Visitors of all kinds won’t have any trouble finding exciting things to do thanks to California’s diversity of attractions. Beaches, lakes, forests, mountains, and deserts can all be found within the state’s borders. In addition, the state is home to several wine-producing areas, restaurants with Michelin stars, and, of course, Hollywood. It might be challenging to visit all of the state’s top must-see attractions in a single trip given everything mentioned above and more. Regardless of your level of experience, let this guide assist you in organizing your trip to California.
In the state of California, you can meet Mickey Mouse and pet an orca whale on the same day. Before seeing one of the most hostile natural landscapes in the world, you can take in the magnificence of enormous redwoods. The best things to do in California are certainly plentiful; here is our list of the top activities in the Golden State.
1- Yosemite National Park
During your trip to California, if you could only fit in one outdoor attraction, choose Yosemite. Yosemite Valley, which welcomes millions of visitors each year, has a history of inspiring awe with its imposing granite peaks, magnificent waterfalls, and lush, evergreen landscapes. You’ll need several days to fully explore this nearly 760,000-acre park because there is so much to do there. If you’re not sure where to begin, be aware that Glacier Point, Half Dome, Tunnel View Outlook, and the Mist Trail are regarded by recent visitors as iconic, must-see attractions. Yosemite has three hotels, including the Ahwahnee, the only five-star accommodation there. The park is also home to campgrounds, RV campsites, cabins, and canvas-sided tents.
2- Laguna Beach
If you want to get a taste of the small-town life in Southern California, Laguna Beach is the best place to start. Laguna Beach is conveniently situated halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego off of California’s renowned Highway 1. Laguna’s picturesque setting is defined by the lovely beaches tucked between its coastal bluffs and the immaculate oceanfront parks. Visit unique cove beaches like Victoria Beach and 1,000 Steps Beach as well as more expansive shorelines like the well-liked Crystal Cove State Park, which is praised for its breathtaking setting. Just two of the luxurious lodging options in Laguna Beach are The Ranch at Laguna Beach and The Montage at Laguna Beach.
3- Redwood National Park
Visitors can engage in a variety of outdoor activities in the vast Redwood National Park’s stunning woodland, rivers, and coastline. Some of the oldest and tallest trees in the United States are redwoods. Numerous rare and protected species can be found among the abundant wildlife in the woodland and along the coast. Simply take a leisurely stroll through the forest if you only have one day there and allow yourself to gaze upward at the world’s tallest trees. Longer hike routes are available, in addition to five educational visitor centers and the Coastal Drive, an 8-mile scenic drive.
4- Griffith Observatory
An observatory called Griffith Observatory is situated in Griffith Park on Mount Hollywood’s southern flank in Los Angeles, California. It commands a view of the Los Angeles Basin, with Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. The observatory is a popular tourist attraction that provides a clear view of the Hollywood Sign in addition to a wide range of science and space exhibits. In recognition of its donor, it is known as Griffith J. Griffith. According to the benefactor’s wishes, entrance has always been free since the observatory opened in 1935.
The “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland, opened its doors on July 17, 1955. This “theme park,” which is more than just an amusement park thanks to its five themed “lands,” was the first of its kind and continues to realize Walt Disney’s vision of a place where families can enjoy themselves.
Today, Disneyland has expanded to eight distinct lands with more than 40 attractions made to appeal to visitors of all ages, young and old.
Malibu, which is a little more than 30 miles west of Los Angeles, is frequently regarded as a coastal haven for the wealthy and illustrious. While that impression is unquestionably accurate, Malibu is also home to a number of excellent beaches and is close to outstanding wilderness parks. Drive up Highway 1 and stop at well-known beaches like Point Dume State Beach, Zuma Beach, and Robert H. Memorial State Beach park. Visit Topanga State Park, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and Point Mugu State Park to hike some of the many trails available. For strenuous hikes with breathtaking ocean views, try the 2.7-mile Mugu Peak loop trail or the 3-mile Solstice Canyon Loop trail. Due to Malibu’s small size and wealth, there aren’t many hotels there with affordable rates, so you might want to stay in nearby Los Angeles. If you’re set on staying in Malibu, The Malibu Beach Inn and The Surfrider Malibu provide comfort and luxury.
7- Los Angeles
One location that ought to be on every traveler’s California itinerary is The City of Angels. In addition to being the home of Hollywood, Los Angeles is also known for its world-class dining scene, some of California’s most well-known beaches, such as Santa Monica and Venice, world-class art institutions, such as the Getty Center and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an abundance of hiking opportunities, and a host of other attractions. There is so much to see and do that it would take you longer than a week to see it all. Like its attractions, LA is awash in first-rate lodging. Treat yourself like a celebrity by lavishly spending on a stay at a renowned hotel like The Peninsula Beverly Hills, the Hotel Bel-Air, or The Beverly Hills Hotel.
8- Cross the Bixby Creek Bridge at Big Sur
Bixby Creek on Big Sur’s Highway 1 is a picture-perfect bridge that crosses the mouth of a narrow canyon and towers 260 feet above the Pacific Ocean. It is located about 18 miles south of Monterey. It’s understandable why this bridge has become an unofficial symbol of California after appearing in numerous films and TV shows over the years.
There is no denying that the view from the bridge itself is breathtaking, but for the best photo opportunity, drivers should pull off the road just north of the bridge.
9- Visit the sprawling Hearst Castle
William Randolph Hearst’s infamous estate is a genuine spectacle and an illustration of what having billionaire status can lead to.
It took nearly 30 years to complete Julia Morgan’s 1919 design, which is an astounding fusion of Spanish, Moorish, Italian Renaissance, and Gothic Revival styles, all of which are situated atop a hill overlooking the breathtaking Central Coast countryside.
On California’s Central Coast near San Simeon, the vistas on the drive to the top are just as, if not more, impressive than the castle itself. The castle is surrounded by 250,000 acres (Hearst essentially owned land as far as the eye could see).
10- Take a day trip to Catalina Island
Catalina Island, or simply Catalina as locals refer to it, is a gem in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Los Angeles. It is only 22 miles from the mainland and is easily reachable by ferry, helicopter, or seaplane.
Visitors can expect an island that offers a variety of activities, including world-class golfing at the Catalina Island Golf Course in Avalon, a historic casino, a lively party scene in Avalon Town, the island’s main settlement, quiet coves with lots of animals, an underwater park for snorkeling enthusiasts, hiking trails, and beaches to boot.
Because of the island’s isolation, most visitors prefer to take a pre-planned tour that includes lodging, meals, and a variety of other activities (fishing, ziplines, and hikes, to name but a few).
11- Tour the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards
The Santa Cruz Mountains are home to numerous top-notch vineyards, which is a little-known fact. I created this comprehensive guide to wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains because it’s a fantastic alternative to Napa or Sonoma.
Santa Cruz is less crowded than other “wine country” locations and has lovely vineyards as well. Some of these wineries feature Tuscan architecture, hiking paths, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Cruz Mountains.