Tourist Attractions in California

Top 17 Tourist Attractions in California

Top 17 Tourist Attractions in California

Tourist Attractions in California – California is one of the top vacation destinations in the United States for both Americans and international travelers.

Vibrant cities, beaches, amusement parks, and natural wonders like nowhere else on Earth make California an exciting country of possibilities to visit.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to Hollywood and Disneyland, the gateway cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are home to some of the state’s most famous landmarks. It is also where many of the top cultural attractions can be found.

But national parks, which include mountains, forests, deserts, coastal areas, and islands, offer quintessential experiences of their own.

The tallest and largest trees on Earth, the largest alpine lake in North America, and the famous landmarks of Yosemite provide opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Whether you’re interested in taking a road trip, taking a family vacation, enjoying a city excursion, or, want to do some sightseeing, start with our list of the top California attractions.

  • San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most beautiful cities in America, San Francisco should be on everyone’s must-see list. The sea and hills provide a stunning natural setting, but quaint neighborhoods, historic sites, green spaces, inspiring cultural institutions, and a relaxed attitude make this city special.

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is one of the significant landmarks and comes to mind to many people when they think of San Francisco and even California.

The orange frame against the blue waters of San Francisco Bay, or looking out over the fog that often covers the area, is unforgettable. You can appreciate the bridge from afar or, for a more personal experience, drive, walk over it, or even bike across it.

Other popular tourist attractions include Fisherman’s Wharf and the infamous Alcatraz Island. This former prison is now a national park and worth visiting. Ferries leave for the island from Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf.

If you have time to explore the city and are ready to get in a bit of exercise, try some of the sights on foot.

Families traveling with kids will find a world of activities to keep youngsters and even older kids entertained with our article on things to do with kids in San Francisco.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in San Francisco: Best Areas & Hotels

  1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in Northern California is one of the most scenic and most visited national parks in the United States.

For decades, the mountains, valleys, rivers, and spectacular waterfalls have attracted tourists, artists, and athletes. For nature lovers, a trip here is one of the best things to do in California.

Most of the major sights and things to do in Yosemite National Park are in Yosemite Valley. Carved by glaciers during the last ice age, granite walls and towering waterfalls are some of the park’s most outstanding features. This is where you’ll find big-name attractions like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan.

Beyond the canyon are Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road, which provide access to alpine areas, lookout points, and incredible scenery.

Sometimes overlooked by tourists, there are massive sequences worth seeing. The largest stand is at Mariposa Grove in the southern part of the park.

One of the best ways to explore Yosemite is to venture out into the landscape on some of the incredible hiking trails.

These range from easy walks along streams and lakes to life-changing paths that will take you to mountain peaks and famous historical sites.

If you’re looking to spend a few nights and set out here for a while, you’ll also find several excellent campgrounds in Yosemite and the surrounding area. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  • Disneyland

Disneyland, located in Anaheim, is California’s premier family destination and one of America’s top family vacation destinations.

This huge amusement park is home to various rides, games, shows, entertainment, restaurants, and hotels.

The park is a combination of theme rides and recreated worlds and cultures. You can find presentations and other entertainment designed for both children and adults.

Long lineups and wait times have been reduced somewhat by the invention of FastPass+, which gives you specific ride times, the ability to hug a character, and book entertainment events.

However, when the kids are out of school, either for summer, Christmas, spring break, or any other holiday, you can be sure that the park will be bustling.

Keep in mind that there is more to Disneyland than just the parks. The entire Disneyland Resort experience includes hotels, dining, shopping, and Disney Adventure Park in the Downtown Disney District.

Although the gardens are here for your kids to visit, you’ll find something fun for everyone in the family. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Official Site:

  • Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has some of the most inhospitable areas in California, with extreme heat that has made this desert region strangely beautiful.

Salt fields, dry land, dunes, mountains, unique cliffs, and a lake below sea level create a unique landscape in this remote valley.

Some of the easiest-to-access highlights in Death Valley are Stowe Pipe Wells, Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, and the dunes near Dantes View.

These and all others are easy to reach by a regular vehicle. If you have a 4WD car, you can go to more remote places like The Race Track.

Death Valley can be done as a day trip from Las Vegas, Nevada, but there is so much more to do here that you can plan to spend more time here.

You can drive through the park and stop at the lookout, hike on short trails, See the ruins of the former industry of the valley, And even paddle in the shallow Badwater Lake if there is water in the lake at the time. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  1. Bada Suri

This beautiful stretch along California’s Central Coast offers the chance to return to nature. Garrapata State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park are the best places for camping and hiking activities.

Big Sur begins about four miles south of Carmel in Yankee Point and stretches along Highway No. 1 to Salmon Cove, about 17 miles north of San Simeon.

This scenic road offers spectacular views over the picturesque beach. To the east stretches a true wilderness – the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Ventana Forest, with more than 220 miles of trails.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is an excellent place for hikers, sunbathers, and those seeking a nature escape.

The park offers camping facilities, and Big Sur Lodge provides a peaceful retreat in an excellent location for anyone looking for a little more comfort.

One of the main attractions in the park is Pfeiffer Falls, which the Valley View Trail accesses. A branch from this trail leads to valley views that extend to the ocean and the Big Sur River valley.

Garrapata State Park is another popular area in Big Sur. The main attraction is Garrapata Beach, a long, vast, crescent-shaped stretch of golden sand.

The waves here can be significant, and it may not be the best for swimming, but it is excellent for a walk and soaking in the sun.

For those looking to get a little exercise, the park also has day hiking trails that provide great views of the beach, mountains, and redwoods. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  • Lake Tahoe

Stunning Lake Tahoe is located high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and is a popular year-round vacation destination in California. Lake Tahoe is more than just a lake; it is forests and mountains, small towns, and many area activities.

Blue Lake, with its turquoise creeks and surrounding mountains, is a summer playground for boaters, beach-goers, campers, and nature lovers.

Beautiful beaches and shallow streams are some of the main attractions for families visiting the area in summer. Places such as DH Bliss State Park and Kings Beach State Recreation Area are popular beach destinations around Lake Tahoe. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Kayak on the Beach at DH Bliss State Park

You’ll find excellent hiking trails for all abilities in the mountains and along the shoreline. Campgrounds are also excellent in the area, many in beach locations or wooded areas. Most of the summer action is centered around the beaches. In winter, the focus is on ski resorts.

Lake Tahoe is also California’s premier skiing destination, with several popular ski resorts. During the winter, skiers from across the United States descend on the region to take advantage of the incredible terrain and excellent snow conditions.

  1. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are bucket-list destinations home to the giant trees on Earth. The sequoias here are some of the most significant living things in the world; many are over 2,000 years old, some over 3,000 years old.

These adjacent parks cover an area of ​​mountains with majestic granite peaks, deep gorges, lakes, rivers, and forests, but they are pretty different. If you plan to visit both parks, you will need at least a few days.

Although both parks are home to giant sequoias, Sequoia National Park is arguably the best place to see these ancient wonders.

Leisurely walks, many paved, pass through trees and provide easy access to significant sites. The park is also home to Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the US (besides Alaska) at 14,495 feet.

You can find some beautiful campgrounds in Sequoia National Park, many of which are well-located to view trees and other attractions, such as Morro Rock and the famous giant sequoia, the General Sherman Tree.

Kings Canyon National Park is more rugged and wild, with jagged peaks, roaring rivers, and remote stretches where you can escape the crowds and enjoy nature.

This is a popular park for hiking. You’ll also find some incredible campgrounds in Kings Canyon, close to the trees, in the Grant Grove area, and at the far end of the 26-mile Kings Canyon Scenic Byway in the Cedar Grove area. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  1. Redwood National and State Parks

They were walking through a sprawling redwood forest more than 300 feet taller than you. It feels like entering another era.

Descendants of trees from the Jurassic period, these are the tallest trees on the planet, and they are one of the greatest treasures of California.

These jointly managed parks, including Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, are spread along a spectacular portion of the Northern California coast.

Each offers something a little different, but you can find hiking trails and beautiful campgrounds in all of them. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  1. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua trees bring magic to this otherwise lunar-like landscape, where towering stone and rock formations create wild shapes that capture the imagination.

The park spans over 800,000 acres and offers an array of various sites that include much more than just Joshua trees.

Chola Cactus Garden, where Chola extends along the hillside to the mountains beyond, the ruins of the historic Keys Ranch, the towering palms of the Lost Palms Oasis, and the vistas of more than 5,000 feet at Keys View are just a few of the highlights.

Also, don’t miss Skull Rock, A huge rock resembling an alien skull. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Joshua Tree at Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re going to stay a while, you might consider spending a night under the stars and trees at one of the spectacular campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park is less than a three-hour drive from Los Angeles and less than an hour from Palm Springs. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  1. Universal Studios Hollywood

This amusement park and movie studio are one of the most popular attractions in California and an ideal location for families with older children and teens.

The rides and sets are based on famous movies, with everything from shockingly realistic simulator rides to roller coasters and more.

You can tour the vast sets on a studio tour. Some of the most popular experiences in the park are The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Fast and Furious – Supercharged, Jurassic World, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and The Walking Dead Attraction, among others. You’ll also find food, shows, shopping opportunities, and various events throughout the year.

  1. Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle, officially known as Hearst San Simeon State Historic Monument, was begun in 1919 and built over 28 years, resulting in a mix of architectural styles that made it quaint at the same time. And makes it luxurious. Built by newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, the 165-room palace was never completed.

It sits atop a hill at an elevation of 1,600 feet and offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Range.

One of the major attractions here is the vast collection of art. At one time, the palace was home to the world’s largest private zoo; to this day, zebras and other exotic wildlife can be seen roaming the grounds.

The palace is located approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The drive time from either city is about four hours. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Official Site:

  1. Santa Catalina Island

Part of the Channel Islands, Santa Catalina is located approximately 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. The island is a popular destination with boaters and day trippers.

Avalon is the main population center where most of the action is concentrated. On the other end of the island is the tiny village of Two Harbors.

While most people come to Santa Catalina Island to explore and enjoy the day off, other popular things include glass-bottom boat tours, scuba diving, kayaking, and parasailing.

You can reach the island by ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Dana Point. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  1. the Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park, made up of five separate islands, is a great place to see wildlife and a minor turbulent nature.

Always isolated from the mainland, the islands have evolved independently, resulting in many endemic animals.

The islands are off the Southern California coast and accessible only by park concession boats and planes or private yachts.

You can learn about current conditions and arrange transportation to the mainland visitor centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara. (Tourist Attractions in California)

  1. Getty Center Los Angeles

The Getty Center is one of the premier museums in the United States. The museum houses treasures from great artists such as Monet and van Gogh, along with sculptures and other beautiful art forms dating back to 1900.

A visit here is also about the museum’s architecture and grounds. The building flows and wafts in shimmering curtains of white, while in front, intricate gardens and waterfalls complete the view.

Be sure to take fantastic pictures of Los Angeles from one of the many courtyards. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Admission to the Getty Center is free.

Address: 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California

Official Site:

  1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

If you’ve ever wanted to lie by the pool in the morning and make snow angels in the afternoon, put a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on your list of California things to do.

California’s desert regions are all about the altitude. The higher you go, the colder it gets. In the spring, the pool and snow combo is easily accomplished.

The tramway runs for two miles and climbs the slopes of Mount Jacinto to a height of 8,516 feet. The tramway is unique in its design; Each tram spins as you climb, providing unobstructed views in 360-degree panoramas. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest of its kind in the world.

At the top, choose to get active by walking or hiking the 50 miles of trails, or chill out more by enjoying a spectacular view for lunch or dinner at one of the two restaurants. The area offers some of the best hiking around Palm Springs. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Address: 1 Tram Way Palm Springs, California

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  1. Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is one of California’s most significant free attractions. Perched high on Mount Hollywood and overlooking downtown Los Angeles, this iconic California attraction offers spectacular views of the city and provides an opportunity to learn about paradise.

Inside the observatory are six galleries dedicated to all aspects of space and how we see it. Besides the galleries, there are public telescopes, so you can see the sky in a way you never imagined.

Even if that doesn’t all interest you, the parking lot is an excellent place to take a picture of the Hollywood Sign. (Tourist Attractions in California)

Address: 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, California

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  1. USS Midway Museum

If you’ve ever wanted to explore a giant aircraft carrier and find yourself in San Diego, you’re in luck. Located in the center of the action, the USS Midway Museum is a real-life WWII ship that has been converted into a hands-on museum.

A perfect family thing to do in San Diego, this is no boring museum. Here, you and your crew will descend narrow passageways, climb stairs, and get inside the ship.

There are more than 60 exhibits, 29 restored aircraft, a theater, and flight simulators throughout the boat—plan three to four hours for your trip.

Address: 910 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, California

Official Site:

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