MARCH 16, 2022 /TRAVEL, NORTH AMERICA, USA, CALIFORNIA

ULTIMATE CALIFORNIA TRAVEL GUIDE

California located on the west coast, surrounded by Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico is the 3rd largest state in the US. Home of the entertainment, music and technology world, Hollywood,  world famous national parks, beautiful beaches, the iconic Pacific Coast Highway and many more. Therefore, California is a place that has a lot to offer, there are so many places to visit and things to do. From natural parks, beaches, mountains to metropolitan cities, amusement parks, museums and much more.

In this blog post I will share the places I think that are worth visiting while in California. 

Los Angeles- is definitely a must visit when in California. A huge city that has so much to offer from fabulous beaches and museums to trendy shops and restaurants. Home of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the walk of fame and so on. I have a whole blog post on all the must see’s and do’s in LA so make sure you check it out here.

Malibu- technically part of LA, famous for its beaches, beautiful houses and surfing. It’s definitely worth spending a day just walking around Malibu, tanning on the beach and visiting the Getty Villa.

Long Beach- right outside of LA is Long Bech, famous for its beaches the famous Aquarium of the Pacific and the docked RMS Queen Mary. Both of which are definitely a must visit.

Universal Studios Hollywood- an entertaining place no matter whether you are a kid or an adult, Universal Studios are worth the visit. You can have a behind the scenes of how movies are made, see actual movies sets from cult movies like Scream and Jaws, see the actual studios where films and tv shows are filmed, vehicles from Fast & Furious and Back to the Future, see how they create effects and so on. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is definitely a must if you are a Potterhead, don’t forget to try butter beer while there. Springfield from the Simpsons was also fun. There are some cool rides as well. I went during December so it was all decorated for Christmas and it was great.

Disneyland- another must visit place, and before you say but I am not a kid, you simply can never be too old for Disneyland and I do think that everyone at least once in their life should go to one of the Disneyland parks. Many Disney themed rides, Disney characters, watching the parade and the fireworks, you won’t have a bad time.

Six Flags Magic Mountain- If you are more into adrenalin seeking and proper rollercoasters ride that Six Flags Magic Mountain is the place. With few dozen thrilling and adrenalin seeking rollercoasters, I would suggest getting the fast pass hence queues tend to get long especially during weekends and peak season.

 

San Diego- has to be my favorite city in California, I was so in love with it. Smaller and much calmer than LA, with beautiful beaches, various museums and sights and amazing restaurants and bars. I posted a whole weekend itinerary of San Diego which you can read here.

Solvang- a small town located between Santa Maria and Santa Barbara. This little town will transport you straight to Denmark. Known for its Danish style architecture, danish bakeries and restaurants and shops. They even have a Hans Christian Andersen statue. I loved it, it’s a perfect one day trip idea to take and see your not so usual California. I would suggest visiting during the week since there are less people than during the weekends.

Santa Barbara- another city in California I love. This beautiful coastal city is to die for. With a promenade filled with stores and shops, cafes and restaurants with outdoor sitting, beautiful beach and boardwalk. It has very Mediterranean vibes, much of it due to the Spanish influence, a lot of Spanish architecture is present in downtown Santa Barbara. Make sure to grab some fresh fish or seafood from the ocean, enjoy the sun and grab ice-cream from the boardwalk.

Hearst Castle- formally as La Cuesta Encantada, is a historic estate in San Simeon, nearby Santa Barbara. The castle belonged to William Randolph Hearst a publishing tycoon. The castle is magnificent, with beautiful gardens, indoor and outdoor pool, ancient artifacts brought from Europe, various rooms beautifully decorated, it even has it’s own theater. 

Moonstone Beach- is in Cambria area, a truly beautiful and scenic beach. You can go for a swim, or catch some waves or simply enjoy the beach. There is a mile long Beach Boardwalk which is beautiful. The surrounding area has also many restaurants with great seafood and fish dishes.

Pismo Beach- a beautiful coastal town of California, known for it’s beach, pier and clam-chowder (best clam-chowder is at Splash cafe). Perfect getaway and way to spend your day tanning, surfing or just walking around Pismo Beach.

Mojave Dessert National Park- A National Preserve located by the Sierra Nevada mountains. Named after the the indigenous Mojave people. It is located primarily in southeastern California and southwestern Nevada, with small portions extending into Arizona and Utah. If you decide to go to Las Vegas from LA, I would highly recommend passing through Mojave Dessert, but even a trip just for Mojave Dessert is well worth it. Mojave Dessert is characteristic for it’s sand dunes (that you can hike), Joshua trees and rock formation. The famous Route 66 also passes through Mojave Dessert. We stayed until sunset and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets ever.

Death Valley National Park- known as one of the hottest places in the world, and the hottest place in North America as well as the lowest elevation in America (86m bellow sea level). Death Valley is like being on a different planet, I was amazed by it’s beauty, the rock formations and landscape. Because there are many types of minerals in Death Valley, many of the rocks are colored in shades of green, white, red and yellow which looks unreal (the most famous one is called Artists Pallet). Badwater Basin is also a must visit, that’s the lowest elevation point. I would definitely recommend to go there as early as possible in the day, so you can cover the most and make sure to leave before sunset since it gets pitch black very fast. Also calculate your gas accordingly since there is only one gas station in the whole of Death Valley. There are also 2 hotels that you can stay at, but make sure to book in advance cause they didn’t have any rooms on the spot. Make sure to bring snacks and water (lots of water if you are there in summer, because there is no store that you can buy any of that, also cell reception is non-exhisting so download your map offline.

Sequoia National Park- part of the King Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Sequoia National Park is most famous for the General Sherman Tree- the largest tree in the world. The Giant forest is filled with giant sequoia trees that are up to 3,000 years old. There are so many trails you can hike, there are also camping sites and lodges. It’s beautiful! Entry is per vehicle is 35$ for the whole day. Make sure to bring some beverages and snacks since there are no restaurants or food options in the park.

Big Sur- a section on Pacific Coast Highway, which is probably the biggest reason why it makes it the most scenic drive in the US and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. There are so many things to do in Big Sur such as: enjoying the view from the drive, camping and hiking the trails, surfing, beaches and much more. The many creeks around the area are connected with bridges (the most famous one being the historic Brixby Bridge), its truly a remarkable drive.

Carmel-by-the-Sea- this has to be my favorite place in California. Carmel for me was love at first sight. From the European mixture of architecture, to the town having a no chain restaurants policy, small local shops, to the extremely dog friendliness to the breathtaking scenery it was 10/10 for me. I am sad that we only spent a couple of hours here, but I am definitely coming back for at least a few days.

San Francisco- home of the Golden Gate Bridge, steeps streets and cable cars, Alcatraz…Full guide on San Francisco coming soon.

Monterey Bay Aquarium- opened in 1984 and nonprofit open to public aquarium. It has many exhibits focusing on the marine life in the Bay area. It’s a beautiful aquarium where you can see exhibits from kelps, sharks, sea otters, jellyfish and even birds. It will take you at least 2 hours to go through all exhibits, also to avoid crowds go during the weekdays and in the afternoon.