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Things to do in California

Things to do in  California

Welcome to California

From southern California’s beachy San Diego and star-studded Los Angeles to history-steeped San Francisco and quieter towns in the north, the Golden State serves up an endless array of destinations and activities. Cruise out to Alcatraz, the famed former prison in the San Francisco Bay, or visit Catalina Island on a boat trip from Long Beach or Dana Point. Outdoor adventures in Yosemite National Park, skiing in Lake Tahoe, or a stroll down the Santa Monica Pier give a glimpse of the state’s majestic natural features. Visit LA to stroll on the Walk of Fame, hit the theme parks in Anaheim, or hike up to snap a photo in front of the Hollywood sign. Monterey and Carmel are home to miles of coastline, a wealth of marine life, and world-class golf facilities. Both the San Diego Zoo and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are considered the top wildlife facilities in their categories, home to an incredible array of animals and opportunities to learn about our non-human neighbors. California’s miles of farm country mean dining opportunities include farm-fresh, high-quality meat and produce. Foodies can dig into fish tacos in SoCal, munch sourdough bread in San Francisco, or hit the wine trail in Napa and Sonoma.

Top 10 attractions in California

#1

Aquarium of the Pacific

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Sitting on Rainbow Harbor you’ll find one of Long Beach’s top attractions: Aquarium of the Pacific. Home to more than 11,000 aquatic animals and approximately 500 species, there is much to see throughout their 32 exhibits. In fact, many people arrive at opening time and don’t leave until closing. Get up close to playful seals and sea lions, visit a lagoon with more than 150 sharks, see ultraviolet sea animals against a black light, take in otherworldly jellyfish of all shapes and sizes and roam the numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits. Many of the exhibits are also interactive, allowing you to pet fish, manta rays and even small sharks; feed birds in the Lorikeet Forest; and partake in tropical reef feedings. Check the schedule when you arrive to see what shows and lectures are going on for the day. If you’re traveling as a family, stop at the desk to pick up special worksheets and scavenger hunt-like tasks for kids to fill out while exploring the museum.More
#2

Carlsbad Village

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Carlsbad Village is the downtown area at the heart — and waterfront — of Carlsbad, a fun-loving Southern California beach town. Visitors to Carlsbad spend most of their time in the village, as it’s where most of the shops, restaurants and hotels are found, including the famous Carlsbad Inn — a Bavarian looking hotel on the corner of Carlsbad Village Drive and Ocean Street. A visit the Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa is a great way to relax with a massage or spa treatment using the local alkaline artisan mineral water. To mingle and pick up fresh local fruits, stop in at the Carlsbad Farmer’s Market, which happens every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon. And of course the beaches and boardwalk that run along Carlsbad Village are the main draw. Tamarack Beach is a great, centrally located stretch that’s ideal for bike riding, surfing or sunbathing.More
#3

Hollywood Walk of Fame

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Marilyn Monroe? 6774 Hollywood Blvd. James Dean? 1719 Vine St. Elvis Presley? 6777 Hollywood Blvd. No, not last known addresses, just the exact spot for the brass star honoring these celebrities on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. These stars and many others are sought out, worshiped, photographed, and stepped on day after day long this stretch of sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard. Since 1960 more than 2,000 performers - from legends to long-forgotten bit-part players - have been honored with a pink-marble, five-pointed sidewalk star. Follow this celestial sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Gower Street, and along Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard.More
#4

Yosemite Falls

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The highest measured waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls is the superstar attraction in the park, especially in late spring when the snow melts and water flow is at its peak. With a cumulative drop of 2,425 feet (739 meters), Yosemite Falls actually consists of three falls and is also the sixth highest waterfall in the world (seventh according to some sources). Though there is some discussion about its place in the world's highest list, it's an incontrovertible fact that Yellowstone Falls is the centerpiece of the valley and the park. The best views of the cascading torrent can be seen from various vantage points, including Yosemite Village and Yosemite Lodge. For active viewers, a one-mile loop trail leads to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall and also possible to hike to the top of Yosemite Falls as a strenuous, all-day hike. For a unique experience, on a clear night with plenty of moonlight and enough water to create mist.More
#5

Cannery Row

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In 1958, Monterey’s most famous waterfront street changed its official name from Ocean View Avenue to its long-time nickname Cannery Row in honor of the 1945 John Steinbeck novel of the same name. Today’s Cannery Row is a far cry from that of the “tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron …” described in Steinbeck’s novel. There has not been a cannery here since 1973 and the street is now filled with shops, from boutiques to chain stores, hotels and restaurants -- and usually populated by more tourists than locals. It is a wonderful place for strolling, admiring ocean views, snacking on salt-water taffy, gaining easy beach access and watching the many characters that gravitate here. The world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the northern end of Cannery Row, housed in what was once a sardine cannery.More
#6

Alcatraz

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For almost 150 years, Alcatraz has given the innocent chills and the guilty cold sweats. Over the years it's been the nation's first military prison, then a forbidding maximum-security penitentiary, now a National Park. No wonder that first step you take off the ferry and onto 'The Rock' seems to cue ominous music: dunh-dunh-dunnnnh! The trip to Alcatraz is popular and space is extremely limited. Purchase Alcatraz tickets as far in advance as possible, up to 90 days. The roster of Alcatraz inmates read like an America's Most Wanted list. A-list criminals doing time on Alcatraz included Chicago crime boss Al "Scarface" Capone, dapper kidnapper George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and hot-headed Harlem mafioso and sometime poet "Bumpy" Johnson. Though Alcatraz was considered escape-proof, in 1962 the Anglin brothers and Frank Morris floated away on a makeshift raft and were never seen again. A visit to Alcatraz is more than just seeing the inside of an old prison.More
#8

California State Capitol and Museum

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Standing tall against Sacramento’s city skyline, the impressive white granite dome of the California State Capitol is beautiful from the outside…but even more interesting once you take a peek inside. The 19th-century structure is the center of the state’s government, and also home to an excellent public museum. It’s here that visitors can glimpse at the inner workings of the state government and learn about California’s extensive history. The legislative chambers, styled in deep reds and with intricate wood carvings (taking cues from British Parliament,) are equally as important as they are elegant. Don’t miss the stained glass State Seal installed in the ceiling of the hallway leading from the rotunda — it’s stamped onto every bill signed into law in the state. Other details include tile work of state symbols as well as mosaics of the golden poppy, the state flower.More
#9

San Diego Zoo

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Packed into 40 hectares, the San Diego Zoo presents a stunning variety of nature's largest, smallest, noblest, oddest, and most endangered creatures. This famous zoo has more than 3,000 animals representing over 800 species.Stop first at the San Diego Zoo visitor center to pick up a map. Highlights of the zoo include the Tiger River bioclimatic exhibit, which realistically recreates an Asian rainforest environment, and Gorilla Tropics, which does the same with an African rainforest. The koalas and the rare giant pandas are also popular.The gardens at the San Diego Zoo are renowned and some of the plants are used for the specialized food requirements of particular animals. Especially for kids, the Children’s Zoo allows young ones to pet small critters; they will also enjoy the animal nursery, which shows off the zoo’s newest arrivals. For an aerial perspective on the park, take a ride on the Skyfari.More
#10

Hollywood Sign

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One of LA's most distinguishing icons, the famous HOLLYWOOD sign proudly stands on the hillside of the Hollywood Hills, overlooking its namesake city and the movie industry it has come to symbolize. LA's most famous landmark first appeared on its hillside perch in 1923, as a advertising gimmick for a real-estate development called Hollywoodland. Each letter stands 50 feet (15 m) tall and is made of sheet metal painted white. Once aglow with 4,000 light bulbs, the sign even had its own caretaker, who lived behind the letter L until 1939. The last four letters were lopped off in the 1940s as the sign started to crumble along with the rest of Hollywood. In the late 1970s, Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner joined forces with fans and other celebrities to save the famous symbol.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in California

San Diego Harbor Cruise

San Diego Harbor Cruise

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570
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£20.37
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise

San Diego Whale Watching Cruise

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£61.85

Recent reviews from experiences in California

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Amazing Views
Michael_B, Jan 2021
Hollywood Sightseeing and Celebrity Homes Tour by Open-Top Bus
Without even having to spend money on Uber to see places i have always wanted to see i was able to do so by simply being on this tour.
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Fun trip
Randy_H, Aug 2020
M.S Dixie II Sunset Dinner Cruise
The California forest fires made it tough to see the views.
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Muir Woods
Susan_P, Mar 2020
Muir Woods Tour of California Coastal Redwoods (Entrance fee included)
Highly recommend this tour to see the great California Redwoods.
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Birthday trip
simonenieves1, Feb 2020
Hollywood Sightseeing Tour from Orange County
We got to see & experience California more than we could ever imagine.
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Wonderful!
IlianaMircheva, Nov 2019
Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Day Trip from San Francisco
It was a pleasure to visit such a wonderful place and to know more about the wonders of the nature in California.
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Good tour to do
Phillegeek, Jul 2019
San Francisco Super Saver: Muir Woods & Wine Country w/ optional Gourmet Lunch
It is a good tour to do if you want in the same day to see the famous redwoods from California and get a taste of the wine country.
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Long day but worth it!
P2mee, Jun 2019
Small-Group Yosemite Day Tour from San Francisco
We may never get another chance to see a national park so we were delighted we didnt let journey time put us off.
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This was a very wonderful tour! Our...
Janelle J, Aug 2017
The Perfect Blend: Napa and Sonoma Combo Wine Tour from San Francisco
We had a wonderfully relaxing time getting to see California's beautiful wine country.
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This is absolutely the way to go...
Valerie T, Sep 2017
California Academy of Sciences Behind-the-Scenes VIP Tour
Not only do you get a behind the scenes tour, but you also get to skip the line for several attractions inside as well as skipping the line to enter the facility.
star-5
Nice half day trip up and down the...
Dillonla, Jul 2017
Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
Its a worth it trip in my opinion to see some of California's most iconic beaches.
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Great Little places to visit, get to...
Gino C, Sep 2017
Monterey, Carmel and 17-Mile Drive - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
Great Little places to visit, get to see a lot of the coastline and place that made California what it is today, heaps of history, great commentary
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All day trip to The park with 3...
Dillonla, Jul 2017
Yosemite National Park - Full Day Tour from San Francisco
All day trip to The park with 3 hours of exploring time at the Yosemite falls with plenty of outdoor places to explore and great scenes.
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Very convenient for public...
Sheila R, May 2015
San Francisco CityPASS
The activities included were also a great value.
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It's a wonderful trip with ample...
Selina C Y, Jul 2014
Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour from San Francisco
It's a wonderful trip with ample time to visit the wineries and lunch break.
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Very enjoyable and affordable. Great...
Neil S, Feb 2015
Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Full-Day Tour from San Francisco
Go for the experience and chance to see a lot and learn a lot about the history of California's most famous wine country.
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We have toured the California...
Robert M, Jun 2014
California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket
It is one of many interesting attractions in San Francisco.
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It was fun at Universal Studios...
Sandra P, Jun 2013
Universal Studios Hollywood General Admission Ticket
It was fun at Universal Studios - one day is find and be sure to see Universal Walk and Fly California - the grandkids loved it!
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California Academy of Sciences is an...
Kailash M, Jun 2013
California Academy of Sciences General Admission Ticket
California Academy of Sciences is an amazing place to visit during San Francisco Visit..
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Great tour to get a glimpse of Yosemite but don't expect sequoias during winter time
Fanny E, Jan 2020
Yosemite National Park and Giant Sequoias Day Trip from San Francisco
I would have given the tour a five, our tour guide is definitely worth it, but it is promoted as a tour also going to the sequoias during the winter (if it is not too dangerous).
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Wonderful Wine Tour of Sonoma
Jackie B, Nov 2019
San Francisco Super Saver: Muir Woods & Wine Country w/ optional Gourmet Lunch
Happy to see it along the way to the vineyards!

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