The biggest melting pot of the West, California melds both southern and northern flavors together with its borders along the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The geography is just as diverse as its people, California is home to the deep valleys along its fault lines, lush forests filled with giant redwoods and sequoias, mountains of the Sierra Nevada, and flatlands that make up the Mojave Desert.
Without further ado, here are 10 places you must check off your to-do list, if you want to do any extended visit to California justice.
Yosemite is a wild and untamed park that has such a wide variety of wildlife and landscapes. It would take you years of camping to ever experience it all, but one place you should try to go out of your way to visit is Glacier Point. This scenic and fairytale atmosphere will make you forget about all the world’s ills, if just for a few hours, and you’ll never want to leave this serene example of peace with Mother Nature.
Address: Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389
You can’t miss it, one of the best examples of American engineering with that iconic coat of paint. The Golden Gate is synonymous with San Francisco, meaning you haven’t been there unless you’ve crossed that bridge! The bridge is at its most vibrant during a sunny afternoon, but because of its golden-ness, it’s a sight to behold during any time of day and no amount of fog can hide its glory.
Address: Lincoln Boulevard, near Doyle Drive and Fort Point, San Francisco, CA 94129
It may be an ugly remnant of the past, but the Alcatraz is worth the visit, just to see for yourself how ominous and grim the once deemed impenetrable, infamous prison island surrounded by sharks. The tour guides here are especially memorable and will teach you a lot about Alcatraz’s past. Fitting for scares, but also an important chapter of history to learn.
If you’re a fan of western societal history and art, this is one specially curated museum that you can’t miss out on. Set on the grounds of a magnificent pair of buildings that are worth gawking at for their own beauty, you will find numerous one-of-a-kind works of art by famous artists from Greco-Roman history, Italian, and American greats.
Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Make a detour to the world’s famous vineyards or plan an entire adult getaway around being pampered and spoiled at the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. This is food and beverage served to you in its most refined form. Make sure you reserve your place at the most popular wineries, you won’t be able to just show up with a glass and expect to get in, so plan ahead and start now.
The variety of animals at the San Diego Zoo is simply staggering, with over 600 species to discover. They are leaders in conservation efforts and take pride in creating the most natural environments for their animals as possible, so that they can smoothly transition rescue animals back into the wild.
This is not your father’s tram ride, the Palm Springs Aerial is a tram that hauls up to 80 people up the side of Mt. Jacinto, with the climb spanning the distance of about six thousand feet. Plus, there is no such thing as a bad view on this tram car, it makes an entire rotation so you don’t have to run around to get a look from all sides of the mountain. The trip takes about ten minutes, but you’ll want to ride it again as soon as you step off.
Another great opportunity to combine your California travels with a slice of American history, the State Railroad Museum is a snapshot into the wild west. You get to see the mammoth trains that ran as the heart of economy and public transportation for so many years, up close and personal. These trains aren’t just pieces on display, they’re replicas of the real thing.
A picturesque beach that is often missed on many California tourist packages. Here you will find plenty of exciting entertainment and relaxation for the whole family to enjoy. Partake in every watersport you can imagine, lounge on the beach, or go on a tour of the Underwater Park. You can get up close and personal with marine life native to Cali beaches. This is an ocean-lover’s paradise.
We had to fit one more remarkable display of Mother Nature on our list, even though California has so much to choose from. As a highly recommended dose of human humility and breath-taking beauty, there is no comparing the legendary Sequoias and Kings Canyon National Parks. This is the perfect marriage of majestic trees and poetic rock formations that should make any man, woman, or child feel deeply connected to our precious country and planet.
Address: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, CA