Vacationing locally in the SCV

Santa Clarita residents Tim and Debbie Aiello pull into the loading zone at the Hyatt Regency Valencia. 070121. Dan Watson/The Signal

While many of us have spent the past year-and-a-half at home in the Santa Clarita Valley, many are opting to stay local for their long-awaited vacations this year.

“We’re so excited to get out of the house finally, but to be honest, we were a little nervous, so we decided to stay close to home,” said Valencia resident Katrina Thomas of her family’s first vacation in more than a year.

Close to home

The Thomas family packed up the car and traveled all of 12 miles in total over the weekend, choosing to stay at a local hotel, where they were able to enjoy the weekend, playing in the pool during the day, shopping at Westfield Valencia Town Center in the afternoons and exploring Old Town Newhall in the evenings.

“It was fun to feel like a tourist in our own city,” Thomas added. “I’ve lived locally for almost eight years now, but I felt like I was looking at Santa Clarita in a new light and finding all the little things I’d been overlooking.”

And, the Thomas family aren’t the only ones choosing to stay in the area. In fact, half of Californians plan on vacationing locally this summer, a study conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of Cooper Tires, found.

For the first time since the pandemic began, 63% of the 2,000 surveyed will be leaving their homes for more than two days this summer, the survey reported, with the average respondent wanting to drive no more than 115 miles to get to their destinations.

“I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the SCV since our first trip,” Thomas said, adding that the pandemic helped her and her family to realize how much of their local environment they hadn’t explored. “We’re definitely going to continue exploring Santa Clarita this summer, especially some of the natural areas nearby.”

The trending staycation

This summer, the OnePoll survey found that many agree with the Thomases and want to explore the great outdoors, with most (51%) wanting to drive to their nearest lake or river, national monument (49%) or state park (47%), with camping, swimming and fishing among the top summer activities planned.

With 12,000 acres of open space, more than 100 miles of trails and paseos that traverse the SCV and even a lake and some nearby waterfalls, you don’t have to go far to explore nature.

The 932-acre Vasquez Rocks Natural Area in Agua Dulce, for example, offers hiking and camping among its unique rock formations, while the Nature Center showcases various exhibits and interactive displays with information on the movie filming done on site, reptile exhibits, geological information and more.

The park also offers star parties, organized by The Local Group, which gives visitors an opportunity to see the constellations, planets and distant galaxies.

On Saturday evenings once every few months, the local astronomy club will have telescopes set up in Vasquez Rocks Park free of charge, while the group can also help to get a personal telescope up and running. Their next star party is scheduled for Oct. 9.

Living in Southern California, especially the SCV, presents residents with a plethora of local vacation options, industry officials agreed.

“There’s a lot of fun opportunities to do a staycation in Santa Clarita,” said Jerry Certonio, Six Flags Magic Mountain manager of marketing and communications. “After everybody has been stuck at home during stay-at-home orders and trying to be safe, it’s a great opportunity to get out and enjoy where we live here in Southern California.”

The city of Santa Clarita’s Summer Trolley is once again running through the SCV, offering free rides to local tourism destinations, such as Westfield and Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, through Sept. 12.

The SCV is also home to a number of hotels, including the Hyatt Regency in Valencia, Hotel Lexen in Newhall and Holiday Inn Express and Best Western near Magic Mountain, all of which make the perfect staycation destination.

Additionally, there’s almost always an event going on in the SCV, from drive-in movie nights at Castaic Lake to the return of Concerts in the Park most weekends through the summer at Central Park and even the local Old Town Newhall Farmers Market every Saturday.

A magical history tour

If you do decide to take an SCV staycation, there are a number of themes you can do for activities, in addition to the theme park, the arts or the off-road options, there’s a whole lot of history in Santa Clarita, too.

From the legend of California’s first gold strike (The Oak of the Golden Dream to the California’s first oil boom town (Mentryville) to where one of California’s most infamous bandits — Tiburcio Vasquez — had his last stand (Vasquez Rocks). Or if you prefer silver screens to greener pastures, there are countless sites to see where Hollywood history was made, from the early days of silent films that focused on cowboy Westerns to the latest Quentin Tarantino film. The Santa Clarita Film Office has a wealth of information that might be of interest if you’re looking to check out some of the more famous filming locations. For more information on events going on in the Santa Clarita Valley, check out The Signal’s events calendar:

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