10 Must-See Attractions in California

10 must see california attractions

Think California and what springs to mind – iconic Disneyland, the amazing San Diego Zoo, wet and wild Sea World or its fabulous cities – LA, San Francisco, San Diego.  All wonderful, all amazing, and all over done.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love Disney, San Francisco, even LA.  I love everything California has to offer and California has so much more to offer the vacationing family than just those attractions.

Here is my list of the top 10 must-see, not-to-be-missed attractions in California.  (How can I ever limit it to just 10!)  There are 9 National Parks in California and for the sheer beauty of these parks, I could put all 9 on my list.

But I will limit my list to my personal top 10 choices.


glacier point at yosmemite national park during sunset
Glacier Point at Yosmemite National Park during sunset

Leading off my list is Yosemite Park – an unparalleled parkland covering nearly 1200 square miles you will find unforgettable natural beauty, deep glacier valleys, grand meadows, granite cliffs, ancient giant sequoias, and a vast wilderness area.  Yosemite attracts 4 million visitors annually mostly to the Yosemite Valley area.

The park will celebrate its 125th anniversary on October 1, 2015.  It became the third park in the US Nation Park System.  Come, visit, celebrate!

For more information on how your family can enjoy Yosemite Check out these websites.

Yosemite Guide US National Park Service 

Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau


Death Valley

Stovepipe Wells sand dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA
Stovepipe Wells sand dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Death Valley National Park is one of the world’s hottest – lowest – places and one of the best places in the United States for star-gazing.  The largest National Park outside of Alaska, Death Valley encompass mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-level salt flats, mysterious singing rocks, and colorful sandstone canyons.


Death Valley offers something truly unique.  Because of our growing cities, a majority of children can’t see the Milky Way from their homes.  Death Valley is an oasis of dark nights in our bright world.  You can star-gaze to your heart’s content.


Death Valley Guide US National Park Service

Gold Gate Bridge

Golden Gate BridgeWalk onto the Golden Gate Bridge to really appreciate the size and height of the bridge. At mid-span you stand 220 feet above the water’s surface and the passing ships below look like small toys. The distance from one vista point to another is 1.7 miles.  Whether you hike, walk, bike, shop, take a guided tour, there’s something for everyone.

Golden Gate Bridge

City Guides offers regular, free walking tours.


Lake Tahoe

Shared by California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe offers world-class activities and amazing views. Lake Tahoe’s weather has more extremes than the rest of California.  Whether you are visiting in the pleasant summers or the snowy winters there are plenty of activities for families.

Official Lake Tahoe Visitors Guide 


Hearst’s Castle

One of California’s most visited state parks, Hearst Castle is a must-see to end all must-sees.  It is an eye-popping extravaganza with a 165-room castle, 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools.

The main building at Hearst Castle is a 56-bedroom, 61-bathroom mansion, improbably built on a remote hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean – and that’s only the beginning. Surrounded by three guest houses larger than most people’s primary residences, 127 acres of gardens, an outdoor swimming pool named for the Roman god of the sea, tennis courts and – in Hearst’s day – the world’s largest private zoo,

The Official Hearst Castle site

California Parks & Recreation


California state capitol building with dome located in Sacramento, CA.
California state capitol building with dome located in Sacramento, CA.

Sacramento was recently named one of America’s fastest growing visitor destinations. It is also home to a variety of attractions that cater to families.  From California’s State Capitol Building to Sutter’s Fort, the California Museum, and Crocker Art Museum to the American River Parkway, California Railroad Museum, and the California Aerospace Museum, there is no shortage of things to do in Sacramento.


Visit Sacramento 






Mount Shasta

Tucked into California’s northeast corner, Mount Shasta is the place for blue-ribbon fishing, houseboats anchored in cool lakes, countless campgrounds, and inviting trails for hiking and mountain biking.

Just three hours north of San Francisco, the Shasta Cascade region, an outdoor-lover’s wonderland provides something for everyone to discover and enjoy both young and old.


Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

General Sherman - the largest tree on Earth, Sequoia National Park, California.
General Sherman – the largest tree on Earth, Sequoia National Park, California.

Two national parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Called the Land of Giants, you will find huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees.  This dramatic landscape testifies to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity.  Day hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and ranger led activities are just a few of the things your family will find to do in the parks.








Napa Valley

Well-known for its vines & wines, Napa Valley has lots of other treats for taste buds. Taste the local olive oils, tomatoes, cheeses and mustard. Relax in the numerous spas and mud baths or take in the vibrant visual arts scene.  Culinary adventures, balloon rides, beer tastings, outdoor activities, shopping, and museums, Napa Valley offers something for everyone.



500 California beaches

With 1000 miles of coastline, over 300 sunshine days a year, and over 200 species of marine life, there’s plenty to keep the whole family busy.

If you’re from a landlocked place, a visit to a California beach is an absolute must – but even if you live near the sea, you’ll find plenty that’s different than what you have at home

For more information on CA beaches

10 Must See Attractions in California

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