Hollywood is certainly the most famous tourist area in California (maybe in the world). But is the City of Angels that surrounds it actually the best tourist city in California? There is some room for argument here, especially when you consider the beautiful majesty of the state. There are many cultures and environments that you can indulge in. I certainly did. I love sharing them all, because California deserves to be known for more than celebrity parties.
The first huge tourist attraction I saw outside of Hollywood was The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is a great lead-in for the rest of the city, and San Francisco is known to be one of the most beautiful cities in the continental United States. Depending on your interests, you can find American history, greenery, ocean and hills to suit your fancy.
I got my fill before moving on to Yosemite National Park in Northern California. There is a reason that Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. Actually, there are many reasons. Some of the world’s finest authors have come here for inspiration. The spectacular beauty of the landscape is truly unique and unmatched within the borders of the country. I marvelled at the granite walls carved out of the Ice Age and became transfixed for hours at the gorgeous waterfalls. If you can pull yourself away long enough, you can also enjoy hiking trails, which Northern California as a whole has plenty of as well.
After this incredible experience, I decided it was time for some fun at Disneyland in Anaheim. The premier destination for families continues to be the incredible Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, and with good reason. There is something for everyone here. I was all about the theme rides – very nostalgic! The entire resort may actually give you a bit of the Hollywood flavour that you secretly want but can’t get the invitation for. The shopping, the shows and the over-the-top production made me feel like I was in the middle of a blockbuster movie production.
After all the excitement, I needed a bit of a break from the city. Enter Death Valley National Park in Death Valley. Death Valley National Park is known to be quite inhospitable to the unprepared traveller, but I came prepared. The overwhelming heat and the relative solitude gives the place a spirit that is strangely attractive, and the salt fields, mountains and below sea level lake are sights that must be seen in person to truly take in. I even went for a swim in Badwater Lake.
I had to see Big Sur on the California Central Coast. I wanted to get back out into nature with some incredible hiking and biking on Big Sur. The expansive landscape includes both Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and Garrapata State Park, which are known for their great campsites. I did about 5 miles of the 220 miles of walking trails with great views that stretch from Carmel to San Simeon.
I like nature, so I went to Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range next. I love the turquoise coves and the beautiful mountain picture that surrounds them. Boating, beaching and camping are popular activities, and I found some great hidden places for romantic getaways. Lake Tahoe also provides ski resorts for seasonal skiing, with some of the best snow conditions outside of Colorado.
My final stop – Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
I hadn’t seen the largest trees on planet Earth, so I owed myself a visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These trees are not only the largest trees in the world, but they are also some of the oldest. Some date more than 3,000 years back. I also made it a point to come to Mount Whitney. Whitney breaks records on its own as well – it is the tallest mountain in the United States outside of Alaska (14,495 feet high).
If everything is booked solid in LA (and even if it isn’t), make your way to these incredible California tourist attractions. You won’t be disappointed, and you may even change your opinion about what is really great about the state.