Must-see attractions in California

  • October 9, 2014: Visitors gather at Glacier Point with the Half Dome mountain in the background.

    Yosemite National Park

    Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada

    Yosemite means "killer" in the Indigenous Miwok language, and in today's parlance it's indeed an impressive, awesome site. Everywhere you look in Yosemite…

  • An aerial view of Golden Gate Park from the Pacific Ocean. Golden Gate Park is the third most visited city park in the US.

    Golden Gate Park

    San Francisco

    When Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of New York's Central Park, gazed in 1865 upon the plot of land San Francisco Mayor Frank McCoppin wanted to turn…

  • Griffith in Blue

    Griffith Observatory

    Los Feliz & Griffith Park

    With eyes on both the galaxy above and palm-flanked boulevards below, the Griffith Observatory hovers above LA like a hulking spacecraft. This is one of…

  • APRIL 24, 2018: Victorian-style homes in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.

    Haight Street

    The Haight & Hayes Valley

    Was it the fall of 1966 or the winter of ’67? As the Haight saying goes, if you can remember the Summer of Love, you probably weren’t here. The fog was…

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA. 15th August, 2017: historic san francisco chinatown neighborhood

    Chinatown Alleyways

    North Beach & Chinatown

    If you look close today at the clinker-brick buildings lining these narrow backstreets, past the temple balconies jutting out over bakeries, acupuncture…

  • SAN FRANCISCO - SEPT 2, 2017: The Beat Generation lives on at City Lights bookstore in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco.

    City Lights Books

    North Beach & Chinatown

    No one could have predicted the cultural force City Lights would become when it first opened in 1953. Sure, it had a proletarian ethos suggested by its…

  • SAN FRANCISCO, USA - December 8, 2019, visitors are similar in color to the artifacts in question at the California Museum of Modern Art, a girl walks past the picture.; Shutterstock ID 1622086819; your: Meghan O'Dea; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI page

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa

    When the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art expanded in 2016, it was a mind-boggling feat that nearly tripled the institution's size to accommodate a…

  • Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill Boulevard, San Francisco, USA

    Coit Tower

    North Beach & Chinatown

    If you want to really see San Francisco, head to Coit Tower, a 1933 art deco beaut designed by Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard that sits high up on…

  • Golden Gate Bridge at the golden hour from Baker Beach.

    Golden Gate Bridge

    The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf & the Piers

    Few cities boast a structure so iconic as the Golden Gate Bridge, commemorated in everything from films like The Maltese Falcon to not one but two emojis…

  • Dolores Park - San Francisco, California

    Dolores Park

    The Mission, Dogpatch & Potrero Hill

    Welcome to San Francisco's sunny side, the land of street ball and Mayan-pyramid playgrounds, semiprofessional tanning and taco picnics. Although the…

  • Clarion Alley lined with murals.

    Clarion Alley

    The Mission, Dogpatch & Potrero Hill

    The Mission District has a long history of street art and muralismo – an oft-political school of public art prevalent throughout South and Central America…

  • 826 Valencia

    The Mission, Dogpatch & Potrero Hill

    Avast, ye scurvy scallywags! If ye be shipwrecked without yer eye patch or McSweeney's literary anthology, lay down ye doubloons and claim yer booty at…

  • Waverly Place

    North Beach & Chinatown

    Grant Ave is Chinatown's economic heart, but its soul is Waverly Place, lined with flag-festooned, colorful temple balconies and family-run businesses…

  • Mono Lake

    Mono Lake Region

    North America’s second-oldest lake is 70 sq miles, and a quiet and mysterious expanse of deep blue water. The glassy surface reflects jagged Sierra peaks,…

  • Sign for Teakettle Junction on the way to Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

    Death Valley National Park

    The Deserts

    The very name evokes all that is harsh, hot and hellish – a punishing, barren and lifeless place of Old Testament severity. Yet closer inspection reveals…

  • Point Reyes Lighthouse, California

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    Marin County

    Point Reyes National Seashore protects 100 square miles of pristine ocean beaches and coastal wilderness and has excellent hiking and camping…

  • High-angle view of the San Francisco Ferry Building during the morning.

    Ferry Building

    Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa

    Hedonism is alive and well at this transit hub turned gourmet emporium, where foodies happily miss their ferries over Sonoma oysters and bubbly, SF craft…

  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, USA.


    The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf & the Piers

    Alcatraz: for over 150 years, the name has given the innocent chills and the guilty cold sweats. Over the decades, it’s been a military prison, a…

  • Exploratorium

    The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf & the Piers

    Is there a science to skateboarding? Do toilets really flush counterclockwise in Australia? At San Francisco's hands-on science museum, you'll find out…

  • Balmy Alley

    The Mission, Dogpatch & Potrero Hill

    Since at least the 1980s, if you stroll through San Francisco's Mission District you've likely noticed the neighborhood's profusion of colorful murals and…

  • People entering Knott's Scary Farm at Knott's Berry Farm, celebrating a Southern California Halloween tradition, on October 14, 2013.

    Knott’s Berry Farm

    Orange County

    What started as a simple berry farm is now a sprawling 160-acre operation with rides, live shows and lovable Peanuts characters roaming the grounds. Knott…

  • Sun shining through the redwood tree forest in Humboldt County, California.

    Muir Woods National Monument

    Marin County

    Muir Woods National Monument is located just a few miles north of San Francisco in Marin County, and is a prime peaceful destination for reflection within…

  • VENICE BEACH, USA - SEPTEMBER 29, 2016: The crowded Venice Beach Boardwalk. Lots of people are strolling down the boardwalk. On the sides there are several shops and palm trees.

    Venice Boardwalk

    Venice, Marina Del Rey & Playa del Rey

    Prepare for a sensory overload on Venice's Boardwalk, a one-of-a-kind experience. Buff bodybuilders brush elbows with street performers and sellers of…

  • San Francisco, USA - Jun 24, 2015: Iconic Grace Cathedral stands on top of Nob Hill on a beautiful sunny, blue sky day; Shutterstock ID 1201473919; your: Meghan O'Dea; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI

    Grace Cathedral

    San Francisco

    Is there any church that better embodies San Francisco's resilience, inclusivity and activist streak? The Nob Hill gem has been rebuilt three times since…

  • Manzanita Lake during autumn in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

    Lassen Volcanic National Park

    Northern Mountains

    Lassen Peak, the world’s largest plug-dome volcano, rises 2000ft over the surrounding landscape to 10,457ft above sea level. Classified as an active…

  • The new De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

    de Young Museum

    San Francisco

    Follow sculptor Andy Goldsworthy's artificial fault line in the sidewalk into Herzog & de Meuron's sleek, copper-clad building that's slowly oxidizing…

  • SAN FRANCISCO, USA - OCT 5, 2015: Tyrannosaur Rex skeleton in  California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum in San Francisco, California. It was established in 1853

    California Academy of Sciences

    San Francisco

    This classic research institute and museum has been teaching San Franciscans about natural history since 1853. Right in the middle of Golden Gate Park,…

  • San Simeon, California / USA - May 12, 2018: Exterior view of Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst's extravagant coastal hilltop estate designed by architect Julia Morgan over 28 years.; Shutterstock ID 1297759909; your: Meghan O'Dea; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI

    Hearst Castle

    Central Coast

    Perched high on a hill, Hearst Castle is a wondrous, historic, over-the-top homage to material excess. From the 1920s into the '40s, Hearst and Marion…

  • San Juan Capistrano church

    Mission San Juan Capistrano

    Coastal Orange County

    Famous for its swallows that fly back to town every year on March 19 (though sometimes they’re just a bit early), San Juan Capistrano is home to the …

  • San Francisco: Chinatown, Grant Avenue  (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

    Chinese Historical Society of America

    North Beach & Chinatown

    Picture what it was like to be Chinese in America during the gold rush, transcontinental railroad construction, and Beat heyday in this 1932 landmark,…

  • Supermoon above the Eastern Sierra Mountains, California, USA.; Shutterstock ID 556617343; your: Meghan O'Dea; gl: 65050; netsuite: Digital Editorial; full: POI

    Alabama Hills

    Lone Pine

    The setting for countless ride-‘em-out movies, the popular Lone Ranger TV series and, more recently, parts of Iron Man (Jon Favreau, 2008) and Quentin…

  • Children's Pool

    La Jolla

    Built in the 1930s behind a wave-cutting seawall, La Jolla’s Children’s Pool was created as a family beach but has since been invaded by herds of seals…

  • Birch Aquarium At Scripps, La Jolla, California. (Photo by: Education Images/Citizens of the Planet/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

    Birch Aquarium at Scripps

    La Jolla

    This state-of-the-art aquarium is a wonderous underwater world home to 5000 fish. Visitors can watch sharks dart, kelp forests sway, and even meet a…

  • MONTEREY, CA - APRIL10:  The exterior of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, located at Cannery Row two hours south of San Francisco, is viewed on April 10, 2018, in Monterey, California. An estimated 15 million domestic and international travelers visit California each year generating more than $100 billion in revenue and creating more than one million jobs in the arts, entertainment, recreation, food service and accomodations sectors. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

    Monterey Bay Aquarium


    Monterey is practically synonymous with its world-class aquarium overlooking Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which protects dense kelp forests and…

  • A coastal path, part of the Partington Cove Trail in Julia Pfeiffer State Park.

    Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

    Big Sur

    If you're chasing waterfalls, swing into this state park named for the daughter of some of the earliest European settlers to arrive in Big Sur. The…

  • Sunnylands center and garden in Rancho Mirage, Desert environment park, home to a variety of plants and wildlife, California, USA. September 26th, 2020; Shutterstock ID 1824982439; your: Meghan O'Dea; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI


    Greater Palm Springs

    Palm Springs has long been famous a celebrity playground, but few destinations in the valley better exemplify that pedigree than Sunnylands, the retreat…

  • Pfeiffer State Beach

    Pfeiffer Beach

    Big Sur

    Pfeiffer Beach is at the heart of what Big Sur is all about – splendid, unusual scenery that's inspired generations of artists, writers, and travelers…

  • Train tracks in Santa Cruz, California, USA.

    Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

    Santa Cruz

    The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been an Americana classic like few others for over a century. Now as in 1907 when the amusement park first opened, the…

  • The well-known Pier 39 in San Francisco with sea lions. Animals are heated on wooden platforms

    Sea Lions at Pier 39

    The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf & the Piers

    Sea lions took over San Francisco’s most coveted waterfront real estate in 1989 and have been making a public display of themselves ever since. Some…

  • USA, California, Inyo County, Death Valley National Park, Zabriskie Point trail at sunset

    Zabriskie Point

    Death Valley National Park

    Not many national park features can say they were celebrated in a 1969 film of the same name, but Zabriskie Point claims that honor thanks to director…