There are some amazing things to do, see and eat in the Golden State! I love everything California has to offer. And I love sharing some of the wonderful, amazing things to do, see, and eat in California.
Here are some of California’s beloved, well-known sights as well as some of those overlooked, less-touristy places one can visit throughout the state!
Explore California’s nine national parks and monuments in California
The sheer beauty of these parks alone is reason enough to visit California. Every park is a not-to-be-missed experience but here are the ones that should on the top of your list.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of my favorite National Parks in the United States! It is an unparalleled parkland covering nearly 1200 square miles. You’ll find unforgettable natural beauty, deep glacier valleys, grand meadows, granite cliffs, ancient giant sequoias, and a vast wilderness area. There’s a reason Yosemite attracts 4 million visitors.
Standing almost 1 mile above the valley floor, Half Dome has become the symbol of Yosemite National Park. If you’re brave and experienced enough, you can climb/hike the gargantuan mountain. Don’t forget to keep an eye open for El Capitan and some of the other famous landmarks while you’re in the park!
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is the largest national park outside of Alaska. It encompasses mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-level salt flats, mysterious singing rocks, and colorful sandstone canyons. It is also one of the world’s driest, hottest and lowest places.
Death Valley offers something else truly unique. It is one of the best places in the United States for star-gazing. Because of our growing cities, a majority of children can’t see the Milky Way from their homes. Death Valley is an oasis of dark nights in our bright world. You can star-gaze to your heart’s content.
Sequoia & King Canyon National Parks
Two national parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Called the Land of Giants, you’ll find huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees. This dramatic landscape testifies to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity. Truly spectacular! Oh, and keep an eye open for General Sherman!
Play at one of California 500 beaches
With 1000 miles of coastline, over 300 sunshine days a year, and over 200 species of marine life, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy. If you’re from a landlocked place, a visit to a California beach is an absolute must – but even if you live near the sea, you’ll find plenty that’s different than what you have at home
Asilomar State Beach
Asilomar State Beach is situated in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. It is known for its breathtaking sunsets and camping opportunities! The beach is wide and picturesque. Plenty of tidal pools to explore, white sand, clear, cold water and enough waves for surfing. The waves splashing on the rocks make for some vivid scenery making picture taking fairly easy even for the novice like me! Wildlife is plentiful with the sea birds, otters, and deer that are fairly tame.
Santa Monica Pier
For some old-fashion fun, why not head to the double-jointed pier that juts out into the Pacific Ocean! Best of all, you can explore the pier for free. It is a place where you can spend the entire day walking, eating, laying on the beach, strolling, playing at the little amusement park and having fun. With some of the best weather in California, friendly shops, and a largely pedestrian-only area, it makes for one of the best places to take a stroll or even take a ride on the small amusement park located on the pier.
Have you ever experienced a beach with sand any other color than white or black sand? Well, you’ll be in for a treat when you head to Fort Bragg and check out the colorful rocks and stones which were created by pollution. Who knew pollution could be so beautiful?
Stay the Night
There are some fun places to stay the night in California. What about staying the night on a haunted luxury liner or an isolated lighthouse on a small island?
RMS Queen Mary
This beautiful luxury liner sailed its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City in 1936. Sailing weekly to and fro, it played many roles—from luxury liner, to troopship during WWII, to finally, a permanently docked hotel in Long Beach. The ship is also known as one of the top 10 most haunted locations in America.
Hotel Del Coronado
Historic Hotel Del Coronado was opened in 1888 in classic Victorian grandeur along San Diego’s Pacific shore. Films like Some Like It Hot were produced here and the hotel hosts a list of Top A-Listers who have stayed at the hotel.
East Brother Light Station Bed and Breakfast
East Brother Lighthouse is a beautifully restored Victorian Light Station. It has been an active lighthouse for more than 142 years. The Inn began operations 1980s as a way of helping to preserve history. This unique California destination is only a ten-minute boat ride to the island but seems to be a world away from the lights of the nearby cities. And it offers spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, Mount Tamalpais, and the Marin coastline.
Best Eats in California
California is known for its great food.
Guadalajara Restaurant in Old Town San Diego
This is one of the best fine-dining Mexican restaurants in San Diego and one of the top 10 in California. The place is huge and was always packed with a lot of locals as well as tourists. The atmosphere is fun, energetic and festive. The decor features Mexican art, statues, and paintings. Even the walls are nicely covered with gorgeous mosaic designs.
My favorite meal? The fish tacos plate.
In-N-Out Burger was California’s first drive-thru restaurant. It started in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park in 1948. The restaurant is still known as the burgers with a smile. You haven’t experienced California UNTIL you’ve had a Double-Double Cheeseburger Combo.
Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl at Fisherman’s Wharf
You’ve got to try a steamy bowl of clam chowder at Boudin Bakery and Café on Fisherman’ Wharf. It’s best when served in a freshly baked, sourdough bread bowl on a cold, foggy San Francisco day.
I could go on and on about what California has to offer. In fact, I need to start planning a sequel to this post. We have just barely scratched the surface of great things to do, see, and eat in California.