Skip To Content
  • Time To Travel badge

21 Of The Best Places To Visit In California, From Someone Who Actually Lives There

Sun-soaked beaches, snowcapped mountains, and everything in between.

Beaches, mountains, forests, lakes, deserts, vineyards, and Disneyland — it's not hard to see why nearly 12% of the US population calls the Golden State home. Here are 20 of the best places California has to offer, straight from a local. (Me!)

Beaches in Malibu

1. Capitola

Colorful houses lining the shore at Capitola

2. Big Sur

Photo of Bixby Bridge at Big Sur

3. San Diego

Downtown San Diego

4. Channel Islands

Snorkelers and fish swim in the water

5. Carmel-by-the-Sea

China Cove in Carmel-by-the-Sea

6. Mammoth Mountain

View of trees and Mammoth Mountain

7. Los Angeles

View of Downtown Los Angeles

8. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

View from the rim of Kings Canyon, a canyon located at the western end of the George Gill Range in the Northern Territory

9. Santa Barbara

Garden in front of Santa Barbara Old Mission

10. San Francisco

Fog flowing across the Golden Gate Bridge as seen from the Marin Headlands in San Francisco, California.

11. Lake Tahoe

A Young Couple Parked Van at a Viewpoint of Lake Tahoe

12. Redwood National and State Parks

Photo taken in Redwoods, United States

13. Big Bear Lake

View of mountains and rock formations along Big Bear Lake

14. Yosemite National and State Park

Photo taken in Yosemite Valley, United States

15. Joshua Tree National Park

Evening view of the Milky Way in Joshua Tree National Park

16. Palm Springs

The Morse Home designed by architect Hal Levitt and featuring an Avanti Studebaker in Palm Springs, California on February 12, 2020.

17. Napa Valley

Red wine in front of vineyards

18. Paso Robles

Pelletiere Estate Winery at Twilight, Paso Robles, California, United States.

19. Laguna Beach

Person surfs waves at Laguna Beach

20. Long Beach

Two people on a jetski are seen in the water, while a runner passes by along Shoreline Aquatic Park, with the Queen Mary ship in the distance, docked in Long Beach, CA,

21. Disneyland, Anaheim

Mickey Mouse poses in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park

Did we leave anything out? What are your favorite places in California?