California city attractions are so diverse that travelers of all types will have no problem finding things to do that will thrill them. Beaches, lakes, forests, mountains, and deserts sit side by side within the state’s borders. The state is also home to several wine regions, Michelin-starred restaurants, and, of course, star-studded Hollywood. With all this and so much more, it may be challenging to figure out how to fit all the state’s most important must-sees in one or more trips. Let this guide assist you in your California city vacation planning, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned pro. From the north to south and everything in between, these are the top things to do in California. (Note: Some of the following activities and locations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions, reservation requirements, or mask mandates. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State, and local tourism boards before traveling.)
The 17-Mile Drive is a spellbinding route that weaves along the most scenic stretch of the Monterey Bay coastline. This road, located in the exclusive community of Pebble Beach, takes drivers up into the Del Monte Forest, past palatial mansions, and down along picture-perfect craggy beaches and bluffs. Take the time to stop at the various lookout points marked along the way, including the famous Lone Cypress Tree. If you’re interested in bedding down here, consider splurging on a room, or at least stop for a meal to behold the stunning scenery that surrounds the properties at Pebble Beach Resorts, including The Lodge at Pebble Beach or The Inn at Spanish Bay. Note that you’ll have to pay a small fee to access 17-Mile Drive.
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Pacific Coast Highway
This small community in Monterey County is one of the most unique and charming towns in California. Its enchanting coastal location, wooded streets, fairytale-like architecture, and a bevy of local shops and restaurants are well worth the detour from the Pacific Coast Highway. While here, be sure to visit a few of Carmel’s beaches and not just the namesake Carmel Beach, which is located at the end of Ocean Avenue, the town’s main drag. Carmel River State Beach isn’t as highly trafficked and features the Carmel Meadows Trail, which leads to even more secluded Monastery Beach. As for where to stay, consider treating yourself to one of the town’s luxurious accommodations, including traveler-approved L’Auberge Carmel or La Playa Carmel.
SeaWorld San Diego
You are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to theme parks in California. The impressive amount of options will please every type of traveler. Kids will naturally be dazzled by Anaheim’s world-famous Disneyland Park. However, if you’re not up for paying Disneyland’s notoriously high ticket fees, consider exciting alternatives. Such as Legoland California and SeaWorld San Diego. There are also two Six Flags locations (one near Los Angeles and the other near San Francisco). Perfect for thrill-seekers, and Universal Studios Hollywood, which is home to the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Due to the popularity of these parks, you’ll have no problem finding nearby accommodations. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is a top choice among travelers. As is The Garland for those visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. And the well-received Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach, a Hilton Resort and Spa. It is not only a short drive to Legoland but also offers a location right next to the beach.