California is the most populous state in the United States and the third most extensive by area, with so many fun places to see and explore. There’s more to California than just movie stars and Disneyland: it’s scenic beauty, world-famous attractions, restaurants, stunning beaches, historic monuments and theme parks – That’s what makes California great. I will be sharing with you all my top destinations and important places to explore out when planning a short trip around the state.
San Francisco: San Francisco in Northern California is one of the most fun and exciting city. It’s known for its year-round fog, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and colorful Victorian houses. The city is also famous for its restaurants which offer world class food. At any time of the year, there’s an infinite list of festivals, concerts, and activities to check out for. Visitors to San Francisco can visit Lombard Street, which is famous for its tight curves, big tourist favorites – Fisherman’s Wharf, and the infamous prison on Alcatraz Island.
**Staying in the downtown area will make it easier to explore the city and visit the popular attractions around.
The Golden Gate Bridge is #1 on every visitors’ list in San Francisco. The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog. Top spots to get a nice view of the bridge are Fort Point, Baker Beach, Fort Baker and Crissy Field.
**I recommend going early to enjoy and photograph stunning views.
Fisherman’s Wharf is one of the busiest tourist areas. It is famous for the colony of sea lions to see, old historic ships to tour and Ghirardelli square (famous chocolate factory). You can walk towards Pier 39, It is a shopping center and popular tourist attraction built on a pier in San Francisco.
Palace of Fine Arts Theater is right before the Golden gate bridge. One can really enjoy the architecture and the history around this beautiful space.
Pier 14 in SFO Downtown is a great spot to see Treasure Island, Alameda Island, and it offers really excellent views of the SF Skyline and Oakland Bay Bridge.
Los Angeles: Los Angeles in Southern California is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World and is home to renowned museums. Travelers to LA can find some of the best-known amusement parks on the planet here, including Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. With so much to see and do in LA, even a weeks’ time may not be enough to explore the city. If you are a movie buff then Hollywood sign is a must see. Some classic attractions in the area include: The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Paramount Pictures Studios, Madame Tussauds, Griffith Observatory – Its location gives visitors impressive views of the surrounding area and the Hollywood sign can be seen from far.
Universal Studios: Of all of the attractions near Los Angeles, Universal Studios is one of the most cherished and popular places to visit. The park combines the exemplary Hollywood movie experience with incredible theme park attractions and shows, including the most recent additions of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Walking Dead Attraction, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Fast and Furious: additional charge on the Studio Tour. With proper planning you can maximize your time when you hop over for a visit – avoid the days around the holidays also weekdays are often less crowded than weekends, arrive ahead of park opening times, also you’ll save time and money when you buy your Universal Studios Hollywood tickets in advance. Universal Studios Hollywood now has stopped participating in the CityPass, so if you’re going for just one day, the best option is to buy tickets online on their website. If you’re considering to visit for more than one day, you might consider buying an Annual Pass. You can find discount offers on tickets at Costco, also AAA Members can save an extra amount on 1-day tickets by pre-purchasing.
Comfy shoes are a must, with all the walking that you’ll do.
**Most of the attractions in LA require you to buy tickets and the prices are usually not very cheap. GO city pass has packages for all the different attractions according to days of your visit and place. I recommend buying city pass beforehand.
San Diego: San Diego is a city on the Pacific coast of California, with fabulous beaches, ideal climate, and outstanding family attractions, it is no wonder that San Diego is one of the most popular places to visit in California. The most popular attraction in San Diego is America’s premier zoo and California tower which is located in the beautiful Balboa Park
Legoland Amusement Park, San Diego: It’s based on the Lego toy brand and is great for toddlers, kids, and adults. It has tons of rides, shows, and attractions including the new LEGO® Star Wars™ and makes for a great one-day adventure. It is usually not as crowded as the Disneyland. your kids surely will love this place.
SeaWorld, San Diego: The Famous theme park that offers: thrilling rides, exciting shows, and various family-friendly activities for thrill seekers and animal lovers. It’s a great place to take the kids: for a fun day, enjoy the rides and many interesting games to play.
Big Sur: Big Sur is one of the most spectacular highways in the United States. The views of the ocean are breathtaking and the roads are winding but not difficult to drive. Take your time, plan to stop when possible and hike a trail or two. South of Big Sur is Carmel and Monterrey, which are wonderful places to begin or end your drive. 17 Miles drive is the most beautiful scenic drive.
McWay falls, Bixby Creek Bridge is the spots to stop over. The views are breathtaking. Give Big Sur at least a day. If you can’t do that, you’re not going to get much out of your visit! it’s a long drive.
These were places we went to during several short trips to California. Disneyland is on my bucket list and will be planning a trip soon for this exciting place. Also, I can’t wait to see the excitement on my daughter’s face while being there(she is really fascinated by mickey mouse).
There are few more places that are really amazing like the Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, Santa Cruz, Point Reyes. What are your favorite destinations around California? Also would love to know your suggestion of places that are yet unseen. Please share your views in the comment section below.