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The 20 Best Places to Visit in All of California

Santa Barbara

There's no denying that California is home to Hollywood, the cultural epicenter of the United States' A-listers. However, this massive American state is home to more than just Hollywood and its associated theme parks. It's also the location of Silicon Valley, the primary office of numerous multinational technology corporations. In addition, the Golden Gate Bridge is a symbol that should not be forgotten. In California, there is no dearth of awe-inspiring locations to see. Visitors come to San Francisco to enjoy the city's many attractions, from shopping and museums to fine eating. California's southernmost cities, San Diego and Santa Barbara, are known for their sunny skies and warm temperatures. Make your vacation in California worthwhile by visiting these 20 best places.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

20. The Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua Tree National Park is truly one of a kind in the United States. Huge rocks, mystical mountain ranges, abandoned gold mines, desert plains dotted with the eerie-looking Joshua Tree, and an ecological crossroads in which the high Mojave Desert and the low Colorado Desert meet are all found in Joshua Tree. A band of Mormon pioneers journeyed through the Mojave Desert in the nineteenth century. Through their journey, they were reminded of the Old Testament account when they saw the Joshua three, and this is how the Joshua Tree got its unusual moniker. It is an ideal place to visit and enjoy the scenery within the park.

Dana Point Harbor

19. Dana Point Harbor

Dana Point Harbor seems to have it all when it comes to tourist destinations. Enjoy the beautiful beaches and tasty seafood in this incredible location. Whale watching, fishing, and shopping are just a few popular activities, and there is no shortage of excellent dining establishments. Even though this part of California doesn't have as many exciting attractions as others, it is home to some of the state's most beautiful and tranquil spots. If you need a break from the bustle of the city, here is the place to go! According to US News, this is a family-friendly destination, so grab your kids and visit this magnificent place.

Santa Cruz

18. Santa Cruz

South of San Jose and San Francisco, Santa Cruz is situated on Monterey Bay's northern shore. The city is a pleasant spot to spend some time, with loads of fantastic landscape nearby. It is known for its magnificent seaside boardwalk and counterculture vibe. Everyone, including students and families, from hippies and surfers to street performers, makes their way to "Surf City" for its beaches and boardwalk. Since many young people come to the city to participate in water sports like sailing, paddle boarding, and surfing, the vibe is youthful. The Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Natural Bridges State Beach provide beautiful nature paths and vistas. Santa Cruz boasts a beautiful shoreline and a vibrant downtown with restaurants, shopping, and bars.


17. Venice Beach

One of the most visited areas in Los Angeles, the eclectic Venice Beach is jam-packed with exciting activities and attractions. Venice Art Walls are a great introduction to the area's thriving art community. Additionally, the surf is among the best in the world at the beach. The boardwalk, though, is what makes a visit to Venice Beach worthwhile. One may observe everyone practicing their art here, from budding musicians and street performers to those using outdoor exercise equipment. It is a fun day every day at Venice beach!

Griffith Observatory

16. Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is a must-see for anybody visiting California. Positioned atop Mount Hollywood with breathtaking views of Los Angeles below, this famous California landmark is a great place to take in the scenery and learn more about the stars above. Six exhibit halls inside the observatory cover a wide range of space-related topics and astronomical observations. In addition to the art galleries, visitors can use public telescopes to look at the stars like never before. If none of that sounds appealing, at least you can get a lovely picture of the Hollywood sign from the parking lot.


15. Sonoma Valley

Sonoma Valley, a portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, is close to San Pablo Bay and just to the city's north. Sonoma Valley is a beautiful and peaceful destination, far less flashy and crowded than neighboring Napa Valley. According to Tour Opia, there are many great places to eat in Sonoma, California. You can enjoy the delicious local cuisine and visit wine-tasting facilities to try some of the fantastic wines produced in the area. The popular activities in the area include cycling and hiking, and a balloon flight over Sonoma Valley lets you take in the breathtaking panorama below.

Hearst Mansion

14. Hearst Castle

The Hearst Castle is a unique and imposing structure that began in 1919 and was completed over 28 years. The newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's 165-room palace was never finished. At an altitude of 1,600 feet, it has breathtaking panoramas of the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The vast art collection is the main draw. The grounds of the castle still feature exotic animals because they were formerly the site of the largest private zoo in the world. The castle is approximately in the middle of the distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It takes about four hours to drive between the two cities.

Death Valley

13. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is the largest National Park in the United States, not in Alaska, with an area of almost 3 million acres. The park's colorful sandstone, canyons, rough badlands, and dramatic salt flats are just a few of the many attractions. Death Valley is the driest and hottest location in the United States, and these extremes have made it famous. The summertime highs can reach above 120 degrees! Rainfall in Death Valley averages less than 2 inches per year. But one of California's best National Parks, Death Valley, is at its most enjoyable in the fall. You can visit the Ubehebe Crater, where a volcanic eruption occurred two thousand years ago. Mesquite Flat is a beautiful place, so take your time and enjoy it.


12. Redwoods National and State Parks

Redwoods National Park was one of the farthest north I've ever traveled in California. From the coast inland, this area is well-known as a backpacker paradise. I wouldn't suggest it enough if you're looking for a way out into the wilderness. You can set up shop nearby Trinidad and easily travel to the park for day visits. According to Bon Traveler, the park's Fern Canyon is a must-see. More than forty feet in height, this narrow canyon is covered with lush ferns and accompanied by the sound of cascading water. Visit this place and enjoy some quiet times.

Bowling Ball Beach

11. Bowling Ball Beach

In California, some must-see destinations are truly one-of-a-kind, and Bowling Ball Beach is undoubtedly one of them. Schooner Gulch State Beach is a beautiful spot with a natural shoreline covered with round boulders formed organically from sandstone through eons of weathering. At low tide, you can see these "balls" in all their glory, and getting there takes no more than a few minutes. However, caution is advised because ongoing erosion could be precarious in some cliff locations.

Big Sur

10. Big Sur

Big Sur, on California's southwestern coast, is a must-see for visitors worldwide and across the state. You must stop here if you're driving along the California coast. The beauty of this area of California, from the Bixby Bridge to McWay Falls, is beyond description. According to Planet Ware, there are several places to stay, and the region is well-known among campers. Camping in the area is magnificent as you are offered the chance to connect with nature. Waking up in the morning to the incredible scenery around you; is spectacular!

Laguna beach

9. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is the ideal location if you want to experience a little Southern California town. Laguna Beach, which is halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, has a variety of picturesque beaches that are vast and little, remote and accessible, and will keep tourists busy for days. Crystal Cove State Park's undeveloped shores come highly recommended by visitors, along with Crescent Bay and Main Beach. Get out of the heat by visiting one of downtown's museums, galleries, or shops.


8. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are must-see locations because they are home to the world's most significant trees. The sequoias in this area are among the oldest and largest in the world, some being over 3,000 years old. According to Busy Tourist, these two parks are next to one another, but they couldn't be more dissimilar. Both have mountainous terrain with impressive rivers, granite peaks, lakes, and woods. Visit the parks if you plan on spending at least three days in the area if you want to see both parks.


7. Anaheim-Disneyland

Are you vacationing with your kids? If so, this is the perfect place to take them in California. Disneyland, situated in Anaheim, is an enormous amusement park that features various rides, games, performances, and entertainment in addition to hotels and restaurants. Disneyland is undoubtedly a major attraction that brings in millions of people annually. Theme rides and re-created worlds and cultures are found throughout the park. All these are activities your kid can appreciate and love. Both kids' and adults' shows and other forms of entertainment are available. You can take the kids to the Yorba Regional Park, a beautiful park with picnic sites, hiking, and biking pathways.

San Luis Obispo

6. San Luis Obispo

The charming little town of San Luis Obispo is located on a beautiful stretch of California coastline halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Fr. Junipero Serra established the city. One of the most influential figures in the European colonization of the American West was Father Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan. Across the California coast, from San Diego to San Francisco, he established a network of nine missions. This man established the San Luis Obispo Mission in 1772. However, San Luis Obispo is much more than a simple mission. Beautiful rolling vineyards that produce delicious Pinot noir and Chardonnay can be found just outside this quaint town, making it one of the top tourist destinations in all of California. You can't leave town without staying at the Madonna Inn, a memorable, eccentric, and pink hotel.

Lake Tahoe, California

5. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, in Northern California, is a popular vacation destination year-round. With Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background, the scene is breathtaking. In any season, you can enjoy the lake's brilliant blueness. There are many great spots to stay in the Tahoe area, spanning South Lake Tahoe to Incline, but most people's favorite is midway. You and your pals will love the crisp mountain air at this fantastic site. Mountain biking, water sports, hiking, fishing, and lounging on the shores of Lake Tahoe are some of the summertime favorites among outdoor enthusiasts.

San Diego

4. San Diego

San Diego is located in the far southern region of California. The way of life is laid back; one can go barefoot and not worry about anything. As a child, I loved coming here because of all the fun things to do on the beach and harbor. There is an excellent variety of activities and sights to see in this area, making it ideal for vacationers of all stripes. You can stay at gorgeous villas with golf courses by the beach or in the center of the city for a getaway. San Diego is a great place to visit if you want a peaceful vacation.

Yosemite National Park, California

3. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of America's most well-known and often visited national parks. Some of the most famous and breathtaking landscapes in the United States may be seen within this park, situated in the west region of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Glacier Point, which offers spectacular scenery of the Yosemite Valley, the Yosemite Nature Center and Museum, and the historic LeConte Memorial Lodge and Ahwahnee Hotel, are just a few of the park's many points of interest. You'll find innumerable lakes and streams hidden among its towering peaks, winding gorges, and boundless forests, in addition to a plethora of hiking trails and bike routes.

San Francisco

2. San Francisco

Everyone should make it a point to visit San Francisco, among the most stunning cities in the United States. According to American Classic Tours, the beach and the hills make for a beautiful backdrop. Still, the city's charming neighborhoods, historic landmarks, green areas, intriguing cultural institutions, and laid-back vibe make it so unique. One of the most well-known landmarks and what numerous people picture when they think of San Francisco or even California is the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. A striking image is an orange frame emerging from the frequently present fog or against the blue San Francisco Bay ocean. You can view the structure from a distance or have a more intimate encounter, cycle, stroll, or drive over it.

Santa Barbara

1. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a quaint coastal town that offers visitors seeking sun-filled fun, a relaxed atmosphere, several excellent beaches, and a Mediterranean-style atmosphere. One can explore the amazing houses, market stores, and hike trials exciting as well. After enjoying and discovering a lot, you can view the magnificent sunset.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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