California Hidden Gems & Off the Beaten Path Travel Ideas

I know, I know, you probably hear California and think tan people sunning themselves on a bed of golden sand — but there’s actually a really wide variety of beaches you can find in California… including black sand beaches!

I know you probably think you have to head to Iceland or Hawaii in order to see some black sand beaches… but you can actually find one in California, not far from San Francisco in fact.

Just due north of the city in Sausalito, a quirky city known for its houseboats and epic San Francisco views, the stunning and wild Black Sand Beach is located in the Marin Headlands part of the North Bay.

There are also some black sand beaches in California further up north, in Whitethorn along the Lost Coast and just south of Mendocino, but this is the one that is most accessible for most California visitors.

Often called “Mount Tam” by locals, this is one of the best places in California to get a gorgeous view over the entire San Francisco Bay. While it’s quite a popular hike amongst people living in the Bay Area, most people outside of the area don’t know about it.

The peak of Mount Tam is at 2,500 feet, and it’s not a particularly hard hike, but even if it was, the hike would be worth it.

Try to time your visit so that you don’t get your view totally obscured by fog, which is a common occurrence, it being San Francisco and all. Early afternoon is usually the best choice, as the fog tends to be at its thickest in the morning.

The quaint oceanside town of Morro Bay is a popular weekend getaway for both Angelenos and San Franciscans. It’s not far from San Luis Obispo, which is pretty much the halfway point on any road trip between the two major population hubs in California.

It’s best-known for Morro Rock, a giant volcanic rock rising nearly 600 feet out of the sea — an incredible sight to see, and definitely worth its spot on any California trip itinerary.

This candy-colored seaside town isn’t widely known outside of California, but it’s so cute it seems practically made for Instagram.

The colorful palette of houses in Capitola is called Venetian Court. Interestingly, it was one of the first condo developments in California and is actually designated as a US Historic District!

A national park so little-known that many Californians don’t know it exists (myself included until recently…), you can be guaranteed beautiful views and far fewer crowds than you’ll find in any other of California’s nine national parks.

Yes, nine — the most of any U.S. state!

A few famous highlights of the park are General Grant Tree, a huge redwood tree located in Grant Grove. Cedar Grove, Zumwalt Meadow, and Roaring River Falls are some other points of interest within the park.

The town of Jenner is a true hidden gem in California!

This beautiful seaside town is located on Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway), but it’s not nearly as well-known as other PCH spots like Big Sur.

The reason why Jenner is so cool is because it’s where the Russian River empties out into the Pacific Ocean, creating a beautiful wild beach landscape unlike few others in California.

Watching the sunset here, with a few scattered rock islets off the coast, is an epic experience best enjoyed with a bottle of Sonoma’s finest wine!

While it seems odd to list a national park on a list of hidden gems in California, the truth is that the state’s other national parks loom so large in non-local ideas of California — Yosemite, Death Valley, Sequoia, Joshua Tree — that its lesser-known parks go unrecognized.

And that shouldn’t be so, because Lassen Volcanic National Park is a stunner — it’s almost like a little slice of Iceland right in the heart of Northern California.

And besides, who can pass up a trip to a place called Bumpass Hell?

All jokes aside, Mount Lassen Volcanic Park is incredible: from bubbling sulphuric mud pits to lava rocks strewn from a previous eruption millennia ago, you can really see the wild and unpredictable nature of volcanoes in real life right here in California, many of which are now dormant and making up the landscape of the beautiful mountainous state.

Growing up, I visited Solvang 3-4 times a year until the age of 12, since my grandmother lived here my entire life until she passed away.

I didn’t actually realize it was a cool place until recently! I always thought of it as a bit kitschy, but I think the movie Sideways made it cool.

It’s a bit strange to think of a slice of Denmark (complete with a town windmill!) could live right in the heart of Southern California! But this village settled by Danish immigrants is now a cool, hip getaway, full of wine bars and trendy restaurants to lure people from Santa Barbara and LA to stay for the weekend.

The stunning McArthur-Burney Falls is located way in the north of California, not too far from the city of Redding and the Pacific Crest Trail, the epic hike made famous by the book (and movie featuring Reese Witherspoon) Wild.

This part of California is rarely visited by non-locals, since it’s not coastal and it’s not en route between San Francisco and LA, but trust me — the hidden gems in Northern California’s more remote reaches are well worth the journey, as you’ll rarely share them with tour buses or giant groups of travelers.

The Salton Sea may be beautiful in its own way, but sea is a bit generous. Let’s just say that it is most definitely NOT a place you want to swim!

The water is evaporating so rapidly that it’s left insanely high saline levels, killing off a lot of the ecological diversity it once held.

Once a major tourism destination back in the 70s, the Salton Sea area is now a bit of a ghost town, which is part of what makes it so fascinating… at least to those who are interested in a bit of dark tourism like I am. The contrast between the beauty of the place and the sad story of its ecological deterioration makes it an interesting place in California.

You can find gorgeous redwoods all over California, but my favorite place in the whole state for them is Armstrong Woods in Guerneville.

It’s never crowded, as it’s more popular with Sonoma locals and weekend trippers from the Bay Area than people visiting from abroad or out of state.

One of the coolest places in Armstrong Woods is the trail where you can find a centuries-old dead redwood tree, where they preserved the rings and marked what things were happening in the world in relation to the age and rings of the tree — including things like Columbus’ 1492 voyage to the Americas and the Declaration of Independence!

Seeing how “new” these events were in relation to the tree’s age is really humbling and makes you feel small in all the best of ways.

Growing up in the Bay Area, the Winchester Mystery House was always fascinating to me as a child.

Constructed by the widow of the Winchester of firearm fame, who received the equivalent of over half a billion dollars (by today’s valuation) upon her husband’s death, this house is as bizarre as the name suggests.

It was constructed from the ground up without any master plan, with no architect consulted and every renovation happening without a plan. This resulted in stairs going nowhere or doors that open to a wall.

Whether this was the result of poor planning or her fear of ghosts is still debated, but one thing is for sure — visiting this place is rather spooky, and it’s a must-visit for those looking for offbeat things to do in California.

The aptly named Bowling Ball Beach is located just south of Mendocino, part of Schooner Gulch State Beach.

This unusual beach is known for its sandstone rocks which are shaped like, well, bowling balls.

Note, though, that they are only visible during low tide. But if you can match low tide with a sunset on a lucky day, you’re in for an incredible California sunset spot.

Allison Green is a travel blogger, writer, and podcaster who grew up in the Bay Area of California. She has spent time living in New York, Prague, and Sofia, but has returned to live in the East Bay. She has traveled to 60 countries before the age of 30 while running several digital travel publications. Her writing and podcast have been featured in Forbes, CBC Canada, National Geographic, the Huffington Post, and CNN Arabic, amongst others. She’s obsessed with bouldering, houseplants, other people’s pets, and anywhere she can see the ocean.

Best Places to Visit in the USA in March (2023) 

Charleston is a city known for its southern charm, abundant history, enchanting architecture, and delicious comfort food making it one of the most popular USA destinations. The only issue with Charleston is the heat and humidity. By visiting Charleston (one of the best places to visit in the USA in March), you can immerse yourself in the charming city when the weather is much milder, making your trip much more enjoyable. 

Make sure you enjoy some time walking the historic areas and visiting the iconic Rainbow Row, the riverfront, and White Point Garden. Visit a few of the historic homes, and you can miss the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon. The city is so rich in history that a guided tour is highly recommended. You can take a pirate tour during the day, a ghost tour in the evening, or a day trip from Charleston to popular attractions like Patriot’s Point or Boone Hall Plantation

You can also enjoy some of the best southern cooking in the United States at places like The Darling Oyster Bar, where classic dishes like shrimp and grits and fried chicken sandwiches satisfy your appetite and soul. 

Contributed by Dan of Honeymoon Always 

Chicago is easily one of the best places to visit in the USA in March. In fact, this midwestern metropolis comes alive with activity as the city dyes the river green and gears up for St. Patrick’s Day every March 17th. This practice takes place every year on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, and it has been an immortal city tradition ever since. If you want to see the river at its most vibrant, be sure to stop by right after the city has dyed it.  

Then, enjoy the city’s major St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown on Saturday, March 11th. Other fun Chicago activities throughout March include the Brewsology Beer Fest on March 4th, the Shamrock Shuffle on March 26th, and the Chicago Cubs home opener game on March 30th. Just be prepared for unpredictable weather and crowds due to both spring break and St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. 

If you can handle the crowds and weather, then be sure to visit in March. Also, don’t forget to stop by Girl & The Goat restaurant to try their amazing halibut, green beans, and pork shank. After all, it’s easily one of the best restaurants in Chicago

Contributed by Linda of Midwest Explored 

Easily one of the best places to visit in the USA in March, Moab, Utah, is a veritable oasis of outdoor wonder for any traveler. After all, it is a great home base from which to explore both Canyonlands and Arches National Park. 

March is probably the best time to visit Moab, making it one of the best places to visit in the USA in March. Not only will all the trails be open in the surrounding area, but the region won’t be totally inundated with tourists since it’s shoulder season. That also means that prices for both hotels and flights will be a lot more reasonable. Plus, you won’t contend with the extreme temperature fluctuations and weather changes associated with visiting Moab in either the winter or summer. After all, temperatures in the summer can regularly exceed 100°F, making it impossible to hike after 9:00 am. 

Additionally, Moab starts to come back to life at this time of year. So, some of the town’s top restaurants will likely be open, like The Broken Car. Be sure to stop by and order some sweet potato fries. 

Contributed by Meg of Fox in the Forest 

There’s no doubt about it — spring is one of the most gorgeous times to visit the charming historic town of Savannah, Georgia. Whether you add Savannah onto a road trip in the Southeast USA with Charleston or visit this city completely on its own, you’ll be “wowed” by the stunning pink azaleas, mossy oaks, and warm weather that greet you! 

There are plenty of things to do in Savannah, GA, during any time of the year — you can stroll through Forsyth Park, go on a ghost tour to see the most haunted places in Savannah, or explore River Street and City Market. Plus, you can’t miss Savannah’s food scene. Grab a table at some of the best places to eat in Savannah, including The Olde Pink House, Treylor Park, Mirabelle Savannah, and Leopold’s Ice Cream!  

However, Savannah is one of the best places to visit in the USA in March because of all the awesome events. You can attend the parade for St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy the Savannah Music Festival at the end of the month, or attend the Savannah Boat Show! 

Contributed by Brittany of Travel by Brit 

Palm Springs, California, is a quirky city tucked away in the mountains and desert of Southern California, combining retro glamor and desert boho chicness. It’s one of the best places to visit in the USA in March for a warm, relaxing spring break getaway. 

Palm Springs was once known as the getaway of choice for Hollywood royalty, like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor, and the city has retained much of this vintage charm. If you’re interested in soaking it in, book a mid-century modern architecture tour, where you can see where Elvis and Priscilla Presley spent their honeymoon and where Frank Sinatra relaxed in his downtime. If you want to continue with the retro theme, have dinner at King’s Highway at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, converted from an old Denny’s and Howard Johnson, respectively. Here, you can have hand-crafted cocktails and elevated comfort food (plus, there’s bingo every Monday!). 

If you instead want to enjoy Palm Springs’ stunning landscape, go on a hike in the Indian Canyons Park, where you’ll find trails with desert views and even an oasis. Alternatively, Joshua Tree National Park is just a short ride away, known for its massive boulders and unique trees. 

Contributed by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler 

If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in March in the U.S. for some festive fun, you must head to Boston for the nation’s oldest St Patrick’s Day celebration! Every March 17th, the city celebrates its strong Irish heritage, with locals and visitors alike coming together for various events. The heart of the event is South Boston, locally known as Southie, where the St Patrick’s Day parade began back in 1901. Just note that the parade happens on the Sunday closest to St Paddy’s Day, which might not be the 17th. 

Boston is a very walkable city, which is beneficial since driving and parking during St Paddy’s Day can be challenging. Stay in Downtown Boston for the easiest access to all that Boston has to offer beyond the parade and celebrations. When you visit Boston in March, you will enjoy much smaller tourist crowds (other than during the festivities), so you can enjoy the city as the locals do by enjoying some of the best things to do in Boston

If you’re looking to save some cash, take advantage of all the great free things to do in Boston, from the iconic Freedom Trail to the many public parks and gardens across the city, like the Boston Public Garden. You can even visit the Coit Observatory at Boston University for free on Wednesdays. To stay on the St Patrick’s Day theme, check out the Irish Heritage Trail for another free history activity. 

Contributed by Amanda of Hey! East Coast USA 

Situated on the northwest coast of the Sunshine State, Panama City Beach is one of the best places to visit in the USA in March. Whether you visit as a family, couple, or with friends, there are plenty of fun things to do in PCB in March before all the summer tourists arrive. 

Explore Shell Island, an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Mexico, home to bottlenose dolphins and protected birdlife. The island is completely underdeveloped, but you can swim and snorkel to your heart’s content here. Other fun activities include hiking, kayaking, or paddle boarding at Camp Helen or St. Andrews State Park. 

Panama City Beach is also great for foodies. If you like brunch, then Andy’s Flour Power is a must-visit. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the pistachio muffins, French toast, and breakfast martinis can’t be missed. 

Contributed by Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

If you’re searching for one of the best places to visit in the USA in March, the perfect place to explore is the Texas Hill Country. March delivers fantastic weather perfect to enjoy outdoor activities, adorable small towns, and hills covered in wildflowers. Austin, Texas, is the gateway to the beautiful Texas Hill Country and has an easy airport to access. All that is needed beyond that is a rental car and a sense of adventure! 

While you’re in Texas Hill County, you can hike Enchanted Rock just outside of Llano, explore the sweet town of Wimberley for some shopping and a stroll around the Blue Hole, do a wine-tasting tour in Fredericksburg, and pick up some BBQ at Saltlick in Driftwood. Don’t miss the chance to stop in Luckenbach (population three). You won’t be sorry! 

March is the perfect time to visit the Texas Hill Country, as this is when the bluebonnets cover the fields in beautiful colors. Weather will always dictate the timing, but later in the month is the best estimate. A drive around Willow City Loop in Fredericksburg and a visit to Wildseed Farms are a couple of the many great places for seeing bluebonnet fields in the area. 

Contributed by Sierra of Very Truly Texas 

If you’re looking for somewhere fun to go on a March vacation in the USA, then you absolutely can’t beat a trip to New Orleans. After all, March is probably the best time to visit New Orleans since the weather isn’t overly warm and oppressive — making it the perfect time to try light yet refreshing and innovative dishes from GW Fins restaurant.   

Plus, Mardi Gras typically starts at either the end of February or early March. So, you can enjoy all the celebrations associated with this incredible event while traveling to the Big Easy since it continues for a few weeks after Mardi Gras itself. Other fun March events include the New Orleans Bourbon Festival and BUKU EDM festival. 

Just be aware that this is high season in New Orleans. So, you won’t be able to enjoy any discounts on hotels or airfare. You’ll also want to book your hotel at least a couple of months in advance since accommodations will fill up quickly. Since this is such a popular time to visit, many of the city’s biggest attractions close during Mardi Gras. So, keep that in mind before visiting in March. However, if you want to enjoy one of the most fun, lively events in the country, New Orleans is easily one of the best places to visit in the USA in March! 

Contributed by Victoria of Southern Trippers 

The Big Island of Hawaii is one of the best places to visit in the USA in March if you’re searching for warm, tropical weather ideal for hiking and water activities. During your trip to the Big Island, it’s smart to stay in the Kona or Hilo region for the quickest access to most activities and options for luxury resorts, like the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa. 

The warm tropical weather of March is very favorable for water activities like snorkeling, swimming, and surfing — snorkeling with the manta rays is a very popular thing to do here. There are also some excellent hikes in Volcanoes National Park, and Hilo has some amazing waterfalls to see, like the Akaka Falls. In addition to these activities, March is a great month to go on a whale-watching tour in Hawaii. During this month, the whales are migrating to the warmer waters of Hawaii to breed. 

The Big Island in Hawaii is also home to some unique beaches, like the black-sand beaches, and the western region of Waikoloa has some stunning beaches, like Hapuna Beach. If you’re looking for a great place to eat, head to the Coffee Shack in Kona for great food and amazing views! 

Contributed by Anu of Destination Checkoff 

Asheville, NC, is one of the best places to visit in March in the U.S. because the wildflowers are starting to bloom, and the waterfalls are booming. March brings lighter crowds since parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway are still closed, so it’s a fantastic time to hit the trails, explore downtown, and enjoy a brewery or two without the summer crowds. 

The Asheville Art Museum and River Arts District pair together easily for a full day of fine arts and local culture, and you can follow it up with a bite at Sunny Point Cafe or Chai Pani. Of course, you can’t miss the chance to visit the famous Biltmore Estate — just make sure to book a ticket in advance since this attraction is so popular. 

Central Asheville is the perfect jumping point to explore some of the best hikes near Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest, like Catawba Falls, or you can take a day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in nearby Cherokee — just keep an eye out for baby black bear cubs! 

Contributed by Stephanie of Explore More Clean Less 

Phoenix, Arizona, is easily one of the best places to visit in the USA in March. In March, the entire desert is in bloom with gorgeous wildflowers, and Cactus League (Major League Baseball Spring Training) draws tens of thousands of fans to watch preseason baseball games and enjoy outdoor activities in the invigorating warm desert climate. 

Visiting Phoenix in March is a smart choice for spring break — particularly for families. There are many fun things to do in Phoenix in March, including hiking, golfing, outdoor dining, and cultural activities. You can enjoy some of the best hikes in Phoenix, including Piestewa Peak, Camelback Mountain, or Tom’s Thumb Trail, go on a hot air balloon ride over the stunning desert, tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, explore the Desert Botanical Garden, and visit fantastic museums, such as the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and Heard Museum. 

While you’re in Phoenix, indulge with a stay at a luxury hotel, like the Omni Montelucia, Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak, or The Phoenician. Plus, Phoenix has no shortage of fabulous places to eat, including Flower Child and Pizzeria Bianco for lunch and dinner and Prep & Pastry and Hash Kitchen for the best brunch in Phoenix

Contributed by Charles of McCool Travel 

Planning a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best ways to see many beautiful places in one single trip! In general, the west coast is one of the best destinations to visit in March for its mild weather, lots of outdoor adventure, and access to a variety of natural wonders. Planning a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway offers many perks in March — the biggest one is the off-season discounts you’ll receive on hotels, rental cars, and tours. 

There will also be significantly fewer crowds at popular sites. Some of the most iconic stops on the PCH include Redwood National Park, The Golden Gate Bridge, Oregon Coast, and Olympic National Park. It’s also possible to do just one section at a time (or do the whole thing — 1,700 miles!), making this a truly customizable adventure for March. 

Since you’ll be on the road, go ahead and try different coffee shops along the way for a warm drink in the car. Visit Sessions in Huntington Beach, Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco, and the Sleepy Monk in Cannon Beach, Oregon. 

Contributed by Emily of The Mandagies 

March is the best time to see the famous cherry blossoms in Washington D.C., a bucket list event in the USA. Delicate white and pink blossoms surround the Tidal Basin, offering fantastic photo opportunities from a paved path that loops around the water. The Jefferson, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials are spaced around the basin and are free to visit. For a fun and less crowded look at the blossoms, rent a pedal boat and explore the views from the water. 

The Cherry Blossom Festival, which kicks off in mid-March, features a month of performances, a parade, fireworks, a Kite Festival, and other special events. More cherry trees, plus beautiful magnolias and gardens, are sprinkled around the National Mall and city parks. Allow time to visit the Washington Monument and pop into some of the free Smithsonian Museums. 

You don’t want to drive during cherry blossom season in D.C., so stay at the Canopy by Hilton at The Wharf, and you’ll be just a half-mile walk from those beautiful blossoms. 

Contributed by Julie of Fun in Fairfax VA 

Zion National Park is one of the most well-known national parks in the USA, and it’s one of the best places to visit in the USA in March! March is considered the end of the winter season at the national park, bringing mild temperatures and fewer crowds. There is sometimes a light dusting of snow at higher elevations, only enhancing the park’s unique beauty.   

Consider exploring some of the most iconic hikes in the United States, like The Narrows or Angels Landing in Zion National Park. However, water levels at The Narrows can be knee-deep at this time of year. Make sure to rent a neoprene wetsuit from one of the many shops in Springdale, and plan to wear base layers underneath to stay safe. Check the National Park Service website or speak with a park ranger at the visitor’s center prior to beginning your hike to confirm safety conditions.   

For breakfast, lunch, or a midday snack, head over to the highly-rated Cafe Soleil in Springdale.  The menu contains a variety of vegetarian and plant-based items. 

Contributed by Alyssa of An Apple a Plane 

If you’re unsure where to go this March in the USA, try visiting Key West, Florida. March is the best time to visit the Florida Keys since the weather isn’t stiflingly hot, and there are many fun events to enjoy.  

Highlights include the Key West House and Garden Tour, where you can marvel at the stunning interior of some of the historic homes in Old Town on March 12th and 13th. If you want, you can also enjoy a St. Patrick’s Day-themed day trip that includes traditional Irish fare and green beer. 

However, because spiny lobster season only lasts until the end of March, you cannot leave the area without ordering this delectable seafood delight from The Lobster Shack Key West. Just be prepared for crowds and high prices since the excellent weather and exciting events mean that March is the high season in the area. 

Contributed by Victoria of Florida Trippers 

While sometimes overlooked as a travel destination, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is brimming with rich history, delicious food, and amazing art. March can be a great time to visit as you can be a part of the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is a fun experience, and the weather is usually mild. 

Additionally, because March is shoulder season, you can expect fewer crowds and lower prices while Philly jumps into Spring. Other top attractions to enjoy during a weekend in Philadelphia include Independence Hall, the famous Liberty Bell, and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The gardens are one of my favorite locations as it is unlike anything you have likely seen before, as it is made up of mosaics!  

For somewhere to eat, I highly recommend Reading Terminal Market, which has a vast number of food vendors to indulge in. My preferred place to grab a snack is Bassetts Ice Cream — but be prepared to have to wait in line! Then, head back to your room at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia

Contributed by Sam from Find Love and Travel 

Searching for your last fix of winter snow? If so, March is a wonderful time to visit Boulder, Colorado, because it is just on the edge of the ski season, when the weather is starting to warm up. Although it can be muddy, most of the trails in and around Chautauqua and Sanitas should be passable, so long as there hasn’t been a recent snowstorm. Bring waterproof shoes with decent tread (or pull-on ice grips, if you have them) to keep from slipping.  

Walk up and down Pearl Street, the lifeblood and center of Boulder, Colorado. You’ll find boutiques for shopping, local breweries and restaurants, and bustling coffee shops. Be sure to pay a visit to the local puzzle store, Liberty Puzzles, and Boulder’s loveliest chocolatier, Piece, Love, and Chocolate. For brunch, try a biscuit with strawberry rhubarb jam from Lucile’s Creole Cafe.  

In Boulder, most people love to enjoy the outdoors, so be sure to squeeze in a hike while you’re visiting. The weather is typically sunny during the early spring, warm enough for just a light sweater most days. Bring a warm coat for the evenings when the temperatures drop. 

Contributed by Amber from Amber Everywhere 

San Antonio, Texas, is the perfect place to visit in March in the USA, as it is when the weather is just perfect, the hotel rates are lower, and there are fewer crowds!  

San Antonio is a fun city, and even if you only have a weekend or a day in San Antonio, you can still see a lot! From strolling along the famous San Antonio Riverwalk to visiting the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico, there are many things to do here. The San Antonio Riverwalk is the most visited tourist attraction in Texas, and you can walk the downtown loop of The Riverwalk in 45 minutes. It is a very picturesque area with a nice atmosphere, and there are many Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants full of character and excellent food! 

There are lots of other cuisines to choose from, though. Schilo’s Delicatessen, located just behind the riverwalk, is the oldest restaurant in San Antonio and is an iconic place to go for German food and great breakfasts! Along with the riverwalk, when you are in San Antonio, you must visit The Alamo: known worldwide as the site of The Battle of the Alamo between Mexico and Texas in the Texas Revolution. 

Contributed by Cartina from 24 Hours Layover 

The Gulf Shores in Alabama are one of the best places to visit in the USA in March. This stretch of white, sandy coastline on the Gulf of Mexico is a popular summer destination. In the spring, you’ll beat the crowds and get the best deals on lodging. 

One of the greatest draws of the Gulf Shores in March is Gulf State Park. This 6,150-acre park offers ample wildlife viewing, beach activities, and miles of trails. Hikers and bikers will especially appreciate being able to enjoy their activities without extreme heat. For art lovers, during the first weekend in March, the park hosts the Ballyhoo Art Festival. 

Royal Red Shrimp is the other reason to come to the Gulf Shores. If you’ve never had these huge, delicious shrimps, put them on your food bucket list! Bahama Bob’s is a great place to enjoy them, along with a frozen adult beverage.  

Contributed by Denise from Chef Denise 

If you’re looking for one of the most stunning destinations to visit in the USA in March, you can’t miss the gorgeous red rocks in Sedona, Arizona. In March, the winter snow melts away, and gorgeous wildflowers begin to bloom, so exploring Sedona is truly a treat this time of year. 

Don’t miss the chance to hike some of the best hikes in Sedona during your trip to the red rocks in March. Cathedral Rock, West Fork Trail, Devil’s Bridge, and Soldier Pass Trail are some of the most popular and scenic trails to check out. After you’ve spent a day hiking, head into Uptown Sedona for lunch or dinner at 89 Agave Cantina or Pump House Station Urban Eatery and Market, and then go shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Market. 

Contributed by Brittany from Travel by Brit 

If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in the USA in March, look no further than the Smokies. This mountain range, located in North Carolina and Tennessee, is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s most popular national parks. 

In March, you will be able to explore many of the Smoky Mountain hiking trails without getting too hot. There are numerous beautiful waterfalls and scenery everyone will love to explore this area. Make sure you take a drive through Cades Cove. It is one of the best places to see wildlife like bears, deer, and turkeys. For waterfalls, you will want to check out Grotto Falls and Laurel Falls, but there are many more options than just those. Another great hike is the Clingmans Done. This hike will take you above the trees, and the hike is paved but steep.  

A popular and great place to eat in the Smokies is Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar. If you are not into seafood, you will want to check out Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse. They offer great steaks and desserts. 

Contributed by Candice from CS Ginger 

March is a special month to visit New York City as there are many fun celebrations, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Macy’s Flower Show, and the International Flamenco Festival. 

However, the fun events and festivals aren’t the only things to do in New York City in March. From tasting New York City’s best dishes at MUD Spot and visiting rooftops and rooftop bars to walking down Fifth Avenue and strolling around Central Park, you will never get bored with the hundreds of things to do in this vibrant city. While the magic of NYC is in the air year-round, it’s still pretty chilly in March, as temperatures average around 42°F.  

It also means mass tourism isn’t here yet, and, as everyone knows — New York City is an expensive destination! It’s smart to take advantage of the great airfare prices and stay in the best area of New York for the first time without breaking the bank! 

Contributed by Soline from On the Road Diary 

The U.S. Virgin Islands is the perfect place for anyone looking for a tropical getaway in the United States in March, given its excellent weather and many activities to choose from. Plus, being a United States territory, you don’t need a passport to visit these Caribbean islands!  

Sea lovers can go kayaking and snorkeling in Cas Cay in St. Thomas or charter a boat around St. John and stop at Lime Out, a renowned floating taco bar in the middle of the ocean! Land lovers and history buffs can hike all around the islands for amazing panoramic views while exploring the historic petroglyphs of Reef Bay or Fort Christian.  

St. John and St. Thomas are only 20 minutes from each other by ferry, giving you an opportunity to explore two beautiful Caribbean islands in one short visit. You can also find many direct flights from the U.S. to St. Thomas, making your travel days simpler. 

Contributed by Rachel from Caribbean Undiscovered 

March is a great time to visit Charlottesville. While temperatures are still a little cool, it’s warm enough to enjoy all the activities the area has to offer. Plus, it’s the off-season, so you’ll avoid the crowds and get great deals on accommodations. 

Charlottesville is in the heart of Virginia’s wine country. One of the best things to do is go wine tasting at the many excellent nearby wineries like Barboursville Vineyards or King Family Vineyards. And if you’re a wine enthusiast, take a day trip to some other top wineries in Northern Virginia. For history buffs, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a must-see. Take a tour of his former home to learn about the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president. Then head out to the Saunders-Monticello trail, a stroller-friendly boardwalk that runs from Monticello along Carter Mountain. 

If you’re an avid hiker, check out nearby Shenandoah National Park. The Calvary and Chimney Rock trail leads to a scenic overlook for stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors in late March can catch the cherry blossoms in bloom. The best place to see them is the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. Fleurie is an excellent French restaurant in Charlottesville, serving up a daily three-course prix-fixe menu. The wine list is extensive and includes several local Virginia wines to enjoy with your meal. 

Contributed by Laura from Wine Travelista 

While there are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas year-round, spring and fall offer the best weather. March is a particularly nice time to visit for lower crowds and the ability to hike and spend time outdoors in natural areas just outside the city. Plus, you’ll score great prices on accommodations in Vegas in March! 

March offers perfect daytime sunshine and moderate temperatures to stroll the famous Las Vegas Strip. Visit the Conservatory at the Bellagio Resort to see the beautiful display for spring, with giant colorful flowers. In the evening, slip on a light wrap and enjoy the lights and music of the Bellagio fountain show, or head up to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Resort for views over the lights of Vegas. 

Just outside Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park, and the Red Rock National Conservation Area make for great day trips if you love hiking. Or go kayaking on the Colorado River and admire the historic Hoover Dam. In March, you can still visit Death Valley National Park, the hottest place in North America, especially if you visit earlier in the month. 

When you’re looking for something to eat, the buffets of Vegas are legendary. Try the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan or the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. For fine dining, try Giada at The Cromwell for Italian! 

Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles 

One of the best places to visit in the United States in March is the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the most famous natural landmarks in the entire world due to its massive size and vast lookouts. The Grand Canyon was carved over thousands of years by the Colorado River and now is one of the largest canyons in the world. Every year, millions of people come to visit the Arizona desert just to see this beautiful landmark.  

Because the Grand Canyon is in the desert, it can get extremely hot. Because of this, traveling in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall is the best time to visit the canyon and avoid the harsh summers and cold winters. There are many things to do at the Grand Canyon, including hiking, wildlife watching, helicopter flights, and horseback riding. It is recommended to give yourself at least two days at the Grand Canyon to make the most of your time. 

Note that the North Rim is closed in March but that the South Rim is home to most of the famous viewpoints and hiking trails. The South Rim is also home to the Grand Canyon Village, where most people go to enjoy learning about the geology of the canyon and grab a bite to eat. 

Contributed by Shannon from Adventuring With Shannon 

The Most Delightful Small Towns in Northern California

Population: 5,014

The delightful Russian River getaway town of Guerneville is one of the cutest small towns in Sonoma County, with a funky laid-back attitude and a LGBT-friendly reputation.

It’s got a vibrant Main Street — a California small town hallmark — with a surprisingly wide variety of restaurants to tickle your fancy while you work up an appetite tubing on the river or walking amongst redwoods in Armstrong Woods.

For food, make sure to visit boon restaurant + bar for the most delicious mac ‘n cheese you’ll ever meet, and stop off at Nimble & Finn’s for a tasty artisanal ice cream cone afterward.

If you just want a drink, the mezcal margaritas at El Barrio are deadly delicious, and Rainbow Cattle Company is a great gay bar that welcomes all.

Population: 14,330

This low-key small town in Marin County is a delightful escape from San Francisco!

Located in the redwoods, Mill Valley is best known for being home to Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais State Park, but it also has a thriving, bustling small-town energy that makes the downtown area a great place to spend a weekend morning.

Grab a delicious cup of coffee at Equator and browse the galleries and shops that make up Throckmorton Ave.

Population: 1,074

Beautiful Bolinas is a strange little place. It doesn’t want to be in the spotlight: any signs that mark it along the PCH are often torn down by a few grumpy locals. So turn on your GPS when trying to make your way to Bolinas or you’ll be SOL.

Why visit? For one, the Bolinas Lagoon is absolutely beautiful, named as an Audubon Important Bird Area. On the other side of the lagoon is the famed Stinson Beach. At the far end of Stinson Beach, you can look over to the reclusive little town of Bolinas.

There’s not too much to do in the town of Bolinas besides admire the views, but if you’re visiting and you’re hungry for a bite, visit Coast Cafe for a charming fisherman-style seafood restaurant.

Population: 136

Jenner is perhaps my favorite small town on this list! For a town of just 136 people, there’s a surprising amount of things to do in Jenner.

Jenner has a handful of delicious restaurants — the clam chowder at Café Aquatica is great for a quick meal, and the River’s End is a fantastic fine dining choice (don’t skip the Miyagi oysters!).

There are also three beautiful beaches — Jenner Beach, Goat Rock Beach, and Blind Beach — as well as beautiful hikes, such as the Kortum Trail, the Vista Trail, and hikes in the Jenner Highlands Preserve.

Population: 665

The cute little town of Bodega Bay is really a two-for-one small town! There’s Bodega Bay on Highway 1, which is more well-known and a popular destination for whale watching in California.

But there’s also the charming inland town of Bodega, known for its famous Saint Teresa of Avila Church and Potter School House, made famous by Ansel Adams and Alfred Hitchcock.

For a hike, make your way over to Bodega Head for a beautiful trail overlooking the ocean on a peninsula jutting out 4 miles into the Pacific, where you’ll often see whales migrating not far from land.

A post-hike fuel-up at Spud Point Crab Company is a great treat — Bodega Bay is known for its Dungeness crab when it’s in season!

Population: 9,144

Tiburon is a gorgeous small town in the Bay Area perfect for a weekend escape. It offers stunning viewpoints everywhere you look, great hiking and biking trails, and world-class food.

Getting to Tiburon is a large part of its charm: if coming from San Francisco, you’ll score beautiful views whether you take the Golden Gate Bridge or opt for the beautiful ferry from Pier 41!

For food, you’re spoiled for choice. Opt for Via Piccola Trattoria if you feel like Italian or Sam’s Anchor Café for fresh seafood with a view of Angel Island!

Population: 7,116

The charming small town of Sausalito sits right across the Bay from San Francisco, and while the views are beautiful, they come with a price — literally! This is one of the toniest small towns in California, with a medium housing price of $1.4 million…. yikes!

That said, even for us plebes, a day trip to Sausalito is a fantastic way to spend a day engaging in small town vibes with world-class food.

Save up for a phenomenal meal at Sushi Ran, the best sushi restaurant I’ve eaten at in California, and tied for best sushi I’ve eaten, period, with the inestimable Sushi Nakazawa in NYC. (I should note that when I went to Japan I was very, very broke and limited to the 100 yen menu, so I’m sure there’s better sushi in Japan I can only dream of tasting!).

Their toro topped with caviar is one of the best bites of food you can ever hope to eat… for $17 a pop.

If you don’t have the funds for a baller meal at Sushi Ran, there’s still plenty to do in Sausalito, including checking out the funky houseboats along Waldo Point Harbor, snapping photos at the gorgeous Point Bonita Lighthouse, swinging on the beach at Kirby Cove (with stunning Golden Gate views!), and exploring scenic Fort Baker.

Population: 1,097

On the way to Point Reyes National Seashore, you’ll absolutely want to stop by the charming small town of Inverness!

This small town in Northern California is best known for its alluring and mysterious Monterey cypress tree tunnel leading to the now-defunct radio station at the end of it.

Besides the tree tunnel, Inverness is a great spot to pick up supplies for a picnic at Inverness Park Market for a hike in Point Reyes. Alternately, treat yourself to oysters at Saltwater Oyster Depot for something light or Vladamir’s Czech for a hearty meal that will truly fill up a hungry hiker’s belly.

Population: 253

The delightful small town of Tomales is located along the Pacific Coast Highway between Inverness and Bodega Bay.

It’s a tiny town with just a few streets, but it’s absolutely worth a stop for the kougin aman at Tomales Bakery and to snap some photos of the Catholic Church of the Assumption.

If you’re curious to know more about the town and Tomales Bay, visit the Tomales Regional History Center.

Population: 219

Pescadero is a San Francisco peninsula hidden gem. Overshadowed by Pacifica and Half Moon Bay, quaint little Pescadero is an under-the-radar stunner.

Love animals? Stop by Harley Farms Goat Dairy to coo over baby goats in spring and treat yourself to some delicious goat cheese — the honey and lavender goat cheese is out of this world.

Pescadero State Beach is beautiful, but the real draw is a few miles south: Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the most scenic lighthouses in California.

Population: 175

Funky Duncans Mills is a quaint little town that’s been converted into a fun-sized shopping oasis in a little-visited part of Sonoma County.

Sift through antiques and vintage clothes at Twice As Nice or browse some of the finest 20th century California landscape paintings at Christopher Queen Galleries.

Hungry? Grab some Southern-style fare at Cape Fear Café or a quick pastry and a tasty cup of coffee at Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery.

From Duncans Mills, explore other nearby small towns like Jenner and Guerneville, or hike the scenic Islands in the Sky Trail in Sonoma Coast State Park.

Population: 5,271

The northern end of Napa Valley wine country terminates in funky little Calistoga!

While many parts of Napa are quite tony and fancy, Calistoga has a down-to-earth vibe… literally! Calistoga is known for its mud baths, which can be low-key or down up upscale.

The Calistoga area has mineral-rich volcanic mud as well as naturally flowing hot springs, as well as an ‘Old Faithful’ geyser of its own which erupts like clockwork a few times an hour!

Visit the wineries like Vincent Arroyo and Castello di Amorosa (reservations required for both), go for a hike in Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, check out the charming Mill Grist Historic State Park, or simply shop and browse along the Main Street.

Population: 6,101

St. Helena is a charming little Napa Valley town. It’s more funky and offbeat than Yountville, which is (frankly) downright chi-chi, while still having a cute elegance befitting a wine country town.

St. Helena is all about wine, wine, wine. Located between the main highway through Napa (Hwy 128) and the Silverado Trail, there are a handful of phenomenal wineries and vineyards just around St. Helena proper, as well as tons of tasting rooms in St. Helena so you don’t have to drive between wineries if that’s a concern.

In town, I recommend Trujillo Wines and Merryvale Vineyards, both on Main Street. Nearby, to visit actual vineyards, I suggest Anomaly Vineyards (great cabs at good prices) and Titus Vineyards on the Silverado Trail (try their Zins).

What goes with wine? Food, of course, and St. Helena is one of the foodie hearts of the Napa Valley. Snap some photos outside of the Culinary Institute of America, or go inside for a memorable meal at Gatehouse Restaurant inside — or even take a public tour!

Population: 855

Mendocino, hands down, is one of the cutest small towns on the Northern California coast, and it’s one of the northernmost towns on this list as well!

It’s the heart of a fantastic and under-the-radar wine country, where you can sip tasty wines for a fraction of the price of either Napa and Sonoma. Mendocino excels at delicate, floral wines that enjoy the cool climate.

In terms of reds, we’re talking Pinot Noir, whereas for whites, Alsatian-style Rieslings and Gewürtztraminers do phenomenally here, where the climate is cool enough (elsewhere in California, these flavors get totally blown out).

Stand-out wineries near Mendocino include Foursight Winery (known for Pinot Noir) and Pacific Star Winery (in nearby Fort Bragg) with stunning ocean views that would make any wine taste great, and their excellent wine taste even better!

In town, taste local wines at the punnily-named wine bar MendoVino and try all of the delicious restaurants in town. Alternately, visit the lighthouses (there are two nearby!), hike the Mendocino Headlands, or go on a whale watching tour if the season is right!

Population: 11,845 

Healdsburg’s motto is “A World Class Small Town” and they’re not wrong — Healdsburg really turns up the charm despite its small size.

Like many of these small towns in Northern California, Healdsburg is a great hub for wine tasting — nearby Flowers is one of my top favorite California wineries, no qualifiers, period. Bottles are pricy but exquisitely crafted. Rochioli is also masterful.

Both vineyards are on Westside Road, a scenic byway that connects Healdsburg and Guerneville, another cute Sonoma small town on this list!

Other things to do in Healdsburg include walking around town and window-shopping at all the cute boutiques, checking out the Russian River (and perhaps launching a kayak from it!), and taking in the vibes around Healdsburg Plaza in the heart of town.

Population: 12,834

This population weekend getaway destination is a small town worth visiting on its own right! Half Moon Bay is one of the most upscale small town getaways from San Francisco (I mean, it does have its very own Ritz Carlton, a distinction many small towns on this list can’t speak to!).

Glamor aside, Half Moon Bay has something for everyone. Watch the talented surfers on Maverick Beach, one of the toughest breaks of surf anywhere along the California Coast, or walk along the Coastside Trail to Pillar Point for beautiful views overlooking the beach.

Want some redwood action? Head to the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve for some of the most beautiful redwoods near San Francisco on the peninsula.

Population: 3,830

Carmel-by-the-Sea just may be the quintessential California small town!

While technically in Central California as opposed to Northern California, for the purposes of this post, we’ll consider it NorCal as it’s a really popular destination for Bay Area locals to escape to on weekends, just a 2-hour drive away.

Carmel has a European village-like feel which puts it at contrast with the very new vibes of most California towns and cities. It seems like something out of a fairytale, inspired by Dutch villages, Spanish colonial style, and a splash of Mediterranean low-key glamor.

Restaurants in Carmel are plentiful and well-renowned; the most celebrated is Aubergine, part of the L’Auberge Carmel, one of the glitziest hotels in town. Mission Ranch is also super tasty. Its Western vibes have true bona-fides as it is owned and was restored by Clint Eastwood himself!

Besides eating, there’s tons of wine tasting (Central Coast wines are phenomenal!) as well as Carmel River State Beach being one of the best beaches around. Carmel is also a great launch point for a Big Sur road trip including stops at McWay Falls and Point Lobos.

Population: 3,144

While Nevada City is yes, technically a city as the name would suggest, with a population just over 3,000 people you’ll excuse me for considering it a Northern California small town!

Nevada City has beautiful Victorian architecture which speaks to its roots as an important city during California’s Gold Rush.

Nevada City is a fun and funky little Western-feeling town, livened up by new additions like great breweries (check out Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co and The Stone House) and plenty of parklands around it.

Population: 14,011

Auburn is such a cute Northern California small town! It has a ton of California Gold Rush history and a real funky old-timey vibe.

The Bernhard Museum is a fantastic place to learn about this history and bring it to life. Other great museums include the Gold Rush Museum and the Placer County Museum.

The Joss House Museum is a great place to visit focusing on the Chinese history of the Gold Rush, an often-erased part of the Gold Rush narrative.

Auburn is also a great place for hiking and getting out in nature, as its home to some of our favorite hikes near Sacramento, including the Lake Clementine Trail and the Auburn State Recreation Area.

There are great places to eat and drink in Auburn. I love the wonderfully named Pour Choice (I’m a sucker for puns, and even better when accompanied with craft beer) for a drink and the Auburn Bodega has amazing sandwiches!

Population: 16,474

Truckee is another great small town in Northern California, located near the border with Nevada north of Lake Tahoe.

It’s close to Donner Lake and Donner Summit Bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges in California — think Bixby Creek Bridge but overlooking Donner Lake and not the Pacific!

Truckee is fun and funky, a great place for winter cabin escapes. For upscale dining, try Trokay, or for more low-key but still delicious fare try the Truckee Tavern & Grill.

Allison Green is a travel blogger, writer, and podcaster who grew up in the Bay Area of California. She has spent time living in New York, Prague, and Sofia, but has returned to live in the East Bay. She has traveled to 60 countries before the age of 30 while running several digital travel publications. Her writing and podcast have been featured in Forbes, CBC Canada, National Geographic, the Huffington Post, and CNN Arabic, amongst others. She’s obsessed with bouldering, houseplants, other people’s pets, and anywhere she can see the ocean.

Unique Places To Visit In California For The Best Trip Ever:

The quaint city of Solvang, California is one of the most unique places to visit in California. Often referred to as “a little slice of Denmark,” you will feel like you’ve stepped into another country as you walk down streets filled with windmills and rural Danish architecture. No matter the length of your California visit, planning one day in Solvang, California is a must-do. 

The most popular things to do in Solvang include eating Danish pastries and wine tasting while you window shop. Notorious for its decadent bakeries, Solvang has many to choose from, but one local favorite is Mortensen’s Bakery. Having a fresh bear claw or Danish kringle with your coffee is the perfect way to start the day. 

Embarking on a wine tasting journey is easy to do, as Solvang has tasting rooms set up in the center of town. The city is surrounded by lush wine regions, so there are plenty of local wineries featured, all with different wine flights and tasting options. 

If looking to add a bit more fun to your trip, be sure to include a quick stop at Ostrichland, USA, a charming ostrich farm located just five minutes from Solvang. Ostrichland is home to ostriches and emus, both of which you’re able to visit and hand feed. Prepare for a funny, quirky experience that you won’t forget. 

From Olivia @ Girl With Blue Sails

Driving Tioga Road through Yosemite is a California bucket list item for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Not only is the drive spectacularly scenic, but it also offers a variety of activities along the way.

Tioga Road, or California Highway 120, runs in an east-west direction along the length of Yosemite National Park. At the eastern entrance, it leads to Tioga Pass, the highest automobile pass in California, before descending to Lee Vining in the Eastern Sierra.

Along the route, you can see some beautiful sights, including redwood groves, panoramic views of the famous granite cliffs of Yosemite, and a number of pristine alpine lakes. You can go hiking, look for wildlife, and wildflowers in season, and click a zillion photos.

Some of the best stops along the way include Olmsted Point, where you can see Clouds Rest and Half-Dome, two of Yosemite’s most famous granite cliffs. Tenaya Lake offers a peaceful place to walk along the shore or sunbathe on the beach when it is warm. Tuolumne Meadows offers beautiful hikes with views of the meandering Merced River, and carpets of wildflowers in late spring and early summer.

Tioga Road is only open in the summer and fall: it generally opens sometime in late May and closes down in early November. If you visit Yosemite National Park during this time, be sure to include the Tioga Road drive in your itinerary!

Dhara @ Roadtripping California

Among one of the cutest towns that you will ever see and one of the most unique places to visit in California (or even in the world), Carmel by the Sea should definitely be included in your bucket list of places to visit in California, especially if what you’re looking for is to discover one of the most scenic drives in Southern California.

This pretty little town, located on the south coast of the Monterey Peninsula, is particularly popular for its cute tiny cottages surrounded by colorful flowers and greenery and with no numbers on doors, charming shops selling local goodies, and narrow cobblestone lanes. All of these elements together create a magical atmosphere that will make you feel as if you are walking into a fairytale town

It’s such a unique place where shops leave bowls with water for dogs outside their doors, and walking on heels is forbidden by the law. 

You can spend a few hours, a week or opt for a couple of months workationing in one of the cute cottages available to rent, the best way to enjoy this unique town like a local.

Carmel By the Sea is quite well known as a cultural town because it gave homes to many artists, especially writers who found in this fairy bubble a safe and inspiring nest after escaping from the great earthquake in San Francisco in the 20th century. Names like Jack London, George Gershwin, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and the poet Robinson Jeffers among hundreds of others found in Carmel their inspiring place and made it their home. The crushing waves over the deserted beach and the overwhelming nature as a backdrop complete the picture of the perfect town. 

From Isabella Biava @ Boundlessroads.com

The famous Hotel Del Coronado – a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel – is one of Coronado’s most famous landmarks and one of the best hotels in Coronado. The iconic Victorian architecture with bright white walls and red-roofed towers is more than just a hotel, it is a tourist destination in itself and one of the most unique places to visit in California. The hotel offers over 600 guest rooms and suites, including ocean-front private villas. The location, directly on the stunning beach of Coronado, is perfect for an unforgettable vacation.

This luxurious 5 Star Hotel was built in 1888 and has seen a lot of history over these years. Famous guests have included movie stars, singers, and US Presidents. Even movies were filmed there, including “Some Like It Hot” starring Marilyn Monroe in 1958. 

If you are looking for a good ghost story, there are actually several at the Hotel Del Coronado. The most famous are the sightings of the “Beautiful Stranger” in room 3327. A lady called Kate Morgan stayed there in 1892 and ended her life there. Sightings and strange occurrences are still reported by guests these days.

If you are passing through San Diego, a visit to the Hotel Del Coronado – whether you spend the night there or not – should definitely be on your itinerary. As a San Diego local, I love to head to the Hotel Del Coronado for an afternoon. As you walk through the lobby, you feel like you are transported through a time machine and you can “feel” the history of this place. If only those walls could talk…

From Maria Haase @ SanDiegoExplorer

This unexpected delight in the middle of the Southern California desert will give you an experience like no other. Because where else in the world can you go on a scavenger hunt for things like huge metal sea serpents and prehistoric animals in the middle of the desert?!

Galleta Meadows is an area of land in the small town of Borrego Springs, California. Included on the land are over 125 metal sculptures scattered throughout. These sculptures are open to the public for free and since you can drive to each one, this is a very budget-friendly activity for everyone. Take it up a notch and rent e-bikes and see how many sculptures you can find during your trip.

This isn’t the only cool thing to do in Borrego Springs. You can also explore California’s largest State Park: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Although you’ll have a hard time seeing all of it, you can start with some of the most popular hikes in the park with The Slot and Borrego Palm Canyon trail.

The Borrego Springs area may be small, but there’s plenty to do. Give yourself at least a 3-day weekend to explore one of the most unique places to visit in California. Check out this itinerary to plan your weekend in Borrego Springs!

From Heather Saez @ That OC Girl

Sequoia National Park is home to most of the world’s sequoia trees. Sequoias are the biggest trees on earth (redwoods can grow slightly taller, but sequoias make up for it in overall size), so seeing them is a truly unique experience.

The largest trees have all been given names – the biggest of them all is the General Sherman Tree, which is reached from the parking lot along a short trail that actually goes through a tunnel cut into the trunk of a tree that fell across the path! From the General Sherman Tree, the Congress Trail is an easy 2-mile loop that passes the third and fourth biggest trees in the work, as well as a couple of small groves of trees.  One tree, the aptly named Room Tree, is hollow inside and you can walk inside it. How cool is that?!

Another great hike you can do is to Moro Rock, an enormous granite dome. You can climb to the top up 350 steps and will be rewarded with amazing views over the hills and San Joaquin Valley below.

The main road through the park is called the General’s Highway and this is one of the best scenic drives in the country. There are multiple viewpoints along the way. Also not to be missed is the small Giant Forest Museum, which has displays explaining all about the sequoia trees. 

From James Ian @ Parks Collecting

Angel Island State Park is not as well known as its neighbor, Alcatraz Island, but it’s still worth visiting if you’re looking for unique places to visit in California. It has a unique combination of history and natural beauty. You can reach Angel Island by ferry from Pier 41 in San Francisco or Tiburon.

Before it became a state park, it was the home to military bases, an anti-aircraft missile site, and an immigration processing center. Now, the immigration center is a fascinating museum that tells the stories of the immigrants.

In addition to visiting the Immigration Museum, you can watch a short film at the Angel Island Visitor’s Center to learn more. There is also a tram tour that will take you around the island. Alternatively, you could hike the Sunset Trail to the summit or bike around Perimeter Road. We were lucky enough to see some deer during our visit!

When you are ready to relax, there are plenty of picnic tables with amazing views of San Francisco Bay. You can bring your own food or pick up some at the cafe by the ferry dock. With all the things to do on Angel Island, it makes for a packed day trip or you could stay overnight if you reserve a camping site in advance.

From Anisa @ Two Traveling Texans

Set about 25 miles from bustling downtown Los Angeles, Malibu Creek State Park offers 8,000 acres of scenic beauty to explore for the low price of $12/day. Located just 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean through the windy Malibu Canyon, this park occupies some prime Southern California real estate in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Hiking or biking the mountainous terrain affords some stunning vistas, especially in the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. Trails for every level from easy to strenuous meander throughout the park to Century Lake, the Rock Pool, and perhaps the most famous trail leads to the MASH site, where the famous 70’s sitcom was filmed. Watch out for wildlife along the way, as these mountains are home to coyotes, mountain lions, deer, rattlesnakes, and many different bird species like the Great Blue Heron!

For the more adventurous, you can rock climb, horseback ride, or kayak in different areas of this stunning California park, but bring your own equipment as there are no rental outlets here. You can also reserve one of the 62 tent campsites to make your adventuring easier.

This area has everything you need for a great vacation or a unique weekend trip. A short drive on Mulholland Highway and you’re right in the middle of Malibu wine country. Visit Cornell Winery for some wine tasting and learn about the local wines in the region. Then grab a bite next door at The Old Place restaurant housed in the old Cornell post office. You’ll think you’re in a movie set in these charming old buildings (and in a way you are as they have been in countless scenes over the last 50 years!)

From Denise @ Chef Denise

About 2 and a half hours north of San Francisco is the fascinating town of Sea Ranch, California in Sonoma County where Most of the vacation homes blend into the rugged coastline and offer incredible views of the ocean. It’s one of the most unique places to visit in California, especially if you’re looking for a family-friendly escape.

In Sea Ranch, there is a Golf Course, and the gorgeous Sea Ranch Chapel. The best part of Sea Ranch is of course at your doorstep, the Pacific Coast. There are dozens of small and large beaches, cliffs, and 50 miles of hiking trails. It was a family vacation we will never forget! We even loved the road trip with kids to get there from SF!

There are lots to do beyond Sea Ranch proper. The town of Gualala is only 5 miles north and has a gas station, small grocery store, and some great small restaurants. If you want to explore more, check out Gualala Point Regional Park with the Bluff Trailhead.

From Jennifer @ FamilyTripGuides.com

The beautiful mosaic steps of San Francisco are a hidden gem in California. Despite the fact that San Francisco is built on steep hills, rarely any guide books talk about the masterpiece staircases which were really a canvas for local artists. Since San Francisco is a top tourist destination filled with major attractions tourists rarely ever discover the many scenic staircases all around San Francisco. 

Many years ago mosaic tile stairs were plain old stairs. They attracted bad elements to the neighborhood and especially the Lincoln Park. Eventually some artists and neighbors got together to decorate the stairs with art. They started with paintings which the neighbors transformed into tile art. The neighbors volunteered and donated funds to make it happen.

Each step in the mosaic stairs has a design. A set of steps, forms a painting if viewed from the front. The staircases form a collection of paintings tied together with a theme or flow. One could easily pass them by but if you pay attention the stairs come alive with the most beautiful art. It’s a great example of a community coming together to create beauty for all visitors of their home city. 

There are many stairs in San Francisco with beautiful views. But there are three steps with the mosaic art, two of them within walking distance of each other and Lincoln Park on the other side of Golden Gate Bridge. 

A day trip to see the beautiful mosaic steps of San Francisco can easily be combined with Golden Gate Park and its many attractions. If you have time you can also walk the Golden Gate Bridge and have a picnic in Crissy Field. 

By Jyoti @ Story at Every Corner

Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark of California that was the brainchild of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Designed by architect Julia Morgan, the grand estate in San Simeon was constructed between 1919 and 1947. The complex has a main building with two towers, three guest houses and sprawling gardens with fountains, pools and terraces. 

For first-timers to Hearst Castle is to book in for a Grand Rooms Tour of Casa Grande, the main building, and the Assembly Room, Morning Room, Refectory, Billiard Room and Theater. 

There are beautiful gardens to explore and plenty of impressive Art Deco works and Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities. Hearst Castle is full of rare artworks and sculptures from Europe and Asia. What’s most impressive are the 30 carved and painted Italian and Spanish Renaissance-style ceilings. A highlight is a massive painting by Spanish master Bartolomé Pérez de la Dehesa called the Annunciation, which graces the Assembly Room. 

The oldest works in Hearst Castle are four sculptures of Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of war, who has a woman’s body and a lioness head. The sculptures are carved from diorite and are from the New Kingdom (c. 1550-1070 BCE). 

From Christina @ Travel2next

Redwood National and State Parks, tucked away on the northern California coast away from the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area, is an under-appreciated gem in a state full of amazing places to visit. The centuries-old redwoods towering over the stunning California coast are a unique natural wonder found in few places around the world. 

The park, which is a combination of a few different state parks including Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks, sprawls over 139,000 acres full of old-growth redwoods and temperate rainforests. Camping in one of the state parks or the town of Trinidad are the best places to base yourself here for a couple of days of exploring the redwoods. 

It makes a fantastic stop on a Northern California road trip, where you’ll either be able to head east to Lassen National Park, or back down the coast to wine country and the Bay Area. 

There are three highlights that we think you shouldn’t miss on your trip through the redwoods. First is Fern Canyon, which is a short but incredible journey where prehistoric-looking ferns snake their way up the walls of the canyon. It’s at the end of a rough road that should be passable for most vehicles. 

Second is the drive along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, a ten mile drive through an old growth redwood forest that’s a more scenic drive than the stretch along Highway 101. Make sure to stop at the “Big Tree,” which is several thousand years old.

Last is Stout Grove in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, a spectacular and largely untouched redwood grove that served as the backdrop for Endor in Return of the Jedi. Getting there via the similarly scenic Howland Hill Road is part of the adventure!

From Matt and Alysha @ Wheatless Wanderlust

La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed places in all of San Diego. The picturesque cove is home to unusually calm and clear turquoise water and serves as an entry point to the La Jolla Underwater Park’s ecological reserve which is popular for snorkeling, kayaking, and diving. People also come here to see the chatty La Jolla sea lions who live on the upper bluffs and frolic in the water (yes, sometimes with swimmers and snorkelers).

You can use the small beach here for sunbathing and swimming (no floatation devices like boogie boards are allowed), but you should visit even if you have no intention of stepping onto the beach area.

People also come here to see the chatty La Jolla sea lions who live on the upper bluffs and frolic in the water (yes, sometimes with swimmers and snorkelers). While you can walk out onto the bluffs to get close to them, it’s discouraged so bring a zoom lens for photos, and rest assured that you’ll be able to see plenty of their antics from the boardwalk. This is a really lovely place to take a seaside walk. 

Getting to La Jolla Cove from downtown San Diego is easy and takes normally 20 minutes or so by car. You can easily pair a visit with dining at one of San Diego’s best restaurants like George’s Ocean Terrace on Prospect Street, San Diego’s Rodeo Drive, just above the Cove. Then walk off your meal by browsing the various art galleries and boutiques.

From Katie Dillon @ La Jolla Mom

One of the most unique historical sights in California is Alcatraz Island. If you are visiting San Francisco, a tour to Alcatraz definitely is a must-do.  

Alcatraz, or “The Rock” as it is commonly called, is an island in the San Francisco Bay that was formerly home to a maximum-security federal penitentiary. The legendary prison closed in 1963, but has since been restored and is now a historical site managed by the National Park Service.

The tour starts at Pier 33, where you board the ferry to Alcatraz Island. The ferry ride alone is incredible with views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge from the bay. After disembarking from the ferry, you head up a steep incline to the cell house where you start your audio tour. The audio tour is top-notch and takes you on a fascinating tour through the cell house and out to the surrounding grounds. You really get a feeling of what it was like to be an inmate or guard when Alcatraz was still operating. After your audio tour is complete, you can take your time enjoying the views and exploring the grounds before taking a ferry back to the pier.

It is important to note that there is no parking available at Pier 33, so the best area to book lodging would be in Fisherman’s Wharf, only a quarter of a mile away. You could also stay in Union Square and take public transit or rideshare to the pier.

Even if you only have a few days in San Francisco, you should make time to visit Alcatraz, it will likely be the highlight of your trip.

From Diane @ travelswitheli.com

Joshua Tree National Park, located not too far away from Palm Springs, is one of the most underrated national parks in the USA. One day at Joshua Tree is enough to visit the main instagrammable spots, enjoy a picnic in the desert and eventually also hike on one of the short trails if you feel like it!

Visiting Joshua Tree can be cheap if you are exploring California and its natural wonders. The ticket is in fact included in America the Beautiful card, which means you can visit for free if you bought the yearly pass (it includes over 2000 parks in the US!).

Joshua Tree is also amazing because it’s very rarely crowded. You can road trip for miles and never see another car. Staying after sunset is usually a good idea. Joshua Tree boasts some of the darkest nights in Southern California. It’s actually certified by the International Dark Sky Association as one of the best parks to see the the Milky Way!

Stargazing at Joshua Tree is thus an unforgettable experience, that you might want to add to your California bucket list!

From Danila Caputo @ Travelling Dany – Every Corner a Story

The Loreto, Mexico Travel Guide – The Best Kept Secret in Baja California Sur

Looking to take a Cabo-style vacation for one third of the price? Instead check out Loreto – the affordable, historic Pueblo Magico with crystal clear beaches, beautiful hotels and resorts, gorgeous and very safe streets, great restaurants, and so many adventures to be had. 

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The city of Loreto was established all the way back in 1697, with the building of the very first of the famous California Missions. (If you grew up in California like I did, you learned about the missions, but probably didn’t know this – Also a fun fact: my hometown of Ventura, California is an official sister city of Loreto.) With the beautifully restored mission, colorful cobblestone streets, a population of around 20,000 people, and only one street light, Loreto is the such a charming, photogenic, and laid-back vacation destination – a truly underrated gem. With a great international airport and these beautiful nearby island beaches, I am so confident that Loreto will become the next hot spot for west coast travelers (especially as Cabo has become so much more expensive in recent years.) This is the closest place to Los Angeles that Brandon and I have the crystal clear turquoise water that we love so much – and we will definitely be back.

Read on for everything you need to know to plan your trip to this hidden jewel in the Gulf of California.

Where Are The Giant Redwoods Located?

The giant California coastal redwoods are found only in Northern California and along the coastline.

And when I say Northern California, I mean way north of even San Francisco (4+ hours north of) all the way up to the California and Oregon border.

A grove of giant coastal redwoods.

In general, the area where you begin to see groves of California redwoods is in Leggett and continuing north up to Crescent City, California.

From Leggett to Crescent City, the distance is around 3 hours with no stops.

But as you can imagine, there are so many places to stop in between that you want to take your time.

11 Small Beach Towns in California

Below you’ll find a list of some of the best small beach towns across California.

They’re all beautifully situated along the coast and have so much to offer. 

The best thing about Carlsbad is its just outside the large city of San Diego, which means you can experience the best of both worlds.

San Diego has everything you could ever want. So you could spend time there and once youve exhausted all of its resources, consider visiting Carlsbad, the tiny next-door neighbor. 

Carlsbad is a fantastic beach location, but one of the top activities is not beach-related.

Legoland is an amusement and theme park that children and families will thoroughly enjoy.

Carlsbad State Beach is an excellent beach for swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and more.

There are also fantastic hiking trails surrounded by nature and along the coast.

One of the most incredible things in Carlsbad is Buena Vista Lagoon, the only freshwater lagoon in California.

Other exciting things include the Flower Fields, which pop up seasonally where youll find acres of flowers to enjoy.

Leo Carillo Range Historic Park is within a canyon which is super cool and there are a ton of things to do and enjoy in Carlsbad. 

Carlsbad is an iconic spot to visit in California and all of these spots are great to visit and take Instagram photos.

Be sure to use some of these California Instagram Captions for your posts.

Hermosa Beach is in Los Angeles County and is an outstanding coastal town. Its the perfect place for beachgoers on more of a budget because of its small and gritty charm that a bougie place doesn’t have.

Youll find tons of diners, dive bars, and small restaurants. It is the perfect spot to visit with any Los Angeles itinerary

The beach town is 45 minutes south of the populous city of LA, which makes it the perfect sanctuary from the crazy day-to-day life that Los Angeles can create.

For one, you must stroll the pier and look out over the water because there is no building on the end like most other California piers.

So youre provided with unobstructed views of the ocean.

There is also a fantastic path along the beach known as The Strand.

Its great for walking, running, and biking to get in your exercise each day while simultaneously enjoying the views.

Enjoy the beach, the art that decorates the city, and the small-town charm that it provides. You won’t be disappointed.

Goleta is located in Santa Barbara Country and just became a city in 2002, so it’s relatively new in that aspect. Goleta is known as The Good Land” as its a wonderful place to visit. 

At Goleta Beach, you can take up paddle boarding and you may even spot sea lions or dolphins.

Campus Point is a great surfing spot, and there are also great hiking trails in the surrounding hills.

There are tons of butterflies in the Goleta Butterfly Grove and the Coronado Butterfly preserve.

A bike path known as Coast Route also goes through both wooded and sea landscapes, the best of both worlds. 

There are tons of outdoor activities in Goleta to keep you busy.

Goleta is a Santa Barbara local’s secret, but now youre let in on this quaint beach town so go check it out for yourself.

Youll understand immediately why it’s known as The Good Land.”

Located on the central coast of California, Pismo is a great place to visit. Because of its central location, it’s easy to get to, and it’s absolutely worth the trip.

Its most known for its wineries, beaches, and views.

In the winter months from October to February, butterflies group in the Eucalyptus trees at Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove.

Its one of the largest colonies of butterflies in the world, with over 25,000 each winter. Its a beautiful site to experience if youre in Pismo during this time period. 

Margo Dodd Park will provide a great place to relax and enjoy the views. Have a picnic, go snorkeling or swimming, or just bird watch at the park.

Then, enjoy the stunning views at Pismo Pier and walk to its end for amazing views of the ocean. Pismo is a beautiful place to enjoy. 

Cambria is a unique location because within the little town youll find a forest of Monterey Pine trees with only a few locations around the world with these native trees.

Cambria is also directly in the middle between San Francisco and Los Angeles, making it the perfect getaway location or stop on your way to either city. 

Another great thing about Cambria is it’s almost entirely walkable. You can wake up, walk to a coffee shop, walk along the beach and spend your days idly relaxing.

A free trolley runs through Cambria from Thursday to Sunday, which is a great way to get around. 

If you visit Cambria, you must go to Hearst Castle, which is about a 15-minute drive in the neighboring town of San Simeon.

The castle was built between 1919 and 1947 and is a stunning piece of architecture. Cambria will not disappoint!

Carmel by the Sea is a small historical beach town on the Monterey Peninsula. Carmel was a popular artist colony in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Today, the creative and artistic side of the town still shines through and influences its residents and visitors.

Its a peaceful place where artists today still live to work on their masterpieces. 

The town of Carmel by the Sea has fairytale-looking homes and buildings, with the historic town center resembling a quaint village.

All of this gives it the small-town feel that you wont find in LA or anywhere else on the coast. Also, check out Carmel Mission, a National Historic Landmark, and a beautiful church in Carmel. 

Carmel Beach is an excellent spot for surfing, while Carmel River State Beach is great for scuba divers or even snorkeling.

Also, check out Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where you might spot sea animals. Altogether, the beaches in Carmel are quiet and breathtaking.

It is also the perfect spot to stop on your Californian road trip.

South of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is the perfect northern California coastal town.

It has a historic downtown with tons of shops and restaurants to explore. Above that, Half Moon Bay has amazing beaches, trails, and great surfing spots. 

Half Moon State Beach is a beautiful place to explore with trails to hike. Other great things to do in the small beach town include visiting Pidgeon Point Lighthouse, renting kayaks, and surfing.

Believe it or not, pumpkin picking is also a huge fall activity. In addition, HMB is home to wildflowers and wild animals, including goats and other farm animals. 

Quarry Park will bring you peace and quiet among the eucalyptus trees, Montara State Beach has the best hiking trails, and Half Moon State Beach has 4 miles of sand along the bay to explore.

Half Moon Bay is a great place to consider visiting if youre looking for a less populated beach experience in California.

Half Moon Bay is also home to the great Mavericks waves, which is a great spot to watch big wave surfing when the swell is right.

Fun fact, Mavericks is the 4th largest wave in the world. Want more fun facts about California?

Mendocino is a tiny beach community in Mendocino County. The population of the northern California town is under 1,000 people.

Yes, you read that right. Its much different than beach towns youd find in SoCal. It can often get overlooked and overshadowed by other more prominent and well-known locations, but its absolutely worth the visit.

That is why is it one of the best places to visit in California

The best part is the slower way of life in Mendocino. California living can be so fast-paced at times that it’s nice to take a step back and enjoy small-town life.

Mendocino is most well known for its cliffs along the water. 

There are fantastic trails and beaches, especially in Mendocino Headlands State Park to hike and explore.

Big River Beach is a great place to swim and perfect for families to enjoy.

Also, make sure to check out the redwood forests in the area; youll be astonished at how magical they are.

Another must-do in Mendocino is Russian Gulch State Park, another transformative and beautiful place to explore.

Mendocino has a ton of natural beauty, and its a very picturesque location.

Not far from Mendocino, Fort Bragg is most well known for Glass Beach, one of the most unique beaches in the world.

The beach is in MacKerricher State Park, and the shore is covered head to toe with sea glass of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Its astounding to see in person and, even better, free to visit. 

The Noyo River Canyon is also home to redwood forests, a must-see in Northern California.

Fort Bragg also has a unique botanical garden with tons of colorful and thriving plants and flowers.

This coastal town is also home to a small freshwater lake, Cleone Lake, which is s beautiful place to check out.

Another great activity in Fort Bragg is walking along Pudding Creek Trestle, a bridge over the water.

The views are just incredible. 

There is so much to do in Fort Bragg youll be kept busy, no doubt. Glass Beach might already be on your bucket list and Fort Bragg as a whole will not disappoint!

Capitola is on Monterey Bay, and it has a Mediterranean vibe because its full of colorful buildings that give it a sense of vibrancy and charm.

The colors make it a very picturesque place along the water. Its known as being the oldest beach town on the West Coast. 

The colorful buildings are fun to spot while walking around Capitola. In addition, youll find a significant art presence in the beach town, and in general, its a unique place to visit. 

There are tons of things to do including surfing at Capitola City Beach and there are also volleyball courts, restaurants, and bars along the pier.

There is also a lot of shopping in Capitola, and it’s the perfect place to stroll along the palm tree-lined streets.

New Brighton State Beach has impressive coastal views and is an excellent place for hiking, fishing, camping, and more.

The Capitola Wharf is a pier with popular restaurants and shops to explore. Capitola is both beautiful and offers so much to do!

Davenport, California, is primarily known for one picture-perfect thing: Shark Fin Cove. Its one of the most famous beaches in California and one of the most photographed rock structures in the world.

The rock jetting right out of shore almost perfectly resembles a shark fin. Its a phenomenal thing to see in person and brings people to Davenport each year to experience the beauty.

Davenport isnt a large beach town and isnt consistently recognized by name, but some heads might turn if you mention Shark Fin Cove.

Davenport has tons of rock formations and is a generally picturesque and relaxing beach town to enjoy. 

Its located in Santa Cruz County and is almost directly in the center of the state’s coastline. Besides Shark Fin Cove, there are many other great things to do in the beach town

The massive swing at Davenport Pier is a must-stop, and there are great wineries and little shops in town to explore.

Its the perfect destination if youre looking to slow down and enjoy the views. 

There are tons of quaint beaches in California to enjoy.

So pick one and have a great time. Sometimes it’s nice to leave the busy cities behind and go out and find a place with authentic character and charm.

Do you have a favorite small beach town in California that is not mentioned on this list? Say so in the comments below.

Also if you enjoyed this article be sure to check out

Where to Travel in the US in June

Average temperatures and precipitation: highs of 79F and lows of 57F; 9 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Wyoming in June: wildlife viewing, warmer temperatures, wildflowers in bloom
Recommended by: Rachel and Clark at Seeking Our Someday

Location: Oregon
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 63F and lows of 50F; 8 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit the Oregon Coast in June: charming seaside towns, better (and calmer!) weather, festivals
Recommended by: Katie at Two Wandering Soles

With small fishing villages, lush forest hikes, and wild beaches, the Oregon Coast makes an excellent trip in the late spring and early summer months. With rising temperatures and summertime festivals beginning for the season, June makes an excellent choice for planning your Oregon Coast road trip.

Be mindful that it is also a very popular time to visit, making it extra important to make reservations at hotels and campgrounds in advance. Whether you have one weekend or one month, there are plenty of adventures to be had along this stretch of coastline.

Starting with the northernmost town on the Oregon Coast, Astoria is a charming town to explore, sample craft brews next to the ocean, and do a little hiking. You can even see some of the spots featured in the eighties classic The Goonies, which took place in this harbor town.

Another must-visit is Cannon Beach, which is known for its iconic Haystack Rock, a formation that sits just offshore. Explore the tide pools on the beach by day, and stay for a sunset bonfire at night.

Heading south of Cannon Beach, stop along the way at any of the tiny charming towns that strike your fancy. Explore the wide-open beaches, shop for souvenirs in the cute boutiques, look for whales, take in all sorts of interesting rock formations, and dine on fresh seafood.

If you make it down near the California border, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most incredible vistas on the entire coast at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. If you’re a budding photographer, you surely won’t want to miss this place.

The Oregon coast also makes for the perfect weekend trip from Portland and many other places in the region!

Location: Tennessee
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 85F and lows of 62F; 8 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Manchester in June: delicious food, Bonnaroo Music Festival, nature opportunities nearby
Recommended by: Catalin at Travel Trained

If you are looking for a truly unique musical experience during the month of June, my best recommendation is Manchester, Tennessee, home to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

The annual, four-day event has been hosted on a nearby 700-acre farm since 2002. The festival boasts multiple stages, with different styles of music ranging from indie to classic rock to reggae and much, much more. But that’s not all there is to do in Manchester!

You can explore the Big Falls at the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological park if you’re looking to put on your hiking boots. Don’t forget to bring your hiking camera and immortalize the moment with the best shots.

If you’re looking for something with a little more speed, there is the AEDC Mountain Bike Trail. History buffs can enjoy the Arrowheads/Aerospace Cultural Center, which focused on the history of the area.

Any adult weekend wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Beans Creek Winery, the George Dickel Distillery, or the nearby Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. There are also not one, but two golf courses, the Old Stone Golf Course and the Willow Brook Golf Club.

When you’ve had a full day of exploring, it’s time to sit down and enjoy some of the local restaurants. Bites of Europe offers exactly as its name implies, a little taste of European dishes to try in the heartland of America.

There are also several family-owned restaurants, like Emma’s Family Restaurant serving up staples like french toast, grits, roasted turkey, and more. If you’ve got a taste for some souther barbeque Prater’s Bar-B-Que & Catering may be calling your name, but make sure you get there early because it’s very popular during Bonnaroo.

If you are planning to visit Manchester, Tennessee, I recommend that you book your trip early. The hotels fill up months in advance, especially during Bonnaroo. Between the music fest, outdoor exploring, and small-town experience, Manchester is an experience you will never forget.

Location: Alaska
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 58F and lows of 44F; 12 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Sitka in June: hiking opportunities, King Salmon fishing, Sitka music festival, low(er) rainfall
Recommended by: Editor’s choice

A fantastic American destination to visit in June is the beautiful coastal city of Sitka, Alaska. Located on the west side of Baranof Island, it is the largest city-borough in the United States and there is plenty to do there during the summer months.

First of all, you will experience longer days than the continental US experiences, allowing you to maximize your time in Sitka. The rainfall in June is less than every other month of the year, as well.

In Sitka, you can visit the Tongass National Forest and the Sitka National Historical Park, two places where you can enjoy some of Alaska’s best hiking.

There are many things to do in Sitka to keep occupied – including visiting the 22 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you’re into fishing, June is prime King Salmon fishing season.

The Sitka Music Festival is also a popular event during June.

Location: Ohio
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 82F and lows of 61F; 9 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Cincinnati in June: several festivals, exciting weekend trips, outdoor shopping
Recommended by: Samantha at PA on Pause

Cincinnati, a rust belt city in the southwest corner of Ohio, has made significant updates in recent years. Visiting the city in June provides ideal summer weather for outdoor festivals and activities.

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival, or Cincy Fringe, is the largest theater and performing arts festival in Ohio and takes place at the beginning of June. Catch one of over 200 performances during the 12-day festival.

Music lovers should consider attending the Bunbury Music Festival, held in Sawyer Point Park during the first weekend in June, to hear everything from pop-punk to rap performances.

Italian food and culture lovers should walk across the Purple People Bridge to attend the Newport Italian Festival during the second weekend in June. There is also one of the best wine regions in Ohio located in SW Ohio!

While in the city, stop in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, known for its trendy shops, bars, and restaurants. Also in the neighborhood is the historic Findlay Market, which also hosts a bustling outdoor shopping area in the summer.

Last, but not least, plan to catch a baseball game at Great American Ball Park. Evening temperatures in June are usually ideal for enjoying “America’s Pastime.”

Click here to check out the best weekend trips from Cincinnati. You can also find many of the best small towns in Ohio nearby!

Location: South Dakota
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 77F and lows of 58F; 8 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit the Black Hills in June: hiking opportunities, wildlife watching, festivals
Recommended by: Mark and Kristen at Where are those Morgans?

Western South Dakota’s stunning Black Hills region is a beautiful part of the US to visit any time of year, but June might just be the very best month of all.

Perfectly comfortable weather conditions coupled with fewer tourists than peak Summer season make June the ideal time for taking on the spectacular Black Elk Peak hiking trail. Summit views from an old fire watchtower across four US states are extraordinary.

Mt Rushmore is arguably South Dakota’s most famous landmark and late May into early June marks the beginning of the iconic granite sculpture’s esteemed evening light show.

Make the most of the longest daylight month by getting an early start and being the only car driving super-scenic highways Iron Mountain and Needles.

Custer is one of the most beloved US State Parks, in part thanks to its amazing family-friendly, 18-mile wildlife loop drive. June is at the heart of Bison calving season which offers unique mother-and-calf viewing opportunities.

The annual Custer off-road rally, Wild West auctions and concerts in Deadwood, Sturgis’ Camaro rally and Rush No More Blues festival, the Black Hills famous annual quilt show, and dozens of cycling events all take place in June.

Known as the land of infinite variety, don’t miss out on an unforgettable South Dakota road trip this June.

Location: Washington
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 73F and lows of 46F; 5 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Eastern Washington in June: wine weekends, state parks, comfortable temperatures
Recommended by: Editorʻs choice

Eastern Washington is repeatedly overlooked in favor of the gorgeous western part of the state – but it definitely deserves a bit of love! It is one of my favorite regions on the west coast, actually.

June is a great time to visit as the winters are blisteringly cold and long. There are a lot of state parks worth visiting in Eastern Washington like Sun Lakes – Dry Falls State Park, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, Steptoe Butte State Park, and more.

Another popular reason to visit the area in June is that you can plan an entire weekend around wine in Walla Walla!

There is plenty of accommodation in Walla Walla that you can call home for a few days and the city has one of America’s most underrated wine scenes.

Location: New York
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 79F and lows of 56F; 8 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit the Hudson Valley in June: festivals, fresh produce (especially strawberries), hiking trails
Recommended by: James Ian at Travel Collecting

The Hudson Valley is a wide stretch of land on either side of the Hudson River between New York City and the state capital Albany, three hours to the north. June is the perfect time to visit. 

The valley has plenty of farms that are open to agritourism.  Some, like Kelder’s Farm, offer hayrides and a bouncy castle for the kids.  Others have farm stands where you can stop and buy fresh produce. 

Many others such as Dubois Farms and Prospect Hill Orchards also offer U-pick fruit, and June is strawberry month! Visit one of the farms and pick all the fruit you like. Sweet cherries are also available in late June. 

If you prefer to drink, visit a cider house like Brooklyn Cider House (actually in New Paltz, not Brooklyn). You can try their cider and eat woodfire pizza next to an apple orchard.  Or visit one of several vineyards, including Milea Estate Vineyard, where you can enjoy their wines with views of the vineyards.

June is a great time to get out on the river.  Two-hour sightseeing cruises leave from Kingston several times a day.  Back on land, this is also the perfect time for hiking – and there are plenty of trails in the Hudson Valley to explore

For an easy stroll, enjoy Poets’ Walk, where Washington Irving got the inspiration to write Rip Van Winkle.  For something more challenging, try the highly interactive rock scrambles to Bonticou Crag or through the Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze at Mohonk. 

If you’d rather do something a little more sedentary, June is also when the Great Hudson River takes place.  The folk music festival, in Croton Point Park on the shores of the Hudson River, makes a great day out.

For a different type of entertainment, two classic old-school drive-ins – the Hyde Park Drive-in and the Overlook – open for their summer season in June.  Step back in time to the fifties!

Or go back even further in history and visit one of the enormous mansions from the gilded age such as the Vanderbilt Mansion. Their grounds are open for picnics and house tours are available.

No matter what you like to do, there is something for you in the Hudson Valley – and June is the best time to do it!

Location: Idaho
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 84F and lows of 51F; 4 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Boise in June: festivals, comfortable hiking temperatures, beat July crowds
Recommended by: Kay at The Awkward Traveller

As a city that experiences every season without any unbearable extremes, Boise is a great choice for any month, but if you want a truly memorable experience, plan your trip around the month of June.

First, the weather is fantastic. Warm, but with plenty of shade under the lush green trees and a light breeze throughout the day, making it comfortable hiking conditions for nearby parks and trails.

Food lovers will especially love visiting Boise in June, as the annual Annual Greek Food Festival and Savor Idaho hit the expo, bringing flavors from all over the world right to downtown Boise.

June also marks the return of beloved food carts for the summer season. Eating your way through the town is one of the best things to do in Boise!

June is also a great month for music enthusiasts, with the Boise Music Festival toward the end of the month highlighting both upcoming and established local and regional artists, as well as headliners from more globally renowned musicians.

The annual Summer Solstice Masquerade Ball combines the whimsy of music with Boise’s amazing theatrical talent, so if you aren’t in town for the solstice, you can catch a show during the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, which starts up in June.

End your trip in Boise with a wholesome sendoff by attending the Boise Water Lantern Festival. Visiting Boise in June means that you can experience all of the fun summer events and activities but before the crowds of summer vacationers busy the city. 

Click here to check out some of the best day trips from Boise.

Location: North Carolina
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 77F and lows of 53F; 11 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Western NC in June: wildflower bloom, beautiful hiking opportunities, Great Smoky Mountains NP
Recommended by: Stephanie at Explore More, Clean Less

There’s no bad month to enjoy visiting western NC, but visiting the region and the Smokies in June allows you to enjoy stunning wildflower and wildlife displays! There are so many places to put on a Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary in this part of NC as well!

The region is extremely lush and green, particularly during the summer months. June is warm enough to spend the day hiking trails and exploring waterfall swimming holes, with mountain breezes cooling off your tent or cabin at night.

Western North Carolina is well known for its hiking trails and waterways but visitors can also enjoy a culture rich in Appalachian music, art, and diverse cuisine options whether in small mountain towns or larger cities!

Check out some easy hikes in Smoky Mountains National Park before you go.

A few June-specific events to research before you go (specific dates will vary year to year):

Location: Pennsylvania
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 80F and lows of 60F; 10 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Pittsburgh in June: baseball games, fun nightlife, several family-friendly activities
Recommended by: Editor’s choice

My favorite city in the United States is Pittsburgh – it is the largest city where my family hails from and I discover new and interesting things there every time I travel there! 

June is a fantastic time to head to Pittsburgh as it is warm, but not as scorching as the southeast. The nights are cool enough that you can catch a bit of a break from the daytime heat. 

Pittsburgh comes alive during the summers and you can visit Kennywood amusement park, go to a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game, and so much more!

There are also several weekend trips from Pittsburgh that make the city a great base for some Western PA exploring. 

Location: California
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 79F and lows of 62F; 0 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit LA in June: Pride festival, Food festivals
Recommended by: Erin at The SoCal Gal

Los Angeles is a go-to spot for travel in the USA, especially in June! You won’t want to miss out on all the festivals and events that take place there this month.

One of the most iconic parades and festivals is LA Pride – the second-largest Pride celebration in the country! This festival runs for 3 days long and is packed with educational booths, parties, food, eccentric clothing, and lots of love, inclusion, and acceptance!

LA Pride is free to attend, and the parade is the showstopper event of the entire weekend. Another sought-after festival in June is the LA Food Fest which brings together small restaurants, vendors, and food trucks in one location for this one-day fun-filled event.

Tickets are $70 per person and include all you can eat and drink (even beer, wine, and cocktails for this price!). This food festival is definitely worth the price point so come hungry and curious! LA Pride Parade & Festival and the LA Food Fest come up only once a year in the special month of June.

So don’t walk, run to buy your tickets to sunny and bright Los Angeles, California, one of the best places to visit in June in the USA! 

Location: South Carolina
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 85F and lows of 74F; 7 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Charleston in June: beautiful parks, nighttime concerts and activities, festivals
Recommended by: Dymphe at Dymabroad

Charleston is one of the best places to visit in the USA in June. The city lies in the state of South Carolina next to the sea.

It is a beautiful city and there are many great Instagrammable places in Charleston. During June there are many things to do in Charleston.

One of the best activities is going to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. This is an annual festival happening in June with a very diverse program. It includes jazz, dance, art exhibitions, poetry readings, film screenings, and much more. What’s great is that about half of the events of the festival are free.

Another great place to go during June is White Point Garden. This is a beautiful park that is located at The Battery. During June, the trees are in bloom and look very pretty.

Furthermore, you can enjoy a concert during Jazz on the Harbor. During this event, you can listen to jazz music while you overlook Charleston Harbor.

Also, if you want to enjoy a concert with Reggae music, then go to the Reggae Nights Summer Concerts. This event takes place at James Island County Park and you can bring your own blanket.

Another one of the best things to do in Charleston is Nighttime at the Museum. This is a great event if you love history. During this event, there are history reenactments, special exhibitions, demonstrations, and more.

Location: Vermont
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 76F and lows of 55F; 10 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Burlington in June: lots of hiking trails, vibrant music and arts scene, delicious food
Recommended by: Karen at Outdoor Adventure Sampler

The vibrant city of Burlington, Vermont comes alive in June. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities around the city. Stroll along Waterfront Park for amazing views of the Adirondack Mountain peaks across Lake Champlain.

Rent a bicycle to pedal on the Burlington Bike Path. You can bike to fabulous beaches or enjoy one of the many hiking trails within the city limits.

Sample the busy arts and music scene in Burlington in June. Especially don’t miss the Discover Jazz Festival with concerts in multiple venues across the city, many of which are free.

The pedestrian mall of Church Street is the place to be in early summer. Unique shops, street performers, and blocks of outdoor dining will make you want to stay all afternoon and evening. The farm-to-table movement influences most cuisine in Burlington. Even the food trucks that start showing up in the summer at the lake-side parks feature local fare.

Cruises on Lake Champlain on the Spirit of Ethan Allen boat are popular. Sunset, dinner, and narrated natural history cruises are all offered. Families can enjoy the Sunday Champagne brunch on the boat.

Craft brew, fine spirits, and hard cider are big in Burlington so be sure to stop by for a tasting. After that, grab a famous Vermont maple creemee and walk down to the waterfront for the best sunset in the Northeast.

Location: Hawaii
Average temperatures and precipitation:
highs of 76F and lows of 59F; 2 days of precipitation
Reasons to visit Maui in June: festivals, safer swimming waters, Kamehameha Day
Recommended by: Editor’s choice

Let’s be honest, there is really no bad time to visit Hawaii.  Maui is no exception!  If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in the US in June, look no further than Maui!

In June, swimming conditions are far safer and calmer than in other months… which is perfect for traveling families. While spring is considered to be the most optimal season to visit, June is right on the cusp of it all, with really ideal conditions.

During June, you will also have a chance to visit the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival – which is actually the longest-running food and wine festival in America!

On June 11, it is Kamehameha Day, a day in Hawaii that is celebrated to honor King Kamehameha, the first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii. There are celebrations widespread, as a result!

What are your favorite places to visit in the USA in June?  Let us know the best places to visit in June in the US in the comments! Thanks!

Heading across the pond? Check out our guide to the best places to visit in Europe in June as well!

1. Step Back in Time at the Carmel Mission

It’s no secret that the Carmel Mission is one of the top Carmel-by-the-Sea attractions. Also known as the Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo, this beautiful Spanish mission was built in 1797 and is now a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Founded in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra of Spain, this is the second of California’s famous missions. The Carmel Mission has been meticulously and authentically renovated throughout the years and is the only Spanish mission in California with its original bell tower and bell.

Step inside, and you’ll immediately be impressed by the beautiful basilica, intricate decorations, and Spanish Colonial liturgical art. After that, you can explore the grounds to find four museum galleries, a chapel, gardens, and a fountain.

The Carmel Mission is still an active church and is free to enter during opening hours. If you want to take one of the interesting docent-led tours, check the website for times.

Best Northern California coastal towns

Our tour begins south and winds its way north.

California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway (also called Highway 1) actually begins just north of San Diego and winds all the way up the coast, a little beyond Mendocino.

There, it merges with Highway 101 before crossing over into Oregon.

We start our road trip in Northern California in Morro Bay (3 hours north of Los Angeles) and end near the Oregon border, in a village you’ve probably never heard of.

We hope you brought a big suitcase because you’re about to fall in love and might never leave.

Pack your Moon Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide (or other Northern California road trip guides).

And let’s get driving!

1) Morro Bay

2) Cayucos

3) San Simeon

4) Monterey

5) Santa Cruz

6) Half Moon Bay

7) Pacifica

8) Stinson Beach

9) Bodega Bay

10) Gualala

11) Mendocino

12) Fort Bragg

13) Shelter Cove

14) Eureka

15) Trinidad

? Burney Falls Overview & General Information

Before getting into all there is to see and do within the park, you may want to familiarize yourself with some information and frequently asked questions.

Otherwise, skip this section and move straight down to the headlines that interest you most!

Before we get started with other details it may be helpful to take a look at a map of McArthur Burney Falls.

The map below is the official park map and can be downloaded as a PDF version for the State Park website.

Burney Falls Memorial State Park is located off of Hwy 89 in Shasta County in Northern California.

If you are visiting Burney Falls from the south, you will detour 1 hour and 15 minutes via Hwy 299, just north of Redding. If traveling from the north, you will detour from the city of Mount Shasta 55 minutes via Hwy 89.

Burney Falls is visible from the parking area with no hike required. You can hike to the base of the falls via the Burney Falls Trail, which is less than a quarter mile downhill and takes only 5 minutes.

The trail to Burney Falls can be done as a 1 mile loop, but is shorter as an out-and-back walk.

There are many other hikes available. Learn more about the numerous walking trails in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park in the Hiking Burney Falls section of this guide.

Though the water can be absolutely freezing, swimming at Burney Falls is allowed and popular during the summer months. Some daredevils even jump from the top of the falls though this is extremely dangerous and not recommended!

October is the best time to visit Burney Falls. Smaller crowds mean more availability for campsites and the fall leaves are spectacular.

With that said, each season brings unique opportunities for visiting Burney Falls! Summer is the best time for visiting in terms of weather and swimming, but it can be difficult to get camping reservations and will be very crowded. In addition, wildfires and smoke can be a problem in the summer.

It is $10 per vehicle to enter Burney Falls State Park and $35 to camp overnight.
*Prices accurate as of February 2023

Where to Stay in Near Sequoia National Park

If you’re looking for easy access to Sequoia National Park, the charming town of Three Rivers is easily one of the best places to stay near Sequoia National Park. Choosing a hotel here is a no-brainer if this is your first visit to the park! Not only will you be minutes away from all of the giant sequoias in the park, but Lake Kaweah is right down the road.

Located roughly 45 minutes from the park’s entrance, Visalia is another popular town to stay in. You’ll find tons of contemporary hotels lining the streets of Visalia. Plus, the city is home to the Visalia Convention Center, so it’s perfect if you’re in town for business or pleasure. 

Adventure and outdoor enthusiasts will love staying in the nature-filled town of Kernville. Not only is Sequoia National Park nearby, but you’ll be right next to the rushing Kern River and tranquil Isabella Lake. The hiking, rafting, and kayaking opportunities are endless! 

No matter which area you choose to stay in, you’ll love spending your days exploring this beautiful part of California.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN LONE PINE CA

One of the first things to do in Lone Pine is stopping by The Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center. Located on US Highway 395 south of the town, the Visitor Center is a must-stop before starting your adventures in the areas around.

This is where you have to obtain permits in-person for outdoor activities like hiking to Mount Whitney and other trails as per the seasons.

You can also get the latest information, access, regulations, and announcements around lighting fire, trail details, browsing displays, collecting maps, and valuable resources for exploring the nearby Death Valley National Park, Alabama Hills, and other regions.

Apart from securing the permits and information, the Visitor Center is a great place to stop by and familiarize yourself. You will get your first glances of the towering Mount Whitney in the high desert horizon from here.

If you are a Western Movies aficionado, one of the top attractions in Lone Pine you will enjoy is the Museum of Western Film History on the south side of town.

The areas around the town, including the Alabama hills and further, have been a hotspot for filming movies and TV shows.

Over 400 Hollywood movies have been shot in the region, which became the reason for creating this museum.

At Western Film History Museum, you can find a wide range of memorabilia, including photographs, cameras, movie posters, costumes, old cars, sci-fi figurines, and the history of all the movies shot in the area from the 1920s to some of the latest productions.

For a small entry fee, you can stop by for an hour or so to find respite from the heat and get a copy of the Movie Road Map that will come in handy to explore all the film locations in the Alabama Hills.

One of the top things to do in Lone Pine is exploring the town on foot. Thanks to its compact size and just a few fellow travelers and residents, it is pleasant to get on the streets lined with a few historic buildings.

You will find quirky neon signs and antique-looking boards, making you feel as if you have gone back in decades amidst some West Wild lanes.

On the main street, check out the Movie Star Signature Walls, where you can spot the signatures of many stars.

You will also notice one of the remaining walls from the 1872 earthquake close. In addition, a few cemeteries lie across the central area, some of them dating thousands of years, so worth making a stop at these historic sites. 

Located on the US 395 highway, the Manzanar National Historic Site is one of the attractions worth checking out, which is a grim warning of the horrors of wars.

One of the reminders of WWII, the Manzanar War Internment Camp was one of ten camps across the West Coast where the US government incarcerated over a hundred thousand Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens. 

A 15-minutes drive and located halfway between Lone Pine and Independence, there is a museum with several exhibits, including photos, film footage, memorials, Japanese gardens, and a bookstore. 

Walking through the camp comprising of reconstructed barracks sheds light on the lives of these prisoners.

In addition, there is a short movie, “Remembering Manzanar,” played inside the Visitor Center that shows first-hand accounts of the events. The site is open daily, and there is no fee to visit Manzanar National Historic Site.

Housed in the historic Lone Pine Hotel is the Lone Pine Chamber Of Commerce, an information center with details about the history and culture of the town.

It is worth visiting before you hit the Whitney Portal trail or enter the Alabama Hills, as you get a lot of information here.

Check out the well-kept Movie Room in the courtyard of this building, which has a great collection of filming locations and local history.

One of the notable points of interest in Lone Pines is California Historical Landmark 507, the 1872 Lone Pine Earthquake gravesite.

This severe earthquake claimed over 10% lives of the residents at that time. Located between the hills, there is a memorial dedicated to the deceased in that area today. 

Located at the entrance of the Whitney trail is a small but well-maintained Southern Inyo Museum, which is worth browsing for its exquisite and rare collections of historical and zoological artifacts.

You will find unique exhibits on local mining, settlers, old maps, mining photos, and tools. Also, see remains of insects, reptiles, flora, and photographs, which are the collections of the inhabitants of the mountains and nearby high desert areas.

Lone Pine is home to many cute cafes, restaurants, and bars that exude the place’s charm, speaking of its gastronomic scenes through its many delicacies.

These restaurants are almost always crowded during the peak seasons, thanks to the famished adventurous souls coming here to gorge and relax with comforts after being in the wilderness for long. 

You will find the famous restaurants and bars all lined up around the central street downtown. Alabama Hills Cafe is probably the most prominent among the visitors, thanks to the lavish and generous portions of breakfast spread, lots of delicious snacks, soups, and desserts, including homemade bread and cookies.

The ambiance is hipster and draws crowds early in the morning until the cafe is shut. It is a great place to meet and make new friends, especially if you are a solo traveler looking for some company.

The Mt. Whitney Restaurant is among the best restaurants in Lone Pine, known for its mouth-watering burgers. For exclusive two-handed burgers, head to the nearby Whitney Portal Store.

If you enjoy Mexican cuisine, head to Castro’s Taco Stand. For some amazing sandwiches, steak, and seafood, Seasons Restaurant is the place to check out. If you are craving Chinese, Merry Go Around is the best choice.

If you want to experience a typical wild west setting with complete ancient decor, head to the famous Jake’s Saloon Bar, which welcomes you with the old-style swing doors, shuffleboard, and pool tables. It is a good place for selfies and Mammoth beers.

The town and the Museum of Film History hold the Lone Pine Film Festival in October each year, which is one of the top Lone Pine things to do if you are into movies.

This event, which was started as a tribute to the locations and film history, promotes the importance of western films.

The festival, considered one of the important western film festivals in the United States, runs for four days and involves loads of events and fun activities.

You can watch many film screenings, attend talks by authors of westerns and meet Hollywood celebrities.

In addition, you can join guided tours into the Alabama Hills, sunrise photo tours, attend cowboy poetry, watch wild west, rodeo shows, and tours of movie locations. 

You can buy the passes online ahead of the event, which costs USD 30 per person per day, providing access to all the screenings and panels for the day you buy the pass.

Whether you want to relax in a well-maintained park or enjoy some time in a shaded area after being in the hot weather, Spainhower Park outside Lone Pine is a famous stop if you travel in the US 395 to Mammoth’s Lake or Bishop or any of the National Reserve Areas.

Plenty of shade, restrooms, a dog park, a recently added bridge over the creek, and an excellent playground for kids are all the reasons many stops here on their road trips.

Stretch your legs, get into the Park for a quick break, or visit the Park while exploring Lone Pine for some greenery. The views of the Sierras and further from the Park are soothing.

Why You Should Visit Temecula

Things To Do In Fresno

Woodward Regional Park is the biggest of its kind in the Central Valley area, making it one of the go-to Fresno attractions.

Spanning a whopping 300 acres, it is filled with modern amenities, unique spots along the way, and lots of chances to feast your eyes on beautiful sightseeing views.

Woodward Regional Park was once just land owned by long-time Fresno resident Ralph Woodward, who donated the land along the San Joaquin River in California to the city for public use.

He had hoped that those who visited the park would find it to be a peaceful sanctuary, and most would agree that his wishes were fulfilled.

The urban escape of Woodward Regional Park hosts over five miles of hiking trails, including some that lead to access to the highly popular Lewis S. Eaton Trail.

There are also numerous other locations onsite, like the Woodward Mountain Bike Skills Progression Park where you can put your biking skills to work, The Rotary Amphitheater that often hosts concerts or plays and seats 2,500 audience members, a stunning redwood glen, and a rather impressive lake.

There is also a lovely bird sanctuary!

One place of note within Woodward Regional Park is the Shinzen Friendship Garden, a genuine Japanese garden packed with ornamental Japanese designs and cherry trees.

There are also other more standard experiences you can enjoy, like playing disc golf, using exercise courses, taking dogs to the dog park, or having a nice picnic in one of the many designated areas.

Address: 7775 Friant Rd., Fresno, CA, United States

Few people go to California and miss out on one of the best things to do in Fresno: the Forestiere Underground Gardens!

With a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, it is a truly unique and special place built from 1906 to 1946 – a whole four decades! – as a hobby of one sole man who immigrated to Fresno from Sicily.

Baldasare Forestiere arrived in America in the year 1901 after fleeing his home country.

After settling down, he began to spend his time digging and digging, creating a subterranean maze of grottos, patios, and gardens.

He didn’t plan a single room, decided what he would do and how he would design each space as he went along.

He worked only with hardpan sedimentary rock found locally or already available where he dug.

Believe it or not, Baldassare’s artistry was entirely self-taught, and everything he built – from the microclimates to the well-supported tunnels – he learned to build himself.

He drew inspiration from ancient catacombs that he knew of near his Sicilian hometown.

You may recognize many elements as being of Roman influence.

He worked on the underground gardens until his death.

Upon its “completion”, the gardens spanned 10 acres, and lucky visitors today get to see it in all its glory!

Botany lovers especially will love the huge selection of plants scattered about, some of which date back nine decades in age!

There are even fruit trees, with grapefruits, oranges, and lemons in abundance.

Numerous features that show off the genius of human engineering are present at the Forestiere Underground Gardens, including a summer bedroom and a winter bedroom, a fireplace-equipped parlor, a kitchen, and even a fishpond.

Walls of stone and wonderfully made archways add to the wonder and delight of the experience.

One-hour guided tours are available.

Address: 5021 W Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93722, United States

One of the best places to see in California is the Fresno Art Museum which was set up by local artists.

Created as a humble community space in 1940, it was originally meant for the exhibition and critique of the works of its creators.

Since that small start, the museum has grown into one of the top spots in this California city for art and artistic expression.

It is recognized nationally for its diverse collection and is one of the city’s proud points of interest.

More than 3,600 individual works make up the Art Museum’s permanent collection, most emphasizing paintings, prints, and sculptures.

Works by Norman Rockwell, Ansel Adams, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Diego Rivera, Varaz Samuelian, and Clement Rensi are showcased alongside local masterpieces by lesser-known and diverse artists.

Primarily, the museum focuses on Mexican and Pre-Columbian folk and modern art, mostly dating from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Exhibits such as the Collection of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art: Earth, Fire & Stone by Kenneth E. Stratton and the Andean Pre-Columbian Textiles and Artifacts showcase make for unique looks into specific facets of art.

Rotating exhibits change each season, so there’s always something new to see here.

Events are also held often, such as the immensely popular Trashique art and fashion show fundraiser.

Art classes, workshops, talks, and educational programs are also held at this art museum, designed for people of varying skill levels and ages.

Address: 2233 N First St, Fresno, CA 93703, United States

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited operation.

Situated in Roeding Park, this is a fun tourist attraction to take kids to, with the added ability to relax in the zoo’s surrounding park grounds after an animal-themed excursion.

It actually began as an unwanted pet home instead of a proper zoo, and it was so unofficial at some point that the first records of the zoo date to 1908 despite it existing prior.

Animals were donated over time and an amphitheater was built, and in 1929, it was recognized as an official California zoo.

The Chaffee Zoo houses a wide range of different animals, with almost 190 different species, 94 of which are rare and specially a part of the zoo’s protection and breeding program called the Species Survival Plan.

You can find cheetahs, orangutans, elephants, tigers, lions, rhinos, and warthogs.

There is also a stingray bay, where you can pet and even feed these marine creatures!

There are countless interesting exhibits at the Chaffee Zoo, with particularly loved ones being the Wilderness Falls, the Valley Farm petting zoo, and the African Adventure safari.

A dino dig lets kids “excavate” fossils and dinosaurs of all kinds.

There are also a number of other things you can enjoy, like meet-and-greets with animals, tours of behind-the-scenes zoo life and care, Zoo Talks, summer camps, and plenty of educational programs.

Don’t forget to stop by one of the two dining spots here onsite, or at least bring your own foods to eat along the way!

Address: 894 W Belmont Ave, Fresno, CA 93728, United States

The Fresno Philharmonic is the city’s professional symphony orchestra and one of the greatest organizations for art in the area of California’s Central San Joaquin Valley.

Every performance season, it provides a ton of live musical events and experiences that entrance audience members of all ages and backgrounds.

Educational programs galore are commonly provided by the Philharmonic, allowing many to learn more about performance art and music, opening the door to more understanding regarding these art forms.

Whether you’re interested in these programs or catching a performance, this is a great choice for what to do in the city.

Address: 7170 North Financial Drive Fresno, CA 93720, United States

Visiting other parts of California? Why not check out some of the best things to do in Berkeley and some of the things to do in Malibu?

The Discovery Center is, undoubtedly, one of the best places to visit and one of the most fun places to visit in the city of Fresno, California, especially if you’re bringing your children along!

Created in 1954, this science education center is designed to stoke the curiosity of its visitors with hands-on, interactive exhibits, and learning experiences that cover many different subjects in the realm of environmental and physical science.

The Discovery Center sits on a park that spans five acres, and it has a number of outdoor attractions in that area.

These include the Deutsch Cactus Garden, some Miwok Indian houses, a tortoise enclosure, a historical barn, and even a Dino Dig.

Interior exhibits cover a wide range of topics, with magnets, space, electricity, artifacts, paleontology, natural sciences, and even Native American basketry on the repertoire.

Walking around will let you and your family learn more about dinosaurs, botany, and electricity in unique and engaging ways.

There are so many activities that it’s impossible to get bored, and everyone is sure to find something that interests them.

Address: 1944 N Winery Ave, Fresno, CA 93703, United States

The Kearney Mansion Museum is a rather interesting entry on the National Register of Historic Places.

225 acres of parkland encompass the Kearney Mansion Museum.

Once upon a time, this was referred to as the West Coast’s most beautiful park, so it’s been among the top things to do in Fresno for a long, long time.

The mansion’s primary draw is its architecture, designed with French renaissance influence.

It houses two primary structures, namely the main residence building and the servant’s quarters, and is an important place in Fresno, California, and its history.

The mansion was owned and commissioned by M. Theo Kearney.

Local materials, stock moldings of Victorian design, and locally employed workers are responsible for the appealing look and feel of the Kearney Mansion.

With adobe brick walls and a basic rectangular format, they are somewhat basic in overall aesthetic, but the elegant roof, high ceilings, ornate pinnacles, dormer windows, lofty chimneys, and even the ridgemolding add to its beauty.

Inside the mansion, you’ll find Victorian-style fireplaces, trims, moldings, and railings, with French wallpapers designed with elaborate and vibrant scenic styles.

Approximately 50% of the original furniture that once existed in the Kearney Mansion Museum remains there now.

Missing furniture has been recreated convincingly with and the replicas serve as stand-ins for them.

Address: 7160 W Kearney Blvd, Fresno, CA 93706, United States

Looking for beautiful places to go in the US?

Why not check out Fresno Blossom Trail?

California springs are lovely, and the Fresno Blossom Trail is one of the marks of its serenity and beauty.

The vibrancy and beauty of the area’s agriculture are apparent as the trail takes you through the very best things to see related to new blooms, abundance, and fertile land.

Nut orchards, fruit orchards, and more color the Blossom Trail, which spans 62 miles and can be biked or driven through as desired.

Peach, apple, and apricot trees will give you a new glimpse into this city, showing you a softer and warmer side of it all.

Citrus groves, vineyards, and more are scattered along the self-guided tour trail.

If you want this to be one of the most romantic things to do for you and a partner, you’ll want to time your Blossom Trail trip.

Blooms and the most vibrant colors can be seen between the middle of February and the middle of March.

A recommended stop along the trail is at Simonian Farms, which opened in 1901 and sells nuts and fruits as well as providing driving maps for trail travelers.

Address: Fresno, CA 93725, United States

The Meux Home Museum was made by the titular Dr. Thomas Richard Meux, a Civil War veteran and medical physician.

It was built in the year 1889.

It holds 16 rooms on two stories and is a Gothic Victorian-style mansion with a beautifully well-preserved interior.

As a part of the National Register of Historic Places, it’s one of the places to visit for history and architecture enthusiasts in Fresno, California.

Today, special tours are given once in a while of the Meux Home, and it’s a fun way to get a feel of the old-fashioned design.

The exterior of the Meux Home Museum makes use of features such as corbels, towers, string courses, Corinthian cornices, fans, cut glass, scrolls, and stained glass to further present its gaunt but eclectic design.

Certain elements present French Renaissance influences, too, such as the chimney details.

Still, the main Victorian Gothic aesthetic is clearly seen through finials, roofs, and similar touches.

Different textures along the home’s exterior add to its appeal, especially the more elaborate details.

The interior, on the other hand, is completely quintessential of Victorian fashion.

Every inch of the ceiling and wall is decorated and papered, with mill-made details, railings, balusters, posts, and millwork.

Lighting fixtures display the historical gas lighting units common of its era.

There is also a stable onsite with an attached storage room and lots of space for buggies, phaetons, surreys, and, of course, horses.

Address: 1007 R St, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

If you’re looking for places that are both Fresno attractions and great spots to get a good drink, look no further than the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company Beer Garden.

The company was founded in 2007 and produces craft beer of world-class quality for visitors and locals of Fresno, California.

The selection is constantly rotating and changing, too.

All beers here are created by Kevin Cox, an award-winning master of the art of the brew, and they’re infused with culture and artistry.

But the Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company Beer Garden isn’t just special for its delicious brews.

It’s also been raising awareness for the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, a spot between the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park, preserving and conserving the region.

With a social and friendly atmosphere, this establishment provides all sorts of games, like corn hole and foosball, to play with fellow guests as you enjoy your ale.

The Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company Beer Garden also often hosts events like food truck festivals, live concerts, and even art shows, so if you come at the right time, you’ll be enjoying more than just a good mug and pleasant company.

Address: 745 Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

Got more time to spend in California? Why not check out some of the things to do in Irvine & some of the top San Luis Obispo attractions?

One of the best activities to do in this California city – particularly in its downtown area – is to catch a Fresno Grizzlies Minor League Baseball team game.

Their home stadium, the Chukchansi Park, was completed and opened in 2002.

72 home games are played at the stadium every year and watching one is easily among the most fun things to do in Fresno.

The team has had quite a few of its players move into the Major League, so it has a lot of fans!

Not a fan of baseball or sports in general?

Chukchansi Park itself is quite a marvel, with a stadium that looks out onto the skyline of the city, with the Sierra Mountains beautifully situated in the back.

Tickets are affordable, too, so you might find some merit in catching a game, even if you’re not a sports head – and if it’s not game season, there may be motocross or concert events!

The ballpark is more than just a stadium, too, with 33 luxury suites, a full-service bar and restaurant, and even a spa and pool area.

There is also the Fun Zone for kids, complete with interactive baseball-related excitement, a carousel, and an inflatable slide.

There are also snacks offered to all visitors, with yummy offerings like churro waffles, corn dogs, and ice cream.

Address: 1800 Tulare St, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

Looking for places to go in Fresno for a delectable drink?

Well, you’d be missing out on your trip to California’s San Joaquin Valley if you didn’t visit Moravia Wines.

This winery first began operations in 2012, managed and owned by a family that has been farming grapes in the area for more than an impressive 35 years.

Great for wine tasting, Moravia Wines offers tours of its grounds and puts on a number of interesting programs every single week.

Let’s put it this way – the company’s goal when it opened was to be able to win awards using locally farmed Fresno grapes, and it’s certainly succeeded in excelling in terms of flavor and quality!

Address: 3620 N Bishop Ave, Fresno, CA 93723, United States

The Save Mart Center is a rather interesting option among local tourist attractions.

Situated on the California State University grounds, it is a multi-purpose location that has been host to sports like hockey, ice hockey, wrestling, boxing, and rodeo.

It is currently the home of the basketball team known as the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Opened in 2003, the Save Mart Center has hosted all sorts of activities, such as sporting events, traveling Cirque du Soleil shows, and even live music concerts and events (with its first one being a performance by Andrea Bocelli).

While you’re here, take a peek at the clock tower outside the Save Mart Center’s arena, spanning 37 meters and 13 stories in height.

Address: 2650 E Shaw Ave, Fresno, CA 93710, United States

Points of interest involving food are abundant in Fresno, California, and Sam’s Italian Deli is one of the greatest.

With fine meats, cheeses, and olives, it’s a great place to head to if you want to spoil yourself and your tastebuds with delicious offerings.

The deli is owned by Sam and Angela Marziliano, who, in 1968, were living in Canada.

The young couple from Italy decided to open a grocery business in order to provide fresh meats, produce, and bread to their local community, many from their hometown of Bari, Italy.

Five decades later, Sam’s Italian Deli has expanded, serving up pasta and specialty groceries alongside its original fare.

Cold cuts, homemade sausages, and imported goods of all kinds – with authentic Italian flair – are offered alongside more than 700 bottles of wine!

Address: 2415 N First St, Fresno, CA 93703, United States

If you’re looking for some of the best things to do in California, you can’t go wrong with Island Waterpark!

The Island Waterpark is located near the famous Forestiere Underground Gardens, on the northwest portion of Fresno, California.

It’s a great spot for family-friendly fun, with countless activities and ways to spend your time on a day trip this weekend.

Easily among the most exciting tourist attractions in the city, the Island Waterpark features more than a dozen waterslides in different varieties, ranging from solo to family to raft.

With rides proudly holding names like Tokyo Typhoon, Singapore Tsunami, and even Mumbai Monsoon, every last adventure it offers is thrilling!

In the summer, the Island Waterpark’s operating hours are extended, and it even hosts night swims called After Dark Fridays for all ages.

It also boasts other hotspots year-round like a wave pool, lazy river, grassy areas for relaxation, and even cabanas that you can rent!

Address: 6099 W Barstow Ave, Fresno, CA 93723, United States

Looking for some entertainment tonight in Fresno, California?

Head to the downtown area and check out the historic Warnors Theatre!

In 1928, it opened its doors to the community as the Pantages Theatre with a range of vaudeville performances.

Then, as the years passed, it became a house for silent movies, and it was sold to the Warner Brothers shortly after.

Its final name change would occur in 1960.

Today, the 2,000-seat Warnors Theatre continues its legacy, serving as a space for all sorts of shows and music performances, ranging from Broadway to comedy and from children’s performance to sold-out wonders!

It also plays classic movies and is even rentable for private events like weddings.

Not into movies, but wondering what to do in Fresno that’s related to architectural marvels?

The Warnors Theatre still fits the bill!

With a mix of elements from Italian Renaissance Revival, Moorish, and Spanish influences, this beautiful building boasts many terracotta details, delightful variegated colored brick, and a lovely overhang with bead molding and dentil course details.

The interior of the Warnors Theatre is equally outstanding.

A square planned-auditorium is installed beneath a single-ceiling dome supported by expertly crafted arch ribs.

The walls are divided into panels and pilasters, and the frieze bears similar ornamentation and stencil work to the ceiling.

Gold leaf patterns, geometric designs, wrought iron, and rope molding are among other details that can be found.

Of course, you should also view the theatre’s one-of-a-kind pipe organ with 1,035 pipes, 720 keys and pistons, and 14 ranks!

Address: 1400 Fulton St, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

If you seek more places to visit for a little sightseeing and are willing to leave Fresno to go northeast for about 20 miles, you should check out the Millerton Lake State Recreation Area, a state park of California.

Encompassing 40 miles of land with a lake included, the area was “created” as a result of the 1944 completion of the Friant Dam.

It now boasts numerous trails and lots of species of fauna, including badgers, cottontails, eagles, and mule deer.

Opportunities to camp in many different spots allow for a cost-effective bit of time spent away from Fresno.

You can have picnics, barbecues, or just relax!

In the winter and summer alike, families love to head to the Millerton Lake State Recreation Area and partake in the different fun experiences to be had.

Sunny days allow for water sports like fishing, swimming, or boasting.

In the winter, special boat tours are available, and they’ll take you on a lake tour to see the nesting bald eagles.

Address: CA-145, Friant, CA 93626, United States

River Park Shopping Center is located on the north side of Fresno, near the vast Woodward Regional Park of California.

It’s a great go-to for all your shopping desires, whether your retail actions are for fun or practical reasons, and many additional options for stuff to do.

It opened in 1996 and has been a local hotspot ever since!

Whatever you seek, it’s likely that River Park Shopping Center has it: furniture, clothing, sporting goods, appliances, and more, with brands like Macy’s, REI, and Target available.

Approximately 30 restaurants are waiting for you to try and the Regal Edwards Fresno movie theatre is a great place to head to for some cinema entertainment.

Not sure how to get to River Park Shopping Center?

Public buses run to the center regularly, and there are a lot of parking spaces if you’re coming by car.

Address: 71 E Via la Plata, Fresno, CA 93720, United States

Looking for thrill outside Fresno? How about visiting Monterey, San Francisco, and Sacramento? If you do plan a trip, here are some of the best Monterey attractions, some fun things to do in San Francisco, and a cool list of what to do in Sacramento!

Every year, the Big Fresno Fair is held in the town’s Central Valley.

The two-week occasion is home to a wide range of exciting exhibits, ranging from horse racing events to livestock shows and from live music to competitions of all kinds.

Many things to see add to the excitement.

Over 600,000 people flock to the Big Fresno Fair on an annual basis.

It’s a bit source of revenue for the city, with more than 300 venues scattered throughout its location.

Great snack foods like funnel cakes and deep-fried Oreos ensure you won’t go hungry as you explore all that the fair has to offer.

It takes place in October most years, so plan accordingly!

Address: 1121 S Chance Ave, Fresno, CA 93702, United States

Arte Americas is one of the crucial places to visit for those seeking cultural education.

It is the Valley’s biggest non-profit cultural center of Latino heritage.

It’s a go-to for those wanting to learn about the history and culture of this group.

Arte Americas had humble beginnings in the Cultural Arts District of Fresno, California, starting out as just a single-room office back in the year 1987.

Since then, it has grown into a 10,000 square foot center that collects all sorts of works from great Latino creators, including artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and poets.

The gallery and its many meeting, classroom, and performance spaces provide fun opportunities to immerse yourself in Latino culture.

Address: 1630 Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

There are many, many different farmers markets in this California city, so if you’re looking for Fresno attractions, taking trips to each one is a great choice for activities.

Here are some of the top choices for local farmers’ markets!

First, there is the River Park Farmers Market, a staple of the Central Valley.

Cheap produce and fresh agricultural produce make for a delicious and impressive selection of the very greatest that the state has to offer.

Next, there is the Fresno State Farm Market & Wine Shop, also known as the Rue & Gwen Gibson Farm Market.

It’s a part of the Fresno State campus and offers a wide range of items, from nuts to campus-made wine and from cheeses to ice cream.

Then, there’s the Old Town Clovis Farmers Market, held on Saturday mornings.

Veggies and fruits may be standard, but many more options are available.

You’ll find stalls by Ninik’s Natural Foods, Busy Bees Honey Farm, Tres Bien Creamery, Ferrer Farm Fresno, Jams by Milissa, and more.

Finally, you have the Vineyard Farmers Market, which has been held for more than 35 years.

Open on Saturdays and Wednesdays, it provides fruits, vegetables, baked goods, snacks and meals, and more.

ArtHop is a unique destination, set up by the Fresno Arts Council.

It is a collection of exhibits hosted by museums, galleries, studios, and similar art spaces of California.

It’s a great way to discover new artists and spend your time downtown.

Not only is a trip to ArtHop one of the best things to do in Fresno for art lovers, but it’s also one of the city’s free things to do with no entrance or admission fee.

Find it on Thursday nights for a good taste of the authentic local art scene.

Address: 1245 Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

The Rotary Storyland & Playland Family Amusement Park first opened its doors in Fresno, California in 1962, dedicated to the simple but lovely mission of bringing stories to life and inspiring kids everywhere.

The amusement park works by transforming worlds from fairytales and famous children’s books into real-life exhibits.

Kids will find that there is no shortage of what to see at the Rotary Storyland & Playland Family Amusement Park.

They can enjoy all sorts of activities as they interact with different showcases and have fun traipsing through rockets, cottages, pirate ships, and castles or make their way through the Fairytale Exhibits.

They can even watch shows at the Daniel R. Martin Children’s Theater, where magicians, storytellers, musicians, and more often perform.

They can also try riding the Willis B. Kyle Express Train!

So bring your kids here this weekend for an enriching, whimsical, and delightful experience!

Address: 890 W Belmont Ave, Fresno, CA 93728, United States

Planning a road trip around California? Here are some Long Beach attractions, some fun things to do in Los Angeles, and some of the best things to do in OC!

Willing to take a day trip from Fresno?

Arguably one of the best ways to spend one such trip this weekend would be by heading up to Yosemite National Park.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it welcomes over 3 million annual visitors and covers 747,956 acres of land from its entrances to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Few wouldn’t have heard of the Yosemite National Park, as it’s known internationally as one of the standard places to go in America for tourists.

Its beautiful waterfalls, amazing granite cliffs, and multiple trails totaling 800 miles for all skill levels are just some of the things that make it popular.

Walking around the Yosemite National Park will give you picture-perfect ideas of the natural beauty of the southwest.

It’s pretty much a national treasure, so if you’re in Fresno, you shouldn’t miss the chance to travel to it!

The Tower Theatre of Fresno first opened its doors in 1939, then known simply as a 20th Century Fox Movie House.

It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the city’s most beautiful tourist attractions, whether you’re looking to catch a show tonight, simply looking at its stunning architecture, or attending the yearly Fresno Film Festival.

Architecturally speaking, the theater is brilliant, with genuine art deco themes, glass etchings of historical significance, and flooring of an Italian Terrazzo style.

With 761 seats and three auditorium tiers, the Tower Theatre is often hailed as one of California’s greatest sites of its kind.

Its schedule is pretty much always full and restoration work has allowed it to maintain its glory over the years.

Address: 809 E Olive Ave, Fresno, CA 93728, United States

Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre opened in 1978 and is a hotspot in Fresno, California for romantic dates at night, delicious food, and fun productions of all kinds.

Over 180 productions have taken place here, including the likes of Guys & Dolls, Bye Bye Birdie, and The Sound Of Music.

Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre has a reputation for refreshing shows, high-quality performances and food, and a generally wonderful experience.

The theatre’s architecture is also fantastically beautiful.

If you’re not sure what to do and want some fun things to do in Fresno, this is a great bet!

Address: 1226 N Wishon Ave, Fresno, CA 93728, United States

The Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church was the first of its kind in America – specifically, the first to be built with the architecture of an Armenian design.

As such, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sitting in Fresno, California, it’s one of the best places to visit not for its unique historical value, but also for its delightful architecture.

The Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church was designed by the first Armenian architect in Fresno, a man named Lawrence Karekin Cone.

He drew inspiration from churches back home and carefully replicated the details of fourth-to-seventeenth-century structures of that kind.

The dome of the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church is unique and has to be seen to be understood.

When it was first built, it was situated in a large space of the downtown area that was known as Armenian Town.

The area’s population remained mostly Armenian until approximately the middle of the 1950s as Armenians grew their financial and social status and moved away.

If you’re interested in the lovely Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, it’s a great low-cost tourist spot and is one of the free things to do in the city.

Address: 2226 Ventura Ave, Fresno, CA 93721, United States

Downing Planetarium is a part of the Fresno State campus, made for its Department of Physics.

Its 30-foot dome is impressive even from a distance, and since its opening in the year 2000, it has been one of the top things to do in Fresno for fans of the heavenly bodies and the world beyond earth.

You’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away from California as you look through the planetarium telescope on a clear night, viewing celestial objects far away.

The Downing Planetarium’s star theater, which has 74 seats, makes use of a delightful mix of hemispherical mirror projection and a Minolta MS-10 start projector to turn the entire planetarium dome into a movie screen!

Address: 5320 N Maple Ave, Fresno, CA 93710, United States

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are one of the key things to see for nature-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

With a diverse park landscape, it’s unfortunately not found in Fresno, but an hour away further into California.

However, it’s on this list of Fresno attractions because it is such a must-see and is more than worth a little drive out of the city!

The park’s diverse landscape, imposing mountain peaks, and impressive majestic giant sequoia trees make the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks nothing short of extraordinary.

The attraction boasts multiple hiking trails for people of all skill levels, whether you want relaxing fun or a challenging excursion.

At the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, you’ll have the option of rock climbing, wildlife spotting, biking, backpacking, and more – whatever you need to do to take in the wonders of the landscape!

One of the most popular ways to spend time here is with a hike up to Moro Rock, which provides breathtaking panoramic views of the park and California beyond.

Address: 47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271, United States

Looking to experience more of California? Why not check out Palm Springs, Pasadena, and San Diego? If you do plan a visit, here’s a cool list of Palm Spring attractions and Pasadena attractions as well as some of the best things to do in San Diego

If you arrive at the wrong time for the Blossom Trail, then the Fresno County Fruit Trail is a good bet in May!

It brings you through delightful places to visit for fruit and produce, with colorful orchards packed with fresh offerings to try.

You can opt to stop at any of the many farms along the way to try purchasing baked goods, nuts, honey, jams, and of course, the fruit itself.

This self-guided driving tour is certainly a wonderful way to sightsee!

Admission is completely free.

The Best Things to Do in California: Bucket List Edition!

There are several places in Northern California where you can find the beautiful sequoias (redwoods), the most famous of which is Sequoia National Park in the far north of California.

However, you can find sequoias near San Francisco in Muir Woods, as well as Armstrong Woods in Sonoma County, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park about 3 hours north of San Francisco which has the famous ‘Avenue of the Giants’.

Wherever you go, it’ll be worth seeking out these beautiful, otherworldly trees.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the world, and for good reason.

On a sunny day where Karl the Fog is not bearing down on you, the contrast between blue sky, red bridge, and turquoise water is simply unbeatable. Walk or bike the length of the Golden Gate Bridge for the ultimate San Francisco bucket list must.

The cable car is the other emblem of San Francisco, and I must say that it’s a nostalgic must-do when in San Francisco.

Touristy, yes — but it is also quite a bit of fun too, and it’s definitely worth skipping some of the massive hills you have to climb walking around San Francisco.

I recommend skipping the Powell Street cable car and instead choosing another one of the cities’ cable cars — the lines at Powell are always horrendous.

While it may look like something out of Harry Potter, Lombard Street in San Francisco is very much a real place!

On one block of it, there are 8 — yes, 8 — hairpin turns for brave drivers to navigate, since otherwise, this road would be way too steep for car traffic!

Often also called “The Full House House” due to being shown in the opening credits of the popular 90s sitcom, the actual “Full House” house isn’t located amongst these famous houses but rather about 20 minutes away!

Regardless, the Painted Ladies are a row of beautifully painted Victorian Houses that are one of San Francisco’s many iconic sights, right along the beautiful grassy Alamo Square. It’s a San Francisco bucket list must.

Alcatraz Island used to once host some of the most dangerous criminals in California, thinking that there was no way the criminals could survive swimming to shore through the San Francisco Bay. And in its history, no one is known to have survived escaping from Alcatraz.

Closed since the 1970s, Alcatraz Island is now a museum and one of the most important sights to see in San Francisco. It’s a bit spooky, to be honest, but absolutely worth it.

Sausalito is just across the bay to the north of San Francisco, and it’s one of the wealthier parts of the Bay Area: one need only look at its kooky collection of expensive houseboats to have an idea why!

There are plenty of other things to do in Sausalito as well, but seeing its many houseboats is something visitors to the Bay Area always get a kick out of.

I know most people think of California and immediately think of tanned bodies on golden sands… but California has its very own black sand beach as well, plus a really cool glass beach (later in this article).

Black Sands Beach is located in Sausalito in the Marin Headlands area, and it’s a short hike from the parking lot down to this gorgeous beach. Admittedly it’s not typically a place for sunbathing — San Francisco’s ever-present fog assures of that — but it’s gorgeous: almost like a little slice of Iceland right in the Bay Area.

Often called “Mount Tam” by locals, this is one of the best places in California to get a gorgeous view over the entire San Francisco Bay.

At an elevation of only about 2,500 feet, it’s not a particularly hard hike, but are the views ever rewarding! Just try to time it so that you don’t get your view totally obscured by fog, which is a common occurrence, it being San Francisco and all!

The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most sought-after road trips in the world. I’ve done the stretch between San Francisco and Santa Barbara at least a dozen times visiting family as a kid and the views never disappoint.

The entire length of it, however, is absolutely worth having on your California bucket list. Give yourself at least a week to do it leisurely.

Incontrovertible fact: sea otters are some of the most adorable creatures on the planet.

Another fact: you can find them all over the Monterey Bay, especially if you go kayaking in the Monterey harbor!

If you prefer to see them more up close and in person, though, the Monterey Bay aquarium also has otters which they’ve rescued and rehabilitated after the otters could no longer live in the wild for a variety of reasons.

They also have other phenomenal exhibits and are leaders in the world of sustainable and responsible marine education and entertainment, providing plentiful enrichment in the environments for their animals, adhering to best practices in sustainability and conservation, and educating the public.

Made famous by the John Steinback novel, Cannery Row is indeed a real place in Monterey back when sardine fisheries were one of California’s main industries.

Now, Cannery Row is mostly converted into a tourism area with lots of restaurants occupying a gorgeous stretch of seafront, but it’s worth it for Steinbeck lovers and seafood lovers alike.

Carmel-by-the-Sea more than any other place symbolizes my childhood getaways – I think my family went at least once a year.

I love Carmel: its delicious restaurants, its quaint architecture, its beach (which is often a bit cold and foggy but delightful nonetheless). Carmel is the quintessential weekend trip destination and a must for anyone in Northern California to add to their California bucket list.

The quaint oceanside town of Morro Bay is a popular weekend getaway spot on the central coast, not far from San Luis Obispo which makes it a popular getaway for both Angelenos and San Franciscans alike as a midpoint of sorts between the two major population hubs.

It’s famous for Morro Rock, a giant volcanic rock rising nearly 600 feet out of the sea: it’s an incredible sight to see and definitely one for your California bucket list.

This otherworldly looking image is actually real! The ‘glory hole’ (well, that ought to be renamed…) of Lake Berryessa made the rounds on social media a few years back, but it’s still a popular sight to see.

This ‘spillway’ is not always visible — the water level must be above 440 feet for it to function — but when it does, the water gets sucked almost like a vortex into the Monticello dam beneath to keep it from spilling over.

It’s quite cool, but it’s not always visible, so make sure to wait for heavy rains and then check Instagram or other social media to see if the spillway is doing its alien-like thing.

People from outside of California are often confused when they learn that our capital is not Los Angeles or San Francisco but actually Sacramento.

Frankly, I’ve been to Sacramento a handful of times and never found it to be that exciting of a city — but the State Capitol Building is absolutely beautiful, and Sacramento is the heart of California’s political scene so it’s interesting from a historical and political perspective.

And being that California alone is the 5th largest economy in the world, that’s actually a pretty powerful place!

Santa Monica is synonymous with Southern California for its laid-back vibe, beautiful beach, and stunning sunsets.

Feeling the sand beneath your toes in Santa Monica is a California must-do.

While Santa Monica is a lovely beach to hang out during the day, it’s also worth going back at night to see the pier all lit up with its Ferris wheel and other rides.

In addition to the small amusement park you’ll find on the pier, there are also some concession stands where you can grab a bite to eat if you’re feeling hungry.

The Channel Islands off the coast of Los Angeles is a popular getaway spot for Southern Californians; in particular, Santa Catalina island is the most popular due to the ferry which departs regularly from Long Beach, San Pedro, Dana Point, and Newport Beach.

From its famous Avalon casino to its miles of beautiful railways to the fishing excursions you can do around Catalina’s waters, there is plenty to do in Catalina, making it a must for Californians and California enthusiasts.

San Diego is the second-largest city in California (San Francisco doesn’t even come in until fourth, believe it or not!) and has some of the best Mexican food in the country… which makes sense as it’s just a short drive from the border.

There are plenty of things to do in San Diego, and the city really has it all — gorgeous beaches, a cool urban vibe, delicious food, and a stunning skyline — and it’s well worth spending a few days enjoying San Diego to its fullest.

Perhaps the second-most famous bridge in California, the Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur is a California bucket list must.

The iconic architecture juxtaposed with the turquoise blue sea is an image you’ll never forget, and it’s an essential part of any Pacific Coast Highway road trip.

One of the other iconic photos of Big Sur that you”ll want to see with your own eyes is the beautiful waterfall which empties into the Pacific Ocean: McWay Falls.

An inevitable part of any Pacific Coast Highway road trip, this is one for your California bucket list.

One of the iconic images along the California coast is the rock formation at Pfeiffer Beach, located in Big Sur.

It’s almost famous for its purplish sands and stunning sunset views, especially when you can line up the sun through the keyhole rock at Pfeiffer Beach with a spot of timing, photography skills, and good luck.

The glass beach near Fort Bragg is a manmade marvel but that doesn’t make it any less magical of an experience!

The sea glass is forbidden to be taken, to preserve the marine environment, so please be aware of that if you add this beach to your California bucket list.

Big Bear Lake is the summer resort of Bear Mountain, a popular ski getaway in Southern California (yes, Southern California has awesome skiing as well!).

In the summer it’s a great destination for boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming.

One of the most photographed trees in the world, the Lone Cypress is located in Pebble Beach, off of the famous 17-Mile Drive.

It’s located not far from other California bucket list musts like Monterey and its amazing aquarium and Carmel-by-the-Sea, so it’s easy to add on to other California must-dos.

On the coast of California not far from Santa Cruz is the beautiful and colorful beachside town Capitola.

The most famous part of Capitola is, of course, the colorful Venetian Court, which was one of the first condo developments in California and is actually designated as a US Historic District.

You can even rent one of these colorful houses and stay the night in it – though it won’t come cheap!

The Santa Cruz boardwalk has a special place in my heart — I went several times a year as a kid and loved it dearly (except for that time I got too motion sick and threw up from the top of the Ferris wheel… true story).

It’s a great place to go with kids, but it’s also a great place to go and unleash your own inner kid as they have a lot of vintage amusement park rides that are a ton of fun!

I love a lighthouse and the lighthouse in Santa Cruz is one of my favorites in all of California.

See it at sunset after walking the boardwalk and tasting some delicious craft beers at one of the many bars and breweries in Santa Cruz — the beautiful glow of the sunset on the lighthouse is mesmerizing.

Truly California has so many different wine countries that I could write an entire wine tasting California bucket list (maybe that’s a goal for another post?).

But I won’t list them all separately here, as there are simply too many incredible places to visit in California to take up that much room on just wine tasting.

A few incredible destinations for wine tasting in California? The Santa Ynez Valley, Livermore Valley, Paso Robles, Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and of course — Napa County. However, there’s also much, much more!

Looking for a wine getaway? Napa & Sonoma make a fantastic home base to exploring California’s wine country.

Right across the Bay from San Francisco, Oakland is San Francisco’s edgier, more diverse twin city.

In Oakland, you’ll find food from all around the globe, representing the diversity of this dynamic city, and you can’t miss walking or biking around Lake Merritt, a gorgeous tidal lagoon right in the heart of the city.

I was born in Oakland and half of my family is from there, and it’ll always have a very special place in my heart.

Stinson Beach is a Northern California favorite (though we tend to be weary of it as well as there have been a string of shark attacks on surfers there).

The way that the beach collides with and Bolinas Lagoon, forming a beautiful ecosystem, is truly enchanting, making this a Northern California bucket list must.

There are a number of beautiful lighthouses in California but the Point Reyes lighthouse is one to truly remember.

The lighthouse is an easy starting point for other hikes around Point Reyes, including the waterfall hike (later on this list) – so it’s a great way to knock off a few items on your California bucket list in one day!

On your way to Point Reyes it’s inevitable that you’ll pass through the beautiful cypress tunnel.

It’s located just parallel to Sir France Drake Boulevard as you drive through Inverness on your way to Point Reyes. Just be aware Instagram has made it blow up in popularity so you likely won’t be the only one!

The hike to Alamere Falls is not an easy one. It’s a minimum 13 mile roundtrip hike, so it should only be done by seasoned hikers who have the proper gear for a long hike that takes several hours. This includes proper shoes and waters.

However, for those who do have the stamina and will, it’s definitely a hike for your California bucket list to see one of these rare and beautiful tidefalls — a waterfall falling into the sand and being carried out by the ocean. However, this hike can be quite dangerous so please do read the National Parks Service guide on visiting Alamere Falls.

One of the most famous stretches of beachside real estate in all of California is the Venice Beach boardwalk.

Full of performers, bodybuilders, vendors, and people walking and biking, Venice Beach is full of character!

Poppies are California’s state flower, and you’ll find them everywhere throughout California if you keep an eye out for them.

Just please don’t pick the poppies — it’s illegal unless it’s on your own property or if you have express permission from the land owner.

You can also try to seek out one of the state’s superblooms but these can be a tad unpredictable! Antelope Valley tends to be the major spot for the superbloom.

Yosemite National Park is the most famous national park in California, and one of the most famous US national parks in general.

There are so many incredible hikes and places to visit in Yosemite that frankly, you could spend two weeks camping and exploring there and not run out of new hikes to do or places to explore.

Bring a tent (or glamp if camping isn’t your style) and spend some time getting to know one of the most beautiful parts of California.

The beautiful Bridal Veil Falls cascade thunderously down the landscape in Yosemite, one of the most beautiful and powerful waterfalls in all of California.

Its beauty and strength make it a must on any California bucket list.

A national park so little-known that many Californians don’t know it exists (myself included until recently), you can be guaranteed beautiful views and far fewer crowds than you’ll find in any other of California’s nine national parks.

There is so much to do in Napa Valley – most of it being of the wine tasting variety – but there’s one other epic thing you should add to your California bucket list: ballooning over it!

Watch the vineyards disappear and melt into the hilly California landscape as you ride in a hot air balloon over the gorgeous Napa Valley.

Be sure to celebrate with the Napa favorite, cabernet sauvignon, afterwards!

Napa Valley often gets all the love but in my opinion, Sonoma County has some of the best wines on the planet, especially if you’re a fan of Pinot Noir!

The cities of Sebastopol and Healdsburg are great bases for exploring the Sonoma County wine scene, and they have phenomenal restaurants as well — all with a much more laid-back vibe and cheaper prices than Napa.

The town of Jenner is a true hidden gem in California.

Located on Highway 1 yet not anywhere near as well known as other places like Big Sur, this beautiful tiny oceanfront town is where the Russian River empties out into the Pacific Ocean in the most beautiful way.

Some say California doesn’t have a true fall — and to that, I’d vehemently disagree.

Fall in California is one of the most beautiful times of the year, especially in wine country when the vineyards turn a beautiful golden yellow and harvest season begins. Take that, New England – we don’t need your red leaves!

Mendocino in Northern California is one of the state’s hidden gems, known well to Northern Californians who use it as a weekend getaway but little-known outside the state.

Renting a cute seaside cottage here – preferably one with a view of the ocean so you can try to spot seals, sea lions, and even whales! – is a California bucket list must.

Tahoe is often thought of as a winter-only destination but it has so much to offer in summer.

Rent a boat on the gorgeous glacial lake, go kayaking, or even just enjoy some California craft beers while posted up on a cute patch of shore and enjoy some of the best views in the state.

Lake Tahoe is famous for its enormous granite boulders which you can find on the periphery of certain parts of the lake.

The area around Bonsai Rock in particular is a gorgeous place to spot these beautiful, unique boulders, as well as “Secret Cove” which is definitely not as secret as the name would imply.

One final part of Lake Tahoe that deserves its own special section is Emerald Bay, perhaps the most photographed part of Lake Tahoe with its adorable small islet in the middle of it.

Since it’s on the Southwest corner of the lake, it’s the perfect sunrise spot if you can make yourself wake up early enough to enjoy it!

I’m not a skier, but I’ve heard the slopes in Tahoe are world-class. Squaw Valley in Tahoe is the ski resort of legends, and thousands of ski bunnies descend on the slopes every winter.

You have literally hundreds of runs and resorts to choose from to suit any skill level or budget, plus plenty of ski schools if you’re itching to learn. Me, I prefer my feet planted on the ground rather than attached to two boards sliding down a mountain… but for many people, this is top of their California bucket list!

Coachella Valley is better known for its eponymous music festival, but even if it’s not that time of year, Coachella Valley is worth a visit.

One thing that should definitely be on your Southern California bucket list is driving Highway 111 and seeing the epic Palms Road, which you’ll find located in Indian Wells.

The Mammoth Lakes in Sierra Nevada are home to some of the most beautiful bodies of water in California — they’re a great place to camp as well.

The mountains nearby are beloved for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

The stunning McArthur-Burney Falls is located way in the north of California, not too far from the city of Redding, just off the Pacific Crest Trail made famous by Cheryl Strayed’s phenomenal book Wild.

This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in California and it’s a must on any California bucket list.

How does a trip to Bumpass Hell sound?

All jokes aside, Mount Lassen Volcanic Park is incredible: from bubbling sulphuric mud pits to lava rocks strewn from a previous eruption millennia ago, you can really see the wild and unpredictable nature of volcanoes in real life right here in California.

Mount Shasta is one of the most iconic mountains in California, apart from perhaps Mount Whitney.

At over 14,000 feet, Mount Shasta isn’t exactly easy hiking — you definitely need to be in good shape and have proper gear to do the hike — but there are tons of hikes in the area that have a stunning view of Mount Shasta that are definitely worth undertaking.

Want a touch of the Sahara in California?

The sand dunes in Mesquite Valley are the next closest thing, with super soft orange sand undulating out in the distance, with only mountains behind it.

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the only places on earth you’ll be able to find the strangely beautiful Joshua trees – so please treat them with the respect and caution they deserve (though frankly that goes for every natural space on this list!).

There are tons of different hikes you can do in Joshua Tree depending on your skill level and desired trail length; just be prepared as this is a rather desert-like atmosphere, so bring plenty of water!

What is there to say about Disneyland that hasn’t been said before?

For many, it’s the happiest place on earth. For this introvert who is terrified of children and crowds, it’s hell on earth.

But to each their own, and if you have children (or are a kid at heart!), a Disneyland trip is a California bucket list must.

I’ve spent more time in Solvang than pretty much any other place on this list as it’s where my grandmother lived during all her years of my life (my dad’s family is from Santa Barbara). I visited at least twice a year until my grandma passed at age 12.

Growing up I always thought it was a bit of a silly place – who could think of a slice of Denmark right in the heart of Southern California – but I’ve heard Solvang is just plain cool now, with wine bars, hip restaurants, and plenty of cool things going on to attract weekend trippers from nearby Santa Barbara.

There are a lot of wonderful hikes near LA, and one of the most popular is located in the Angeles National Forest, part of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sturtevant Falls is a relatively easy hike good for beginners, a little over 3 miles, and it’s a great way to escape from the hustle and bustle of LA.

Los Angeles is an incredible, invigorating metropolis which can at times be a bit overwhelming due to the relentless traffic and unending sprawl. But you can catch a moment of peace and quiet, it makes it pure magic.

Some great viewpoints can be found at the Hollywood Bowl Overlook and Griffith Observatory, but there are countless other viewpoints worth seeking out!

Rodeo Drive is one of the most famous shopping streets in California, and you’ll find that nearly every designer has a piece of real estate here.

You’ll find everything from super high end Louis Vuitton and Prada to more accessible brands like Banana Republic and Anthropologie. Even if you don’t have the money to splurge, it can be fun to window shop here and try to spot some celebrities doing a bit of shopping!

A bit obsessed with Hollywood? You can’t miss the Walk of Fame!

Stroll down Hollywood Boulevard while spotting your favorite celebrity stars, snapping photos along the way — touristy, yes, California bucket list must, also yes!

In my mind, I will always and forever associate Laguna Beach with the reality TV show (I am a millennial, after all). But Laguna Beach is so much more than the drama between Kristin and LC.

The beach is stunning, the sunsets are unbelievable, and the food is incredible.

Huntington Beach is a beloved surf town in Southern California, and one of the things it’s most famous for is its enormous pier.

It’s nearly 2,000 feet long and is one of the longest piers in all of the West Coast, going far into the Pacific so you can see the waves crashing beneath your feet.

Pismo Beach is another place I associate with my childhood, as we’d always stop there on our Pacific Highway road trips to go visit my grandmother.

It’s dead beautiful during the sunset, and it makes a fantastic place to stop on any Highway 1 trip. Frankly, I think it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in all of California.

There are so many stunning places in Death Valley that its hard to know where to get started, but Zabriskie Point with its gorgeous kaleidoscope of colors seems as good a place as any!

It’s especially beautiful at sunrise and sunset, when sun sets the desert on fire, but prepare to be surrounded by tons of photographers who share the desire to capture this beautiful place in California as well!

The Salton Sea may be beautiful in its own way, but it is most definitely NOT a place you want to swim!

The water is evaporating so rapidly that it’s left insanely high saline levels, killing off a lot of the ecological diversity it once held. Once a major tourism destination, the Salton Sea area is now a bit of a ghost town, which is part of what makes it so fascinating.

Some of the clearest skies in California are in Death Valley, so if you’re a serious stargazer, bring your best camera, warm clothes, and loads of patience on a clear night to try your hand at astrophotography in this beautiful place.

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in all of North America, making it a bit like the Dead Sea of the Western Hemisphere.

The salt flats make otherworldly hexagonal like patterns which are incredibly beautiful and there is a marker on the cliff to show just where sea level is, which grants you an incredible perspective of just how low you are when you visit Badwater Basin!

Carlsbad is a small city in between Los Angeles and San Diego that has a ton of incredible attractions making it worthy of any California bucket list.

There are a number of lagoons and beaches worth exploring, plus it’s the location of Legoland — a must for any kid!

Palm Springs is a beloved weekend getaway in California for people all around the state.

Located in the Sonoran desert with the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills, Palm Springs is like an oasis of luxury amid the desert. It’s famous for its architecture and luxury hotels, as well as its hot springs, so if you’re in need of some R&R, Palm Springs is the best place in California to get it!

Did you know that California has several islands?

In addition to the more famous Channel Islands, which includes Catalina, California’s largest island, there are a handful of other islands which are charming places to visit in California.

Coronado Island is connected to San Diego by a bridge, making it — technically speaking — no longer an island. Its beach and its gorgeous views of the San Diego skyline make this a must on your California bucket list.

Not far from San Diego is one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in all of Southern California.

Filled with flowers and beautiful fine sand, Torrey Pines State Beach is a must on your California bucket list.

Things to Do in Bodega Bay

The beautiful area of Bodega Head is one of the premier areas for hiking along the Sonoma Coast.

Bodega Head juts out 4 miles into the Pacific Ocean, further out from the coast, making it a great spot for whale watching and beautiful hikes surrounded by views of the Pacific Ocean every which way you turn.

There is a great hike here, the Bodega Head Trail, a wheelchair-accessible 1.9-mile hike with 136 feet of elevation change.

The typical grade is about 4% and while it is not paved, it is made of compacted gravel which makes it accessible for people who use wheelchairs as well as parents with strollers. Note that dogs are not permitted on this trail, not even on a leash.

There are also picnic tables and a smaller hike starting by the picnic tables that you can do, on the north side of Bodega Head. In the spring, you’ll be joining a beautiful wall of wildflowers!

This little-known spot in Bodega Bay has a quirky history. What looks like a lovely lake belies a whole bunch of human stupidity!

This pit was dug by PG&E who planned to build a nuclear reactor right here… two miles away from the San Andreas fault line, a massive active fault line.

Luckily, a bunch of activists banded together and were able to put a stop to the project, and now the pit originally dug for the plant has been filled in with water and it’s now a haven for migratory birds (and birdwatchers!).

Thomas Wellock, a nuclear historian, believes that the birth of the anti-nuclear movement started right here in Bodega Bay.

It’s accessible by parking at Campbell Cove before you reach Bodega Head and walking a few minutes.

One thing Bodega Bay is best known for is its whales, as its one of the best places in California for whale watching!

There are a handful of companies offering charter boats out to see the whales, as Bodega Bay is a small community with only a few whale watching tours.

This is great for people interested in ethical whale watching, since these tours are always run using small boats usually used for fishing charters, which are less disruptive to the whale populations. I suggest North Bay Charters.

The small town of Bodega is located on Bodega Highway just a mile inland and a bit down the road from Bodega Bay.

It’s worth a stop while you’re in Bodega Bay because it’s home to some famous landmarks, such as the church and schoolhouse.

The Saint Teresa of Avila Church in Bodega (not Bodega Bay, but the smaller town of Bodega) is a beautiful stop.

If it looks familiar, it may be: you may have seen it photographed by Ansel Adams or in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds!

Fun fact:

Right on Bodega Highway, just a few steps from the Avila Church, you’ve got to snap a photo of the cute little red post office for the town of Bodega.

It’s just precious!

Another well-known filming location from The Birds, Potter Schoolhouse is a beautiful and slightly haunted looking building that would look more at home in New England than along the California coast!

Originally built in 1873 as a schoolhouse, the building has had several lifetimes: a community center, a restaurant, an inn, a guesthouse, a filming location, and now, a private residence.

Please be mindful that it’s private property. Do not trespass or infringe their privacy. It’s fine to take photos outside from a distance, but don’t go beyond the gate.

There are several great places to grab a seafood feast while you’re in Bodega Bay!

One popular place is Fishetarian, a low-key outdoor fish restaurant that serves up crab cakes, fish and chips, and all sort of delicious fishy goodness.

Another popular place is The Tides, which was another filming location for The Birds!

If you want a tasty plate of oysters, there’s no better place than Spud Point Crab Company on the way towards Bodega Head.

Their oysters are fresh and expertly shucked, and the mignonette is perfect with just the right amount of acidity and shallot-y goodness.

I didn’t get a chance to eat at Terrapin Creek while I was in Bodega Bay, since it’s only open Thursday through Sunday and I went on a Wednesday. However, my aunt insisted it had to be on this list of things to do in Bodega Bay, so here it is!

If you want a delicious Michelin star meal that won’t break the bank, head to Terrapin Creek. It’s not cheap, but for a Michelin-starred restaurant, it’s surprisingly affordable. We’re talking appetizers around $15-20 and main course around $25-40. The atmosphere is convivial and unstuffy, and my aunt swears that the pasta she ate there was the best of her life.

It’s not a seaside getaway without saltwater taffy, isn’t it?

The lovely Patrick’s Salt Water Taffy is as sweet on the inside as it looks on the outside, with nostalgic bubblegum-pink stripes on the exterior.

It’s a must-stop if you have a sweet tooth!

This seemingly innocent looking bell tower has a unique and slightly sad story behind it.

The Children’s Bell Tower is a memorial dedicated to Nicholas Green, a 7-year-old boy who died in a shooting in Italy on vacation. His parents decided to donate his organs — an uncommon occurrence at the time in Italy — and it sparked a massive threefold rise in the rate of organ donation in Italy, which previously had very low rates of organ donation.

The bell tower in Bodega Bay is the work of sculptor Bruce Hasson, who used more than 140 bells sent to the family of the deceased child from people, schools, and churches all around Italy. The central bell, with the names of the 7 recipients of Nicholas’ organ donations, was donated by a bellmaker who crafted bells for the Papacy for a millennia, and it was blessed by Pope John Paul II.

While the story of the child’s death while on vacation is tragic, the fact that he was able to give life to so many others — and for his parents to spread the word of organ donation worldwide — makes the Children’s Bell Tower a place of peace and hope, not just sadness.

If you’re a fan of bird-watching (and no, not Alfred Hitchcock’s birds, don’t worry!) then head to the Birdwalk Coastal Access Trail for a scenic walk through the wetlands.

See all manners of birdlife like herons and egrets in these beautiful marshlands. You can walk all the way to Doran Beach this way (and evade the parking fee for Doran Beach).

There are a number of beautiful beaches just due north of Bodega Bay, all up through Sonoma Coast State Park and all the way past Jenner. The first beach you’ll hit as you exit town is one of the most beautiful: North Salmon Creek Beach, which is wide, wild, and wonderful.

There’s a lagoon at the creek which washes into the ocean, giving children a safe place to play away from the Pacific waves. There’s all sorts of driftwood for making forts, and you might also see the snowy plover bird, a rare bird which nests there.

Note that because it’s a nesting location for snowy plover, dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Natural Wonders in Southern California:

By Catherine Housseau from Catherine Housseau Photography

Bioluminescence off shore of San Diego brings a huge crowd to the coastline and photographers rush to capture the beauty of the neon waves.

This phenomenon is a must-see if you are lucky enough to see it. The glowing waves owe their color to blooming microscopic plants called phytoplankton. By day, the organisms collect on the water’s surface to give the water a reddish-brown hue, known as the red tide.

By night, the algae put on a light show of fluorescent blue.

Red tides, which stretch from Baja California up the coast to Los Angeles, have been observed since the early 1900s and can last from a few days to a couple of months.

The effect is not only mesmerizing but truly magical.

It has been said that the bioluminescence is to the ocean what the Northern Lights are to the sky.

It is an experience you will never forget once you witness it and it will leave you with a feeling of awe and wonder.

Tip:  No one can predict exactly when the bioluminscence will occur.  If you’re traveling to the southern California coast in the spring or mid-summer to early fall, be sure to check the news or social media.  It won’t go unnoticed!

Where to stay:
Hotel: Stay on the beach at the Tower 23 Hotel in San Diego or the Bed and Breakfast Inn at La Jolla.
Airbnb: Ocean Front Spacious Condo, steps to the ocean!

By Chris and Heather Boothman from A Brit & A Southerner 

California is blessed with a myriad of natural attractions that should be on everyone’s radar but in our opinion, Joshua Tree National Park is frequently left in the shadow of Yosemite when you contemplate national wonders to visit in the state.

If you are heading to SoCal and staying in the Los Angeles area, a day trip to Joshua Tree is an experience you won’t want to miss. Alternatively, a multi-day camping trip to this national park is certainly a rewarding experience, especially for the adventurous folks out there.

Covering 794,000 acres intersecting the Mojave and Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree is located only 130 miles east of downtown LA. There are three entrances, depending on the direction you are visiting, each of which offers a unique perspective on Joshua Tree’s distinctive landscape.

Whether you are an avid hiker or simply enjoy taking a self-guided driving tour through a national park, Joshua Tree is definitely one that everyone can enjoy. When it comes to the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, consider Ryan Mountain Trail, Warren Peak Trail or Hidden Valley Trail, all of which offer breathtaking close-up experiences with the infamous natural features that make Joshua Tree such a spectacular landscape. The Skull Rock Trail is perhaps the most iconic in Joshua Trail, primarily because among the plethora of rock formations is one that distinctively looks like a skull.

For those of you that prefer to stay inside your vehicle, a self-guided route between two of the entrances is a great way to experience the best of the park. You will likely want to get out to take a stroll around the Cholla Cactus Garden, simply because of the uniqueness but remember, do not touch any of these cacti unless you want to spoil the rest of your trip!

Tip: Visit Joshua Tree in spring or fall and avoid the heat of summer unless you want to experience searing California temperatures. The quieter spring and fall seasons will allow ample opportunities to experience the gorgeous hiking trails throughout Joshua Tree.

Where to stay:
Hotel: Stay in the 1950s hacienda-style Joshua Tree Inn in near the park’s west entrance or for more comfort, try the Hotel Paseo Autograph Collection in nearby Palm Desert.
Airbnb: The Ridge at Joshua Tree, 10 minutes from the west entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, or for a special view of the stars (photo above) try This Is The Place.

By Lizzie Lau from lizzielau.com

Painted Canyon is a terrific hiking destination about 40 miles southeast of Palm Springin the Mecca hills.

The Mecca hills were formed by the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate converging along the San Andreas Fault.  It caused the formation of some amazing slot canyons and some of the trails are only accessible by ladders. The Ladder Canyon Trail is about a 4.5 mile loop that passes through a slot canyon, up to a ridge, and returns along the bottom of Big Painted Canyon. It will take 2-3 hours to complete the loop, so make sure to take enough water.

A lot of the trail surface is sand and loose gravel. The trail isn’t always well marked, but there are always people who have done the trails and can point or lead you in the right direction.  For example, after the parking lot you’ll walk along a wide canyon until you see a pile of rocks in the shape of an arrow pointing you to a rock slide to the left – which is the entrance to the first slot canyon. There’s a marker on the right side of the trail, but it’s easy to miss.  If you do miss this entrance you can keep going and do the loop in reverse, but it’s easier to to go up the ladders at the beginning of the hike than go down them at the end.

It may feel sketchy at times, but it is outrageously beautiful and worth the effort. There are some amazing views at the top. You can see all the way to the Salton Sea.

How to get there: From Palm Springs take Highway 111 east to Mecca. Turn left at 66th Avenue and follow it through Mecca. 66th becomes Box Canyon Road. Watch for a sign for Painted Canyon Road, turn left and take this dirt road until you reach the parking area.

Tip: Do the Ladder Canyon Trail loop clockwise so you’re climbing up the ladders instead of going down them.

Where to stay:
Hotel: The modern boutique L’Horizon Resort & Spa in Palm Springs.
Airbnb: Habibi House Ranch in Joshua Tree and located near Painted Canyon.

The largest state park at 600,000 acres  Anza-Borrego is jam-packed with California nature from badlands to palm oases and cactus-studded hills.  The park, a United Nations Biosphere preserve,  is about a two-hour drive from Palm Springs or San Diego.

It’s also home to one of the most popular natural attractions in California – – the annual apring bloom of desert flowers from late February through March.  The best way to see this lovely California scenery is to walk the trails.  Palm Canyon Trail, Little Surprise Canyon, the Cactus Loop Trail and Bow Willow Canyon are all good bets.

You’ll find surreal landscapes in Borrego Valley and Borrego Badlands, but, beware of visiting during the heat of summer.  This is one of the hottest locations in the U.S.

Be sure to take in the night skies in Borrego Springs, the town inside the park.  It is designated as an International Dark Sky Community and offers spectacular night sky views.

Tip: Conditions vary in any given year, but the second week of March is often the peak of the wildflower bloom.  Be sure to take a hat and sunscreen.

Where to stay:
Hotel: La Casa del Zorro Resort and Spa  in Borrego Springs
Airbnb: Gorgeous Rams Hill Home in Santa Fe.

By Kimmie Conner  from Adventures & Sunsets Blog

Laguna Beach has one of the most gorgeous coastlines in California and is full of rock arches, cliff formations, caves, and tide pools. Some of the best beaches in southern California are visible from the Pacific Coast Highway, but to find others, you must locate concealed stairwells or navigate winding streets.

Laguna Beach is located in south Orange County, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. I recommend taking a road trip down Pacific Coast Highway and spending a generous amount of time exploring this beach town and its surrounds.

As an Orange County local, I can’t give away TOO many secrets – but I can recommend Thousand Steps Beach, Three Arch Bay, and Victoria Street as some of the most scenic and incredible places in Laguna. If you want to have amazing views right from your hotel, stay in The Montage or Surf and Sand – you won’t regret it!

Downtown Laguna has some great little eateries that have maintained their small-town feel despite the ever-growing popularity of the area. When you aren’t relaxing on the beach, you can explore art galleries and also go hiking to even more spectacular views.

Tip:  As summer months can get extremely crowded, a great time to go is September – when the weather is still warm but the crowds have lessened a little bit. Make sure to watch the sunset over the sea!

Where to stay in Laguna Beach:
Hotel: Montage Laguna Beach or the Surf and Sand Resort.
Airbnbs:  See our recommendations for 15 of the best Airbnb stays in Laguna Beach.

Located just north of San Diego on the Pacific Coast Highway, Torrey Pines State Reserve is perfect for those who love hiking and relaxing at the beach.

This is home to the torrey pine, one of the rarest pine tries in the world.

For hiking, take the road that winds upward from the beach side entrance to the top of the sandstone bluffs.  Here you can choose from six hiking trails or take guided nature walks.  The easiest trail is Guy Fleming Trail.  Take a break about halfway along the looped trail at benches overlooking the sea.  It’s a great spot to catch views of dolphins at any time of the year, or whales during migration.

The popular Beach Trail runs from the Visitor’s Centre parking lot down to the beach.  There is plenty of parking near the park’s main entrance.

For an exhilarating experience, try tandem paragliding at nearby Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Tip: Walk to the end of the beach to the south, where it’s less crowded.  But don’t be surprised if you see naturists at Black’s Beach, a clothing optional beach at the far end of the park.

Where to stay:
Hotel: Bed and Breakfast Inn at La Jolla or for a luxury stay, enjoy the Lodge at Torrey Pines
Airbnb: Birdrock Beach Bungalow, only five blocks from the waves in La Jolla.

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