California is one of the best travel destinations in the United States. For example, did you know that it’s also home to some of the most historic landmarks on the west coast?
It might be famous for its glitzy resorts and celebrity sightings, but there’s so much more to the state than its polished, brochure-ready surface.
How Well Do You know California?
The Golden State offers an unlimited choice of places and activities, from beachy San Diego and star-studded Los Angeles in the south to history-rich San Francisco and quieter communities in the north.
Take a boat journey from Long Beach or Dana Point to Alcatraz, the famous old prison in the San Francisco Bay, or explore Catalina Island.
Outdoor excursions in Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe skiing, or a stroll down the Santa Monica Pier provide a taste of the state’s magnificent natural characteristics.
Visit Los Angeles to walk the Walk of Fame, visit Anaheim’s theme parks, or hike up to take a photo in front of the Hollywood sign. Miles of shoreline, a plethora of marine life, and world-class golf facilities can be found in Monterey and Carmel.
The San Diego Zoo and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are both regarded as the best wildlife institutions in their respective categories, with a diverse collection of animals and opportunities to learn about our nonhuman neighbors.
Because of California’s miles of farmland, farm-fresh, high-quality meat and produce are available for dining. Fish tacos in SoCal, sourdough bread in San Francisco, and wine tours in Napa and Sonoma are all options for foodies.
15 Best Places to Visit and Things to Do in California
1. The San Francisco Bay Area
When the sun shines on the slopes in the afternoon or fog creeps over the Golden Gate Bridge from the Pacific Ocean, this colorful town is enchanting.
The images of San Francisco, from the Lombard Street curves to the exquisite Victorian mansions, awaken the visitors.
The city delights tourists with walking (though steep), thrilling cable car rides, beautiful views of the bay and the historical districts of Chinatown; a lively shopping area and authentic Chinese restaurants; Northern Beach (Little Italy); and Fisherman’s Wharf, one of the most touristic areas in San Francisco.
2. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, not only California, is one of the top must-see sites in America.
It offers a large range of attractions, including five 1.000-foot waterfalls in the Cascada, impressive sequoia trees, and 13 large campgrounds, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Great picturesque places, like Glacier Point, view Half Dome, High Sierra Canyon, Tenaya Canyon, and even the distance between the Vernal and Nevada Falls is available for guests.
The famous Valley view, the Yosemite Valley, the Cathedral Rocks home, El Capitan, Merced River, and much more. There is also a very good place.
3. Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a small coastal town with a Mediterranean-style ambiance, relaxation, and a plethora of beautiful beach sites for those seeking some sun.
Butterfly Beach, which is located in this location, is easily one of the best places to visit in California, and many celebrities frequent it!
There’s a lot to see and do, and when you’re finished, you can watch the sunset!
You can go hiking, take a romantic walk down to Lover’s Point, explore in a rented golf cart, take a jeep tour, have a blast with a variety of water activities like diving, kayaking, and parasailing, or take a jeep tour.
There’s also plenty of good cuisines to sample while you’re there.
5. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is widely regarded as the most beautiful body of water in California.
This freshwater Alpine lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains is exceptionally clear, and there are plenty of trails to hike around the area to see the lake in all its glory.
Lake Tahoe is breathtaking no matter which part of it you visit, but Emerald Bay is a must-see.
6. Napa Valley
Napa Valley consists of rolling hills, old architecture, and, of course, the beautiful vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see.
There are more than 400 wineries in the region, which was once home to Patwin Native Americans, with its vineyard cultivation beginning sometime in the 18th century.
If you like, you can ride a hot air balloon to view the amazing tourist spots from above or take a trip to downtown Napa to enjoy a mix of modern luxury and old-fashioned whimsy.
7. Hollywood Sign
One of the best things to do in California is to visit the Hollywood sign.
It’s the single most iconic landmark in cinematic history, jutting proudly over the cliffs of Hollywood Hills, and visitors come from all over the world to take a selfie with its famous white letters.
When it comes to getting to the sign, you’ll have a few options. If you enjoy being outside, you can hike a trail through the woods to a good vantage point.
The sign is subject to strict rules, so don’t expect to get too close.
8. Death Valley
Sure, Death Valley is a bit of a depressing name, but there’s a reason it’s one of California’s most popular tourist destinations.
Its landscape leaves nothing to be desired in terms of entrancing and stunning appearance, with rolling hills illuminated under the scorching sun in the country’s hottest region.
Death Valley is home to a plethora of one-of-a-kind and intriguing locations.
9. Alcatraz Island
The isolated island of Alcatraz, located in the frigid seas of San Francisco Bay, reveals stories of humanity and justice in America.
Built in the 1850s, Alcatraz Island was formerly a maximum-security federal prison, housing some of the country’s most notorious offenders.
On the trip to the island, the ferry will take you on a narrated tour of Alcatraz’s history.
According to the USDA, some of these bristlecone pines are over 4,000 years old.
The Patriarch Tree, the largest of all trees of its species on the earth, is among these incredible natural wonders.
Enjoy a picnic, a hike, or a short excursion amidst some of the most beautiful plants you’ll ever see.
11. Glory Hole
This delightfully named destination may have a fun, strange sound to it, but you just have to see this extremely lovely place.
The reservoir in the County of Napa was part of Lake Berryessa. The lake was built by the construction of the Monticello Dam.
The current drought in California caused some problems, but you can still plainly notice the alien-look spill that drains down into the deep, dark depths of the ocean in a majestic and frightening whirlpool.
12. Lava Beds National Monument
You can tour 25 lava tube caverns when you are at Tulelake. It’s like nothing you’ve encountered before when you go up into the grottoes.
The cellars include lava tunnels and a hub that explains their development.
This “tunnel” in Point Reyes is totally composed of the cypress trees from Monterey that overhead an arch forms a fantastic, etheric piece of land that seems like the creation of a fairy tale for children, not from California!
The limbs of those trees squeeze in and create the perfect shady pathway, full of photos.
14. Venice Beach Boardwalk
The Venice Beach Boardwalk is one of the biggest attractions in California, famous for its vivid, colorful environment.
There is a crowd always and it’s always energized.
Face-minded painters and road musicians weave among jugglers; fortune-tellers call out travelers, while food truck operators seduce them with scents.
Flex bodybuilders. Skateboarders do tricks. Vendors market their key chains and t-shirts. The Venice Beach Boardwalk is easy to overwhelm, but it’s a good way.
15. OUE Skyspace
There are many interesting things to see in Los Angeles, but few will get your heart racing like OUE Skyspace.
It’s one of California’s tallest observation decks, so you’ll feel the excitement as you climb to the top, and your nerves will absolutely crackle like pop rocks when you see the transparent glass slide that will take you back down.
Of course, the slide is perfectly safe; tourists use it every day.
California entices visitors with its sun, beautiful landscapes, and urban sophistication. This enticing state has it all: a spectacular coastline, snow-capped mountains, vast deserts, idyllic farmlands, ancient redwood groves, and vibrant multicultural cities.
Tourists visit San Francisco for sightseeing, shopping, museum visits, and fine dining.
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