With practically perfect weather, spectacular scenery, beautiful towns and cities, and a fantastic laid-back attitude throughout the state, you will quickly understand why everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Jack Kerouac to pop singer Katy Perry is fond of California.
But do not let Hollywood mislead you: California is much more than beaches and palm trees. From the art and history institutions in San Diego’s Balboa Park to the lush redwoods of San Francisco’s Muir Woods, California has hundreds of distinct places to visit.
Listed below are some of the best tourist destinations in the state.
Avalon Canyon in Catalina Island, California
If you enjoy being outside but dislike the idea of a tough climb, Avalon Canyon on Catalina Island is for you. Wrigley Mansion, built by former Chicago Cubs owner William Wrigley, is located near the hamlet of Avalon. The mansion is designed in the Georgian Revival style. It houses the Wrigley Memorial Botanical Garden, home to several endangered plant species.
The Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve, where you may snorkel, kayak, or paddleboard, is also in the canyon on Catalina Island, as is the Hermit Gulch Trailhead, which serves as the starting point for the famous Lone Tree Point Hike. The location is ideal for couples on their honeymoon in California. You can see nearly the entire island if you are prepared to climb approximately 1,500 feet to the top.
Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California
Whoever is essential in Hollywood usually has a home in the Hollywood Hills. If they don’t, they at least possess a favorite bar or restaurant close to the studios.
Nowhere in California is more unique than a celebrity’s home. There are plenty of ways to increase your chances of spotting your favorite actor or T.V. host while visiting Los Angeles.
Book a place on a Hollywood tour. You will get to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and celebrity hangouts on the Sunset Strip and in Beverly Hills up close and personal. You will also pass over a dozen mega-mansions where celebrities live while not on set.
Pebble Beach in Monterey, California
Pebble Beach, near Monterey, California, is home to four golf courses: Del Monte Golf Course, The Links at Spanish Bay Golf Course, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links. The last three have views of the Pacific Ocean.
The eighth fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links is situated on a peninsula encircled on three sides by cliffs and ocean spray, so be sure to take pictures as you play through the renowned seaside course. In contrast, while it is not challenging to find a golf course while on vacation; it is nearly impossible to find one with panoramas like the ones offered by Pebble Beach’s four courses. Golfing is, without a doubt, one of the most distinctive activities to do in California (and maybe the entire west coast!)
Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara, California
While Napa is the most well-known wine region in California, visiting the Santa Ynez Valley wineries is one of the most unique things to do in California.
More wineries are located in the Santa Ynez American Viticultural Area (AVA) than anywhere else in Santa Barbara. Cultivating a range of red and white varieties, from buttery chardonnays to more complex cabs and merlots, is feasible because temperatures are cooler near the coast and rise as you approach the mountains.
The Santa Ynez Valley is breathtaking, with rolling hills, roadside fruit and vegetable booths, and vivid sunsets reflecting off adjacent mountains.
Balboa Park in San Diego, California
Balboa Park is San Diego’s most popular tourist attraction and with good reason. It has 17 museums, ten theaters and performance spaces, an antique carousel, an art community, and over 20 parks, including a Japanese tea garden and botanical park.
It is one of the Golden State’s greatest cultural assets, so whether you visit every exhibit or just spend 30 minutes wandering the grounds, it will be well worth your time.
USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California
Learn about the decks of the USS Midway, an era-old Navy aircraft carrier that was decommissioned in 1992 in San Diego Harbor. The enormous ship served in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars before being handed over to its final home in Southern California.
The nearly 1,000-foot-long floating museum provides hours of amusement and instruction, from flight simulators and a junior pilot program to an exhibit on navy aircraft and a chance to observe what life was like for sailors.
Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California
Visit the world-famous Griffith Observatory, where you may study the stars even in the middle of the day. Every day when the sun reaches its highest point, the observatory’s enormous planetarium conducts numerous shows led by a live storyteller. Visitors can sit in on a 15-minute presentation about how astronomers study and explain light.
Exhibits are designed for children and adults, so youngsters may play with a Tesla coil or look at Los Angeles through a telescope. In contrast, adults learn more about the possibilities for exploring the galaxy.
La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California
A tar pit might not sound like the most exciting location to visit. Still, it is one of the most unusual sites to explore in California.
Downtown Los Angeles appeared a little more prehistoric about 40,000 years ago when animals like mammoths and saber-toothed tigers frequently got caught in the sticky natural tar that bubbled out from beneath the earth.
Around a century ago, scientists began excavating the tar mines, and they continue to do so today. You may see the fossils discovered in the pits, learn about L.A.’s wild past, and even walk down a tar pit presently excavating at this vast museum. It is a lot of fun for both youngsters and adults.
Muir Woods in San Francisco, California
Even if you have never heard of John Muir, you have probably heard his most famous remark, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” While in San Francisco, you may physically walk in his shoes by visiting Muir Woods.
One of the most remarkable things to do in California is to gaze up at a massive redwood. Some of Muir Woods’ redwood trees are more than 250 feet tall and over 1,000 years old, as evidenced by a nearly level 30-minute trip around the park. To obtain the most incredible shot, take a wide-angle camera lens.