Top Rated Tourist Places in California: Must-See Attractions and Places to Visit

located in the southwest part in the United States (the so-called Southwest), California is the state that where people think of beaches and nature parks, sun and road excursions. It is situated over the Pacific and borders Mexico, Arizona along with Nevada California, the Golden State has always been awestruck by visitors and tourists from all over the globe. The destinations to see to visit in California are endless and are able to satisfy the diverse needs of visitors. The issue, if there is one is to devise an effort to experience everything that California offers.

If you’re in search of strategies to help you make a plan I suggest you go through my article regarding the best way to organize a trip to California. In this post I’ll take on an even more challenging job and that’s to create an top 10 of the most important attractions to visit within California. It’s an almost impossible task, as it’s difficult to narrow down the 10 destinations from the many places to visit and also because each individual’s personal preferences always determine the choice.

In any event, for those who are unfamiliar with this state and aren’t certain what to expect the state, a Top 10 even though it is be subjective, is an excellent start to explore the myriad of amazing things about this famous state. Let’s all hope that I’ve achieved at the very least a modest success with this project!

1. Death Valley National Park

If you are a fan of stunning natural landscapes and views of an unending orizont that goes as long as the eye can go, Death Valley is the national park that you must visit. To discover Death Valley you should drive across it, taking strategically placed stops along the route. The stops should be short that allow you to snap a few photos before returning to the car so as not to be exposed for too long to the sun’s heat (we have the most hot area within the United States! ).

Fortunately, the majority of things to do at Death Valley are a just a short drive from the parking lot. It’s amazing simply to drive through the park. If you visit Death Valley, you feel like you’ve stepped into the underworld of earth or have been transported to another world.

The conditions in Death Valley is not something to take lightly, so keep this in mind when you visit the park. In order to avoid going into Death Valley unprepared, read our section on Death Valley, in which you’ll find helpful tips about the top attractions and places to stay for the night as well as other helpful tips for your journey through Death Valley.

2. San Francisco

As with every U.S. states, California has its symbols and San Francisco’s iconic red bridge, known as the Golden Gate Bridge, is surely one of the most memorable ones. It is situated over the San Francisco Bay, or Frisco Bay, as its residents call Frisco Bay, it’s the city that tourists are the most enthralled by but not just due to the famous bridge. The hills, the constant upwards and downwards as well as the old cable car and the twisting Lombard Street filled with blooms, the distinctive neighborhoods, each with its own distinct and distinctive character along with the vibrant tradition and the refined Victorian architecture are only a few of the numerous elements which can be combined to create a unique blend which makes the city by the bay an amazing destination to visit.

If that wasn’t sufficient, the city’s prime location makes it a perfect base for excursions to the area around. Think of the huge redwood forest in Muir Woods, immortalized in the film Planet of the Apes, or the beautiful Sausalito which is often referred to as”the” Portofino of California, or the wine regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley or the beautiful coast cities in and around the Monterey Peninsula. The bottom line is that not including San Francisco in your West Coast itinerary means not getting the most which is why I personally would not recommend excluding it.

3. Universal Studios in Los Angeles

The park was an amazing discovery for me. If you’re a movie buff I’m sure that you’ll be enticed to visit. The park has rides and replicas film sets show, performances, 4D screens and a variety of walks through Hollywood’s greatest well-known films, which include surprises and extra effects, so you’re sure to be awestruck.

The tour guide inside the film sets will be unforgettable. This tour allows guests to go inside the scenes, complete with scenic effects and surprises. In recent times, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was added to the tour. There are two attractions devoted to the Hogwarts wizarding saga, as well as thematic shows, stores and eateries.

Other films that are part of the beautiful park are King Kong, Waterworld, Jurassic Park, Transformer, Despicable Me, Kung Fu Panda, The Simpsons, etc…

A Guide for Universal Studios Hollywood Want to fill your tank with Hollywood movies and experiences?

  • Don’t be averse to go to Hollywood and the many major film-related attractions.

4. 1. Big Sur and Highway 1 as well as Big Sur

California is regarded as one of the top states for road trips. In fact, the wide variety of scenery that you can choose to traverse (desert areas, coastal routes golden hills, deserts, mountains, and deserts) is an absolute delight for those who like traveling by car. In all of the beautiful roads of California there the one which stands among all others. It is the famous Highway 1. which is the picturesque highway that overlooks the Pacific Ocean that runs along bridges and cliffs that are suspended over the ocean. It is a stunning views and spots.

Highway 1 (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway) goes through the whole California coastline (from San Diego to the north of San Francisco), but the most intriguing stretch is certainly Big Sur, where you can find the famous Bixby Bridge, immortalized in numerous postcards and photos. The area of Big Sur, there is as well Pfeiffer beach which is one of the most picturesque beaches of California that is known for its beautiful sand color as well as sea stacks.

5. Yosemite National Park

Another destination you should visit to California should be Yosemite National Park, one of the greatest natural wonders of the state. The park is home to imposing rock monoliths, thundering waterfalls, massive redwoods, shimmering lakes in the alpine lush valleys, and beautiful roads form an impressive landscape that will delight you. The park itself is vast and getting around requires a lot of time. Additionally, certain access points and roads close at certain dates of the year, therefore you should plan your trip prior to your trip. In this regard, I suggest you follow our recommendations, which you can read in our information specifically for Yosemite.

6. Bodie State Historic Park

Have you grew up watching Western Movies? Are you just curious to find out what it’s like to live in a well-preserved authentic Wild West city? If you’re interested in this aspect of the Wild West, then you can’t get better then Bodie Bodie, one of the towns that used to be a mine located in the Sierra Nevada, that was once a popular spot for outlaws.

The ghost town of today has been transformed into an outdoor museum in which it is possible to visit some of the original structures and view furnishings and other items inside. It also has a small museum in which some artifacts and historic evidence from the area are stored. For more details and images I have written an review of this intriguing place: what to do in Bodie.

7. Joshua Tree National Park

Alongside Death Valley, California’s desert is also home to a amazing national park, Joshua Tree National Park in the desert, in which twisted cactus-like trees (Joshua trees) and massive rock formations resting on the ground, like tombstones create an eerie and evocative landscape. Driving around the park in a automobile (or rental car) is a breeze and there are many attractive spots along the roads as well as resting spots that are simple to access.

Naturally, whenever you travel to a desert region you must know about the local weather and wildlife. I encourage you to go through the guide we have written for Joshua Tree National Park in order to be prepared for the best way possible and plan your trips.

8. Disneyland Park

For theme attractions, California is second only to Florida (a state which is fortunate to be home to Orlando which is the the capital city for American amusement parks). No matter if you’re visiting with children or not visiting Disneyland which was the first Disney theme park that was ever built it is highly recommended. The park is split in two sections: Disneyland Park The most classic part, created in the name of Walt Disney, and the most famous the Disney’s California Adventure focused on nature and the beauty of California and featuring attractions that will give you an adrenaline thrill.

You may choose to go to only one area in Disneyland and the other or both. Be ready to spend lots of time in the theme park as there are plenty of activities to enjoy. Our guide for Disneyland We offer some ideas for enjoyable activities to do in the park and also how you can best arrange your trip as well as your overnight stay:

9. San Diego

There are a lot of cities located in California however San Diego seems to be able to match the appeal and charm San Francisco. With a view of the ocean, and an ideal geographical area which guarantees a pleasant climate (the most pleasant in the California state), San Diego boasts several attractions including SeaWorld as well as Legoland to the famous San Diego Zoo and museums in Balboa Park, in addition to the bustling downtown, gorgeous beaches, coves that are hidden beautiful neighborhoods, and historic sites.

In this case I recommend that you go through the guide we wrote for San Diego, which has information on things to do and where to stay for the night and how to plan your trip.

10. Sequoia National Park

This is another natural wonder that is a top spot in many West Coast travel itineraries. Sequoia National Park is located close to it in Sierra Nevada in the eastern part of California located to the south from Yosemite National Park. Like the name implies, the primary reason why people go to the natural park is to view the massive sequoias that dominate not just the forests of the park, but the surrounding area (Sequoia National Forest as well as the Giant Sequoia National Monument).

While walking through these magnificent trees, it is impossible to overlook you are surrounded by the General Sherman Tree the most well-known of the sequoias that is 2700 years old, 272 feet tall and is a diameter of 101 feet. Sequoias aren’t the only thing to be seen within the park, and also in the nearby Kings Canyon. For more information and plan your itinerary and plan your travels take a look at the guide we have prepared for Sequoia National Park.

Additional Information

The above, as mentioned in the beginning, aren’t the major attractions of California however if you’re seeking a complete guide to the state visit our California itinerary webpage on our site. If you’re not just looking to see California’s Golden State but also want to visit Las Vegas, you could follow this itinerary: Las Vegas and California Trip within 15 days.

However If you’d like to explore further into states that are adjacent, I would suggest mentioning some of our West Coast itineraries especially our Southwest itinerary.

Other helpful California Guides for California

Here are three California guides I recommend that you check out:

  • How do you plan your trip to California
  • What is the ideal time to travel to California?

Need accommodations for your travels across California to other regions of the Southwest? Check out our guide with reviews of hotels and ways to find accommodations close to important tourist attractions: Where to Stay our tips to SouthWest Area SouthWest Area

Note: Operating hours are subject to be changed and closures for special events may occur, so we strongly advise you to check the official websites of the venues.

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