- The San Francisco Bay Area
- Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Pasadena
- San Diego
- Yosemite National Park
- Lake Tahoe: Hiking, Mountain Biking, and Skiing
- Nature Sites of Marin County
- Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada Foothills
- Rural Sonoma County, Napa Valley, and Calistoga
- Mendocino Coastline
- Big Sur and Hearst Castle
- Santa Barbara
- Palm Springs
- Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel
- San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast
- The Redwood Forests of Humboldt County
- Mammoth Lakes
There are more places you should not miss during your California adventure. Here we will list some of them.
The San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco is a city with a rich historical past and cultural heritage. During your stay, you can go to opera or ballet, visit some of the historic districts such as Chinatown, or tourist areas such as Fisherman’s Wharf.
The view of the Golden Gate Bridge is extremely impressive against the background of hectic everyday life. San Francisco is also a place with many first-class restaurants, whether you prefer local or international cuisine. Particularly famous in this direction is the Hayes Valley district, where you can also see famous boutiques.
Oakland, rich in museums, theaters, and historic sites, and Berkeley University are just a 30-minute train ride away.
Also, 30 minutes but the south is Half Moon Bay, where you can stroll along the sandy beach, relax or enjoy the tropical landscape.
Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Pasadena
Los Angeles was founded as far back as 1781 and flourished during the peak of the film industry in the 1920s and 30s. The name of LA will always be associated with Hollywood and the film industry.
Fans of the cinema can head to Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, and Bel Air, where it is possible to even meet one of their favorite celebrities. A must-stop is the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
There are also beautiful beaches nearby. Santa Monica State Beach with its Ferris wheel offers great views and the opportunity to capture amazing scenery, then walk around the small local shops or have a delicious lunch. Venice Beach is a great place for rollerblading, jogging, and cycling.
Only 11 miles from LA is the town of Pasadena. Here you can spend a lot of time in the 16 different and themed Huntington Botanical Gardens (for example, a Desert Garden, Japanese Garden, Shakespeare Garden, and others).
San Diego is a place with a warm climate, long sandy beaches, and beautiful scenery. Balboa Park offers greenery and cultural development, the Gaslamp district is a great place if you want to join the first-class restaurants or shop in one of the boutiques. In addition, San Diego is a great place for a vacation with children – there are a number of attractions such as the San Diego Zoo full of exotic animals, or a sea show at SeaWorld, and outdoor games in Balboa Park. Most resorts accept children and do their best for their entertainment and comfort.
San Diego is one of the oldest cities in California and the cradle of Christianity in the area due to Spanish influence. It can also be felt in the architecture of the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, for example.
There are plenty of sights and places to relax in the area that are suitable for day trips if you are staying in San Diego – the beaches and art galleries of La Jolla or Tijuana in Mexico, where you can encounter a different culture.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Park is part of the UNESCO heritage and captivates visitors with amazing views, glaciers, and granite formations. The park, located on an area of 1,200 square miles, was opened in the 60s of the 19th century and today is a major tourist destination. If you are a fan of hiking, this is the right place for your trip. The most famous route is the Pacific Crest Trail. The park has a huge variety of wildlife, birds, and plants.
During your walk, you cannot miss the view of Yosemite Falls and the granite hills of the Half Dome (which are also one of the most difficult hiking routes in the area). The Majestic Yosemite Hotel and Big Trees Lodge are historically famous accommodations, and if you want to be in a more modern location you can stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge.
Lake Tahoe: Hiking, Mountain Biking, and Skiing
The crystal clear turquoise waters of the lake will bring you peace, and the snow-capped peaks of the surroundings are an ideal background for photos. Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area are great for hiking and camping in the summer. Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are at their peak during the seasons from December to April. You can stay at one of the first-class Squaw Valley and Heavenly resorts.
For lake views or picnics, visit the green areas of Emerald Bay State Park, enjoy the tranquility of D. L. Bliss State Park or Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park.
Nature Sites of Marin County
If you are staying in San Francisco, Marin County is nearby and is a great opportunity for a short trip. The city of Sausalito offers wonderful views of San Francisco and a rich historical past. If possible, travel by car because many points are not accessible by other means of transport. This way you can visit places like Tennessee Valley rich in wild plants and Muir Woods with over 1000 years old trees.
Here you will find many shops selling local organic production. Also visit the pristine beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore, perfect for kayaking. In addition, Point Reyes is home to many rare birds that you can observe if you are lucky.
Moving north you will reach the fishing village of Bodega Bay, ideal for hiking, walking, or a relaxing day at some of the beach hotels and lodges.
Gold Country in the Sierra Nevada Foothills
As early as 1948, gold veins were discovered in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, leading to mass migration in the area and the so-called Gold Rush. This also led to a sharp economic leap. Today you can go back to the past at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, where you can look for gold in the waters of the American River. If you prefer, enjoy a quiet picnic under the shady trees or a hike in the green area. Old mines can be visited at Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley. On every corner, you will find 19th-century buildings turned into art galleries and museums. Of course, today all the amenities for accommodation and a delicious lunch are provided.
The waters of the American River have predisposed to the creation of a spacious park along the river – Dave Moore Nature Area with ideal hiking trails and Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park, which also has a fishing area.
Rural Sonoma County, Napa Valley, and Calistoga
Sonoma County is another place that has impeccable hiking trails, beautiful views, dense shadows, and places for picnics and relaxation. The most famous are Trione-Annadel State Park, Sonoma Coast State Park and its beautiful beaches, and Foothill Regional Park, where you can go fishing. Neighboring Sonoma Napa Valley has luxury resorts and boutique hotels. The most famous luxury restaurant is The French Laundry, where the seats are filled with days ahead.
Mendocino Coastline is a place where sea waves crash into the rocky shores. The air is clean, the sound of the waves is soothing and the view is amazing. The weather is often foggy, typical for this part of California, which makes the place not particularly suitable for sunbathing. The town of Mendocino itself is a well-preserved historic site from the Victorian era and has a number of entertainment such as galleries, boutiques with local goods, and festivals organized at different times of the year.
Big Sur and Hearst Castle
Big Sur is a secluded beach where time has stopped. The road along the coastal highway will surely make you stop at least a few times to enjoy the view. Rocky shores, green hills, and the Pacific Ocean’s waters as far as the eye can see – this is Big Sur. In the south is San Simeon and Hearst Castle – one of the great achievements of the 20 years of the 20th century, reminiscent of a Spanish cathedral in appearance and towering over the ocean. Today the building works as a museum.
Santa Barbara offers luxury spa resorts, gourmet restaurants, and sea views. It is no coincidence that this resort town is called the American Riviera. Here again, the architecture is influenced by the Spanish style, the streets are shaded by palm trees, and in many places, you can find galleries and markets with local products.
Old Mission Santa Barbara is full of flower gardens, beautiful scenery, and you can see the hills of the Santa Ynez Mountains in the distance. The Mission Church is rich in artifacts and works of art for lovers of cultural heritage.
Palm Springs is a famous name when it comes to vacation among palm trees and pools. But the warm climate makes the place also a great winter resort, suitable for skiing and other sports. While relaxing, you can enjoy delicious food in one of the first-class restaurants, visit one of the museums or take one of the hiking routes – for example, Mount San Jacinto and Indian Canyons.
Throughout the year, Palm Springs hosts many cultural events – Modernism Week, a tribute to medieval architecture, the Coachella music festival in April, as well as many live concerts and film festivals.
Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Carmel
Santa Cruz is located in southern California and is the epitome of beach life – long sandy beaches, surf, palm trees. If you want to explore the wooded hills nearby, you can take a train tour.
Monterey is a seaport that inspired Steinbeck’s novels. Today you can visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and lively Fisherman’s Whar to enjoy delicious seafood delicacies.
Carmel is an escape from the crowds and tourist groups ideal for couples or families looking for solitude in the seaside village.
San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast
“Happiest City in America,” as San Luis Obispo is called, boasts a year-round warm climate, proximity to beaches and farmers’ markets where local produce is sold and live performances are given. People are extremely friendly and will surely make you feel like a local.
Pismo Beach and Avila Beach (which is more secluded) are located on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo and are a great way to spend a relaxing day.
The main tourist destination in Anaheim is Disneyland Resort, especially for families with children. The city also offers another theme park for the little ones – Knott’s Berry Farm. Anaheim also boasts several famous restaurants – Anaheim GardenWalk, Anaheim Packing House, and the Center Street Promenade, where it is worth a visit. In the eastern part, there are many hiking routes for lovers of long walks.
The Redwood Forests of Humboldt County
Humboldt County delights its visitors by giving them the opportunity for privacy amidst greenery, but also with ocean views. The place is great for outdoor sports, and the fresh sea breeze gives you energy and a sense of freshness.
Redwood National and State Parks are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are home to some of the oldest and tallest redwood trees in the world.
If you are a fan of long walks, be sure to visit Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, where some of the most popular hiking trails are located. Apart from the wonderful green paths, the area also attracts tourists with Fern Canyon, where The Lost World: Jurassic Park movie was shot.
Nearby is Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is the largest redwood state park in California. There is a special Avenue of the Giants, where visitors can see the oldest and largest teats.
If you are a fan of architecture, visit the port of Eureka, where you can see the ancient Victorian buildings, some of which have been converted into accommodations.
Another ideal place for outdoor sports and beautiful views is Mammoth Lakes, which brings together crystal clear lakes, green forests, and high mountains. With over 300 miles of hiking trails, great fishing spots (the fishing season is from April to November), and great snowboards and ski slopes in the winter, the Mammoth is a temptation for any tourist.