Vibrant cities, beaches, amusement parks, and natural wonders like nowhere else on earth make California an intriguing land of possibilities for travelers. The gateway cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are home to some of the state’s most well-known sites, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Hollywood and Disneyland.
But the national parks, covering mountains, forests, desert, coastal areas, and islands offer their own outstanding experiences. The tallest and largest trees on earth, the largest alpine lake in North America, and the famous sites of Yosemite, offer once in a lifetime opportunities for outdoor adventure.
San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge
One of the most beautiful cities in America, San Francisco should be on everyone’s must-see list. The ocean and hills provide a stunning natural setting, but the quaint neighborhoods, historic sites, green spaces, inspiring cultural institutions, and relaxed attitude are what truly make this city special.
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is one of the key sights and what many people call to mind when they think of the city, and even California. The orange frame against the blue water of San Francisco Bay, or rising out of the fog that often covers the area is an unforgettable sight. You can appreciate the bridge from afar or, for a more personal experience, drive over it, walk on it, or even bike across it.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in Northern California is one of the United States’ most scenic and most visited national parks. The mountains, valleys, rivers, and spectacular waterfalls have drawn tourists, artists, and athletes here for decades. Most of the key sights and things to do in Yosemite National Park are in Yosemite Valley. Carved by glaciers during the last ice age, the granite walls and huge waterfalls are some of the most outstanding features in the park. This is where you’ll find the big name attractions, like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan.
Beyond the Valley are the Tioga Road and the Glacier Point Road, both of which offer access to alpine areas, lookout points, and incredible views. Sometimes overlooked by tourists but also definitely worth seeing are the giant sequoias. The largest stand is located in Mariposa Grove, in the southern part of the park.
Disneyland, located in Anaheim, is California’s premier family destination and has been for decades. This massive amusement park is home to all kinds of rides, games, shows, and entertainment, complete with restaurants and hotels.
The park is a combination of theme rides and recreated worlds and cultures. You can find shows and other entertainment designed for both children and adults. Long line ups and wait times have been reduced somewhat by the invention of passes, which give you a “return time” to various attractions. However, when kids are out of school, either for the summer, Christmas, spring break, or any other holiday, you can be sure that the park will be very busy.