There are plenty of interesting places to visit in California. In fact, if you could only travel to one state in the US, I would recommend travelling to California.
And I think after we take a look at our list, you will see why. California simply has it all, and it is home to beautiful national parks.
Amazing tourist spots, scenic coastal drives, dynamic cultural metropolises, romantic Vineyards, waterfalls, white sandy beaches, colourful deserts, massive mountain ranges, towering redwood trees, and more.
With such a wide array of natural beauty, it is easy to see why people have dreamed of journeying to California for hundreds of years.
California is a rich and unique history that has been shaped by big dreamers, whether it was the Spanish conquistadors who came to California dreaming of finding lost treasure.
Or the Gold rushers of 1849 who came to California hoping to earn a fortune or the thousands of people have come to Hollywood hoping to make it big in show business.
All of these big dreamers have made California such a fascinating place. And today, California is America’s most populous state with a population of 39.5 million people.
It’s incredible cultural diversity also marks California, and people from all over the world have moved to this state seeking out opportunities.
Two Questions from you?
One more thing before we move on to our list, we want to know from you.
We have got two specific questions for you, first, is I just said that California is my favorite state or my top state to visit in America.
What’s yours? Please let us know in the comment below. Then the second question is, what’s your favorite place to visit in California? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Here are the Most Interesting Places to Visit in California
1- Palm Springs
Palm Springs is California’s famous desert oasis. Back in the days, celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Elizabeth Taylor frequently came to Palm springs to avoid the busyness and the bright lights of the big city.
While you are in Palm Springs, take a guided tour of the city to see its iconic mid-century architecture style, and of course, it’s beautiful palm trees.
Or take the Palm Springs aerial tramway. The tramway features the world’s largest rotating tramcar, and it takes you on a journey of over 2.5 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation.
When you reach the mount station at the top, you will be treated with some fantastic views and sightseeing of the valley below you.
Here you can grab some food at the restaurant, check out the small natural museum, or go hiking.
Next, visit the Palm springs air museum, a great place to get up close and personal with some incredible airplanes.
The museum has four large hangers, each from a different war or another part of a war, and the planes are in beautiful condition.
There is lots of information on the war and on the planes, which are very helpful.
The Moorten Botanical Garden is another excellent place to visit in Palm Springs. Instead of the traditional botanical garden with lots of colourful flowers, this garden has desert plants.
The one-acre property is full to the brim with cool cacti, aloe plants, and succulents, just to name a few. It is also is one of the best places to visit in California during covid.
2- Joshua Tree
Just outside of the palm springs sits Joshua Tree, one of America’s most unique national parks.
Sitting at an ecological crossroads where the low Colorado desert in the high Mojave Desert collide.
Joshua tree is home to these vast boulders, mystical mountain ranges, old gold mining ruins, and desert plains spotted with the spooky-looking Joshua Tree.
This is truly one of the bizarrely looking and one of the best places to visit in California.
Why is it called Joshua Tree?
In the middle of the 1800s, a group of Mormon settlers crossed the Mojave Desert, and when they saw the Joshua Tree, it reminded them of an old Biblical story in the old testament book of Joshua.
When he was crossing the desert, Joshua stopped and, in fervent prayer, lifted his hands high up to the sky.
Joshua Tree also sitting out in the middle of the desert with its branches reaching up to the sky reminded the Mormons of the story in the book of Joshua, and that’s how the tree got its name.
Also See: 10 Best Waterfalls in California
3- San Luis Obispo
Situated on a scenic strip of California Coastline, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is the lovely little town of San Luis Obispo.
Father Junipero Serra founded this city. Father Serra was a Spanish Franciscan who was one of the pivotal players in the American West’s settlement by Europeans.
He set up nine Spanish missions stretching from San Diego all the way up to San Francisco.
His name popped up in the news recently as he was canonized or made a saint by Pope Francis in 2015.
In 1772 he founded the Mission San Luis Obispo today. You can walk the ground of this historic Spanish mission.
San Luis Obispo is more than just a mission, though. This charming town offers gorgeous hilly scenery with pristine beaches nearby and picturesque rolling Vineyards known for producing some tasty Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
While you are in town, be sure to visit the unforgettably quirky and pink Madonna Inn.
4- Death Valley – Interesting Places to Visit in California
Death Valley is one of the most interesting places to visit in California. At 3.3 million acres, Death Valley is the largest national park in the continental United States.
Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the world. In summer, temperatures fluctuate around 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and more.
For that reason, the high season in Death Valley is actually in the wintertime. Also, it is among the best places to visit in California during winter.
The Valley is located a 4 hours drive from Loss Angeles and 2.5 hours drove from Lass Vegas.
This park features huge dunes, colorful sandstone canyons, rugged badlands, striking salt flats, and more.
When you enter Death Valley, the first thing you want to do is going to Furnace Creek and visitor the vista center to pay your entrance fee.
There is a fair amount of inspiration for landscape photography in the Valley at the visitor center, and you will also get a map so you can easily find the route.
In Death Valley, there are two major towns, one is called Stovepipe Wells, and the other is Furnace Creek where the visitor center is located.
They are both located relatively in the middle of the park, yet there is still a 40 km drive between them.
But what Death Valley is most famous for is its extremes. During the summer, temperatures peak above 120 degrees, and Death Valley only receive a mere two inches of rainfall per year.
However, Autumn in Death Valley is quite nice, making it the perfect time of year to visit.
When in Death Valley, make sure you visit the Ubehebe Crater, a volcanic eruption site two thousand years ago.
Marvel at the polished marble walls of Mosaic Canyon and taking the magnificence of Mesquite Flat.
5- Napa Valley
A must-visit attraction in California, with more than 400 wineries, Napa Valley is a wine lover’s paradise; this region seems like it was taken straight out of a fairy tale.
Situated in the north of San Franciso, it is known as America’s most famous wine land
It is a land of plush estates rolling vineyards, and quaint towns. Now napa valley exploded onto the global scene after the famous 1976 judgment of Paris.
When a chateau, Montelena Chardonnay from Napa Valley, beat out nine other chardonnays in a blind taste test. Including some of the most prestigious chardonnays in the world from France.
One of the best things to do in Napa is to visit its famous wineries. There is plenty to choose from, and most of them are outside the SR-29, which is the main road that passes through the area.
Going to Napa is one of the best things to do in California on your visit to this gorgeous city.
In addition to its delicious wines, napa valley has a thriving culinary scene. Be sure to visit one of its 35 Michelin star restaurants.
Moreover, downtown Napa has a lively vibe and is full of restaurants, bars, shops, and lots of art galleries. Napa Valley is definitely worth the visit.
6- San Diego
Certainly, one of the most interesting places to visit in California. Known for having the best weather on the planet, San Diego’s climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters.
It has an average of 201 days per year above 70 degrees and very few rainy days with only 9 to 13 inches of rainfall annually.
San Diego has more to offer than just lovely weather, though, Balboa Park is one of America’s premier city parks.
This is a place where culture, science, and nature collide. Home to 16 museums, multiple performing art venues, vibrant gardens, and trails.
You will also love a visit to the Gaslamp Quarter, which is home to lovely shops, art galleries, trendy restaurants, and more.
Take a tour of the USS Midway, the longest-serving American aircraft carrier in American history.
During its active history, this carrier hosted over 225,000 sailors to visit one of San Diego’s famous beaches like Coronado beach or mission beach.
And, of course, what’s a trip to San Diego without a visit to its world-famous zoo or sea world.
7- Lake Tahoe
On the border of California and Nevada nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range lies the breathtaking Lake Tahoe.
The water is crystal clear and so clean that you can even see perfectly at what sat on the lake’s floor 30 feet below its surface.
Lake Tahoe is one of the purest lakes in the world, with a purity rate of 99.99, essentially the same as distilled water.
Lake Tahoe is the 10th deepest lake in the world than the second deepest lake in the United States only.
It is surrounded by 72 miles of scenic shoreline behind Oregon’s Crater Lake, layered with giant evergreen trees and enclosed by majestic mountain ranges.
Lake Tahoe is just a 45-minute drive from Reno, Nevada, two hours from Sacramento, and four hours from San Francisco.
This outdoor wonderland has something for everyone. Skiing and snowboarding, circling lake Tahoe, there are 15 alpine ski resorts with unique draws.
Here’s a few, Squall Valley was home to the 1960 winter Olympics. And they have an Olympic museum that you can visit in the winter or the summer.
Heavenly boasts the highest elevation in Lake Tahoe, the most significant vertical drop, and the ability to ski in two different states California and Nevada.
Another great spot in Lake Tahoe is Emerald Bay. It is a sheltered teardrop of an inlet that is surrounded by forested hills and glacier-carved mountains.
The water is shallower than the rest of Lake Tahoe that, combined with the crystal-clear water, gives it its emerald colour.
If you want to make your way down a steep one-mile trail to the beach; you can explore Viking’s home, a fantastic example of Scandinavian architecture.
8- Santa Barbara
Known as America’s Riviera, Santa Barbara is distinctly Spanish in spirit; the architecture, specifically its red tile clay roofs, will make you feel as if you’re walking through a Spanish town.
The Santa Barbara County courthouse and the old mission Santa Barbara seem as if they were taken directly from Madrid along with its stunning architecture.
Santa Barbara boasts sandy beaches lined with regal palm trees.
Located just 90 miles north of Los Angeles, it’s easy to see why this quiet town is; where some of Hollywood’s most famous stars like Oprah, Brad Pitt, and Ellen DeGeneres have decided to build their secluded estates.
If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll definitely want to visit the old mission Santa Barbara established in 1786. This is California’s quintessential historic mission.
9- Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is the perfect national park great American naturalist John Muir who is known as the father of the national parks.
Had this to say about Yosemite “it is by far the grandest of all the special temples of nature I was ever permitted to enter”. Wow, that’s some pretty high praise.
Located roughly 180 miles east of San Francisco, Yosemite sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range near the California Nevada border.
Yosemite is a huge park. It is about the same size as the state of Rhode Island. As you tour the park be on the lookout for its wildlife black bears mountain lions and the Sierra Nevada red fox.
Be sure to see its famous rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome. Take in its many breathtaking waterfalls, including vernal falls and the Yosemite Falls.
See its giant sequoia trees at mariposa grove, marvel at its unforgettable scenery at the Glacier Point, overlook.
Folks, it’s safe to say that no journey to California is complete without a visit to Yosemite national park.
10- Los Angeles
Los Angeles, there’s really no other city in the world quite like LA. The first thing that makes Los Angeles unique is its home to Hollywood.
The creative capital of the world where so many of the world’s most popular movies TV shows and music are produced.
Explore Hollywood’s many icons to take in its great showbiz legacy. Walk the Hollywood walk of fame where celebrities are immortalized with an honorary star.
Visit the iconic Chinese Grauman Theater, where countless world-famous films have premiered.
Explore the Dolby theatre the Oscars’ home, take a guided tour of the Warner Brothers studio to get a behind the scenes.
Look at how your favourite movies and tv shows have been made and of course, don’t forget to visit Disney Land. Again, there’s no other city in the world, quite like LA.
It’s said that one out of six people who live in Los Angeles work as a creative and artistic industry. It is a beautiful vacation destination in the US.
Also, if you spend enough time in Los Angeles, you’ll spot celebrities walking its streets.
Many celebrities live in Los Angeles posh neighbourhoods such as Beverly Hills, Bel Air or Brentwood.
There’s so much to see in this city visit the Getty art museum home to a world-class collection of pre-20thcentury European artwork.
Take in a concert at the Hollywood bowl or enjoy a symphony at the Walt Disney concert hall.
Shop luxury at Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive; take in a Lakers game at the staples centre or dodgers’ game at Dodger Stadium.
Explore the La Brea Tar Pits and national natural land park; home to these unique tar pits which have trapped and preserved fossils for thousands of years.
11- Redwood National Park
This is really a complex of several states and national park located on the coast of northern California and it is a preserve that protects the giant redwoods.
Which once covered one million acres of the coast. Logging almost destroyed them all. Most people know redwood as the home to that tallest trees on earth.
But the park also protects vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild river ways and nearly 40 miles of rugged Pacific Ocean coast line.
More than 200 miles of well-maintained trails weave through this park. You can experience the magnificence of the redwoods on short 15 minutes jaunts or all-day long hikes.
They have four developed campgrounds summer reservations are essential.
These state park campgrounds are easily accessible well established and provide RV and Tent campers with limited amenities. They are often booked up months in advance.
12- Catalina Island
Twenty miles of the coast of Southern California sits the beautiful and dreamy Catalina Island.
With its sharp golden cliffs its iconic marina and bright sunshine, visiting Catalina Island will make you feel like you are in the middle of the Mediterranean.
Catalina Island has a fascinating history; in 1919 William Wrigley purchased the island. And if you are from Chicago, the name “Wrigley” will sound very familiar.
That is because he was the owner of the Chicago Cubs.
Wrigley made his fortune selling Wrigley chewing gum. He bought the Chicago Cubs and eventually bought himself the Catalina Island which could act like a winner retreat for himself and his family.
A fun fact: From 1920 to 1951 Catalina Island was the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs.
While on the island explore the charming town of Avalon, take in its cute shops and restaurants.
Make sure you snap a photo of the beautiful and the iconic casino building. It is truly among the best places to visit in southern California.
13- Sequoia & Kings Canyon
Sequoia & Kings National Parks are home to the world’s largest trees, “The Giant Sequoias.”
Sequoia & Kings are located in Eastern California amidst the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range.
They neighbour one another; they act almost as one national park covering 1,353 miles and famous for giant Sequoias and soaring mountains, deep canyons and roaring rivers.
Sequoia National Park is one of the best places to go in California during covid.
Some highlights of these parks include the largest trees on earth within its boundaries, and its name is General Sherman.
The second-largest tree in the world, The General Grant Tree, the tallest mountain in the continental United States “Mount Whitney” standing just over 14,000 feet in elevation.
These parks are also home to abundant wildlife, you can explore nature and also you need to keep an eye out for black bears as you move around the park.
14- Pacific Coast Highway 1
It is the world’s most famous scenic drive California’s pacific coast highway 1.
Driving down California’s scenic coastline is something everyone should experience.
You will want to pull for some overlook, including Half Moon Bay, which is located about an hour from San Francisco and is home to breathtaking sandy beaches.
Calla Lily Valley, see the unforgettable wild white lilies that form a dreamy path to the sea at Garapata State Beach.
Taking the picture-perfect Mcway Falls and visit Pfeiffer State Park. And of course, you have to visit what is perhaps the most photogenic spot in America, The Bixby Bridge.
It is undoubtedly the most famous and one of the best things to do in California.
So, there you have it. That is our list of 14 interesting places to visit in California.
There are plenty of tourist attractions and interesting sites in California, it is an incredible state to visit; words can’t describe this place’s beauty and a must-visit for all travellers.
It is undoubtedly one of America’s iconic and beautiful states, whether you are a relaxed vacationer or an adventurous tourist.
There is something for everyone, especially if you are interested in art, nature, history, entertainment, and food.
California is a very special place because of its dramatic scenery. Don’t miss it. Also, let us know in the comment section your favourite place to visit in California.
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