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California destinations, parks and attractions

Are you going on a road trip to California, looking for tips about the destinations so you and your party can enjoy it, be comfortable and not spend a fortune?

Here are some of the top destinations in California and tips about visiting them

Top California destinations

  1. Yosemite National Park - -Yosemite has incredible natural wonders to see and many things to do! The park is home to granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and incredible views and wildlife.  The park, located in eastern central California is surrounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest.
  2. DisneyLand - It's a classic.  Click the link see see much more about visiting DisneyLand.
  3. Hollywood -  Everyone wants to visit Hollywood in Los Angeles, famous for the entertainment industry and  landmarks like, Click the link for MUCH more detailed information.
  4. Paramount Pictures Studio Tour - Movie Studio Tour
    5515 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Phone: (323) 956-1777. Open: see their website, as conditions are constantly changing. Paramount Pictures Studio Tour provides a glimpse into Hollywood's history and present. Explore the studio's iconic backlot, soundstages, and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where many legendary stars are buried.
  5. Universal Studios Hollywood - Movie Studio Tour
    100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608. Phone: (800) 864-8377. Open: see their website, as conditions are constantly changing. Universal Studios Hollywood offers the Studio Tour, which takes you behind the scenes of a real working movie studio. You can explore iconic sets, visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and enjoy thrilling rides and attractions. It's both movie studio and amusement park. The tour is a ride at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Universal City, California near Los Angeles. Studio Tour is the theme park's signature attraction. It travels through a working film studio, with various film sets on the Universal Studios Lot. Duration: 45–60 minutes. Admission is included with a Theme Park Ticket or Annual Pass purchase. (blackout dates apply)
  6. La Brea Tar Pits - Famous for the prehistoric animals like Mastodons that are preserved in the natural tar, La Brea Tar Pits are in Hancock Park in Los Angeles, US. Natural asphalt has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years.
  7. Golden Gate Bridge National Park - San Francisco, CA. Experience a park so rich it supports 19 distinct ecosystems with over 2,000 plant and animal species. Go for a hike, enjoy a vista, have a picnic or learn about the centuries of overlapping history from California’s indigenous cultures, Spanish colonialism, the Mexican Republic, US military expansion and the growth of San Francisco. All of this and more awaits you, so get out and find your park.View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking towards San Francisco at sunrise.
  8. Redwood - Del Norte and Humboldt counties , CA. Most people know Redwood as home to the tallest trees on Earth. But the Parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild rivers, and 40 miles of rugged coastline. People have lived in this verdant landscape since time immemorial. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks are managing and restoring these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all.Image of coast redwood forest along Cal-Barrel Road
  9. Sequoia and Kings Canyon - In the southern Sierra Nevada in Tulare and Fresno counties, CA. This dramatic landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity-huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees. The parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada east of the San Joaquin Valley. Weather varies a lot by season and elevation, which ranges from 1,370' to 14,494'.A snowy sequoia grove. Photo by Roland Rollinger.
  10. San Francisco - Fisherman's Wharf, the cable cars,
  11. San Diego Zoo -

  12. 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101. Phone: 619-231-1515. The San Diego Zoo is considered one of the best and largest zoos on Earth. It's located in Balboa Park and has over 4,000 animals and more than 800 species of rare and exotic creatures. The zoo has 37 major exhibits. San Diego Zoo Apps: APPLE IOS DOWNLOAD HERE or ANDROID DOWNLOAD HERE Tickets in 2023 are
    $69/adults (ages 12+) and $59/child (ages 3-11) online, or $71/adults (ages 12+) and $61/child at the gate
    $67/adults (ages 12+) and $57/child (ages 3-11) online only for value dates
    You can bring your own food or picnic with you, including water and beverages. However, only non-alcoholic beverages can be brought, and they must be in non-glass containers. It's in California, so disposable straws and lids are not permitted.
  13. Death Valley - Death Valley, CA,NV. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.Badwater Basin photo by Dan Mottaz

National parks and monuments in California

  • Alcatraz Island - San Francisco, CA. Alcatraz reveals stories of American incarceration, justice, and our common humanity. This small island was once a fort, a military prison, and a maximum security federal penitentiary. In 1969, the Indians of All Tribes occupied Alcatraz for 19 months in the name of freedom and Native American civil rights. We invite you to explore Alcatraz's complex history and natural beauty.Visitor during the evening tour of Alcatraz gaze into the many cells that line up the corridor known as
  • Cabrillo - San Diego, CA. Climbing out of his boat and onto shore in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th century exploration, the park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. Join us and embark on your own Voyage of Exploration.The Tidepools of Cabrillo National Monument
  • California Trail - Various States CA,CO,ID,KS,MO,NE,NV,OR,UT,WY. Follow in the footsteps of over 250,000 emigrants who traveled to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840s and 1850s: the greatest mass migration in American history. The California National Historic Trail is over 5,000 miles long and covers portions of 10 states. Step into history along more than 1,000 miles of ruts and traces from travelers and their overland wagons.Chimney Rock was an important emigrant landmark in western Nebraska
  • Castle Mountains - Barstow, CA. Castle Mountains represents some of the most unique elements of the Mojave Desert. Nestled between the Nevada state line and Mojave National Preserve, the nearly 21,000 acres of Castle Mountains boasts Joshua tree forests, unbroken natural landscapes, rare desert grasslands, and rich human history. This intriguing area provides serenity and solitude from nearby metropolitan areas.View of Hart Peak in Castle Mountains
  • César E. Chávez - CA. Yes, we can! Widely recognized as the most important Latino leader in the United States during the twentieth century, César E. Chávez led farm workers and supporters in the establishment of the country's first permanent agricultural union. His leadership brought sustained international attention to the plight of U.S. farm workers, and secured for them higher wages and safer working conditionsCésar E. Chávez gravesite.
  • Channel Islands - Ventura, CA. Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.Scenic View from Inspiration Point, Anacapa Island ©
  • Devils Postpile - the Sierra Nevada near Mammoth Lakes, CA. Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery. The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world's finest examples of columnar basalt. Its' columns tower up to 60 feet and display a striking symmetry.Devils Postpile Formation
  • Eugene O'Neill - Danville, CA. America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill, chose to live in Northern California at the height of his writing career. Isolated from the world and within the walls of his home, O'Neill wrote his final and most memorable plays; The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.Banner Photo
  • Fort Point - Presidio of San Francisco, CA. From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point defended the San Francisco Bay following California's Gold Rush through World War II. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of 3rd system brick masonry and interacts gracefully with the Golden Gate Bridge.Line of Civil War re-enactors in uniforms with guns at Fort Point
  • John Muir - Martinez, CA. John Muir played many roles in his life, all of which helped him succeed in his role as an advocate for Nature. As America’s most famous naturalist and conservationist, Muir fought to protect the wild places he loved, places we can still visit today. Muir’s writings convinced the U.S. government to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier as national parks.
  • Joshua Tree - Southern California between I-10 and Hwy 62; headquarters in Twentynine Palms, CA. Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Come explore for yourself.many Joshua trees grow in front of boulders and rock outcrops
  • Juan Bautista de Anza - Nogales, AZ to San Francisco, CA, AZ,CA. "¡Vayan Subiendo!"("Everyone mount up!") was the rousing call from Juan Bautista de Anza. In 1775-76, he led some 240 men, women, and children on an epic journey to establish the first non-Native settlement at San Francisco Bay. Today, the 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail connects history, culture, and outdoor recreation from Nogales, Arizona, to the San Francisco Bay Area.Amigos de Anza 2015
  • Lassen Volcanic - Mineral, CA. Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to shape the land.Lassen Peak from Hat Creek
  • Lava Beds - Tulelake, CA. Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geological and historical. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 800 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and a high desert wilderness experience await you!Schonchin Butte
  • Manzanar - Independence, CA. In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where the US government incarcerated Japanese immigrants ineligible for citizenship and Japanese American citizens during World War II.Mt. Williamson and cemetery monument
  • Mojave - Southern California between I-15 and I-40; headquarters in Barstow, CA. Singing sand dunes, cinder cone volcanoes, a large Joshua tree forest, and carpets of spring wildflowers are all found within this 1.6-million-acre park. A visit to its canyons, mountains, and mesas will reveal long-abandoned mines, homesteads, and rock-walled military outposts. Located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Mojave provides serenity and solitude from major metropolitan areas.Kelso Mountain
  • Muir Woods - Mill Valley, CA. Walk among old growth coast redwoods, cooling their roots in the fresh water of Redwood Creek and lifting their crowns to reach the sun and fog. Federally protected as a National Monument since 1908, this primeval forest is both refuge and laboratory, revealing our relationship with the living landscape. What will you discover in Muir Woods?Visitors appear very small amongst the redwood trees.
  • Old Spanish - AZ,CA,CO,NV,NM,UT. Follow the routes of mule pack trains across the Southwest on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. New Mexican traders moved locally produced merchandise across what are now six states to exchange for mules and horses.Red Rock Country, pack mules, Gunnison River
  • Pinnacles - Paicines, CA. Some 23 million years ago multiple volcanoes erupted, flowed, and slid to form what would become Pinnacles National Park. What remains is a unique landscape. Travelers journey through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms. Hikers enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spires teeming with life: prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and the inspiring California condor.Rock formations as seen from Jawbone Trail.
  • Point Reyes - Point Reyes, CA. From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people. Point Reyes awaits your exploration.The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands
  • Pony Express - Various States CA,CO,KS,MO,NE,NV,UT,WY. It is hard to believe that young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. This relay system along the Pony Express National Historic Trail in eight states was the most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph.Three men on brown horses walk up a sagebrush covered ridge.
  • Port Chicago Naval Magazine - Concord Naval Weapons Station, CA. On the evening of July 17, 1944, residents in the San Francisco east bay area were jolted awake by a massive explosion that cracked windows and lit up the night sky. At Port Chicago Naval Magazine, 320 men were instantly killed when two ships being loaded with ammunition for the Pacific theater troops blew up. It was WWII's worst home front disaster.Banner Photos
  • Presidio of San Francisco - San Francisco, CA. For 218 years, the Presidio served as an army post for three nations. World and local events, from military campaigns to World Fairs and earthquakes, left their mark. Come enjoy the history and the natural beauty of the Presidio. Explore centuries of architecture. Reflect in a national cemetery. Walk along an historic airfield, through forests or to beaches, and admire spectacular vistas.East view from Crissy Field overlook with old Coast Guard station on left and city on right
  • Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front - Richmond, CA. Explore and honor the efforts and sacrifices of American civilians on the World War II home front. Find out how they lived, worked and got along. Many faces, many stories, many truths weave a complex tapestry of myths and realities from this time of opportunity and loss.Banner Photos
  • San Francisco Maritime - San Francisco, CA. Located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers visitors the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history. The Park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, a Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.A section of the bowsprint and figurehead on the bow of BALCLUTHA.
  • Santa Monica Mountains - Thousand Oaks, CA. The Santa Monica Mountains offer easy access to surprisingly wild places. Experience the famous beaches of Malibu or explore more than 500 miles of trails. The park abounds with historical and cultural sites, from old movie ranches to Native American centers. What will you and your family discover?Mountain ridges recede into the distance while a lone hiker stands silhouetted on a trail at sunset
  • Tule Lake - Tulelake, CA. The Tule Lake National Monument includes both the the Tule Lake Segregation Center, the largest and most controversial of the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II, and Camp Tulelake, which was first a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, then an additional facility to detain Japanese Americans, and finally a prisoner of war camp.View of the Tule Lake Segregation Center from guard tower on top of Castle Rock
  • Whiskeytown - Whiskeytown, CA. Whiskeytown Lake’s crystal-clear water is perhaps the most recognized feature of the park. However, water-based recreation is only a part of what the 42,000-acre Whiskeytown National Recreation Area has to offer. Visit waterfalls, hike through rugged mountains, explore California Gold Rush history, and observe post-fire ecology in action. Your national park is calling...

California State parks and historic sites

State Parks

Historic sites

California Seasons, bugs, topography and climate

With an ocean, mountains, forests and deserts, the climate is very diverse. In the summer, it tends to be semi-arid, hot during day and cool at night.

Bugs are thankfully few!

California Camping tips

There are both state parks and private campgrounds in California.