20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

June 11, 2019

With its awe-inspiring landscapes, urban sophistication and irresistible sunshine, California truly lives up to its moniker – the Golden State. A haven of dreams and beauty, this alluring state in the US has it all. From multicultural cities and majestic sandy beaches to idyllic farmlands and snow-capped mountains, there are tons of incredibly cool and enticing places to visit in California. Combining otherworldly scenery with Hollywood glamour, there’s no shortage of fascinating things to do in California. Whether you want to hit the beach or climb mountains, you’ll absolutely find your bliss in this American state.

Traveling to the sunny state, but don’t know where to go in California? Need some help planning a trip to this state? Well, you’re in for special treat! And, yes, you’ll love all these beautiful destinations in California.  

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

1. San Francisco 

The energy in San Francisco is simply electric. Full of life and colors, the city offers a plethora of trendy spots and attractions, such as its electric cultural neighborhoods, the Golden Gate Bridge and a whole lot more. What’s more, it boasts a world famous culinary scene, making it one the can’t-miss places to visit in California for bona fide foodies. With its jaw-dropping iconic sights, booming nightlife and renowned cuisine, San Francisco guarantees to leave you exhilarated in a lot of different ways.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

2. Lake Tahoe 

Searching for gorgeous and rejuvenating places to visit in California, USA? Surrounded wonderfully by snow-capped mountains, this enthralling lake is a place of serenity and sublime beauty. With its translucent turquoise waters and pristine scenery, Lake Tahoe is downright therapeutic and meditative. For the most part, visitors come to Lake Tahoe just to savor its mesmerizing natural beauty as well as experience a host of fun-filled outdoor activities.

In summer, the lake turns into an adventure wonderland, offering a variety of diversions, including lakeside sunbathing, water sports, mountain biking and hiking. From December to April, Lake Tahoe’s powder-snow conditions make it an ideal destination for sledding, snowshoeing, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

3. Los Angeles 

LA is, hands down, one of the dreamy and most glamorous places to visit in California. And, guess what? La La Land is also arguably the most popular city in California. Although you’ll likely experience its infamous bustling traffic, the glitzy city has a bunch of attractions that will appease your wanderlust.

In LA, you’ll get to see some of the most renowned attractions and places to visit in California, such as Venice Beach, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Griffith Observatory and Universal Studios Hollywood. And, while exploring Los Angeles, check out its locally-loved and lesser-known gems, like Zuma Beach in Malibu and Grand Central Market.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

4. Anaheim

Looking for family-friendly places to visit in California, USA? Why not include Anaheim to your list of places to visit in California? Remember, it is home to the internationally beloved Anaheim-Disneyland Park. Nicknamed as the “happiest place on earth”, Disneyland Park offers tons of exciting attractions and diversions. As you explore the park, you’ll experience a variety of themed areas, such as Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Paradise Pier and the Little Mermaid.

But, Disneyland Park isn’t the only attraction that beckons visitors to this city in South California. There are plenty of other and even cheaper theme parks in Anaheim, like the photogenic Yorba Regional Park, an angelic baseball stadium and Knott’s Berry Farm. And, whenever you need to escape the crowds, just drive west and see the sandy places to visit in California, like Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and Long Beach.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

5. Santa Barbara 

They don’t call Santa Barbara as the “American Riviera” for nothing. An outstanding and lovely beach town, Santa Barbara wows visitors with its Mediterranean-inspired houses, excellent beaches, warm climate and charming coastal community. Besides its top-notch architecture and beaches, the city also has highly rated wines and cuisine. And, that means it’s one of the best places to visit in California for food lovers and wine connoisseurs. Furthermore, it has lively galleries, bars and restaurants that add a lively side to the relaxed pace of life in Santa Barbara.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

6. Santa Cruz

Looks familiar? Well, that’s because it was once used as the filming location for the 1987 vampire movie “The Lost Boys”. In this flick, Santa Cruz was named as Santa Clara, which was portrayed as the country’s murder capital, thanks to a gang of fancy and stylish vampires.  Ironically, though, Santa Cruz is well-known for its laid-back coastal atmosphere, wooden roller-coaster and iconic pier. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most easygoing places to visit in California, USA. Trust me, there are no nasty vampires going on crime sprees in this coastal town.

Usually, visitors come to Santa Cruz to experience the oldest theme park in the world. But, the thing is, there’s a whole lot more to Santa Cruz than its celebrated theme park. As you explore the town, you’ll discover a mishmash of craft breweries, restaurants and family-friendly attractions, like Marine Discovery Center and the Roaring Camp Railroads.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

7. San Diego

No list of the best places to visit in California is complete without the inclusion of San Diego. For years, this South Californian city has been luring travelers with its endless stretches of beautiful surf-friendly shorelines as well as year-round warm weather. And, did we mention that it has the best-tasting Mexican food in the country? Even better, the city has dozens of cool attractions to keep you entertained for days, including the highly touted San Diego Zoo, USS Midway Museum and Balboa Park.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

8. Beverly Hills 

Wondering where to go in California for some celebrity sightings? Then, make sure to include Beverly Hills to your bucket list of places to visit in California, USA!  A visit to the Beverly Hills means getting a taste of the rich and famous lifestyle as well as a chance to spot your favorite movie stars. For a memorable visit, take the Beverly Hills Trolley Tour, which gives you a great overview of the city and highlights a handful of celebrity homes. In addition, you can swing by a bunch of historic sites, such as the Paley Center for Media, as well as the Greystone Mansion and Gardens.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

9. Malibu

Speaking of fabulous and glitzy places to visit in California, you might also want to check out the wondrous Malibu. Billed as the playground for the rich and famous, this beautiful coastline has a host of oceanfront properties owned by Hollywood celebrities. And normally, they retreat to Malibu for a pleasurable weekend getaway.

Of course, there’s more to do in Malibu than celebrity sightings. Surfers from all over the country come to Surfrider Beach to ride its world-class waves. Likewise, you can go on whale watching excursions and do some fishing in Malibu, California.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

10. Joshua Tree National Park

Itching to see otherworldly places to visit in California, United States? Joshua Tree National Park is where the Colorado and Mojave deserts meet. Named after the yucca tree dominating its landscape, the national park wows travelers with its surreal scenery. And, like most national parks in California, Joshua Tree teems with outdoorsy activities. For instance, you can go on an overnight backpacking adventure or explore the picturesque desert. Additionally, it lets you do some rock climbing, bouldering, mountain biking, star gazing and horseback riding. 

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

11. Yosemite National Park 

One of the best places to visit in California, this national park features over a thousand of miles of beauty and sheer awe. As you explore the park, you’ll be utterly amazed by its stunning, daunting cliff faces, millennia-old Sequoia trees, towering waterfalls as well as the most extraordinary rock formations in the US. To make your visit extra special, hike the trails that pass by the natural monuments. And, don’t forget to check out its most celebrated landmarks – El Capitan and Half Dome.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

12. Big Sur

Big Sur isn’t just a sweet Californian destination. Stretching more than 80 miles between San Simeon and Monterey Bay, Big Sur has an unrivaled charm that enthralls visitors to switch gears, both literally and figuratively. Built a few decades ago, the Pacific Coast Highway is the main road running through the region and is definitely the most scenic part of Big Surf. Clinging to the edge of the region’s cliffs, this highway provides magnificent vistas.

Great views aside, the area is pretty well-known for its contagious, calming culture as well. In fact, it’s known to draw minds seeking transformation, refuge or inspiration. As far as we’re concerned, it’s one of the most scenic and soothing places to visit in California.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

13. Sequoia National Park

Home to the world’s tallest trees, this national park is truly one of the most humbling places to visit in California. With towering and magnificent trees as tall as a hundred feet, you’ll feel rather small, as you explore Sequoia National Park. Established in the late 19th century, Sequoia is the second national park in America, and was built to protect California’s gigantic trees. A must-see inside the park is the General Sherman Tree – the largest tree on earth, standing at 275 feet and a base diameter of 36 feet.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

14. Napa Valley 

Into wines, and looking for the best places to visit in California? The splendid rolling hills in Napa Valley feature over 400 wineries, and are best seen from a bird’s perspective through a hot air balloon. Once you’re finished with your aerial adventure, head to downtown Napa, and treat yourself to a sumptuous meal paired with a couple glasses of wine. As an added bonus, the Napa downtown has plenty of eye-catching of 19th and early 20th century architecture.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

15. Death Valley National Park

Don’t let its bleak name deceive you! Even with its morbid-like label, this park is, no doubt, one of the best and most beautiful places to visit in California. After all, the park is perfectly surrounded by huge sand dunes, verdant oases and towering snow-capped mountains.  Moreover, it’s quite unique since it lies below sea level, making it America’s driest, lowest and hottest national park.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

16. Monterey 

Need to escape the energetic cities and places to visit in California? Since the city takes it fairly slow, Monterey certainly makes the ultimate antidote to LA’s hustle and bustle and the swanky Carmel-by-the-Sea. Not to mention, the city has an array of activities to offer, including the Old Monterey Jail tour, Cannery Row, craft breweries, scenic coastal drive and whale watching tour. On top of it all, it is home to the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

17. Santa Monica

Santa Monica Beach, though it’s fairly close to downtown Los Angeles, is a beautiful and lively destination on its own. A wonderful beachfront neighborhood, Santa Monica is loaded with shopping and dining options as well as hotels. And, it’s also praised for its undisputed star attraction – the beach and Pacific Park Pier. After a day of sightseeing in California, head to the Third Street Promenade, and savor a pleasant Californian sunset.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

18. Palm Springs

Set right at heart of the Southern Californian desert, Palm Springs offers more than 300 days of sunshine, making it the perfect destination for adventure junkies. In Palm Springs, you may go hiking in a picturesque desert location, motorbike or take a thrilling off-road jeep adventure. And, while the likes of Sinatra and Elvis have left, Palm Springs still attracts lavish travelers, thanks to its electric nightclubs, luxurious spas and amazing pools.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

19. Kelso 

Want to experience something offbeat, but don’t know where to go in California? Tired of the palm trees and glamorous places to visit in California, United States? You might want to check the wonderfully bizarre ghost town of Kelso! Not only is it a great base to the Mojave Desert Preserve, but it also has plenty of Instagram-worthy sights. Plus, it has a long and fairly intriguing history.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

20. Laguna Beach 

Craving for a small town experience in Southern California? Trust me, you’ll love every minute of your vacation in Laguna Beach. Nestled between San Diego and LA, Laguna Beach offers a variety of picture-perfect beaches that will keep you amused for days. Crescent Bay and Main Beach are a pair of must-see spots in Laguna Beach, especially if you’re fond of local gems. And, while there, spend some time checking out Crystal Cove State Park’s wild shores.

20 Best Places To Visit In California, USA

Ready to hit these awesome places to visit in California? Don’t forget to book your hotels in California with Trekeffect! Not only do we offer cheap California accommodations, but we also donate 10 percent of our profits to UNICEF!

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Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.
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