Search for a place or activity
Select Dates
Choose dates
Recent Searches
Clear
See all California tours
2,985 tours & tickets
Things to do in Santa Barbara
See all things to do in California
How to Spend 2 Days in Yosemite National Park
How to Spend 2 Days in Yosemite National Park

Top National Parks in California


Yosemite National Park on a bright and sunny day in California
Hi, I'm Nicole!

Nicole R. Zimmerman, born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, is a queer Bay Area–based travel journalist, copywriter, and essayist. Nicole has written for Viator/Tripadvisor, Hipcamp, TripSavvy, Grove Collaborative, Insider, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work appears in anthologies such as The Best Women’s Travel Writing and in numerous literary journals including Creative Nonfiction and The Rumpus.

see more
Hi, I'm Nicole!

Nicole R. Zimmerman, born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, is a queer Bay Area–based travel journalist, copywriter, and essayist. Nicole has written for Viator/Tripadvisor, Hipcamp, TripSavvy, Grove Collaborative, Insider, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work appears in anthologies such as The Best Women’s Travel Writing and in numerous literary journals including Creative Nonfiction and The Rumpus.

see more

From the heights of Yosemite’s Half Dome to the depths of Death Valley, California has no shortage of awe-inspiring national parks, which draw some 40 million visitors annually. The state’s varied terrain makes for stunning landscapes rich with natural and cultural history. Here’s what you need to know about California’s top national parks.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has a singular landscape. Photo: Ernst Prettenthaler / Shutterstock

Most often visited from Las Vegas, this extraordinary desert landscape—much of which lies below sea level—seems worlds away. Despite record-high temps and droughts, Death Valley supports an array of wildlife. Tours typically stop at viewpoints such as Furnace Creek, Artist’s Palette, Badwater Basin, Devil's Golf Course, Dante's Peak, and Zabriskie Point for photo ops and guided walks.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park and its eponymous trees. Photo: Dennis Silvas / Shutterstock

Straddling the Mojave and Colorado deserts, Joshua Tree is revered by rock climbers for its distinctive geological formations. But the park is perhaps best-recognized by its namesake plant, actually a yucca palm, whose twisty, spiky branches make a great backdrop for a selfie. Choose your vehicle—van, Jeep, or Hummer—and make your getaway to Joshua Tree from Palm Springs.

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument and the trees its famous for. Photo: topseller / Shutterstock

Just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, one of the Bay Area’s most popular natural treasures contains some of the tallest trees you’ll find anywhere. Stroll the easy, paved pathways through groves of old-growth coast redwoods and marvel at their height and girth. Tours include transport and parking (which itself requires a reservation if you visit independently), with easy side trips to nearby Sausalito.

Alcatraz Island

An aerial view of Alcatraz Island. Photo: Sawasdee Snap / Shutterstock

Otherwise known as the Rock, Alcatraz is strategically placed on San Francisco Bay. Your admission ticket to the former federal penitentiary includes its award-winning audio tour and the boat ride to and from the island. Combine San Francisco sightseeing and other attractions to make the most of your visit to this National Historic Landmark District.

Find things to do in California

Keep reading

Keep exploring
See all California tours
2,985 tours & tickets
Things to do in Santa Barbara
See all things to do in California
How to Spend 2 Days in Yosemite National Park
How to Spend 2 Days in Yosemite National Park