activities in california

With over 150,000 square miles, California has a lot to offer. California got its nickname, the Golden State, because of the gold rush, its golden horizons, and fields of golden poppies. Because of its history and beautiful scenery, California is a place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy.

Because California is the third-largest state and has so many must-see attractions, it would be hard to see it all in just one trip, unless you had unlimited time. Instead, consider focusing on one area at a time—Northern California, Central California, or Southern California.

activities in californiaActivities in Northern California

Northern California includes cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Napa, Redding, and many smaller towns. NorCal is known for its rolling hills, vineyards, redwood forests, and beautiful coastlines. If you want more of a relaxing, scenic vacation in California, NorCal is where you’ll want to be.

Travel through Lassen Volcanic National Park

Hiking through Lassen Volcanic National Park is an excellent activity to do in Northern California. Just east of Redding, right off of Highway 44, this iconic park is truly a work of Mother Nature. Here, you can find inactive volcanoes, fumaroles created by the volcanos, mud pots, and so much more. Since there is usually a surprise around every corner in Lassen Volcanic National Park, you shouldn’t stray from the designated path.

Wine tastings in Napa Valley

If hiking up mountains and navigating trails aren’t really your thing, perhaps you’ll enjoy sipping on some of the country’s most renowned wine. Napa Valley is a crowd-pleaser with its numerous vineyards and gourmet food. If you love wine tasting, you should block out part of the day for a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train.

The Napa Valley Wine Train takes you through Napa so you can admire the beautiful vineyard views.  While aboard, you’re served a gourmet feast paired with some of Napa’s best wines. Also, if you are a fan of murder mystery books or movies, plan your trip when the train is hosting one of its Murder Mystery on the Wine Train tours.

Central California

Central California includes cities such as Fresno, Stockton, Bakersfield, and Monterey. From tall mountains to stunning coastlines, Central California has it all.

Fun at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

As California’s oldest, still-standing amusement park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a must-see when visiting California.  Santa Cruz sits at the top of Central California. Because of its perfect location, the beach, the water, and the weather tend to be some of the best in California.

Camping in Yosemite National Park

If you love national parks, you’ve likely heard of Yosemite National Park. In 2018 alone, Yosemite attracted over four million visitors. This California national park is famous for its skyscraper sequoia trees, amazing mountain views, and picturesque waters. If you’re an outdoorsy type of person, you’ll fall in love with Yosemite National Park.

Southern California

Possibly the most popular part of California is Southern California. Here, you’ll find Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs. You could say that Southern California is the land of celebrities and amazing beaches.

Sail to Catalina Island

Catalina Island is just southwest of Huntington Beach. A Catalina Island getaway is like traveling to another country. You could have a romantic date on a sailboat tour, try your hand at ziplining or get in a round of golf.

See California from a bird’s eye view on Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

If you aren’t afraid of heights, be sure to hop on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This 1963 aerial tramway is the largest in the world, so it’s definitely worth seeing. You can tour Southern California’s valleys and mountains from a bird’s eye view.

Honorable mentions

There’s so much to see in California, it’s hard to choose a favorite. If you have time, squeeze in a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf, Old Sacramento Historic District, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Winchester Mystery House, the Santa Monica Pier, the San Diego Zoo, and the USS Midway Museum. No matter where you travel in California, you’ll find something to enjoy.


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