California is an especially popular destination for people looking for adventure as it offers such a wide variety of landscapes, cities and climates.
The third largest state in America, has 12 distinct regions, 147 national historic landmarks, 840 miles of diverse Pacific Ocean coastline, and a mind-boggling 1.6 million acres of National Parks.
Between the exciting entertainment capital of the whole world to the tranquil forests of Lake Tahoe and its stunning National Parks, and everything in between, there truly is something for everyone in California.
Here are 50 fun things you can do in California to help plan an epic adventure!
This one is an obvious choice. Located in sunny Anaheim, Disneyland is one of the largest attractions in the Golden State. People travel from around the world to experience the magic of the happiest place on earth.
Tickets start at $76/day for a standard Theme Park ticket, but if you’re a resident looking to upgrade to a California resident ticket, expect to pay up to $100/day per person.
2. The Hearst Castle
The Hearst Castle was once the residence of the newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The mansion is now maintained by California State Parks, which gives you the opportunity to tour the 127-acre property. The estate includes gardens, terraces, pools, and unique rooms full of antiques originating in Italy and Spain. The castle is located between San Francisco and Santa Barbara.
3. Hike Mount Whitney
At 14,505 feet, Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. Located in Sequoia National Park, this popular hike attracts visitors from all over the world. The trail is 21 miles long with 6,000 feet in elevation gain, so prepare accordingly before attempting this hike.
4. Explore the Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are a chain of eight islands off the coast of California, offering some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the state. Visitors can hike through forests, go kayaking and fishing, explore tide pools, or just relax on the beach. There are also plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, including dolphins, seals, whales, and birds.
5. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is a unique roadside attraction located in the Mojave Desert. The ranch features over 350 bottle trees, which are created by attaching bottles to tree branches. The result is a colorful and whimsical display that is sure to delight visitors of all ages.
6. Explore Bodie State Historic Park
Bodie State Historic Park is a ghost town located in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Once a thriving mining town, Bodie is now a popular tourist destination for those interested in exploring abandoned buildings and learning about California’s history.
7. Visit the Devil’s Postpile Monument
The Devil’s Postpile Monument is a columnar basalt formation located in Mammoth Lakes, CA. The monument is accessible via a short hike, and several ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year. This unique landmark is usually open from June to October.
8. Take A Scenic Roadtrip on Highway 120
Highway 120 is a scenic road that winds through Tioga Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The route offers stunning views of the Sierras, as well as opportunities to see wildlife and stop at various overlooks.
9. Visit Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley
Ubehebe Crater is a 600-foot-deep crater located in Death Valley National Park. Visitors can hike to the bottom of the crater, or take a shorter loop around the rim. The views from the top are also breathtaking.
10. Burney Falls
Burney Falls is a 129-foot waterfall located in Northern California. The falls flow all year round, but are especially beautiful in the springtime when the snowmelt is high. There is also a campground nearby if you want to spend more time in this idyllic setting.
11. Mugu State Park
Mugu State Park is a state park located in Ventura County, CA. The park features over 70 miles of hiking trails, as well as opportunities for fishing, picnicking, and swimming. People have also been known to enjoy hiking up the sand dunes and then running down them really fast.
12. Drive Historic Route 66 from L.A. to Vegas
Route 66 is one of the most iconic roads in America, and what better place to drive it than from Los Angeles to Las Vegas? This road trip will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in California, including the Mojave Desert.
13. Visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetary
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the final resting place of some of Hollywood’s most famous stars. Visitors can take a self-guided tour or participate in one of the many events that are held at the cemetery throughout the year.
14. Explore The La Brea Tar Pits
The La Brea Tar Pits are a group of pits that contain asphalt deposits that were formed over 50,000 years ago. Today, the tar pits are a popular tourist destination and also home to the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. The tar pits contain preserved bones of animals that became trapped in the tar.
You’ll know when you’re arrived— you can smell the tar!
15. Visit Six Flags
Six Flags Magic Mountain is a theme park located in Valencia, California. It boasts 19 roller coasters, making it one of California’s most popular tourist destinations.
16. Take Surfing Lessons at Surfrider Beach
Surfrider Beach is a world-famous surf spot located in Malibu, California. The beach is also home to the Surfrider Foundation, which works to protect and preserve the world’s oceans and beaches.
17. Oue Skyspace in L.A.
Oue Skyspace is an observation deck located in Los Angeles, CA. Visitors can take in panoramic views of the city from the deck, and if you’re brave enough, you can slide down the Oue Sky Space.
18. Day Trip to Catalina Island
Catalina Island is a small island located off the coast of Los Angeles. The island is home to a variety of activities, including snorkeling, hiking, and biking. There are also several restaurants and shops on the island.
19. Carson Mansion
The Carson Mansion is a historic home located in Eureka, California. The mansion was built in the late 19th century and is now open to the public for tours.
20. Go to A Music Festival
California is home to a variety of music festivals, including Coachella and Stagecoach. These festivals attract some of the biggest names in the music industry and are a great way to experience California’s vibrant culture.
Who could forget Beyonce’s iconic, pair of Coachcella concerts?
21. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California. The park is named for the Joshua trees that are found throughout the park. The park also offers hiking, camping, and rock climbing opportunities.
22. Take a Trip to Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a desert oasis located in Southern California. The city is known for its luxury resorts, golf courses, and spas. Palm Springs is also a popular destination for celebrities.
23. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world-renowned aquarium located in Monterey, California. The aquarium is home to a variety of marine life, including sharks, dolphins, and whales.
24. Visit Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. The park is located in Central California and features a variety of landscapes, including waterfalls, mountains, and forests.
25. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States. The bridge spans the Golden Gate strait and connects San Francisco to Marin County.
26. Visit Solvang
Solvang is a Danish-themed town located in the Santa Ynez Valley. The town is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the Solvang Theater Festival.
You must get a donut from one of the many main street shops.
27. Visit the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
The Santa Cruz Boardwalk is a historic amusement park located in Santa Cruz, California. The park is home to a variety of rides, including the Giant Dipper roller coaster.
28. Visit Big Sur
Big Sur is a beautiful stretch of coastline located in Central California. The area is known for its dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and lush vegetation.
29. Visit the Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. The sign is located on Mount Lee in Los Angeles, CA.
30. Take a Hike Through Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is located in Northern California and is home to the tallest trees in the world. The park offers several hiking trails that wind through the towering redwoods.
31. Visit Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake located on the border of California and Nevada. The lake is known for its clear blue waters and scenic views. There are also several ski resorts in the area.
32. Visit the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and best zoos in the world. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including lions, tigers, and elephants.
33. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a small beach located in La Jolla, California. The cove is known for its clear waters and picturesque views.
34. Go Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Napa Valley is one of the most popular wine regions in the world. The region is home to hundreds of wineries that offer tastings and tours.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.
35. Visit Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island is a small island located in San Francisco Bay. The island is home to the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Today, the island is a popular tourist destination.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.
36. Tour the Bristlecone Pine Forest
The Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to the oldest trees in the world. The forest is located in the White Mountains of California.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.
37. Take a Bicycle Ride from Venice Beach to Santa Monica
Venice Beach is a popular beach destination in Los Angeles. The beach is known for its Muscle Beach, boardwalk, and canals. Santa Monica is another popular beach destination located just north of Venice Beach that’s got a more upscale vibe to it.
38. Visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is one of the largest museums of modern art in the world. The museum features a variety of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs.
39. Visit the California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences is a natural history museum located in San Francisco. The museum is home to a variety of exhibits, including an aquarium, planetarium, and rainforest.
40. Visit Pismo Beach
Pismo Beach is a popular beach destination located on the Central Coast of California. The beach is known for its tide pools, dunes, and surfing.
Clueless fans will want to make a trek to say they did!
41. Explore the Anza Borrego Desert
The Anza Borego Desert is a large desert area located in Southern California. The desert is home to a variety of plants and animals, as well as several Ghost Towns. There are also beautiful metal sculptures set into the sand. There are a total od 130 sculptures to find, including dinosaurs, saber tooth tigers, and serpents.
42. Visit Glass Beach
Glass Beach is a beach located in Northern California. The beach is made up of small pieces of glass that have been smoothed by the ocean.
43. Visit Mono Lake’s Tufas
Tufas are large rock formations that can be found in Mono Lake, California. The lake is located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.
44. Visit the Hollywood Wax Museum
The Hollywood Wax Museum is a museum located in Hollywood, California. The museum is home to a variety of wax figures, including celebrities and historical figures.
45. Visit Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain is a man-made mountain located in the Mojave Desert. The mountain is made entirely of adobe and straw, and is covered in colorful paintings.
46. Visit Badwater Basin-The Lowest Point in the U.S.A.
Badwater Basin is a large salt flat located in Death Valley National Park. The basin is the lowest point in the United States, and is also one of the hottest places on Earth.
47. Visit the USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum is a museum located in San Diego, California. The museum is home to the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier that served during World War II and the Korean War.
48. Visit the mission San Juan Capistrano
The Mission San Juan Capistrano is a historic mission located in Orange County, California. The mission was founded in the 18th century and is now open to the public for tours.
49. Take a Bike Ride Through Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park is a large park located in San Francisco. The park is home to a variety of attractions, including museums, gardens, and lakes. Many see the bridge and move on, but make sure to spend time in the gorgeous park.
50. Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a sidewalk located in Hollywood, California. The sidewalk is lined with stars that have been dedicated to celebrities.
Which Area Will You Explore First?
There are a variety of things to do in California, no matter what your interests are. From visiting museums and taking bike rides, to exploring the desert and visiting the beach, there is something for everyone. So get out there and start exploring!