Top 20 Best Places You Cannot Miss When Visiting California


California, popularly known as the Golden State, is one of the best destinations in the US. It boasts impressive climates, natural beauty and people from diverse cultures. It attracts 16 million tourists from all over the world.

This Golden State has fascinating sites that everyone dreams of visiting. In case you are planning to visit California, this article will show you the top 20 best beautiful places that you cannot miss when visiting California. The list combines both natural and manmade attractions representing California’s most beautiful and unique places.

1. Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls

Yosemite is one of the best places that you cannot afford to miss while in California. The park is a popular attraction and home of spectacular waterfalls, deep valleys, incredible wilderness terrain and grand meadows. The beauty of Yosemite National Park delights visitors with unique hiking experiences and unmatched views of nature.

Yosemite Falls is one of the highest falls in the world, with a height of 2,425 feet. It attracts tourists from all over the world due to its beautiful scenery. Snowmelts feed the waterfalls which in turn fill the lakes of this impressive national park. The best times to visit are May and September when there is less snow because more of the park is open, and it is less crowded.

2. Sturtevant Falls

Sturtevant Falls is well worth the 3 mile hike to the majestic 50 foot drop located at the Angeles National Park within Southern California. It is a scene of indescribable beauty as you watch the colors of water flowing through the moss and algae found on the cliff.

3. Pacific Coast Highway

California’s Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most famous drives in the world. It passes through California’s coastline and is named the blue Memorial Highway to acknowledge the US armed forces. Besides hugging the coast, you pass varied terrain such as: mountains, forest, semi-desert, wine country, not to mention incredible beaches.

4. Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz is a city within Santa Cruz County in California. Despite being a small city, Santa Cruz has fascinating beaches that are definitely worth a trip. Besides the beaches, Santa Cruz is located a short trip from redwood forests and delicious wineries. It has the oldest beach boardwalk where tourists take mandatory selfies. Also at Santa Cruz, you can visit the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, Santa Cruz surfing museum, and even the University of California at Santa Cruz.

5. San Diego

San Diego is located along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Besides the beautiful beaches, San Diego boasts arguably the best weather in the United States (and the world). It is named America’s Finest City due to its many things to see. From the natural beauty of La Jolla to a world-class zoo to Navy ships, there is something to see for the whole family.

6. Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument is another best site to visit in California. It has caves that consist of tubes that originated from volcanic eruptions. Once you enter the caves, you will see one of a kind rock formations that are 2 million years old!

7. Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

Catalina Island is one of our favorite places to visit when visiting California. Once on the island, there are many adventure activities to choose from. You can walk along the waterfront, go kayaking , visit Descanso Beach club, take a zip line tour, go hiking, to name a few.

8. Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is a historic site set up to be a dream home by Willliam Randolph Hearst. The castle is 165-roomed, sitting on 127 acres of land. You will find Italian mosaics, Egyptian artifacts, and other exotic items placed strategically in each room when visiting Hearst Castle. It has had many famous guests such as: Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and it is now open to the public so you can feel like royalty of yesteryear.

9. Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta is a volcanic mountain located in Siskiyou County, California. It is more than 2 and half miles high and is the fifth-highest in the state. Besides its beauty, it is believed that Mount Shasta has mystical powers due to its unusual energy fields, making it a top destination for spiritual seekers.

10. Cypress Tree Tunnel

Cypress Tree Tunnel is not actually a tunnel but a dense tree road lined with mostly Monterey Cypress trees. It is located in Point Reyes Peninsula and it is one of those scenic drives that you will not soon forget. This walk amongst the giant trees will make you feel one with nature.

11. Monterey Beach

If you are looking for adventure and like idyllic, natural beaches, Monterey beaches will surely not disappoint. YYou will find lots of recreational activities, including kayaking, surfing, and diving but you can also just lay on one of 10 local beaches that has something for everyone.

12. Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua trees situated at the Mojave Desert only grow there and should make your list of must-see things in California. The park sits on approximately 800,000 acres that are most suited for outdoor activities like horseback riding and hiking. You can camp but remember to bring lots of water and beware of the sun during the summer. It is said that Joshua Tree inspired the Truffula Trees in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.

13. Sequoia National Park

In Sequoia National Park, you will observe giant sequoias trees that are the world’s oldest organisms still existent today. If you can, don’t miss the 14-mile Alta peak trail which will give you a great feel for what the Sequoia National park has to offer.

14. Kings Canyon National Park

Another breath-taking national park is Kings Canyon Park where you can see California’s famous sequoias. To give you an idea of how big the tree is, it takes about 20 people holding hands in order to hug all around it. The park has the General Grant Tree that is the world’s second-largest voluminous tree. Besides hiking around incredible trees you can also hike and rock climb at the park.

15. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is a 101-foot waterfall located at the Devils Postpile national park. The best time to visit is midday when the sun is the highest. Pay close attention to the mist that it generates because it creates a beautiful rainbow.

16. Emerald Bay

Emerald Bay is located at Lake Tahoe and has a small island, Fannette island. It provides a beautiful scene that has made it to be regarded as the National Natural Landmark. The bay is in the top list of the photographic and breathtaking bays in California. Not to miss is a little castle called “Tea House” which dates from 1928.

17. Napa Valley

Napa Valley holds the most beautiful landscapes and legendary wineries in all of northern California. If you want to treat yourself to the best restaurants and spas, Napa Valley will be your best vacation spot in California. Remember to have a designated driver so you can enjoy yourself the whole day.

18. Death Valley

Death Valley has the lowest point of north america with almost 3 football fields below sea level. During the spring when the wildflowers will be plentiful and it won’t be so hot so make sure to check it out then. The Badwater Basin will be one of the best places to visit in South-Eastern California, despite being one of the hottest places on earth. The scenery is surreal and you will feel like you are on mars

19. Burney Falls

Burney Falls is located in Shasta County, California. It is a 129-feet waterfall designated as “the eighth wonder of the world.” The falls have been made to be a National Natural Landmark, and they provide constant water flow at a rate of 379m liters daily. Most impressive of all is that Burney Falls is spring fed water cascading over volcanic rocks which makes it one of a kind in California.

20. Black Sands Beach

The Black Sands Beach is an eerie beach covered by black sand located in the north of San Francisco. It gives a fantastic view of the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Some consider it as clothing-optional beach because it is sheltered from the wind. So, if you happen to travel to California and need to visit a clothing-friendly beach, the Black Sands Beach will be the best vacation spot in California.

California is a unique and beautiful place filled with breathtaking places. Whether you are interested in nature, culture and history, museums, parks or hiking, California has something for everyone.