Whether you’re surfing at Scripps Beach in San Diego, climbing Half Dome in Yosemite, driving along the coast on Route 1 or crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, California will drop your jaw. So you’ve planned a trip to the Golden State, but the question remains: “What should I see in California?”. Although it’s hard to narrow down a list, here are our top picks.
Pacific Coast Highway
Driving the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1) is perhaps the most important California sightseeing experience. Beginning in Orange County just south of Los Angeles, the PCH runs more than 600 miles up the California coast passing through famous stopping points like Santa Barbara and Big Sur. It is also the highway that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a trip into the heart of the Californian wilderness. Glacier-sculpted peaks and valleys create incredible scenery and the views from just about anywhere are camera-worthy. We highly recommend that you camp out at least one night to see the stars.
Santa Monica Beach and Pier
When out of staters think of California, Santa Monica’s beach scene is probably what they imagine. Palm trees, rollerbladers cruising along the path, beach workouts and gorgeous sunsets. Yes, it really is like the movies. You would be missing something vital if you left out Santa Monica.
This stretch of central California coast is breathtaking. Sharp cliffs plunge into the ocean below and hidden beaches make for great exploring. There are plenty of trails and campsites for those who want to make it more than just a stopover on their way up the coast.
Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands
The drive alone across the iconic San Francisco bridge is spectacular. On a clear day you can see the entire Bay Area. Oakland and San Francisco’s skylines, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz — it’s all there. Once across the bridge be sure to head uphill into the Marin Headlands. Park your car, pick a trail and enjoy the views.
ATR Inside Advice: Everyone will talk about Los Angeles and San Francisco and give you a long list of the things to do in each city. Don’t forget San Diego! With perfect weather, beautiful beaches and amazing Mexican food, it doesn’t deserve to be overshadowed.
While the sightseeing is important, the right room matters too. Check out our rooms search engine for access to the largest selection of accommodations in California.