California: Hotspots! What to see and visit? – Must Visit Places in California

California: Hotspots! What to see and visit? - Must Visit Places in California

Must Visit Places in California

California is one of the most visited states by vacationing tourists in the United States. Good weather, beaches, Disney theme park, and scenic nature parks are some of the reasons that attract many people to California. There is so much to see here that you will need enough time to see it and enjoy it all. Here is our list of must visit places in California.  Enjoy!

Los Angeles

A true haven for dreamers and ambitious people, Los Angeles is a sprawling city with an energy unparalleled in California. Its main attraction: the beaches. To be in the heart of the action and sunbathe, head to Santa Monica or Venice Beach. If you are looking for cultural outings, the Getty Center and the Griffith Observatory will satisfy all your desires. Movie fans are sure to take a trip to Hollywood Boulevard, while families have plenty of fun at the many theme parks.

Los angeles from griffith observatory
Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory. Photo credit: Sam Gao / Flickr

Also popularly known as the City of Angels or simply LA, Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States, after New York and along with San Francisco one of the two best cities to visit in California. This huge city in Southern California is surrounded by beautiful beaches along the Pacific coast, as well as vast mountain ranges and valleys. Maybe you know Los Angeles because it’s famous for its film industry Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world. Indeed, LA is one of the best places to meet celebrities, shop at the designer boutiques of Beverly Hills that cater to the stars, admire the lavish celebrity mansions or taste wine and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants. that they like to hang out with.

But Los Angeles isn’t just about Hollywood. Here you can visit world famous theme parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood, for rides for all (for kids or thrills) and fun for families. Enjoy great waves on the stunning beaches along the Los Angeles County coastline (120 kilometers or 75 miles) and see the unique sites of each interesting beach town.

Echo Park Lake with Downtown Los Angeles Skyline
Echo Park Lake with Downtown Los Angeles Skyline. Photo credit: Adoramassey / Wikimedia Commons

Culture lovers will be delighted to know that Los Angeles has more museums and theaters than any other American city. It is therefore the ideal place for an impressive cultural immersion. The best part of it all? With near perfect weather, the City of Angels is one of the few cities in the world where you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon. So visit Los Angeles for a wide variety of amazing experiences!

San Francisco

With its colorful Victorian houses, San Francisco is a charming city where each neighborhood has its own identity. Climb into a Cable Car to explore every corner: Chinatown, Haight Ashbury, Pier 39 and its sea lions, Lombard Street or even Castro. In need of nature, go to Golden Gate Park before cycling the bridge of the same name. Without forgetting the sulphurous island of Alcatraz, this former prison which saw all the gangsters of the country pass.
Located at the tip of a peninsula in the bay of California, in the north of the state, and widely counted among the most beautiful cities in California, San Francisco is a mountainous city well known for its Victorian architecture, its picturesque attractions, its ethnic and cultural diversity. A popular city tour is not complete without a stop at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for the perfect photo. Explore the city’s upscale neighborhoods, such as Pacific Heights and the Marina District, home to luxury Victorian mansions and a stunning marina, as well as national historic landmarks, such as the Palace of Fine Arts.

Visit Lombard Street, located between Hyde and Leavenworth, a 180-meter-long red-brick street known to be San Francisco’s leanest street with eight hairpin bends. Or escape from Fisherman’s Wharf for a relaxing cruise to beautiful Angel Island. Finally, enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the area and the San Francisco Bay, go on a scenic hike, or take the streetcar for an insightful history lesson on Ellis Island, west of the island. island, on this pleasant and less well-known island.

Golden Gate Bridge

The very famous Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous things in San Francisco. It can be seen in many movies or music videos. Guided tours are available but parking is limited to view this bridge. Plan your visit in advance to avoid the large crowds of visitors during peak season.

The beaches of Santa Monica and Venice

Along with Los Angeles, you have two other places of interest that will come in handy if you escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Santa Monica Beach offers miles of sand for you to enjoy at your leisure, as well as the famous Santa Monica Pier where its attractions, including roller coasters and a Ferris wheel, light up the silhouette of the coast every night. Walking a little further south you will come to Venice Beach, a much more relaxed and alternative beach that is popular with its visitors.

Death Valley

Blessed with extremely varied landscapes, Death Valley is surrounded by incredible legends and stories. Far from being a mere expanse of desert, you can see sand dunes, canyons and lakes (often dry). Outside of the summer, when the temperatures are hellish, there are many hikes to do, such as the Golden Canyon. By car, do not miss Artist’s Drive which will allow you to admire rocks with improbable colors. A must see place in California!

Route 66

The legendary Route 66, also called Mother Road, crosses the United States from east to west for 3,670 km, between Santa Monica (California) and Chicago (Illinois). Symbol of the gold rush, the beatniks and the Harley at the same time, it is still today a fantasy for many travelers in search of adventure. During your American trip, it is surely in the Californian segment that you will be able to access it. You will then discover a succession of ghost villages where the saloon is still standing, motels, diners, and retro gas stations, all in a western setting.

What is Gold Rush?

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a gold rush that began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad.

During the California gold rush from 1848 to 1854, thousands sought their fortune as gold diggers in California. The official nickname of California’s Golden State is derived from the Californian gold rush.

The sudden influx of gold into the money supply reinvigorated the American economy, and the sudden population increase allowed California to go rapidly to statehood, in the Compromise of 1850. The Gold Rush had severe effects on Native Californians and accelerated the Native American population’s decline from disease, starvation and the California Genocide. By the time it ended, California had gone from a thinly populated ex-Mexican territory, to having one of its first two U.S. Senators, John C. Frémont, selected to be the first presidential nominee for the new Republican Party, in 1856.

Palm springs

Palm Springs is considered by Californians as a vacation spot where it is good to rest: an enchanted break in the hectic life of the inhabitants of the big cities! Built in the middle of the desert, Palm Springs enjoys a warm climate all year round. Its streets are lined with palm trees and you can admire splendid architectural houses. Festival-goers shouldn’t miss Coachella, which takes place every April.


This small coastal town, which was mayor Clint Eastwood in the 1980s, is surrounded by splendid hills covered with pines, cypresses and eucalyptus trees. Bathed in a relaxed and bohemian atmosphere, the city center is very pleasant to explore on foot. As you stroll along the picturesque alleys, you can admire cozy cottages, which seem straight out of a children’s tale. On the sea side, the Beach City Park is a splendid white sand beach where campfires are allowed, ideal for grilling marshmallows at sunset: an unmissable experience to do in California!

Big Sur

Between land and sea, Big Sur, which stretches about 87 miles (140 km) from Carmel-by-the-Sea to San Simeon, has inspired many artists. Located between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Big Sur is a natural, wild paradise to visit during your California road trip. On one side you will find cliffs and rocky coves battered by the waves, on the other side thick forests of redwoods. An exceptional route not to be missed along the Pacific Coast Highway, especially since it is recommended to spend at least one night in the heart of Big Sur to be able to appreciate all its beauty.

San Diego

The historic birthplace of California, San Diego is a beautiful city with a decidedly Mexican vibe and it’s a must visit places in california. Tijuana is only 20 miles away, and you can easily drop in if you want to be out of town for a day. Among the must-sees in San Diego, let us quote the splendid Balboa Park: in this cultural park regrouping many museums and gardens, you will feel in Spain! And for some shopping, the artists’ village is recommended. San Diego is also a surfer’s paradise, especially on Torrey Pines beach.

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San Diego is renowned for its expansive white sand beaches and incredible weather on the Pacific Ocean coast in Southern California. Home to popular attractions such as Sea World San Diego, Legoland California, and the San Diego Zoo, the bustling city is a place for the whole family to have unforgettable moments. Another particularity of the most beautiful American city is its proximity to the Mexican border – Tijuana. Due to its location as a border town, you can find influences from Spanish-Mexican culture in many aspects of the city, such as the Spanish architecture in the beautiful Balboa Park. Relax in the unique atmosphere of small towns despite being the second largest city in California.


A charming little town to visit in California, Monterey is known for its splendid aquarium as well as for its ancient sardine production. But the most interesting is its coastline: a protected marine reserve that is home to otters, seals and many species of birds. For a privileged view of the Pacific, take 17-Mile Drive, a toll road, but which offers an exceptional panorama.
Compared to other more well-known cities in California, Monterey may not yet be a popular tourist destination, but that’s also where its unique charm lies. The beautiful coastal town has rugged landscapes and a rich heritage that will delight travelers looking for a destination off the beaten track. As the old state capital of California, Monterey makes a wonderful stop for history buffs with its extensive collection of historic buildings in the downtown area. Follow the yellow plaques on the sidewalk along the History Trail in Old Monterey to admire ancient architecture such as the Pacific House Museum and the Maritime History Museum.

 Monterey California
– Aerial view of City of Monterey and the Monterey Peninsula — on the central California coast.
– Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA
– This church is located in Monterey, California and its construction was started by St. Junipero Serra. This building is one of only three missions that St. Junipero Serra saw the construction of.
– Herrmann Hall, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, USA.
– Downtown Monterey and Monterey Harbor as seen from the Coast Guard Peer, Monterey, CA
– Back view of Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Take part in one of the most amazing road trips in the United States, taking Highway 1 for breathtaking views of the Big Sur coastline. Or explore the city’s rugged landscapes by partnering up with an exciting series of water sports such as kayaking, paragliding, and hang-gliding. Animal lovers will also be delighted to know that Monterey is one of the best places in the world for year round whale watching, as well as one of the top five birding destinations in North America.

Napa Valley

California has no less than 100 wine regions. Among them, the Napa Valley is surely the most famous, but also the most interesting. Epicureans will of course indulge in wine tasting, the main attraction of the place. To do this, make a selection of Wineries where you will spend around 1 hour tasting the best grape varieties, while chatting with a passionate guide. Napa Valley is also recognized as a romantic destination. You can easily find cozy accommodation where you can spend your romantic getaway.

Silicon Valley

Even if the headquarters of Google, Facebook, Apple or Netflix are not open to visitors, Silicon Valley is fully worth a stopover there. Start by visiting the Stanford campus, full of energy and dynamism. The geeks will then take the direction of the Google campus, which is open access.

Silicon Valley from above

Do not be surprised to come across statues of Android and bicycles in the colors of the search engine. To complete the visit, do not miss the fascinating Computer History Museum, the Intel Museum or the Apple garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first hundred Apple I models in 1976.


Sacramento is the capital of California, located among the fertile plains of the Central Valley at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River. Sacramento, one of California’s most historic cities, is an art and culture lover’s paradise. To start, stroll through the Old Quarter of Sacramento, a renowned National Historic District and National Historic Park, home to some of the most influential private and public museums established during the time of the California Gold Rush. In addition, you should discover the bustling waterfront with a multitude of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Soak up the vibrant art scene by taking part in an art walk or a live music performance. The hippy district of Midtown is also worth exploring for its myriad of trendy restaurants, bars and shops.

Sacramento Skyline (cropped)

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a real little coastal paradise to see in California: its Mediterranean architecture, adorned with flamboyant bougainvillea, is superb and its sandy beaches seem endless. While strolling on foot you will be overwhelmed by the scent of citrus fruits and jasmine, all in an atmosphere where life is good. During your visit, do not miss the Santa Barbara County Courthouse: the court building is open access and it is absolutely sublime. The city also has some fine museums.

Less than a 2 hour drive from the megalopolis of Los Angeles, you will arrive at the fascinating American Riviera – Santa Barbara. Located on the central California coast, with the Santa Ynez Mountains as a spectacular backdrop, Santa Barbara is notable for its distinguished wineries, expansive beaches, and wide choice of restaurants and shops. Savor the best wines in the world by taking a tour of the Urban Wine Route at one of the city’s many tasting rooms. Stroll along the wide sandy shores of the pristine East Beach. You can also spend the whole day immersing yourself in the unique ambience of famous State Street, home to quaint shops, art galleries and museums. Take note of the magnificent Mediterranean-style white stucco buildings with red-tiled roofs that reflect the city’s Spanish colonial heritage as you explore the city center.

Disneyland – Anaheim

There is no better place than the “Happiest Place on Earth”. Anaheim is home to the Disneyland Resort, officially called “the happiest place on earth.” But there is definitely more to do in the Southern California city, located just outside of Los Angeles. Looking for a cheaper alternative to expensive Disneyland that can cost the whole family a fortune? Head to Adventure City, the little theme park that’s sure to be fun for the whole family. Enjoy a variety of fun rides for all ages, meet adorable animal friends on the kids’ farm, or watch interactive children’s shows.

Disneyland California Adventure

If you don’t already know, some of America’s best beers are made in Anaheim. So hit up a brewery in search of a fabulous beer feast that includes Noble Ale Works, Backstreet, and more. Baseball fans should head to Angel Stadium, home of the legendary Los Angeles baseball team, the Angels. The stadium is not only the best place to catch an Angels game, but also to enjoy addicting Southern California snacks, such as fish tacos. Look forward to happy California vacation memories!


As a central California city located in the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno makes a great starting point for travelers wanting to explore the major national parks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Yosemite National Park, known for its magnificent waterfalls, as well as Sequoia National Park and its neighboring Kings Canyon National Park allow you to experience the incredible California wilderness. In the town itself, explore the picturesque underground gardens of Forestière, a spectacular creation of ancient Roman architecture and magnificent greenery. Downtown Fresno is also a fascinating place to explore the city’s ancient architecture, much of which dates back to the 19th century.

Yosemite National Park

Dominated by the majestic El Capitan, Yosemite Park is a paradise for hikers and climbers traveling to California. In this idyllic setting, the vast forests populated by bears are dotted with granite cliffs from which some of the highest waterfalls in the world spring up. Many viewpoints will offer you an exceptional panorama, such as Bridalveil Fall or Glacier Point at sunset. As for hiking, do not miss the Yosemite Falls Trail.

Sequoia National Park

Visiting Sequoia National Park means going to meet the giants of California. Suffice to say that you will feel very small in front of these mastodons. Trails have been developed to admire the most impressive, such as the 2,200-year-old General Sherman Tree. With its 84 m. in height and its 31 m. in circumference on the ground, it is considered the most imposing living organism in existence. At the Fallen Monarch Tree you can even walk inside the trunk of a redwood tree without having to bend down!

Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua Tree is the star of this beautiful national park. This endemic species is only found in the southwestern United States. Between March and April, thousands of multicolored flowers line the vast expanses of Joshua Tree: an even more breathtaking sight! The rest of the time two colors predominate: the blue of the sky and the yellow of the rounded rocks. Walkers will not miss the Hidden Valley Trail which winds through one of the most beautiful sections of the park. Or the Barker Dam Trail, another must-see.

Joshua Tree National Park 5-Day Masterclass July 2021

Mammoth lakes

Passing through the Tioga Road, the arrival at Mammoth Lake is spectacular: lakes, high mountains of the Sierra Nevada and forests as far as the eye can see form an incredible panorama. California’s most famous ski resort is the realm of year-round outdoor sports: downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, fishing… Not far away, don’t miss the Devil Postpile National Monument: a very rare geological phenomenon, namely 60 foot high basalt columns with almost perfect symmetry. Another curiosity: the Hot Creek Geological Site where you can admire geysers, craters and fumaroles.

Convict Lake Sunrise, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Lake Tahoe

Perched at more than 1800 meters (5900 feet) high above sea level, Lake Tahoe is a real gem to see in California: its crystal-clear waters of incredible blue are surrounded by rocky peaks and pine forests. In summer, swimming, water sports, mountain biking and hiking are on the program. In winter, it’s time to ski on the slopes of world-famous resorts. The villages bordering the lake are also to be discovered. The two shores each have their own identity and are very different. In the north, it’s the ideal spot for a family holiday, but if you want to party and enjoy lots of entertainment, head to the south shore!


Besides the TV series of the same name, Malibu is known to be the surfing mecca of California. Surfrider Beach was even named the first “World Surfing Reserve”. Apart from the seaside pleasures, the surroundings are punctuated with trails in the hills where it is good to hike in spring or autumn. In winter, head to Point Dume, at the northern end of Malibu, to try and spot migrating gray whales.

Mojave National Preserve

Rarely visited by travelers, Majove nevertheless conceals treasures. In a desert setting, you can admire canyons sculpted by water, ancient lava flows, sand dunes, dry lakes and rocky valleys, all dotted with Joshua trees. Many hiking trails run through the park, among the most beautiful is the ascent of Teutonia Peak, 1,754 meters high and the highest point of Cima Dome.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Formed by an ancient sea and the strong action of plate tectonics, Anza-Borrego is made up of mountains, canyons and rugged reliefs. The ideal time to visit the park is during the spring wildflower season, before the scorching summer. To explore it, it is preferable to have a 4×4 in order to be able to take the 800 km of tracks. If you have a classic car, then hiking will be the best way to enjoy all its beauties. Among them, the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail is magnificent, as is the Cactus Loop Trail.

Lava Beds National Monument

Marked by both the geological and human history of the region, the Lava Beds National Monument includes lava flows, craters, volcanic cones and more than 500 lava tunnels. The petroglyphs present in the caves of the park testify to the strong Indian presence, still relevant today. Before the visit, go to the Visitor Center where maps and flashlights will be provided free of charge.

Lava Beds National Monument

Mono Lake

Mono Lake is one of the oldest in the world. Its water is saltier than that of the sea and 90% of Californian seagulls see the light of day there. But it is above all for its rock formations that it is known: tuff towers with a supernatural look that rise from the waters. The best spot to admire them is the South Tufa Reserve on the south shore of the lake.

Lone Pine

Founded during the Gold Rush, Lone Pine is known to have been one of Hollywood’s premier filming locations. The scenery has everything to make a good western: dominated by the magnificent Mount Whitney, the landscape consists of an arid desert punctuated by rounded rocks and the steep mountains of the Sierra Nevada. A place to see in California!

Lone pine star bridge

Lily loves Lone Pine.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

This atypical park is like a mini Yellowstone in California. Here, the hydrothermal activity of the Earth is abuzz, you can see hot springs, fumaroles, bubbling mud and four types of volcanoes. Apart from these curiosities, Lassen has a bucolic side with its peaceful lakes and meadows filled with flowers.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The Avenue of the Giants crisscrosses this magnificent little-frequented park where thousands of Redwood sequoias appear. Several stops are possible to explore different circular trails lined with ferns. Among them is the splendid Bull Creek Loop, where you can see some of the tallest trees on the planet.

Channel Islands National Park

Easily accessible by boat from Ventura, the five islands of the Channel Islands are a delight. Rent kayaks or take a guided tour to discover the coves and snorkel in translucent water. On the mainland, the hiking trails are populated by small endemic wild foxes. Offshore, you will surely have the chance to see dolphins and whales.

Sources: PinterPandai, Visit California,

Photo credit (main photo): Public Domain Pictures

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