California is a state known for its vastly diverse landscapes. From bustling cities with excellent food and museums, to exciting theme parks, and serene wilderness areas with stunning waterfalls and otherworldly landscapes, there’s something in “the Golden State” for almost anyone. Here are 15 places you must see in California:
The Golden Gate Bridge
The famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco spans the Golden Gate strait. Completed in 1933, this mile-wide bridge sits at a height of 4,200-feet. It is painted a bright red-orange, that is meant to increase visibility in foggy conditions.
This rugged stretch of California coast stretches between Carmel and San Simeon. It is bordered by the Santa Lucia Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, and is famous for its dramatic scenery and its winding turns.
Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California opened in 1955, and is the only one designed and built by Walt Disney himself. Go on one of the many spectacular rides, or themed areas, like the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and then explore the excellent dining and shopping options.
Set between eastern California and Nevada, Death Valley is known for its colourful desert rocks, ghost towns, and sand dunes. The area is the lowest point in North America, and is also home to attractions such as Titus Canyon and Badwater Basin.
A small island off the shore from San Francisco, Alcatraz was an infamous federal prison from 1934 through 1963. It was where the notorious mobster Al Capone was imprisoned (in cell 181). Also here is the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California is known for its acres of bubbling mud pots and hydrothermal sites like Bumpass Hell. Also, visit the summit of Lassen Peak Volcano and the Devastated Area littered with lava rocks. There are also many wonderful mountain streams and lakes in the area which connects with the Pacific Crest Trail in the north.
A National Historic Landmark, Hearst Castle in San Simeon is a fascinating building you must see in California. Initially a ranch owned by George Hearst, his son, William Randolph Hearst, the publishing tycoon, transformed the estate between 1919 and 1947 to show off his art collection.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Located in Marin County, and on the Point Reyes National Seashore, this historic lighthouse dates back to 1870. Inside the 37-foot tower, you can see the Lens Room, with the lens and clockwork mechanism, as well as breathtaking views up to nearby Mount Wittenberg.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
This mile-long beach and boardwalk is lined with all kinds of fun rides and games. The oceanfront amusement park in Santa Cruz also has regular movie nights, cook-offs, and concerts to enjoy along with classic boardwalk treats like funnel cakes, kettle corn, cotton candy, saltwater taffy, and more.
A 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego, Balboa Parkis a wonderful mix of nature and culture. Here you can walk amongst green belts and gardens, while also taking the time to visit one of the many museums, performing arts venues, theatres, or even the San Diego Zoo.
Set on the slopes of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory is known for its unparalleled views of Los Angeles, including the Hollywood Sign and the Pacific Ocean. You can also see the Observatory’s exhibits and planetarium.
Located in the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park, General Sherman is the name given to the world’s largest known single stem tree. At a height of 275 feet, it’s sheer magnitude is definitely worth the short hike from the parking lot.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The SFMOMA is home to a wonderful and highly regarded collection of over 33,000 works of modern and contemporary art. It was also the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art. Don’t miss important works by Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock, among others.
The largest alpine lake in North America, Lake Tahoe is known for its stunning clear waters. There’s something to do here throughout the year; in the warmer months, there’s hiking, scenic drives and boating. In the winter it’s excellent for skiing and snowboarding.
Universal Studios Hollywood
You can’t go wrong with Universal Studios Hollywood. Located in the San Fernando Valley area the park has rides, live shows, and all kinds of attractions based on Universal Studios’ most famous films, including the Harry Potter series, and Jurassic Park.
Of course, there are lots of other amazing places you must see in California. If we’ve missed any of your favourites, do let us know in the comments below.