11 Best Places to Visit in California

Welcome to California – the mecca of celebrity culture! However, there is so much more to California than Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame – two of the most visited places in California.

For instance, this state is home to some of the most mesmerizing landscapes, vineyards, amusement parks, film studios, rock formations, beaches, etc. What is more, three of the most famous American cities are also located here. San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are all packed with an amazing city vibe, good food, and diverse culture. This state is simply fascinating to explore!

California is worth a place for spending vacations. California’s vacation destination is full of thrilling and exciting adventures. You can never get bored with these places as it will keep you busy for a longer period of time. California is one of the great places for nature lovers to explore the beauty of the outdoors.

Spend your time at the Santa Cruz for experiencing the classic beach, exploring the natural beauty of Yosemite, and viewing the beautiful art collection at the Hearst Castle.

Nevada City, located in the state of California, is an outstanding spot. Volunteers stand along the sides of the streets and distribute treasures among all the people. A number of magical shows and musical events are also arranged.

The far northern part of California is mountainous, forested, sparsely populated and remote. If you want to get away from civilization and experience raw nature this is the place to go. The Marble Mountains, Trinity Alps, Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta, and the Lost Coast are completely different from what you think of when you think of California. There are even glaciers. You might think you are in British Columbia. There are no big cities, but some very quaint little towns.

California is definitely worth a visit. It takes up a good portion of the West coast so it has a diverse amount of things. Southern Cal along interstate 5 is a beautiful beach stretch with the Amtrak Surfliner running alongside. This is the place to go to go surfing. LA is also a great city to visit. Hollywood Blvd is a tacky tourist trap, it’s cool for the movie history of it. Some other attractions include Santa Monica, Griffith Park, the studio tours for Warner Bros, Disneyland, etc.

To the North in California is San Francisco. Northern California also has some of the best and most popular national parks in the country like sequoia, Yosemite, Redwood, etc. That being said, every state has something cool in it from San Antonia in Texas to the Smokies in Tennessee to the Great Lakes, etc.

California is one of the best places to visit in the world. There is so much to do and see with spectacular mountains, deserts, forests, seashore, great cities with world class cultural and entertainment attractions. And a near perfect climate for year-around outdoor recreation.

Best Places to Visit in California

Thus, what stops you from hitting the road and visiting this amazing state? If you are not sure where to begin your Californian adventure, fear not. We are here to give you some ideas. So, keep on reading to find out what some of the best places to visit in California are.

1. Lake Tahoe

The beautiful landscape in the Lake Tahoe region reaches its peak during winters. And that’s not all. There are many ski resorts, happening nightlife, and gorgeous vistas. Also, from bird watching to hiking, there’s so much to. Moreover, the beautiful hot springs are even better than the more popular Ojai hot springs.

Due to its beauty, this place has become quite a famous site for visitors. Having some of the best waterfalls you can witness in California, Ropi Lake also has Lake Tahoe by its side. The hike is about 5.6 miles, which takes slightly longer to finish than one of the same distance. Going forward in the Trail, you will come across Ropi Lake Falls, making up for a fantastic viewpoint.

Did you know that Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in America, right after the Crater Lake? However, its depth is not what makes this lake one of the best places to visit in California. It is the nature that surrounds it, intermixed with some of the most amazing-looking outdoor restaurants. As it is close to Nevada, visitors of Lake Tahoe also get an opportunity to gamble and try their luck.

However, what fascinates all the people who come to Lake Tahoe is its untouched and well-preserved nature. The air is always fresh and the surroundings are always clean. Furthermore, huge shoreline is perfect for water sports, outdoor activities, swimming, picnicking or just relaxing and soaking up the sun. This lake is simply fun all year round.

Thus, do not hesitate to visit it, if you have a chance! Pack your travel essentials and do not let adventure wait!

2. Beverly Hills

And now something completely different from the previous destination – Beverly Hills. There is not a person in the world who hasn't heard of this place. Everything here is opulent, extravagant, and extremely expensive. So, it is no wonder this city is called the city of rich and famous and, in the same manner, no wonder why many start thinking about settling down here. Well, who could blame them, there is nothing wrong with luxury.

However, you do not have to be a millionaire to enjoy this place, even for a weekend. Thus, if you want to splurge, you can - on lavish hotels, 5-star restaurants, 24/7 hour shopping, and stretch limousines. When you get tired of those (or you spend all of your money), do not forget to check out the Beverly Hills culture, architecture, art, and history. We recommend visiting The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

3. Napa County

According to many who visited Napa Valley, nothing beats this place. Why are they so adamant about it being one of the best places to visit in California? Because it is the perfect combination of breathtaking scenery of mountains and vineyards, a balmy climate and wine-tasting events. Wherever you stand, it is Insta-worthy.

The area of Napa Valley is full of scattered small towns, each of which is unique in its own way. For instance, in Yountville, you can enjoy some of the most charming restaurants and boutiques. In Calistoga, you can enjoy mineral springs with the most amazing view of mountains and vineyards.

But, wherever you go, do not pass the opportunity to try the Napa Valley wine which is considered to be one of the best in the entire world. Of course, do not leave without going on a hot air balloon ride and a guided bike wine tour.

4. Santa Catalina Island

If you happen to be in Los Angeles, do not miss the opportunity to visit Catalina Island as well. It is located just 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Even if you stay here for just one day, be sure that you will recharge your batteries. It is not overcrowded with tourists, so it is a perfect place to vacation in.

Here, you can enjoy all the popular outdoor activities and water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving. You can explore reefs and old shipwrecks, see the bison population, or just enjoy the beauties of this island from the beach or one of its many seaside restaurants. And, if you want to have an educational vacation, visit the Catalina Island Museum where you can learn a lot about the history of the island and about the Native Americans who have lived on the island for 8,000 years.

If you're in Southern California, you'll want to visit Santa Catalina Island, or Catalina Island as it's more often known. Aside from birds, flying fish, seals, and sea lions, you may come across a herd of bison. These are descendants of 14 people who were transported to the island in 1924 to film a movie and were abandoned on the island to save money on getting them back to the mainland.

Over a million people visit every year, and there is enough to do both on and off the island. You may explore reefs and shipwrecks while sitting in a glass-bottom boat with a snorkel or full diving gear. For those who want to explore the island, there are numerous hiking and walking trails with breathtaking views in every direction.

5. Santa Monica

It is a city located in the state of California, just over 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. The coastal town is famous for its dock with its small stores, restaurants and an amusement park, the Pacific Park, famous because it has appeared in many Hollywood films. The city is bathed by the Pacific Ocean.

Do not forget to climb your Ferris wheel, as it is one of the most famous in the world and from the top you will enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles. If you are a beach lover you have the option of getting close to Muscle Beach, one of the best beaches in Santa Monica.

Going to the Santa Monica pier is an obligation, since it is one of the best known places in the district. Being a pier made of wood, it manages to create a bucolic and romantic atmosphere, ideal to enjoy a pleasant walk during sunset. Best of all, when the night comes, the amusement park begins to turn on its lights, since the view from the dock is priceless.

Another of the star beaches of the city is Venice Beach. This beach is perfect for sunbathing and a good dip, as well as being a beach visited by surf lovers. But the charm of this beach goes much further, its main charm lies in its bohemian artists and street shows.

6. Sacramento

The capital of California is a spectacular travel destination, offering a wide melting pot of entertainment and attractions for everyone. From the Railroad Museum to Funderland Park, through natural settings, Sacramento's possibilities are almost limitless. This is a very popular attraction among visitors. It consists of enjoying a boat trip on the river, while observing important enclaves of the city and listening to its history. During the walk you can see the famous ship where the Delta King Hotel works, among other points of interest.

Get closer to Fairytale town. This is a must see if you are traveling with children. Farmer Brown's Barn features Maddie, the moon-jumping cow, and Winnie the Pooh's friend Eeyore. You'll love the Urashima Taro Japanese Garden, which is also in Fairytale Town. Japanese white anemones flourish there and an ancient maple lives.

Visit the Sacramento zoo. The Sacramento Zoo includes a habitat for lions, zebras and other animals in the African savannah, and also an area where the Australian desert is recreated. There you can see the kangaroos leaping among the flocks of emus. There is also an area dedicated to the world of reptiles, without forgetting the red pandas, which are the stars of the zoo.

Sacramento comes alive at the various events that take place in the city throughout the year. These include the California State Fair and the Sacramento Music Festival, as well as frequent outdoor festivals, art walks, and live music in many bars in the city.

Finding its location in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Grizzly Lake is a must-visit for those who wish to please themselves with the splendid view of mother nature. With an incredible waterfall in the middle of the forest, this lake looks like a heaven on the earth. If you ever wanted to fly-fish, this is the place for you.

Within the 7-mile stretch to the Grizzly Lake, you can camp at a nice meadow at about 5.7 miles according to an article. Carry easy-to-cook foods and snacks along with you on the trip. Since there bears around, it is best to tie up your food around a tree while you sleep.

Shelter Cove is one place where you will come across the bear prints. The tide comes along the beach every 12 hours, making for an awe-inspiring sight. If you plan to go there, camp at the Buck Creek, for its scenic beauty having a mountain stream around and gentle oceanic waves. Those who find their interest in climbing mountains can do here at King Range, which culminates at the King’s Peak.

7. Santa Rosa

Placed beside the Pacific ocean at a secluded location, Santa Rosa Island provides you with a place to camp in a tent on a beach, being in the land of extremes near Los Angeles. One of the least visited National Park, you will come across many unique plants and animals here. One of the rare animals found here include the native fox species.

You will even come across Torrey Pines in the Island, which is only found in a grove near San Diego elsewhere.

8. Sonoma

With a stretch of over 24-mile coastline, this place requires you to visit with your vehicle or a shuttle car. There are a lot of places where you can camp while you trek. The Lost Coast is found in the Northern part of California’s coast. To explore more around the area, two of the beautiful places you can go to are Mattole and Black Sands Beach.

With camps laid out, Lost Coast provides you with the opportunity to trek and hike in this wonderful pace. Whether you are staying for three days or 30, Sonoma County will welcome you upon arrival. If you've always wanted to ride a horse on the beach, stay on a farm, or visit a painter in his studio, Sonoma County is for you.

While much of the nation is covered in snow, Sonoma County celebrates the new year with green hills and grasslands. The cheerful yellow color of wild mustard flourishes in dormant vineyards. Since it's not peak season, wineries may offer behind-the-scenes tours, or you may discover that the tasting room manager is the winemaker. The Pacific Coast is in season: Fishing fleets are active with Dungeness crab season. The whales migrate and there are several viewpoints to observe them.

Harvest in Sonoma County - a magical time that is the culmination of a year-long growing process. The grapes are harvested and gently “crushed”, or rather they are gently “pressed”. A hint of fall means that the days vary from mild to hot, but the nights remain cold. The vineyards turn from green to gold to red, offering fall foliage that rivals New England. And at the end of your tour to admire the foliage, a glass of wine will await you in one of the more than 425 wineries.

9. Big Sur

The Pacific Coast Highway route is a beach and driving lover's dream. Travel in California hundreds of kilometres by the sea with stops as essential as the Big Sur or the Bixby Creek Bridge. While it is true that the shortest way to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco is by taking I-5 (Interstate 5), it is worth spending some time driving along the California coast route, an iconic road that does not will leave you indifferent.

For the trekkers, the trek to Sykes Hot Springs is approximately 10 miles along the Pine Ridge Trail. It is best to visit this place in the off-season, to get on the trail quickly. Since the water runs fast in the winter and spring season, you gotta be extra cautious on the trail. The hot springs at this place will strengthen your resolve of considering the mother nature exhilarating.

Whenever you have to find a place to rest during the trail, there are places you can camp at. The 3 campgrounds that are quite popular would be Terrace Creek, Barlow Flat, and Sykes. As far as a toilet is concerned, you will come across a small wooden box with a hole in it on the trip. Thus, be prepared for the challenges on the trip. The beauty of the trail makes it worth the effort.

10. Palm Springs

Drive to Palm Desert, east of LA. The weather is dry and warm, and there are lots of fun things to see and do. The native California Fan Palms grow in canyons on land owned by the Cahuilla Indians. They are watered by springs that flow out of the ground. That is how the city of Palm Springs got its name. The warm dry climate of the Coachella Valley is perfect for growing date palms. It is the only place in the USA where dates are grown commercially.

Palm Springs has a wonderful World War II air museum. On your way back to Northern California spend a night in Ojai, which is in an agricultural valley where olive trees are grown and you can taste various varieties of olive oil. Spend a night in Santa Barbara, which is one of the best cities in California and the entire US. It was founded by the Spanish in the 18th century and has a very Spanish feel to it.

11. Death Valley National Park

In between Las Vegas and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Death Valley is located. They have almost every type of desert you can imagine. There are dried-out lake beds, hostile stony desert, and even dunes so that you can see it all.

Death Valley National Park is the largest in the United States, excluding Alaska. It is an International Dark Sky Park, which means there is no light pollution at night. Because of its unusually beautiful night skies, Death Valley is one of the best places in the world for stargazing, with hundreds of stars and galaxy formations visible to the naked eye.

This lunar landscape called Death Valley is located about 300 kms north of Los Angeles and about 240 kms west of Las Vegas, on the border between California and Nevada. This park is the second in extension after Yellowstone National Park. March and April are the best months to visit the Valley of Death. From Las Vegas, Death Valley is reached in less than two hours by entering Amargosa Valley through state highway 95.

The first interesting point you will find is Dantes View. Yes, the reward is good, there the views are spectacular, it is the best way to get an aerial view of Death Valley.

In the Furnace Creek Area you can find the Visitor Center, in addition to several camping sites, a restaurant, a shop, the Borax Museum and a gas pump. Following in the direction of Badwater Basin, you will arrive at an unpaved road in good condition and after no more than 10 minutes you will reach Devil's Golf Course, one of the best spots in the park. There the soil is desert with a thick layer of salt and rocks covered with this same mineral.

Another good way to approach the entrance to Death Valley if you come from Las Vegas, is entering the park by Beaty, to the north, where shortly after you can see the ruins of Rhyolite, one of the many ghost towns that are scattered on the West Coast.

If your rental car is 4×4, you can continue entering the park through the Titus Canyon, where you will pass through the bottom of a beautiful rocky outcrop. In Stovepipe Wells Area, what will most surprise you will be the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Even a StarWars scene was filmed in this place. In the Mosaic Canyon, very close to Stovepipe Wells, is this marble canyon.

Scotty's Castle Area is the castle that gives its name to this area, in addition to the Ubehebe Crater, formed more than 300 years ago, Eureka Dunes. And finally, the famous and mysterious The Racetrack, where heavy rocks leave a trail of movement that no one knows how to explain.

On your way to the Visitors Center at Furnace Creek you will find Zabriskie Point, one of the most beautiful geological phenomena in the valley.

You have to climb a small hill to see how the earth in this place has wrinkled giving a spectacular yellow tones. This point you will have to reserve to arrive very early or leave at sunset, when the sunlight illuminates and does not burn the beautiful colors of the rocks. You can enter between these yellow formations at Twenty Mule Team Canyon.

Kalyan Panja