If you're planning a vacation to Southern California, you're in for a treat. With its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and endless attractions, our list of things to do in Southern California showcase why this destination is a top vacation destination for people all over the world. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or solo, there's something for everyone in this region.
From the iconic Disneyland Park to the stunning San Diego Zoo, Southern California is home to some of the most popular attractions in the world. But there's more to this region than just theme parks and zoos. You can take a San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour from Palm Desert to experience the natural beauty of the area, or visit Sunny Jim's Cave in La Jolla for a unique and memorable experience. With so many things to do in Southern California, you'll never be bored.
Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, Southern California has it all. In this article, we'll guide you through the best things to do in the region, from the most popular attractions to hidden gems that only locals know about. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable vacation in Southern California.
Things to Do in Southern California: A Guide for Adventure Seekers
Iconic Southern California Beaches
Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With miles of coastline, there is no shortage of places to soak up the sun, catch some waves, or enjoy a family day out. Here are some of the iconic Southern California beaches that you must visit:
Surfing and Sunbathing Hotspots
If you're looking for the perfect spot to catch some waves, then you can't go wrong with Huntington Beach. Known as “Surf City USA,” this beach is a popular spot for surfers of all levels. With consistent waves and a laid-back atmosphere, it's the perfect place to spend a day in the water.
For those who prefer sunbathing, Malibu is the place to be. This beach is famous for its stunning views and luxurious homes. It's also a great spot for swimming, with crystal-clear waters and a gentle current.
If you're looking for a family-friendly beach, then Newport Beach is a great option. With a wide stretch of sand and calm waters, it's the perfect place for kids to play and explore. There are also plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained, from paddleboarding to beach volleyball.
For a more secluded family day out, head to La Jolla Cove. This beach is tucked away in a picturesque cove and is home to some of the clearest waters in Southern California. It's a great spot for snorkeling and swimming, and there are plenty of tide pools to explore.
No matter what kind of beach experience you're looking for, Southern California has something for everyone. So pack your sunscreen and head out to one of these iconic beaches for a day of fun in the sun!
Outdoor Adventures and National Parks
If you're looking for some outdoor adventure in Southern California, you've come to the right place. With a wide range of national parks, hiking trails, and camping sites, the region is a haven for nature lovers. Here are some of the best outdoor adventures you can experience in Southern California.
Hiking Trails and Wilderness Explorations
Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country. From the Pacific Coast Highway to the Santa Monica Mountains, there are plenty of trails to choose from. The Joshua Tree National Park is a must-visit destination for hikers. The park is home to thousands of Joshua trees and offers stunning desert landscapes. The park is also a great place to explore the desert oasis and the Mojave Desert.
Another great place for hiking is the Death Valley National Park. The park is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world. The hiking trails here offer breathtaking views of the park's canyons, mountains, and sand dunes.
Camping and Wildlife Watching
Camping is a great way to experience the beauty of Southern California's national parks. There are plenty of camping sites to choose from, whether you're looking for a rustic experience or a more luxurious one. Many of the parks have designated camping areas with amenities like restrooms, showers, and fire pits.
Wildlife watching is another popular activity in Southern California's national parks. The Joshua Tree National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. The park is also a great place to stargaze, thanks to its clear skies and lack of artificial light.
In conclusion, Southern California is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its national parks, hiking trails, and camping sites, there's no shortage of adventure to be had. Whether you're looking to hike, camp, or simply enjoy the beauty of nature, Southern California has something for everyone.
Urban Excursions in Los Angeles and San Diego
Los Angeles and San Diego are two of Southern California's most vibrant cities, offering a wide range of cultural, shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned local, there's always something new to discover in these bustling urban centers.
Cultural Museums and Art Galleries
Los Angeles and San Diego are home to some of the world's most renowned museums and art galleries. In Los Angeles, you can explore the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. San Diego's Balboa Park is home to several museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Shopping and Dining Experiences
Los Angeles and San Diego are also known for their world-class shopping and dining experiences. In Los Angeles, you can explore the trendy shops and restaurants of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood or head downtown to the Fashion District. San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is a popular destination for shopping and dining, with its lively mix of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Nightlife and Entertainment
When the sun goes down, Los Angeles and San Diego come alive with a vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene. In Los Angeles, you can catch a show at the Hollywood Bowl or the Pantages Theatre, or head to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for an outdoor movie screening. San Diego's nightlife scene is centered around the Gaslamp Quarter, where you can find everything from rooftop bars to live music venues.
No matter what your interests, Los Angeles and San Diego offer a wealth of urban excursions to explore. From family-friendly attractions like Universal Studios Hollywood and Legoland to cultural landmarks like the La Brea Tar Pits and the Aquarium of the Pacific, there's something for everyone in these two dynamic cities. So grab a coffee or cocktail and get ready to discover the best of Southern California's urban scene.
Theme Parks and Family Attractions
When it comes to theme parks and family attractions in Southern California, you are in for a treat. From thrilling rides to educational exhibits, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Thrilling Rides and Shows
If you're a fan of adrenaline-pumping rides and captivating shows, Southern California's amusement parks have got you covered. Disneyland Park, part of the Disneyland Resort, offers a magical experience with its iconic attractions and family-friendly entertainment. You can also head to Legoland, known for its interactive rides and creative exhibits that cater to all ages.
Educational Exhibits and Experiences
For those seeking educational and enriching experiences, the San Diego Zoo is a must-visit. Home to a wide variety of animals and engaging exhibits, it provides a fun and educational day out for the whole family. Additionally, the zoo offers interactive programs and behind-the-scenes tours, allowing you to learn more about wildlife conservation and animal behavior.
Water Sports and Coastal Activities
Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches and warm weather, making it the perfect destination for water sports and coastal activities. Whether you're an experienced water sports enthusiast or a beginner, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the best water sports and coastal activities to try during your visit to Southern California.
Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding
Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are great ways to explore the beautiful coastline of Southern California. You can rent a kayak or SUP from various rental shops located along the coast, including in La Jolla Cove. The calm waters of La Jolla Cove make it the perfect spot for beginners to try kayaking or SUP. If you're feeling more adventurous, you can try kayaking or SUP in the open ocean, where you can catch some waves and enjoy the thrill of the ride.
Snorkeling and Diving Adventures
Southern California is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the world. Crystal Cove State Park is a popular spot for snorkeling and diving, with its crystal clear waters and abundant marine life. You can also take a ferry to Catalina Island, where you can explore the beautiful underwater world and see a variety of marine life, including colorful fish, sea turtles, and even sharks.
Whether you're looking for a relaxing day on the water or an adrenaline-filled adventure, Southern California has something for everyone. So grab your swimsuit and sunscreen, and get ready to make some unforgettable memories in the water.
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Lake Arrowhead offers a serene escape tucked away in the majestic mountains of San Bernardino County. Whether you're seeking a peaceful retreat or an adventurous getaway, you'll find an array of activities to make your visit memorable. Immerse yourself in natural beauty by exploring the lush forest trails, or enjoy a leisurely boat tour on the lake to absorb the stunning scenery.
Nestled in the heart of Southern California, Palm Springs stands as an oasis of leisure and beauty, offering a plethora of activities that cater to all kinds of interests. Your escape to this sun-kissed destination promises everything from exploring the natural wonders of the desert to indulging in the luxury of mid-century modern designs. With its warm climate and inviting atmosphere, Palm Springs is the perfect getaway for those seeking to unwind or dive into a dynamic array of experiences.
Southern California's diverse landscapes offer an exceptional camping experience that you won't find anywhere else. From the sandy beaches of the Pacific coast to the arid deserts and the rugged mountains, there's an outdoor adventure that suits every type of camper. You can wake up to the sound of waves, spend your day hiking through forests, or stargaze in the vast desert skies. The region's mild climate means that many sites are available year-round, so whether you're looking for a cool forest retreat during summer or a sunny escape in the winter, this camping in Southern California guide has a spot for you.
Southern California offers a landscape of extraordinary contrasts and diversity when it comes to national parks. You can explore everything from the rugged beauty of desert sand dunes to the serene vistas of pristine islands. Embrace the opportunity to learn about the region's rich history and wildlife, all while indulging in a variety of outdoor activities that cater to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Tucked away in Southern California are the San Gabriel Mountains, a picturesque range that serves as a scenic backdrop to the bustling city of Los Angeles. These mountains boast a high point at Mount San Antonio, commonly known as Mount Baldy, which challenges hikers with elevations reaching over 10,000 feet. Whether you're a seasoned adventurer looking to traverse rugged trails or a nature enthusiast eager to witness the diverse flora and fauna, this natural sanctuary offers an escape into the wild, just a stone's throw from urban life.
Imagine falling asleep to the sound of waves lapping on the shore and waking up to a sun-kissed horizon over the Pacific Ocean. Beach camping in Southern California offers this unique experience, where the ocean is your front yard and the beach is your playground. With a diverse array of sandy escapes from Malibu's renowned shores to the tranquil coves of San Clemente, Southern California is a prime destination for setting up camp by the sea.
If you're planning a trip to Southern California, you're in for a treat. This region is known for its natural beauty, diverse attractions, and sunny weather year-round. From the beaches of San Diego to the mountains of Big Bear, here are some of the best places to visit in Southern California.
Welcome to La Jolla Cove, a picturesque beach cove located in the heart of San Diego, California. This small coastal inlet is surrounded by stunning sandstone cliffs that shelter the popular La Jolla Cove Beach. The beach is known for its crystal clear waters, soft white sand, and the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve.
If you're looking for the best ski resorts in Southern California, you're in luck. The region is home to several ski resorts that offer a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced rider, you're sure to find a resort that suits your needs.
If you're looking for a fun-filled day in the sun, a visit to the historic Santa Monica Pier is a must. This iconic landmark, located in Santa Monica, CA, has been a favorite destination of locals and tourists alike for over a century. With its breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, a variety of attractions, and delicious food options, the Santa Monica Pier has something for everyone.
If you're looking for a picturesque getaway, look no further than Avalon California. Located on Santa Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California, Avalon is a charming seaside community that has been a popular tourist destination for over a century. With its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and idyllic climate, it's no wonder that Avalon has become a favorite vacation spot for travelers from all over the world.
Whether you're a surfer, sunbather or just looking for a relaxing day out with the family, you'll find plenty of options to choose from. Some of the best beaches in Southern California are known for their surf breaks, while others boast crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. And with so many beaches to choose from, you're sure to find one that suits your needs and preferences.
If you're looking for a beautiful and unique outdoor experience in California, then you should definitely consider visiting Leo Carrillo State Park. Located in Los Angeles County, this park is a true gem of the Golden State. With 1.5 miles of picturesque beach and stunning views of the Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
If you're looking for a peaceful and serene place to spend a day surrounded by nature, the California Botanic Garden in Claremont is the perfect destination. With over 86 acres of land dedicated to showcasing the diverse flora and fauna of California, this living museum of native plants is a must-visit for anyone interested in the natural beauty of the state.
From the stunning Joshua Tree National Park to the rugged terrain of the Mojave Desert, Southern California has no shortage of dispersed camping options. Whether you're a seasoned camper or new to the camping scene, there's a perfect spot for you. With the right gear and a sense of adventure, you can experience the beauty of Southern California's natural landscapes without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, grab your tent, and get ready for an unforgettable camping experience in Southern California's great outdoors!
If you're looking for a relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of Southern California, Catalina Island is the perfect destination. This charming island off the coast of Los Angeles is known for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, laid-back resort vibe, and abundance of outdoor activities.
If you're looking for a fun and relaxing vacation spot in Southern California, Laguna Beach is a great choice. This charming coastal town is known for its beautiful beaches, art galleries, and delicious dining options. Whether you're traveling with family, friends, or on your own, there are plenty of things to do in Laguna Beach to keep you entertained.
Are you looking for the best places to go fly fishing in Southern California? You're in luck! With its diverse landscapes, Southern California offers a variety of options for fly fishing enthusiasts. From mountain streams to coastal beaches, there are plenty of opportunities to cast your line and reel in some impressive catches.
From the iconic Hollywood Sign to the breathtaking Trans-Catalina Trail, Southern California has some of the best hiking trails in the country. You can hike to waterfalls, summits, and even secluded beaches. The best part is that you can hike year-round, thanks to the region's mild climate. So, pack your backpack, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to explore some of the best hikes in Southern California.
If you're an outdoor enthusiast, then you must visit Channel Islands National Park. With over 2,000 plant and animal species, including several that are found nowhere else in the world, this park is a nature lover's paradise. Whether you're exploring the rugged coastline, snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters, or camping under the stars, you'll be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty at every turn.
If you're looking for a relaxing getaway in Southern California, Ojai is the perfect destination. This charming town is known for its beautiful scenery, art galleries, and outdoor activities. Whether you're looking to explore the great outdoors or simply unwind and relax, there's something for everyone in Ojai.
Southern California is home to a number of excellent tide pool locations, each with its own unique features and attractions. From the rugged shoreline of Palos Verdes to the sandy stretches of Crystal Cove State Park, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you're an experienced tide pool explorer or a first-time visitor, you're sure to be amazed by the diverse array of creatures that call these pools home.
If you're an avid hiker or nature lover in Southern California, you've likely heard of Mount Baldy. This stunning peak, located in Los Angeles County, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the San Gabriel Mountains. With an elevation of 10,064 feet, Mount Baldy is the highest peak in the range and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
We've put together a list of the best waterfalls in Southern California, including information on how to visit each one. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or just looking for a fun day trip, you're sure to find a waterfall that suits your interests and abilities. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore some of the most beautiful natural scenery that Southern California has to offer!
Whether you're interested in hiking, camping, or stargazing, Death Valley National Park has it all. Explore the park's unique landscapes, from salt flats and mountains to canyons and oases. Take a guided tour to learn about the park's history and geology, or rent a Jeep to see the magical moving rocks at Racetrack Playa. If you're lucky, you might even spot some adorable wild burros. With so many options, it can be hard to decide what to do first!
Southern California is a perfect destination for beach lovers. The coastline is dotted with picturesque beach towns that offer a perfect blend of sun, sand, and surf. Each town has its own unique charm, and exploring them is an adventure in itself. Here are some of the best Southern California beach towns that you should visit.
If you're looking for a charming coastal town to explore, Cambria should be at the top of your list. Located on the California Coast, this quaint village is full of things to do and see. Whether you're interested in outdoor activities, local art, or delicious food, there's something for everyone in Cambria.
Are you planning a trip to Southern California and want to capture the perfect Instagram photo? Look no further! Southern California is a hub for Instagram-worthy spots, from beaches to cityscapes. With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to decide which spots to visit. That's why we've created this Southern California Instagram Photo Guide to help you plan your trip and capture the best photos.
San Diego is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With its picturesque coastline, sandy beaches, and scenic trails, San Diego offers a plethora of opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Here are some of the best outdoor activities you can enjoy when you visit San Diego.
Planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park can be a fun and exciting adventure. With its stunning landscapes and unique rock formations, the park attracts millions of visitors each year.
Looking for a small town to visit in Ventura County? Look no further than Fillmore, California. This charming community is nestled in the Santa Clara River Valley and offers a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventures. Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Fillmore has something to offer everyone.
Are you planning a trip to Los Angeles soon? If so, you won't want to miss the opportunity to visit LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Located in the heart of the city, LACMA is a must-see destination for art lovers of all ages.
When it comes to Disneyland vs California Adventure, one of the biggest differences is the distinctive themes and lands that each park offers. Here we will explore the unique offerings of each park.
Pasadena is a vibrant city that offers a wide range of events and entertainment options for visitors and locals alike. Whether you're a sports fan, music lover, or theater buff, there is always something exciting happening in Pasadena.
The Rose Bowl is not only famous for the football game, but also for the various events that take place around it. Here are some of the events that you can enjoy during your visit to the Rose Bowl.
If you're looking for a charming, picturesque destination in California, Solvang should definitely be on your list. Whether you're a wine lover, a history buff, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, there are plenty of things to do in Solvang to keep you entertained.
From classic ales to experimental brews, San Luis Obispo County breweries offer something for everyone. You can explore the county's beer scene by visiting tasting rooms, taprooms, and brewpubs.
Whether you're interested in stunning architecture and views, beautiful gardens and natural beauty, or cultural and social events, San Luis Obispo County wineries have something for everyone.
Paso Robles is nestled in the heart of Central California wine country and offers a laid-back, country lifestyle that's perfectly complemented by its proximity to the sunny California coast.
If you find yourself in California, you might want to visit the Goleta Butterfly Grove, a beautiful natural habitat that attracts thousands of Monarch butterflies every year. Located in the Ellwood Mesa area, this grove provides a unique opportunity to observe these beautiful creatures up close and personal.
Visiting Santa Ynez Valley wineries is a unique experience that you won't want to miss. From the beautiful vineyards to the delicious wine tastings, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
If you're a wine enthusiast looking for a fun weekend getaway, you won't want to miss out on Temecula Valley Wineries. Located in Southern California's Wine Country, this picturesque region boasts nearly 50 wineries producing a variety of award-winning wines, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
One of the great things about Santa Barbara Wineries is the variety of wines you can taste. From crisp Chardonnays to bold Cabernets, there's a wine for every palate.
We've compiled a list of the best breweries in Santa Barbara County to help you plan your next beer adventure. Whether you're a local looking for a new spot or a tourist exploring the area, these breweries are sure to impress. So grab a pint and let's dive in!
One of the best ways to uncover Santa Barbara County's hidden gems is to explore the area's natural beauty. The county is home to a number of state parks and nature reserves, each offering its own unique landscapes and experiences.
Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful and challenging public golf courses in the world. If you're looking to tee off at some of the top-rated courses, you're in luck. Below are some of the best public golf courses in Southern California, based on ratings and reviews from golf enthusiasts.
With over 20 wineries in the area, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. That's why we've compiled a list of the best wineries in Ventura County, based on customer reviews and overall experience. From the stunning vineyards at Old Creek Ranch Winery to the award-winning wines at Four Brix Winery, you're sure to find a winery that suits your tastes.
Are you a craft beer enthusiast in Ventura County, California? If so, you're in luck! Ventura County is home to some of the best breweries in the state, offering a wide variety of delicious and unique beers. Whether you're a fan of hoppy IPAs, rich stouts, or crisp lagers, here's our list of the Best Breweries in Ventura County that has something for you.
There are many hidden gems in Ventura County that are waiting to be discovered. From quirky and unique spots to beautiful natural wonders, this county has it all. Whether you're a local or a visitor, exploring these hidden gems is a must-do activity.
Are you looking for some fun and affordable ways to explore the beautiful city of Los Angeles? Look no further than these Budget-Friendly Los Angeles Day Trips!
Are you looking for an affordable way to explore Southern California? Look no further than our list of Southern California Day Trips on a Budget!
Southern California is a treasure trove of educational opportunities for homeschooling families. From museums to science centers, historical sites to amusement parks, there is no shortage of places to visit and learn.
From skiing and snowboarding to whale watching and holiday events, there's something for everyone on our Southern California Winter Bucket List.
Whether it's strolling through festive markets or exploring dazzling light displays, these Christmas events in Southern California will help your family create lasting memories with your loved ones this Christmas.
Besides its culinary and wine experiences, the Santa Maria Valley has a stunning assortment of hiking trails, beaches, and arts and culture offerings. Visitors can explore museums and theaters, delve into the rich heritage of the region, and revel in the captivating scenic vistas during their stay.
At the heart of Santa Maria style barbecue is the tri-tip, a specific cut of beef that is seasoned with a signature blend of spices and grilled over red oak wood. Aside from the delicious meat, Santa Maria-style barbecue also features an array of complementary dishes, such as pinquito beans, tangy salsa, fresh green salads, and grilled French bread.
San Luis Obispo County, often referred to as SLO County, is a beautiful and diverse region located on the Central Coast of California. There are plenty of reasons to visit this area, from its stunning natural landscapes to its vibrant cultural scene. Here are some of our favorite coastal towns in San Luis Obispo County.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some budget-friendly activities in Southern California?
If you're looking to save some money while still having fun in Southern California, there are plenty of options. One great budget-friendly activity is visiting the beaches. Most beaches in Southern California are free to the public and offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Another option is hiking. There are many beautiful hiking trails throughout the region that don't cost a thing. You can also visit some of the many parks and gardens, such as Balboa Park in San Diego or Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Both offer free admission and plenty of things to see and do.
Which cities in Southern California are must-visits?
There are many great cities to visit in Southern California, but some of the most popular include Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs. Los Angeles is known for its entertainment industry, beaches, and shopping, while San Diego is famous for its zoo, beaches, and craft beer scene. Santa Barbara is a charming coastal town with beautiful architecture and plenty of outdoor activities, while Palm Springs is a desert oasis with hot springs, golf courses, and spas.
Can you recommend some unique attractions in San Diego?
San Diego has many unique attractions that are worth checking out. One is the USS Midway Museum, which is located on a decommissioned aircraft carrier and offers a fascinating look at the history of naval aviation. Another is the Cabrillo National Monument, which offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the city of San Diego. For something a little different, you can visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, which has a variety of marine life exhibits and interactive displays.
What are the best things to do for adults in Southern California?
If you're looking for adult-oriented activities in Southern California, there are plenty of options. Wine tasting in Temecula is a popular activity, as is visiting the many craft breweries in San Diego. You can also take a sunset cruise in Newport Beach, or visit one of the many museums in Los Angeles, such as the Getty Center or the Museum of Contemporary Art. For something more adventurous, you can try skydiving or hang gliding in the desert.
What are some fun date ideas for couples in Southern California?
Southern California is a great place for a romantic getaway, with plenty of activities for couples. You can take a sunset stroll along the beach, go wine tasting in Temecula, or take a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards. For something more active, you can go hiking or rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, or take a bike ride along the boardwalk in Santa Monica. If you're looking for something more low-key, you can visit one of the many art galleries or museums in the region.
What are the top free events happening in Southern California this weekend?
There are always plenty of free events happening in Southern California, no matter what weekend it is. Some popular options include outdoor concerts and movie screenings, which are often held in parks and other public spaces. You can also check out local farmers markets, which offer fresh produce and other goods. Art walks and street fairs are also common, and offer a chance to see local artists and performers in action. Be sure to check local event listings for specific details.