Santa Clarita, Southern California
Photo: wolterke/Fotolia

Only 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles in Santa Clarita Valley, California, Santa Clarita is an unsung Hollywood star - you have seen its rolling hills in many movies, especially those with galloping horses and lonely cowboys. Santa Clarita is deep inland and has no beaches, but it has Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor and Mountasia Family Fun Center. The surrounding hills have excellent trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Nearby Robinson Ranch and Vista Valencia are top public golf courses in California that will delight any golfer.

»Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Those looking for an exciting day out with the family can head for Six Flags Magic Mountain and let the fun begin. There are so many things to do here starting with towering roller coasters that will certainly get your adrenalin pumping.

If you prefer something slightly calmer then you will find family friendly rides to suit all ages as well as dedicated kid’s rides for little ones to enjoy. Aside from the rides, there are shopping and dining options within the park, and you can also catch spectacular shows throughout the day where you can meet your favorite cartoon characters such as the cast of Looney Toons.

26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355, 66-255-4100 Photo: Six Flags Magic Mountain

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»Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Make a splash at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, a fun water park that the whole family will be able to enjoy due to the diverse rides and attractions there. You can take your pick from mellow cruises down the Lazy River or, if you are feeling daring, shoot down water slides or race your friends on slip and slide toboggans.

There are shallow pools for younger visitors, including a Kid Zone and lagoon, and when you have dried off you can dine at one of the parks many restaurants that feature Italian food, all American classics, and healthy treats.

26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355, 66-255-4100 Photo: Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

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»Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks

If you are a fan of movies such as Star Trek IV or shows like Friends and New Girl, then you may recognize Vasquez Rocks as the location of many film and television shoots due to the glorious scenery that this area provides. The rock formations are simply stunning and provide plenty of photo opportunities for visitors.

You can also climb the rocks, which do not have a steep incline, making it a fairly easy activity even for younger visitors. From May to October you can go on guided hikes with knowledgeable rangers, and there are also presentations to teach you all about the wildlife that inhabits the Vasquez Rocks. Photo: wolterke/Fotolia

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»Gibbon Conservation Center

Gibbon Conservation Center

Come to the Gibbon Conservation Center to learn all about these cute little primates. The center was opened in 1976 and is dedicated to conservation, research, and gibbon breeding programs. Tours of the center are open to the public every Saturday and Sunday starting at 10am, and there is no need to book in advance.

If you would prefer a private group tour then, not to worry, as these are available any day of the week for a fee. When you come for a tour, knowledgeable staff and volunteers will show you around the center and fill you in on all you need to know about these cuddly apes.

19100 Esquerra Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91390, 661-296-2737 (website)

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»The Gentle Barn

The Gentle Barn

Animal lovers should not miss a trip to The Gentle Barn, a large area of land that features a barn with over 170 rescued animals including cows, pigs, turkeys, and more. The philosophy of the barn is to rescue abused animals and allow visitors to interact with them in order to foster a nurturing environment that is beneficial to both animals and people.

You can sign up for a tour of the Upper Barnyard and cuddle and pet the animals as well as enjoy a presentation on how the barn was created and learn all about their mission statement and rescue programs.

15825 Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita, CA 91390, 661-252-2440 (website)

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»Placerita Canyon Nature Center

Placerita Canyon Nature Center

The Placerita Canyon Nature Center sits in a shady canyon filled with willow trees and oak groves. A stream runs the length of the canyon, and there are an abundance of walking and hiking trails for visitors to explore. The park also has its own waterfall as well as designated picnic areas, and dogs are welcome in Placerita Canyon Park as long as they are on a leash.

A nature center located in the park offers nature walks, special presentations, and information on self-guided tours. For locals who want to get involved, the center has a volunteer program where docents can lead groups of elementary school children on tours.

19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, CA 91321, 661-259-7721 (website)

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»St. Francis Dam

St. Francis Dam

For something of a rather unusual sightseeing experience, head to this California Historical Landmark to learn all about the St. Francis Dam, which was built in the 1920s and catastrophically burst in 1926, devastating several towns in its path.

Little remains of the dam now but visitors can visit several spots of interest in the dam’s history and follow a guided tour with a leading expert on the area who will explain how the dam was built and what led to its failure. There is a one-hour hike to the remains of the dam that also allows visitors to check out the local flora and fauna in the hills of the Santa Clarita region.

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»Passages

Passages

Passages is a museum in Santa Clarita dedicated to showcasing the Bible. Spanning over 300,000 square feet, the museum aims to provide an interactive experience of historical scenes that feature prominently in the history of the Bible. For example, visitors can explore firsthand the surface of the moon and the Caves of Qumran.

Aside from these exhibits there are also rare artifacts including texts and other bible related memorabilia as well as background information that takes visitors through Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic history. Finally, there are sections that show the impact that this religious text has had on the world.

26565 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91350, 888-297-8011 Photo: Passages

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»Mountasia Family Fun Center

Mountasia Family Fun Center

If you love to play then you will love Mountasia Family Fun Center, which focuses on a whole range of activities designed for both kids and adults to enjoy. The options are almost endless but include old playground favorites like bumper boats, miniature golf, batting cages, and go karts.

You can also go rock climbing or participate in a game of laser tag. If you like gaming then stop by the old-school arcade where you can get your fill of all the classics. When you have finished a day of gaming you can treat yourself to an ice cream at their in house ice cream parlor.

21516 Golden Triangle Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91350, 661-253-4386 Photo: Mountasia Family Fun Center

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»Tesoro Adobe Park

Tesoro Adobe Park

If you want to walk in the footsteps of John Wayne and Gary Cooper then visit the Tesoro Adobe Park. Famous Western film actor Harry Carrey constructed the original ranch located on the park (which has since been rebuilt), and park authorities took over the area in later years, allowing for public use and enjoyment of the area.

There are historic buildings, nature trails, and picnic spots dotted around the park, and visitors can choose from self guided walks or guided tours of the park to learn about its colorful history or simply enjoy the serene atmosphere of this historical gem.

29350 Avenida Rancho Tesoro, Valencia, CA 91354, 661-702-8953 Photo: lacounty.gov

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»Westfield Valencia Town Center

Westfield Valencia Town Center

The Westfield Valencia Town Center has a variety of high-end stores as well as general retailers and restaurants, and it also boasts a movie theater. The mall also contains specialty shops that carry jewelry, clothing, shoes, appliances, toys, health foods, sports equipment, personal care products, and other items.

Twelve luxury retailers, including Michael Kors and Swarovski, have stores in the Valencia Town Center. From time to time, the mall hosts special events like holiday celebrations and classes.

24201 West Valencia Blvd., Valencia, CA 91355, 661-254-0213 Photo: Westfield Valencia Town Center

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»Santa Clarita Trails

Santa Clarita Trails

More than 70 miles of trails stretch across the city of Santa Clarita as well as 20 miles of Paseos, which are designed for commuters and recreational use. Santa Clarita's main hiking areas include the Iron Horse Trailhead, the Promenade Trailhead, the Auto Center Trailhead, South Fork Trailhead, Camp Plenty Road Trailhead, and Lost Canyon Road Trailhead.

Each trailhead has its own parking area as well as basic facilities like water fountains and benches. Dogs are allowed on all of the trails as long as they are leashed. Owners are expected to clean up after their dogs if necessary. Photo: kenkistler1/Fotolia

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»William S. Hart Ranch and Museum

William S. Hart Ranch and Museum

The William S. Hart Museum is the former retirement home of William Hart, an iconic silent film actor and director. William Hart produced nearly 70 films in the early 1900s.

His namesake museum contains an expansive collection of Western artwork, an assortment of ornate saddles, and relics from Hollywood's early days, and a large collection of Native American artifacts is also on display. The museum is located in a park with hiking trails, a picnic area, and live farm animals. Access to the museum and the adjoining grounds is free for all visitors.

24151 Newhall Ave., Newhall, CA 91321, 661-254-4584 Photo: William S. Hart Ranch and Museum

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»Santa Clarita’s Public Art

Santa Clarita’s Public Art

Santa Clarita's public art project allows locals to express themselves in a way that beautifies and uplifts the community. Some examples of the city's public art include sculptures, statues, paintings, murals, and fountains that are located throughout Santa Clarita.

The city has approved each installation, all of which tie into the history and culture of Santa Clarita. The first pieces of art were installed in 2000, and the most recent public art project was finished in 2013. Information on self-guided tours of the city's art projects is available online. Photo: nextrecord/Fotolia

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»Pulchella Winery

Pulchella Winery

Wine lovers should not miss the chance to visit the Pulchella Winery. There are no reservations needed for groups under eight who want to go for a tasting of the signature Paso Robles Wines, or you can book evening spots for larger groups for private events.

The winery is the brainchild of two local wine aficionados who started the business in 2006 and who love wine and are passionate about teaching others about the region, wine making techniques, and their overall approach that leads to the final product that visitors get to sample. If you want to take home a bottle then it is available on a first come first served basis for those visiting the tasting room.

24161 Main Street, Old town, Newhall Historical District, CA 91321, 661-799-9463 Photo: Pulchella Winery

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»Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra

Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra

The goal of the Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra is to preserve and promote orchestral music and to serve as a creative outlet for skilled musicians of all ages. In addition to giving free performances to the community as well as visitors, the philharmonic orchestra runs its own outreach program to emphasize the importance of orchestral music.

Auditions are held from time to time to allow interested musicians the opportunity to join the orchestra. To support the orchestra, people can attend its performances and make a donation online. Photo: Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra

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»Santa Clarita Central Park

Santa Clarita Central Park

Santa Clarita Central Park, located near Bouquet Creek, is a 130-acre park with a wide range of facilities including a picnic area, sports courts, a multi-purpose field, an area for dogs, and a food stand. The park also has a 3.1-mile-long trail that is open to walkers, joggers, bikers, and dog walkers.

The park's regional cross country course is often used as a training ground for high school cross country athletes and college-level meets. The city's first community garden is also situated inside Santa Clarita Central Park.

27150 Bouquet Creek Rd., Santa Clarita, CA 91350 Photo: leekris/Fotolia

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»Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society has its own office within the William S. Hart Park in Newhall, California. The society often hosts lectures where guests can learn about history, science, and culture. Some of these presentations are free while others have a small admission fee.

In addition to lectures, guests can attend concerts hosted by the society throughout the summer and fall months. From time to time the society leads hikes in the Santa Clarita area as well. Membership for the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society is available to all, and fees vary depending on membership type.

SCV Historical Society, PO Box 221925, Newhall, CA 91322, 661-254-1275 Photo: Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society

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»Old Town Newhall

Old Town Newhall

Old Town Newhall is known for its exciting mix of spots for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Old Town Newhall also has its own special walk of fame that acts as a tribute to stars of Western movies, radio, and television. Each April a new star is added to the walk, an event that coincides with the city's Cowboy Festival.

Old Town Newhall also has its own free app that helps visitors take self-guided tours of the area. Historic sites and filming locations for Western movies are all listed as part of the walking tour.

23920 Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita, CA 91355, 661-259-2489 Photo: Old Town Newhall

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»Quigley Canyon

Quigley Canyon

Quigley Canyon is located in the Newhall area of Santa Clarita. This 160-acre area owned by the city is the perfect spot for hiking, walking, biking, and relaxing. The canyon has 4.1 miles of trails that vary in difficulty. The canyon is also open for horseback riding since many of the residents in the nearby homes own horses.

Guests can also use the picnic areas in Quigley Canyon for gatherings with family and friends. The city encourages carpooling since parking in this area is limited. Photo: kenkistler1/Fotolia

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»Robinson Ranch Golf Club

Robinson Ranch Golf Club

The Robinson Ranch Golf Club is one of the leading destinations for golf in California. Two award-winning golf courses—the mountain course and the valley course—are located on the Robinson Ranch property, and both courses have been home to prominent golf tournaments.

A 25,000-square-foot clubhouse with an upscale restaurant, banquet rooms that can accommodate 300 guests, and a terrace lounge is also located onsite. Golf enthusiasts can pay per visit for course access or buy passes for unlimited year-round access and other perks. Lessons with professional golfers are also offered at Robinson Ranch.

27734 Sand Canyon Road, Santa Clarita, CA 91387, 661-252-8484 Photo: Robinson Ranch Golf Club

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»California Institute of the Arts

California Institute of the Arts

The California Institute of the Arts was founded in 1960 by Walt Disney, as a fulfillment of his dream of an art institution housing all art schools under one roof, with a contemporary and interdisciplinary focus, sort of Caltech of the arts. Today it isa four-year private fully accredited university whichoffers undergraduate and graduate degree programs at six schools: Art, Dance, Critical Studies, Film/Video, Theater and Music. CalArts has an excellent international reputation as the top American school of the performing and visual arts. CalArts also awards an honorary Doctor of Arts degrees to those artists "who have consistently represented the bold innovation and visionary creativity championed by" CalArts. Recipients of the reward include Ray Bradbury, Ravi Shankar and Harry Belafonte.

24700 McBeanPkwy, Valencia, CA 91355, Phone: 661-255-1050 Photo: California Institute of the Arts

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»The Melody Ranch Museum

The Melody Ranch Museum

The Melody Ranch Museum has a vast collection of artifacts that cover nine decades of Western movies. The museum itself is located on a 22-acre movie studio lot that served as the backdrop for several notable Western movies.

Melody Ranch has its own old-fashioned main street complete with a saloon, hotel, bank, gun shop, and jail. During tours guests can see classic props and sets, vintage cars, and behind-the-scenes photos and video footage. Group tours need to be scheduled in advance with the main office.

PO Box 220597, Newhall, CA 91322, 661-259-9669 Photo: Nyky/Fotolia

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»Valencia Laser Blast

Valencia Laser Blast

For some family fun or a group bonding experience, Valencia Laser Blast is a laser tag center that aims to provide an exciting day out for all age groups to enjoy.

The play area sprawls over 5,000 square feet and is filled with obstacles and hidden areas that make the game all the more tactical and engaging, and when you have finished tagging other players and their home bases, you can grab a bite to eat at the onsite snack bar. All equipment is safety tested and uses the best new technology in order to provide you will a safe and engaging playing environment.

23460 Cinema Drive, Valencia, CA 91355, 661-255-1600 Photo: Valencia Laser Blast

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25 Best Things to Do in Santa Clarita, Southern California