7 Best Things to Do in California

While most people think of California as a beach state, it is actually one of those rare states that has everything. Major cities, deserts, redwood forests, beaches, mountains, and several major national parks are all here. There is also the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park near Los Angeles.

California is bigger and has MUCH more variety of types of places and activities than Florida, but you can’t possibly see them all in one vacation. Music fan and a hipster? Check out the Coachella music and arts festival, in the desert east of Los Angeles.

Considering how much wilderness there is in California, even the most adventurous souls might find it difficult to explore it all. However, it is certainly not impossible. However, there may be instances where you do not have ample time to go on an expedition to every possible place. Hence, if you are wondering where all to go backpacking in California over a weekend-long trip, this list is for you.

California has some incredible hiking routes in USA. Between Lambert Dome in Yosemite or Eagle Lake or Ewoldsen Trail in Big Sur or Kelso Dunes in Mojave National Preserve, you could spend months hiking your way up the coast along Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. You can spend one day up in the mountains, skiing down the snowy slopes and the next enjoying a wine tasting in Napa Valley.

California has so many different spots to see. You can spend your days down south and explore the deserts of Joshua Tree. You can head up north and get lost in the mountains of Yosemite or stop by San Francisco. You can find lava tunnels, 5,000-year old trees, and cacti double the size of you.

The only probable difficulty with choosing California as your next big hiking trip in US is deciding where to go and what to see in Big Sur in California, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, San Francisco, Sacramento, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe. There are so many options that your head might start to spin just thinking about it.

Inland California has the Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Joshua Tree National Park, the Palm Springs area, redwood forests, various wine countries, Death Valley, Anza Borrego Desert, Mammoth Lakes, and many others.

The beaches are plenty wide, the sand is tan and a little more course but still decent. The waves are big and scenic and good for surfing, if that’s your thing. When the sun is out the temperature is usually 75 to 80 degrees and the water temperature is about 70. That’s Southern California.

Central and Northern California beaches/coast are even more spectacular, but relatively cold. They are mostly undeveloped and uncrowded. It’s truly scenic and beautiful, but not warm.

things to do in California

Read on to find out the ultimate backpacking list for those who want to fall in love with California.

1. Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the place everyone wants to reach. It is the lowest point of the western hemisphere that is 86 meters below sea level. There is a protected area of salt flats. If you get into them, remember to bring enough water. On the way back you will pass through Artist's Drive, a 9-mile road with a single direction.

This road takes you to one of the most photographed spots, Artist's Palette. The color that the rocks have acquired in this place, in green, yellow and red tones, come from the oxidation of mica, iron and manganese.

Among things to do in Sacramento take a historic cruise on the Sacramento river.

2. Winchester Mystery House

This extravagant, four storey gabled and turreted Victorian house may look like an ideal tourist place but it ain’t at all! The house is a sprawling labyrinth that perplexes mere mortals like us and also the malicious spirits who are said to reside in the mansion. The house itself looks royal but inside it’s as weird as trying to gulp down saggy maggi. There’s a staircase that takes you directly to the ceiling.

And occasional peekaboos by the spirits living in this abode of the bizarre! People have reported spooky stuff happening inside the house. Probably lost people trying to find their way. While the 24,000 square feet house is a character in itself, there’s another interesting character that was instrumental for the existence of this bizarre house.

Legends hold it, however, Sarah Winchester believed herself to be haunted by malevolent spirits and ghosts of the victims of the Winchester Rifle. Or she could also have been a really, really bad architect. Whatever the truth might be one thing can be said for sure. Your brain’s going for a ride in here!

Each season gives you a new reason to visit Sonoma County.

If you are organizing a trip to California, read this post with the entire route.

3. Go up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Getting to Palm Springs is a reasonably simple and surprisingly quick process. The quickest route through Moreno Valley takes slightly more than 2 hours. Go up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway if you want to be a little more adventurous or if you get tired of the book you brought to read. The tram ride takes around ten minutes, and the tram turns as it ascends, ensuring that you get all of the best views without having to move your head.

4. Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands is also beautiful (they're islands off the coast of Santa Barbara), but require much more effort in planning than simply renting a car, since you need to figure out the ferry situation and getting permits, etc.

5. Eastern Sierra

It’s a side of California few people know exists, despite having some of the most breathtaking landscapes and fascinating rock art and historical sites in the state. This is one of the few places you can travel even on a holiday weekend, and it still won’t feel crowded.

6. Kennedy Meadows

Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is informally the end of the desert and the beginning of the mountains. No more worrying about every ounce of water, as there's plenty of water here in the mountains. No more scooping a few precious drops of water out of a stagnant, slime covered pool 3 in deep and 6 inches long.

Reaching Kennedy Meadows is seen as a rite of passage on the PCT. Only about two tenths of a mile off the trail there is the Kennedy Meadows store. Every time a new hiker arrives they are greeted with cheers and applause from the other hikers who know what you've been through to get here. A lot of hikers will never make it this far.

Many will discover that hiking the PCT is not what they want to do. Others won't make it because of injury, family issues, or financial problems. The ones that make it this far have already won. If they never take another step on the trail they have accomplished something that most people in this world will never do.

And even though you spend only about 2 weeks in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this is probably the most anticipated part of the trail for most hikers. Instead of searching for a few ounces of water there are large rivers. Instead of long, flat hot desert, there are snow-capped peaks and deep forests. It is a welcome change. Most of us, while we will take a day to rest here in Kennedy Meadows, can't wait to continue north. Only 1950 miles to Canada.

7. Newport Beach

The heart of Southern California is Orange County, and Costa Mesa, the City of the Arts and the Mecca for arts and theater, is tucked away in Orange County. Costa Mesa boasts loads of high-end shopping and restaurants. Costa Mesa makes a perfect destination for an Eatcation, allowing visitors to experience a multitude of cultural dining choices. For the beach lover, some of Southern California's best beaches are just a short distance away.

Six distinct neighborhoods make up Costa Mesa: Eastside, Westside, SoBeCa District, Central, South Coast Metro, and Mesa Verde. Eastside is known for its culinary innovations and is home to Hi-Time Wine Cellars. Westside is the former industrial area for the city and has undergone a transformation into an area bursting with restaurants, art studios, and other small businesses.

The SoBeCa District is home to The LAB, a shopping center for creatives and small business. You'll also find lots of exciting restaurants sprinkled throughout SoBeCa. Central District is all about fun! Here you'll find events year-round, including concerts and the OC Fair. South Coast Metro is ground zero for the arts, with Broadway shows, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and more.

California produces much of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, and culinary arts is an industry here. Epic Wings (formally known as wings n things) is a whole new level of flavor. While their menu lacks diversity, they make up with power hitting flavor in their buffalo sauce that is mouth watering, garlicky and will make you cough if you get a whiff from its vinegar aroma. Not to mention that their breadsticks are so much better than that of Olive Garden.

Mesa Verde is a home decorators paradise with a large variety of cutting-edge home furnishing shops and interior decor businesses. It's also home to the OC MIX, a wildly popular food hall. Go straight to any small Mexican restaurant that ends with ertos. From Albertos to Rigobertos. Go there and get the California burrito. Instead of rice, you get french fries in the tortilla wrapped goodness with tons of meat and guacamole and sour creme.

If you have a bit of spare change, then a California burrito, a grilled steak burrito with cheese and fries is the best bang for your buck. Some dining halls even have these and occasionally people make that one burrito their only meal of the day.

Mission burritos are a different beast from their SoCal counterparts, but still are hearty enough that sometimes a single one can be lunch and dinner for a day. The reason it’s called Mission-style is because it’s regional to the Mission district in San Francisco. And that’s the type of burrito that Chipotle does.

On every corner is a small independent Mexican takeout restaurant (usually called a taco shack). Their menus are all pretty much the same. The top two items are the Carne Asada and Carnitas burritos. Almost all meat, no rice or beans or other starchy fillers, just a little bit of pico de gallo and optionally guacamole. All rolled up in a fresh, tender 15″ flour tortilla.

Mission style burritos consist of rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and a host of veggie elements, from avocado and pico de gallo to jalapeƱo pepper and lettuce. Sometimes there is meat too. Often the tortillas are steamed and include rice, unlike California Burritos.

Pretty much every tourist relies on packaged ramen, but many lean into the Asian culture and add in cheap staples like tofu, spam, eggs, mushrooms, and Bok Choi from the local asian grocer.

Due to the large Vietnamese population in the Bay Area, pho is often a go-to for a large cheap meal with friends. At some places you can get a huge washtub-sized bowl of pho with loads of beef for $6. That can keep you full for 2 meals.

San Diegans love their brunch. But if you’re one of those people who needs food to function in the morning, a humble Cliff Bar is a popular choice. They’re also one of the cheapest bars to buy, at about $1 a pop. With it being rush hour always in the Bay, many don’t have breakfast. Or, if they do it’s a mug of coffee so they don’t fall asleep on BART (Bay Area’s heavy rail) and wind up in downtown Berkeley.

It’s also cheaper to drink homemade coffee than to, you know, eat actual food. Fruit can be super cheap in SoCal and often the cheapest three are bananas, oranges, and apples. Although they might not be the most filling, a lot of people in Southern California are very into health and can be found snacking on fruit at least once a day.

There’s just a weird amount of people who eat and actually enjoy this. It’s cheap, calorific, and seriously flavorful, all of which help when you’re struggling to afford food. Hot Cheetos and cream cheese have a cult following in the north.

Nothing says SoCal quite like IN-and-Out Burger, specifically their animal-style fries and double-doubleburger are manna. They’ll probably tear a hole in your stomach if you’re lactose intolerant, but they’re so good that it’s honestly worth the pain.

Most people hear the phrase "Michelin star dining" and think luxury — and they wouldn't be far off. Michelin-star restaurants are generally agreed upon as the best restaurants in the world; those bestowed with a coveted star have the most impressive chefs, ingredients, and dishes in the culinary world.

However, Michelin star dining doesn't need to be out of reach for the average person. Sure, there are some Michelin star restaurants that are extravagant and only accessible to the wealthy, but there are also plenty of affordable options out there, too — especially in California, the state with the most Michelin star restaurants in the United States. For $200 or less, guests can enjoy impeccably prepared seasonal and local ingredients.

Several other beautiful places do not find a place on this list. However, that does not take anything away from them. For you to be able to explore the landmark places better, always carry the United States Scratch Off Map with you. Every place in California is wonderful, with each having its own set of charms. This makes it a city you should definitely have on your to-visit place.
Kalyan Panja