The top 8 places to visit in California
Perhaps no other state offers travelers as many diverse regions and experiences as California. There truly is something for everyone – whether you’re into exploring the great outdoors, tasting world-class wines, or hanging on for dear life on a Universal Studios thrill ride.
From Lake Tahoe to Death Valley, there are so many things to do in California that you’ll never see it all in one trip. Guess you’ll just have to plan several California vacations.
Here’s our highly subjective list of the best places to visit in California:
1) Los Angeles
It’s often said that Los Angeles isn’t a city as much as it is a collection of neighborhoods – but what neighborhoods they are. Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Downtown, and Santa Monica are just the start. Each has its own appeal and attractions. If the weather’s fine – and it nearly always is – head for the J. Paul Getty Museum. Not only will you see a stunning art collection, you’ll also have the best views in town. If you have kids along, don’t miss Universal Studios Hollywood where the major motion pictures are transformed into incredible experiences. The Hollywood Walk of Fame and Farmers Market are other must-see attractions.
2) San Francisco
It may be a cliché, but just about everyone leaves their heart in the City by the Bay. One of the most recognizable places in the world, San Francisco offers great food, sophisticated shopping and beautiful scenery. If you only have a day, take a cruise to Alcatraz Island or take a walk out on the Golden Gate Bridge for views and pictures you’ll always treasure. Ride a cable car, visit Fisherman’s Wharf, and enjoy sourdough bread, Dungesess crab, and Anchor Steam beer.
3) San Diego
California’s biggest beach town, San Diego and nearby Coronado are great fun for the whole family. The top attractions here are Balboa Park, which has a good art museum and tropical gardens, SeaWorld, and San Diego Zoo. With more than 4,000 animals, it’s the top zoo in the world. Take a side trip to the Hotel del Coronado to see where Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis frolicked in Some Like It Hot.
Located in Anaheim, the original Happiest Place on Earth has been joined by Disney California Adventure Park. Together, they offer a one-two punch that’ll leave the whole family wanting more.
5) Napa and Sonoma Valley
Even if you’re not a wine lover, you’ll love California wine country. With rolling, vineyard-covered hills, incredible architecture, and some of the best restaurants in the country, Napa and Sonoma are the perfect places to relax and unwind.
6) Central California Coast
For sheer natural beauty, the rugged Central California coastline is hard to beat. And since much of the area is state park land, it’s easy to explore. You can hike, kayak, or just enjoy the views from a convertible. Don’t miss the Monterey Bay Aquarium, charming downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, the drive down Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, or Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
One of the most spectacular National Parks in the country — and the nation’s first — Yosemite has 1,200 square miles of towering peaks, verdant valleys, and plunging waterfalls. Whether you take a day hike, mountain bike, or come in winter to cross-country ski, you’ll be awed by sights like Half Dome, El Capitan, Mirror Lake, and Bridal Veil Falls.
8) Lake Tahoe