’ll find many “celebrity home tours” and other posed tourist traps. Many attractions are anything but luxurious for a place that prides itself in creating a luxury look and feel.

Many visitors have only seen the Hollywood Walk of Fame on television or in pictures. As a result, they come expecting a clean and safe neighborhood to take photos of their favorite celebrities. However, they quickly find a sketchy area with shops full of cheap tourist souvenirs and pushy salespeople trying to get customers to buy their tourist experience packages.

Pro Tip: Avoid these Most Overrated California Tourist Attractions while exploring Cali.

Man walking down highway in Southern California.
Be prepared for a road trip through Southern California to get expensive.

Massive Homeless Population Issues

Southern California has one of the worst homelessness issues in the country. We feel for the people living on the streets. However, the state hasn’t done much to help these individuals. At last count, more than 161,000 individuals were homeless in the state, most of which reside in Los Angeles. However, the last count happened in 2020 and has likely grown exponentially.

The homelessness that many face can feel overwhelming when you drive or walk in Southern California. It’s not what drives tourists to the area, and we hope the region will help the situation for the sake of both the tourists and the homeless individuals.

Wildfires and Earthquakes

As we said earlier, Southern California experiences thousands of micro-earthquakes each year. It can be terrifying, especially if you’ve never experienced ground shaking. If you spend an extended time in the region, you’ll likely feel an earthquake at some point.

Earthquakes aren’t the only effect of Mother Nature in Southern California. The state constantly experiences wildfires. These fires range in size and can shut down roads, trails, and national parks. If most of your trip involves seeing national parks and other outdoor activities, a wildfire could cancel your plans. 

Don’t Waste Your Time in SoCal!

There are many things to love about SoCal, but you’ll find much more to dislike. It may seem like a foreign country if you’ve never experienced the area. The culture is unique, and the atmosphere is unlike anywhere else in the nation. If Austin, Texas, doesn’t watch out, SoCal might steal the reputation for being weird.

However, you may find a few great places, national parks, and theme parks to visit. But if you choose to visit Southern California, we strongly encourage you to lower your expectations and remember that we tried to warn you.

Have you traveled through Southern California? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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