California’s attractions are so varied that people of all ages are sure to find things to do that delight them. Lakes, beaches, forests, mountains, deserts, and mountains are all nearby within the state’s borders. It includes numerous vineyards, restaurants with Michelin stars, and obviously, star-studded Hollywood.
With all that and many more, it can be challenging to figure out how to squeeze in all of the most popular attractions of California in a few trips. This guide will help you with your California travel plans, whether you’re a novice or an experienced professional. From north to the south and everywhere between, Here are the most memorable places to visit in California.
Here is the list of the best things to do in California on vacation:
The 17-Mile Road is an enchanting route that winds through the most picturesque stretch of Monterey Bay coastline. The road, situated in the exclusive community in Pebble Beach, takes drivers to the Del Monte Forest, past luxurious mansions, and then down to breathtaking bluffs and craggy beaches. Make sure to stop at the numerous lookout points identified along the way and the famed Lone Cypress Tree.
If you’re considering a bed down there, you might want to spend a bit on a room or even stop for a bite to admire the beautiful landscape that is a part of the resorts located at Pebble Beach Resorts, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach or The Inn at Spanish Bay. Unfortunately, you’ll need to pay a fee to access 17-Mile Drive.
This tiny community in Monterey County is one of California’s most charming and unique communities. Its stunning coastal location with its wooded streets, architectural style that resembles fairy tales, and a plethora of local restaurants and shops are worth a detour away from on the Pacific Coast Highway.
When you are there, make sure to stop by some of the beaches in Carmel and the name-brand Carmel Beach located at the bottom of Ocean Avenue, the town’s principal road. Carmel River State Beach isn’t so crowded and has an undeveloped Carmel Meadows Trail, a short walk to the tranquil Monastery Beach.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, you can consider a trip to one of the town’s luxury accommodation options, such as the traveler-approved L’Auberge Carmel or La Playa Carmel.
Explore the theme parks
There’s a wealth of options when it comes down to theme parks located in California. The vast array of choices will delight every kind of person. Anaheim’s world-renowned Disneyland Park will enthrall children. If you’re not ready to pay the outrageously high prices for tickets to Disneyland, look at other exciting options, for instance, Legoland California and SeaWorld San Diego.
There are two Six Flags locations (one near Los Angeles and the other close to San Francisco), perfect for those who love thrills, and Universal Studios Hollywood, which hosts the well-known Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Due to the massive popularity in these locations, there are no problems finding accommodation nearby.
There are plenty of hotels in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a favorite among travelers, as it is The Garland for those visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. The well-received Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach, a Hilton Resort and Spa, is not just a quick drive from Legoland; however, it also provides an ideal location close to the beach.
Yosemite National Park
If you have only the time to go to one place in the outdoors during your California vacation, it should be Yosemite. With millions of visitors visiting throughout the entire year Yosemite Valley has been recognized for its power to stir up admiration for centuries due to its majestic granite peaks, stunning waterfalls, and lush evergreen landscapes.
There’s an abundance of things to do within this 760,000-acre nature reserve that you’ll have to take many days to soak everything in. If you’re not sure where to begin, be aware of the following: Glacier Point, Half Dome, Tunnel View Outlook, and the Mist Trail are all considered to be iconic and must-see attractions as per recent visitors. The three hotel options inside Yosemite include the Ahwahnee, the only Yosemite luxurious hotel.
In addition, there are camping sites, tents with canvas sides camping sites, RV campgrounds, and campsites all over the park.
Explore the desert
To fully appreciate California’s vast geomorphological landscape, it’s necessary to go beyond the coast and into the desert. The good news is that two spectacular desert landscapes are available within less than three hours of Los Angeles and San Diego. Joshua Tree National Park, located approximately 130 miles to the east of Los Angeles, is an 800,000-acre desert dotted with the distinctive Joshua tree, which is only found in areas of the American Southwest.
In addition, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is approximately 75 miles to the north of San Diego, is California’s largest state park and has stunning scenery that ranges between slot canyons and palm oases. Both parks provide unforgettable hiking trails and camping alternatives. Popular with travelers within Joshua Tree include the 3-mile out-and-back Ryan Mountain Trail and the 1.7-mile Skull Rock loop trail.
And in the state park of Anza Borrego, Visitors loved taking the 2.6-mile back-and-forth Pictograph Trail and the more moderate 2.3-mile loop Slot trail. Due to the extreme summer heat in the desert (think daytime temperatures that exceed 100 degrees), it is best to visit between autumn and spring.
If you’re keen on experiencing smaller-town Southern California, Laguna Beach is the ideal place to begin. It is conveniently located between Los Angeles and San Diego; Laguna Beach is located on the coast, just away from California’s famous Highway 1.
Lovely oceanfront parks distinguish Laguna’s stunning setting and numerous beautiful beaches tucked between the coastal bluffs. Make sure you visit the unique cove beaches, like Victoria Beach and 1,000 Steps Beach, along with bigger shorelines, such as the famous Crystal Cove State Park, which is praised for its stunning location.
Laguna Beach is also home to various luxury accommodation options, such as The Ranch at Laguna Beach and the highly-rated Montage in Laguna Beach.
Just over 30 miles to the west of Los Angeles, Malibu is frequently thought of as a coastal sanctuary for the wealthy and famous. Although that is accurate, Malibu is also home to numerous beautiful beaches and is just a few steps away from some of the most beautiful nature parks. Take a drive along Highway 1 and stop at the famous shorelines such as Robert H.
Memorial State Beach park, Zuma Beach, and Point Dume State Beach. Also, it would help if you took the time to explore the numerous trails in Point Mugu State Park, Topanga State Park, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. If you’re looking for hikes with stunning ocean views, take the 3 miles Solstice Canyon Loop trail or the strenuous 2.7-mile Mugu Peak loop trail.
Because of Malibu’s size and affluence, it’s hard to discover many hotels offering reasonable prices, so you may choose to sleep close to Los Angeles. If you’re planning on staying in Malibu, there is luxurious comfort within The Malibu Beach Inn and The Surfrider Malibu.
A trip to California isn’t complete without a visit to San Francisco. San Francisco stands out not just within the state but throughout the nation; there are numerous ways. The picturesque bayfront location, its towering hills, and the countless colorful Victorian houses are an absolute spectacle for the eyes. To top it all off, it is home to some of the most famous tourist places of interest and is considered one of the most delicious cities to eat in in the nation.
While there, visit tourist attractions like Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Alcatraz. It would help if you also used the parks that comprise part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, including Land’s End, Muir Woods National Monument, and many more. There are many choices to choose from in San Francisco for accommodation, including Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and St. Regis outposts.
The state’s second-largest city is an excellent option for those seeking the big city feel without the snarling pollution and traffic of Los Angeles. San Diego is a premier tourist destination because of its numerous attractions. In San Diego, you can take the option of a variety of stunning Southern California beaches, including Pacific Beach and La Jolla Shores.
Other must-see attractions include the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, museum-heavy Balboa Park, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and the famous travelers USS Midway Museum, located within a former aircraft carrier. In addition, there are a variety of hotels close to various places of interest within San Diego, including by the beach, along the bay, and downtown.
To experience a truly memorable vacation, look at the luxurious Fairmont Grand Del Mar or the historic Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Death Valley National Park
The park’s national status is one to be noted for breaking records as the most sweltering place on Earth and the driest land across the entire region of North America, not just the United States. A trip to Death Valley is not easy, and the closest airport is nearly 2 hours from Las Vegas.
If you choose to make the journey to Death Valley, you’ll be treated to unforgettable desert landscapes. These include the dunes, which can be walked through, and Artists Drive, a nine-mile road with paved roads that feature pastel-colored hills. You can also visit the Racetrack, which is the site of legendary moving stones.
If you’d like to remain in the park, you should know a wide range of lodging and camping options, such as The Oasis at Death Valley.