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Five Of The Best Cities And Places To Visit In California

As one of the best-known states in the U.S., California needs little to no introduction. The Golden State has long been a destination with a firm place on travelers’ bucket lists worldwide.

Offering an enviable climate, stunning beaches, and incredible mountains, it’s no wonder California draws in millions of tourists yearly. Home to iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hollywood Sign, and Disneyland, the most difficult part of your trip to California may be deciding which parts of this vast state to visit.

We have created a list of vacation ideas to make planning your trip easier. Below are some of the must-see cities and top places in California.

When’s The Best Time Of Year To Travel To California?

California is a year-round destination with something to offer travelers at any time. Due to its sheer size, the weather in California can vary depending on what part of the state you are in. In northern California, you can expect snow-capped mountains in the winter, while just a few hundred miles away, you can find Death Valley, thought to be the warmest place on earth during the summer!

The summer months of June, July, and August tend to be the most popular months for tourists, with average pleasant temperatures ranging from 21 – 27° celsius in coastal regions. As a result, this can often be a more costly time to travel due to the large volume of tourists.

For skiing lovers, November through Christmas all the way to March is the best time to experience California’s world-class ski areas, with many of the most popular spots in the north of the state. Expect temperatures ranging from 10 – 15° celsius along the coast at this time.

The shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November can be fantastic times to see this beautiful place. Though the weather may be a little more chilly, many parts of California experience mild temperatures at this time, varying from around 10 to 23° celsius. Fewer tourists during these months mean that you can expect cheaper flights, accommodations, and quieter tourist attractions.

Five Of The Top Places To Go In California

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Yosemite National Park
  • San Diego
  • Lake Tahoe
Hill Top Park Long Beach

Los Angeles – The Home Of The Country’s Entertainment Industry

The City of Angels is a buzzing metropolis renowned worldwide for its incredible beaches, inclusive and diverse culture, and, most famously, for being the center of the television and movie industries. Whether you want to walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, experience the glamorous neighborhood of Beverly Hills, or sun yourself on Venice beach, Los Angeles is a huge city with a wealth of attractions to offer to tourists.

Cool Places To See Los Angeles

Visit the Hollywood Sign – No trip to L.A. would be complete without a visit to the Hollywood Sign, an unmissable iconic place. Hike along one of the many established routes in the area, or pay a visit to the Griffith Observatory, which boasts one of the best views of both the Hollywood Sign and the city itself.

Experience some fantastic theme parks – Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s most famous theme parks. No matter your age, be sure not to miss out on the movie-themed park of Universal Studios Hollywood or relive your childhood at Disneyland Park, located about a 40-minute drive from down town L.A. in Anaheim.

Go behind the scenes at Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Studios – Get a closer insight into some of our most beloved movies and television series during your vacation. Fans of Friends and the Harry Potter series cannot miss out on a tour of the Warner Bros. studio, while a trip to Paramount Pictures Studios allows you to explore the sets, costumes, and props of legendary movies, such as Forrest Gump. If you’re lucky, you may even grab a seat in the audience at the filming of Dr. Phil!

Must Try Food And Drinks In Los Angeles

French Dip Sandwich – This mouthwatering street food dish is a firm favorite in L.A., consisting of a meat of your choice (roast beef being the most popular) on a soft French baguette dipped in the juices of the meat, often with a cheese of your choosing on top.

Moscow Mule – Despite its name, this well-known cocktail does not hail from Russia, but from the U.S. This vodka-based drink is believed to have originated in Los Angeles. The combination of vodka, ginger beer, and lime in a famous copper cup remains a popular drink of choice in the city.

Tips For Visiting Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles does not have a center in the same way as many other big cities. Many of the attractions the city is known for can be quite spread out from one another, which is important to remember when planning your trip.
  • Los Angeles is not known for its public transport, and for many visitors, a car may be necessary to get around. That being said, Los Angeles has long dealt with some of the worst traffic in the country, so bear in mind that getting from A to B can take up a significant amount of your time.
Long Beach California

San Francisco – Northern California’s Cultural And Nightlife Hub With The Best Music Clubs

San Francisco is an essential addition to your California travel itinerary. Famed for its steep hills, eclectic architecture, and booming tech industry, this city is brimming with attractions and experiences for tourists from around the globe. San Francisco’s European influence sets it apart from its Californian neighbors, which continues to enchant visitors every year.

The Top Places To Travel To In San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge – This remarkable suspension bridge is a world-famous engineering marvel and has become one of California’s most recognizable symbols. Though you can drive or walk across the bridge, one of the most enjoyable ways to experience this wonder is to rent a bike, cycle from Fisherman’s Wharf across the bridge, and complete your ride in the charming city of Sausalito.

Alcatraz Island – Look inside what was once one of the country’s most notorious maximum security prisons. This small island, just over 1 mile off the city’s coast, formerly housed infamous criminals and saw many failed (along with one successful) escape attempt. The prison closed in 1963 and opened for tourists ten years later.

Fisherman’s Wharf – With the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop and a chance to see the California sea lions, it’s no wonder Fisherman’s Wharf has found itself on many travelers’ lists. Wander down to the bustling Pier 39 for some of the best views and to experience some delicious food.

Must Try Food and Drinks In San Francisco

Clam Chowder Bread Bowl – Though initially invented on the East Coast, clam chowder is synonymous with San Francisco since the city put its spin on the dish, serving the soup in a heavenly bowl of sourdough bread. Stop by one of the Boudin Bakery branches to try the best in the business.

Anchor Steam – San Francisco has a strong craft beer scene and is home to the famous Anchor Brewing Company. While there is a wide selection of beers, be sure to sample their popular ‘steam’ beer, which is akin to lager but brewed similarly to ale.

Tips For Visiting San Francisco

  • Be sure to pack a jacket. San Francisco is known for its changeable weather, and temperatures can become quite cool, particularly when the city’s famous fog sets in.
  • Prepare for steep hills. If you catch one of the iconic cable cars, you can enjoy the ascents without much exertion. If you choose to walk, get ready for some tiring inclines.

Yosemite National Park – Majestic Landscapes and A Nature-lovers Paradise

From cascading waterfalls, towering granite formations, countless hiking trails, tranquil rivers, and massive ancient sequoia trees, Yosemite National Park has long been an escape from hectic city life for many visitors. This sprawling UNESCO World Heritage Site draws local, national, and international tourists to the Sierra Nevada mountains every year and is a must for anyone seeking adventure or an opportunity to unwind from everyday life.

Must Do Things In Yosemite National Park

Experience incredible hiking – The breathtaking hiking opportunities draw many travelers to Yosemite. Some of the most-loved hiking routes include the Mist Trail, the Sentinel Dome Trail, and of course, the famously terrifying Half Dome Trail, which is not for the faint-hearted. If the latter rigorous hike isn’t for you, check out the Mirror Lake Trail for a beautiful view of the Half Dome instead.

Get blown away by the waterfalls – The most popular attraction in Yosemite is the sensational Yosemite Falls. At 2,450 feet, Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America. Bridaviel Falls, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, and Horsetail Falls are just some of the other mesmerizing waterfalls in the area.

Rent a car – If you’re not an avid hiker, fear not. Many of Yosemite’s gorgeous attractions can be experienced from the comfort of a vehicle. Witness the famous Glacier Point, the El Capitan rock formation, Mariposa Grove, and the popular Tunnel viewpoint on epic road trips through the park.

Must Try Food And Drinks In Yosemite National Park

Avocado toast – With so many of Yosemite’s visitors being California natives, why not eat like the locals do while you’re here? This state is known for its love of this popular fruit, and it can be found in many breakfast and lunch spots in the area.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Less than four hours from Yosemite lies Napa Valley, one of the world’s most-loved wine regions. Known especially for Cabernet Sauvignon, enjoy a glass with the spectacular views of Yosemite as your background.

Tips for Visiting Yosemite National Park

  • Late spring is a fantastic time to visit, as the snow will have melted and temperatures will begin to rise. This tends to be a lot less crowded than the summer months.
  • The park provides a free and convenient shuttle bus service around the Valley. Two routes stop at popular points of interest, lodges, and campgrounds, so take note.

San Diego – A Southern California City For Honeymoons, Couples, And Families With The Nicest Weather

With glorious sunshine, idyllic beaches, palm tree-lined streets, and a rugged coastline, San Diego encapsulates what many of us imagine when we picture California. This dreamy destination has so much to offer tourists while maintaining a more relaxed atmosphere than its counterparts. San Diego’s proximity to Mexico sets it apart from other areas in California and contributes to its unique and alluring culture.

San Diego – What To Do There

Visit some of the world’s most pristine beaches – Soaking up the sun at one of San Diego’s beaches is a must on a visit to this southern city. Mission beach is a busy hotspot with a bustling boardwalk; surfers can catch some waves at Pacific Beach or La Jolla Shores, while Coronado Beach allows visitors a glimpse at the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

Walk around Balboa Park – This huge urban park has something to offer for all ages and interests. Perhaps known most famously for being the home of the hugely popular San Diego Zoo, the park boasts numerous galleries such as a San Diego Natural History Museum Gallery, the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Botanical Building, and the picturesque Spanish Village Art Center.

See the USS Midway Museum – A must-see for history buffs or those interested in learning more about the U.S. Navy, the USS Midway Museum comprises almost thirty resorted aircraft and flight simulators, giving visitors an insight into life onboard America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

Must Try Food And Drink In San Diego

Tacos – San Diego’s proximity to Mexico means it is no surprise that the cuisine has made its way over the border and cemented itself as a huge part of the food scene in the city. Tacos, in particular, are a favorite of many locals and can be found at countless restaurants and food stands across the city with fillings of your choice, though fish tacos are a popular option.

The Balboa – This cocktail is made from ingredients from two San Diego-based companies, making it a must-try during your trip. Henebry Whiskey and R&D Bitters created this tantalizing cocktail using lemon juice and honey, aptly naming it after the city’s beloved park.

Tips For Visiting San Diego

  • Save some cash and check the prices of entrance fees to attractions around the city online and with your hotel before booking, as discounts are often available.

Lake Tahoe – A Playground For Adventurers on the Nevada Border

The country’s second deepest lake is a gem in Northern California, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Two-thirds of Lake Tahoe lie in California, while one-third lies across the border in Nevada. With crystal blue waters in the summer and the country’s largest concentration of ski slopes in the winter, Lake Tahoe has become a popular destination for visitors throughout the year.

What Are The Best Things To Do In Lake Tahoe

Hit the slopes – North Lake Tahoe boasts some world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities during the winter months, and winter sports fans have their pick of some of the country’s finest ski resorts and slopes to suit all ability levels. Whether you’re looking to sip a warm beverage by the fireplace or party the evening away, there are many fabulous apres-ski options for you to enjoy in the evening.

Spend an afternoon on the water – If you are spending time at Lake Tahoe in the summer, there will be no shortage of water activities to choose from. From relaxing canoe rides and stand-up paddle boarding to fast-paced jet skiing and exhilarating parasailing, there is something for everyone here.

Trek to some fantastic viewpoints – Lake Tahoe is surrounded by jaw-dropping mountains waiting to be explored. Head to Eagle Rock for superb views of the lake, take the popular Five Lakes Trail, or experienced hikers can check out the Shirley Canyon Trail.

Which Are The Must-Try Foods and Drinks?

Sample the seafood – Although Lake Tahoe has a variety of fish in its waters, it is not always common to find restaurants including fish from here on their menus. However, Lake Tahoe is only a few hours from the Californian coast and, as a result, is home to some fantastic seafood eateries preparing mouthwatering salmon, trout, and oysters.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – Surrounded by the famous Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to sample one of the many offerings from the renowned brewery whose brand is inspired by this part of the country. While they brew a variety of IPAs, their Pale Ale remains their most-loved product.

Tips For Visiting Lake Tahoe

  • If you are planning to spend a significant amount of your time hiking, consider packing hiking boots, as some of the trails can be quite challenging and strenuous.
  • The southern part of the lake tends to be a bustling tourist spot. If you are seeking a relaxed, laid-back vacation, consider exploring the north of the lake.

Want more interesting tips and information on traveling? Read more Kiwi.com articles!

Frequently asked questions

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Travel To California?

The months of June, July, and August make up the high season in the warm place of California, so expect higher prices and bigger crowds. Though the temperatures may be a little lower, the shoulder seasons of March-May and September - November are great times to visit for more affordable prices and fewer tourists.

How To Find Cheap Flights To California?

Here at Kiwi.com, we aim to give everyone access to the destinations they dream about. We find our customers the cheapest fares online through our travel hacks and technology that no other flight website shows you.

To get started organizing your once-in-a-lifetime holiday, visit our California destination page, select which airport you'd love to fly into, and we'll give you endless flight options that suit your travel dates.

What Is California Known For?

While the Golden State is known for having the biggest entertainment industry in the world, its exquisite beaches, breathtaking mountains, and hugely diverse food scene make it one of the planet's most desirable vacation spots.

What's The Best Food In California?

The wealth of options for food in California is astounding, and there's truly something to suit all tastes. You will find the Californian's beloved avocado everywhere, from pizzas to sushi and salads. Don't miss out on some mouthwatering Mexican food and sourdough while you're there too.

How Many Days Do I Need In California?

We recommend giving yourself at least two weeks to understand the area and visit some of its most famous attractions. If time is on your side, you could spend three or four weeks here exploring what this iconic state offers.