California is our favorite state in the United States. Think about miles long beach, tall palm trees, school of dolphins, surfers, amazing wines, Disneyland, Sea World, and sunshine most of the year, this is CALIFORNIA!
California is home to 38 million people, which makes it the most populated state in the United States. California = sunshine = many things to do. From San Diego to San Francisco, there are plenty of unique and interesting places to visit. In addition to the most incredible attractions like Sea World, we discovered the interesting and unique side of California. Check out our list of 10 things to see and do during your next stay in the sunny state.
1. SAN DIEGO
Visiting California without going to San Diego would be like biting into a soft pancake but without the syrup… something is definitely missing. Perhaps the beauty of the city’s natural bay, the quality of its historical heritage, the richness of its parks, or perhaps the mild weather year-round. And when you know that it only takes a weekend to enjoy it all at once, it would be wrong to deprive yourself of it.
San Diego is often overlooked when traveling to California. Located in the far south of the Golden State, San Diego has a warm climate and year-round sunshine. The slower pace, outdoor culture, and warm locals make San Diego a perfect sunny getaway. Discover one of America’s largest zoos, sail at sunset, stroll the historic avenues, hike some steep cliffs. watch whales, dolphins, and an abundance of sea lions while basking in the sun. Relax and enjoy discovering the best of what San Diego has to offer.
San Diego is by far our favorite city in the US. If we could, we would move there right away. (For those who are reading this post and has an offer for us to move to San DIego, please contact us, NOW ! haha)
We wrote a full post about San Diego here.
Here are some of the highlights of things to do in San Diego
The urban cultural center called Balboa Park is home to more than 485 hectares of museums, restaurants and the San Diego Zoo. Choose from over 15 museums, including the Human Museum, the Space Museum and even a Dinosaur Museum. Stroll among Japanese gardens, roses and cactus. There is no shortage of things to see and do and the hardest part will be figuring out what you can and can’t do in a day. Balboa Park, the essence of San Diego, is a must-see in the city.
If you want to go snorkeling, swimming or diving, La Jolla is the place to be. If you can stand the colder waters, you can swim and dive with colorful fish and seals in abundance. This is not a beach for sunbathing as there is very little sand, a bunch of seaweed, crabs and starfish. La Jolla cove is amazing for watching sea lions in their natural habitat , and has lots of picnic and lifeguard areas. You go to this area at your own risk, so be careful with wildlife. If you prefer to stay out of the water, you can hire a kayak and explore the cove. To admire breathtaking landscapes, observe wildlife and relax, head to the incredible underwater park of La Jolla Cove!
In addition to hosting the famous Hotel Del Coronado, Coronado Island also offers incredible beaches, shopping and unique views. Take a stroll along the pier enjoy an ice cream and chat with the friendliest people who love to share their stories of the city. This quaint little town is full of shops, galleries and restaurants. Get out of the bustling city of San Diego to discover this treasure.
Who has never dreamed of flying to the United States to visit Los Angeles? Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Sunset Boulevard, Huntington Beach for its famous surf competition… there are som many names in Los Angeles, which should sound familiar to you. Los Angeles continues to fascinate many people. After New York, it is quite simply the largest city in the United States and the tourism industry is very developed there. But faced with the gigantic size of the “City of Angels”, it is sometimes difficult to navigate there. So what to do in Los Angeles? What are the essential visits of the city? To help you plan your stay in advance, we have listed our top things to do in LA:
Here are some of the highlights of things to do in Los Angeles
Hollywood and the walk of fame
Los Angeles is the city of stars. In Hollywood head to the Walk of Fame, visit its famous museum (Guinness World Records, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, etc…), watch movies in their amazing cinemas, shop at its gigantic shopping centers etc. Hollywood Boulevard is an essential place to visit while you are in Los Angeles! Located at the end of the famous Hollywood Boulevard, the Dolby Theater (formerly Kodak Theater) is now renowned for hosting the prestigious Academy Awards each year. You too can walk on the red carpet. From Hollywood boulevard you can admire the famous HOLLYWOOD sign from afar.
Rodeo Drive and Beverly Hills
Do you all have in mind the film “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts ransacks all the luxury boutiques with Richard Gere? Rodeo Drive, it’s the ultimate high-end shopping in the heart of Beverly Hills: between Chanel, Cartier, Gucci, Christian Dior, Armani, Tiffany & Co or Burberry, you are sure to find the high-end store that suits you. A great opportunity to window shop, meet wealthy people for a few minutes, be able to dream and heat your credit card. Beverly Hills is surely the richest and best protected district in the whole city. A place where many stars live. Drive around some of the side streets to admire huge and beautiful villas… who knows, you might see one of you favorite actors…
Venice Beach and Santa Monica
Santa Monica has everything you want to satisfy lovers of the ocean those who love sunsets over the sea. Santa Monica has now built a reputation among affluent families and young professionals. Its beautiful sandy beach where volleyball was born in the 1920s, and its pretty waves make surfers from all over the world happy. You can visit Santa Monica for a day, but if you don’t have the time, just reserve the privilege of setting foot on its famous Pier, at the end of which sits the mythical ferris wheel, symbol of the city. You can also hire a boat to explore California beaches.
Right next to Santa Monica, head to Venice Beach. Venice Beach its known for its bohemian and artistic atmosphere. Take a stroll on the famous boardwalk, or ride with your rollerblades like locals. Soak up the atmosphere as you stroll along the boardwalk, which starts from Santa Monica.
3. Santa barbara
Spectacular mountains, deep blue ocean, beautiful landscapes and year-round Mediterranean climate are some of the aspects that make Santa Barbara so beautiful and majestic. Home to artists, winemakers, chefs who love to play with their imaginations and create something different, this city is truly a melting pot of culture. From the Urban Wine Trail which offers 22 wine tasting rooms a few steps from the beach, to the safest beach in the world and to the wharf which offers fresh seafood, this city offers endless things to see and to do. Relax on the pristine Butterfly Beach of Montecito and watch celebrities or go kayaking in the Channel Islands sea caves.
Santa Barbara is without a doubt one of our favorite place in the US. Check out the full article here.
Here are the some highlights of things to do in Santa Barbara
The Stearns Wharf is one of the main tourist attraction of Santa Barbara. The oldest wharf in California still in operation offers the freshest seafood, as well as entertainment and an incredible Sea Center. Visitors will want to spend a few hours observing the views and landscapes and enjoying the catch of the day.
Santa Barbara Mission
Missions were built by the Dominicans, the Jesuits and the Franciscans between 1769 and 1823, and were intended to carry the holy word and convert people to Christianism. A total of 21 Missions have been built between Sonoma and San Diego, and among them, Santa Barbara is one of the prettiest. Nicknamed “Queen of the Missions”, the Santa Barbara Mission is absolutely magnificent, at the foot of a small hill and surrounded by lush gardens. Destroyed after an earthquake in 1925, it was rebuilt according to the plans of the original mission, and is definitely worth a visit
If you are a wine lover, Santa Barbara is the perfect place with its urban vineyards located a few steps from the city center and the beach, in the green hills of the nearby mountains. The unique climate, the east-west mountain range, the Pacific breeze and the very long growing season are factors that contribute to the creation of award-winning wines produced on site.
4. Big Sur and Highway 101
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Big Sur is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque corners of the United States. El sur Grande, as the Spanish conquerors nicknamed it, has steep coasts, canyons , beautiful vegetations, deserted beach, sequoia forest, waterfalls etc. The wonders of Mother Nature are well present on the central coast of California. This is the most beautiful part of Highway 101. If you want to know more about Highway 1, check out our full guide .
Here are the essential stops at Big Sur
McWay Falls is one of the most spectacular places in Big Sur: this waterfall, about 24 meters in length, flows directly into the ocean after gliding along a sandy beach. To see it best, hike the short Mcway Falls Trail. Be careful however, it is forbidden to go on the beach.
The Bixby Bridge is one of the most photographed bridge in California, especially because of the sublime landscapes that surround it. The Bixby Creek Bridge today rises about 80 meters and spans the creek for more than 215 meters. Stop at Castle Rock viewpoint to take the best picture.
Pfeiffer Beach, is probably the most beautiful beach in California. If you only want to visit one beach during your trip to California, this is it, Pfeiffer Beach. You will see a wonderful rock in the shape of an arch. It’s the signature of the place. At the end of the day, several photographers try to line up the sunset in the hole of the rock. Pfeiffer Beach is accessible via a small winding road (Sycamore Canyon Road) located approximately 1 mile south of the entrance to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. There is a small parking lot at the end of the road and it will cost you $ 10 per vehicle for access to this mesmerizing beach. Well worth it.
5. Carmel-By-The-Sea and Monterey
The charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, is located on the Monterey Peninsula, facing the Pacific Ocean and bathed in the scent of cypress and eucalyptus. With the appearance of a small European village, it looks like it was straight out of a tale by the Brothers Grimm. The beach is absolutely fantastic.
Taking a stroll along the coast and downtown in the beautiful and picturesque little alleys, is a must and relaxing moment. Just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea, head to Point Lobos for some beautiful hikes along the wild coast and through the forest. We loved it there, and spend a good morning walking around the natural reserve.
Just north of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you will reach Monterey. Located along the bay that bears its name, Monterey is a community in harmony with nature and history. You can visit the fabulous Monterrey Bay Aquarium, or take a boat trip to see whales, orcas and dolphins. We opted for the 2nd one, and we loved it! We saw dolphins, seals and a majestic humpback whales. You can booked our tour here a few days in advance, as it can gets pretty crowded.
6. Surf some of the most famous waves
California surf cities are places where people only live for the next wave approaching the coast. Buy yourself a new bikini or shorts, slip your toes into the sand and admire the show. But why not also admire it from your balcony with an ocean view or from your seaside table for lunch? Or better yet, why not take the plunge and take a surf lesson? Get started, California is the perfect place to learn how to surf.
Here are some of the most popular surf breaks in California
If you like the Beach Boys, you’ve probably heard of Rincon Beach, who appears in the song “Surfin’ Safari “(At Rincon they’re walking the nose / We’re going on safari to the islands this year). Just south of Santa Barbara, around a pretty little seaside area, you will benefit from ideal conditions for surfing, but also from a magnificent view! Rincon is today one of the flagship places for surf culture in California, so don’t be surprised to find many people there!
Warm climate, relaxed atmosphere and surf attitude make Huntington Beach a favorite place for surfing in California. The city is also called Surf City because it has its surf museum, its bronze surfer statue and even its “Surfing Walk of Fame”, where you can see the great names of boards succeeding one another.
Located north of Monterey Bay, the water is a bit cold, but that does not prevent surfers from going into the powerful waves. In addition, the local atmosphere is particularly pleasant and relaxed. The place was once shared with kayakers who appreciated the waves as much as surfers.
7. San Francisco
With its breathtaking views of the ocean, its gastronomy, its steep and winding streets, its relaxed atmosphere and its architecture, it is hard not to fall in love with San Francisco. San Francisco is full of museums, places to visit, parks and attractions. You can also appreciate the architecture of Victorian houses by walking around the city. San Francisco is a real gem. Are are some of the essentials of things to do in San Francisco:
Golden Gate Bridge
One of the icon of California is the Golden Gate Bridge. It is probably the most photographed site in the city, with its orange color supported by the blue of the water and its two towers sometimes going through the low clouds. The bridge has an interesting history and adds a unique charm to San Francisco.
Known as the most winding street in the United States” Lombard Street is a must-see in San Francisco. Only eight blocks long, its eight sharp turns are lined with colorful flowers. Most tourists go down the street, which is a one-way street.
The Fisherman’s Wharf
It’s one of the most popular tourist spots in San Francisco. The Fisherman’s Wharf draws crowds of people to shop, eat and stroll along the waterfront. There are museums there and many other choices for entertainment. For those looking to go out on the bay, excursion boats and ferries to Alcatraz depart from Fisherman’s Wharf. Take the opportunity to see Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square, nearby.
To find out more about San Francisco, click here.
Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. It is known worldwide, for its breathtaking landscapes with the gray of its granite rocks, the jade green of its forests and its silver lakes and rivers. It is the third largest park in the United States: 315 km of roads, making it difficult to see everything in one day. Yosemite is the first natural site in the United States to have received state protection. It is one of the most visited parks in the United States today! In 1899, there were 4,500 visitors per year, whereas now there are around 3.9 million. For us, Yosemite Park was the nicest national park we visited in the US. Hence we highly recommend you to make a stop there and spend at least 1-2 days.
9. Visit Universal Studio or Disneyland
After visiting beaches, cities, national parks, surfing some famous waves, have some fun at some of the most popular attractions in Calfifornia.
Located directly in Los Angeles, Universal Studios is a theme park with several rides and attractions related to favorite movies and shows. Find attractions with the Minions, The Simpsons and the world of Harry Potter including the star attraction, a roller coaster that takes visitors around Hogwarts.
In the city of Anaheim, very close to Los Angeles is the very first Disneyland to be built. There are two parks, including the classic Disneyland and California Adventure.
10. Drive through the Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert of more than 13,600 km2. Part of the Mojave Desert, it is one of the largest natural spaces in the United States. This site owes its name to the many pioneers who crossed it during the Gold Rush and who suffered the extreme heat of summer. Indeed, it has the reputation of being the hottest and driest regions in North America, especially on the Badwater Basin. A drive through the Death Valley is a unique experience and a must-see if you travel to California.
California is such a beautiful state to visit. We went there twice while doing a road trip on the West Coast. We love to see so many different things in such a short period of time. San Diego, LA, and San Fransisco are fantastic cities to discover each very different to the others. You can visit amazing National Park such as Yosemite.
HIGHWAY1: best stops: here
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA: a charming city in California: here
POINT LOBOS: richest underwater reserve in the US: here
LOS ANGELES: Full guide for visiting LA: here
SAN DIEGO: What to do this beautiful city: here
SANTA BARBARA: Discover our favorite town in the US: here
ROMANTIC DATES IN CALIFORNIA: 10 Best Date Ideas: here