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    19 Stunning Places In California That Prove It's Still The Most Incredible State

    Get ready to fall in love.

    The coronavirus pandemic is still impacting travel, and destinations around the world have different COVID-19 restrictions in place. Always check and adhere to local government policies, and use our content to dream about a future trip.

    Over the past few months, California has been affected by some of the worst wildfires in history. People have tragically lost their lives, homes, and businesses — and the fires are still burning.

    You can help those affected by making a donation to a relief organization, such as the Red Cross or the California Fire Foundation.

    But one thing that's true about the Golden State is just how resilient it can be. Beauty is still here, and California is rebuilding and fighting back each day. We've rounded up some of the most breathtaking destinations so you can add them to your future bucket list.

    1. Cypress Tree Tunnel

    A drive-thru tunnel made of towering cypress trees that curve in.
    Spondylolithesis / Getty Images

    If you want a shot that's seriously 'gram-worthy, look no further than Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes. Planted about 90 years ago, it's a hidden gem that's a breathtaking backdrop no matter what season it is.

    2. Joshua Tree National Park

    A sunset desert oasis with rocks and cactuses.
    Felicia Lee / Getty Images

    Ready for an adventure? Look no further than Joshua Tree National Park. Located at the intersection of the Colorado and Mojave deserts, you'll feel like you've stepped into another world filled with unique spiky trees and surreal rocky views. Plus, did I mention how wildly beautiful the sunsets and sunrises are? It's worth stopping by for those alone.

    3. Fern Canyon

    A lush path with lots of greenery.
    Oralleff / Getty Images

    You might be wondering if you've stepped into a fairy tale when you take a walk through Fern Canyon. This lush hideaway was used as filming backdrop for Jurassic Park, and you can experience it for yourself by visiting Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park on California's north coast.

    4. Bowling Ball Beach

    A serene beach setting with smooth rocks like bowling balls.
    Kojihirano / Getty Images

    Plan your visit to Bowling Ball Beach during low tide, and you'll catch the sight of a lifetime. If you couldn't tell from the photo, this Mendocino County beach gets its name from the various rocks that look kinda similar to bowling balls. The view isn't just relaxing, it also kinda looks like it belongs on the background of your computer.

    5. Mono Lake

    A sunset view of a serene lake and unique limestone formations
    Xin Wang / Getty Images

    Spanning about 65 square miles, Mono Lake is unlike any lake you've seen before. It's over 1 million years old and is home to the famous "tufa towers" that draw visitors from near and far each year. These stunning calcium carbonate spires are formed when the alkaline lake water combines with freshwater springs. Catch them during sunrise or sunset, and you'll be set for a stellar photo sesh.

    6. Glass Beach

    Smooth glass pebbles take the place of sand on a beach
    Estelle Mitchum / Getty Images

    Want to take your seaside vacay to the next level? Plan a visit to Glass Beach, an old city trash dump area in Fort Bragg, about three and a half hours from San Francisco. Smooth and vibrant "sea glass" glimmers in the sun, making this a picturesque pit stop on any Northern California road trip.

    7. Lands End

    A rock maze overlooking an ocean and city view.
    Yhelfman / Getty Images

    Want to skip the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and trade it in for an oceanfront hike? Make your next destination Lands End in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You'll find killer views, hiking trails, and a unique rock maze.

    Check out: 31 Things Everyone Should Do In San Francisco At Least Once

    8. McWay Falls

    A bird's eye view of ocean water, sand a tall waterfall.
    Gabriele Maltinti / Getty Images

    Big Sur is home to the McWay Falls — a destination that's straight-up postcard-worthy. While it's illegal (and there's no set path) to go down to the beach, you can still catch a peek of the Pacific Ocean and get an epic bird's-eye view of the cascading waterfall.

    9. Yosemite National Park

    A view of the woods and towering rock formations.
    Bribar / Getty Images

    Whether you want waterfall views or a challenging Half Dome hike, Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada has something for everyone. Arguably one of the country's most famous parks, it doesn't matter if you're camping in a good ol' tent, glamping in a yurt, or just visiting for the day — this is an outdoor lover's haven that's bursting with natural beauty.

    Check out: 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Yosemite National Park

    10. Muir Woods National Monument

    A walkway surrounded by towering redwood trees.
    Chris Dziuba / Getty Images

    If walking among towering redwood trees sounds like your ideal afternoon, you'll find Muir Woods National Monument downright dreamy. It's the perfect place for a relaxing stroll if you want some fresh air outside of San Francisco's nearby cityscape.

    11. The Racetrack

    A desert setting with a moving rock's imprints in the ground.
    Pabradyphoto / Getty Images

    Formerly a lake bed, the Racetrack, located in the massive Death Valley National Park, is now home to mysterious "sailing rocks" that leave imprints wherever they move. It's worth spending time exploring the rest of the park, too. But be sure to stay hydrated if you drop by this remote and rugged destination — it's known to get notoriously hot.

    12. Emerald Bay State Park

    A picturesque view of the vast lake and surrounding woods.
    Alessandrarc / Getty Images

    Ready for a blue-green dream? Look no further than the waters of Emerald Bay, not far from South Lake Tahoe. It's a serene setting that's astounding from every angle.

    13. Lava Beds National Monument

    A dark, underground cave with light popping through the top.
    Purplexsu / Getty Images

    With over 800 caves and other historic sites to explore, this stop near the Oregon border is a geological wonderland. If you're into all things volcanic, head underground to explore the highest concentration of lava tube caves in North America. They range in difficulty, so find the right path for you.

    Pro tip: Some paths through the tunnels are dark, so don't forget a flashlight.

    14. Burney Falls

    A cascading waterfall with the sun and trees nearby.
    Bartfett / Getty Images

    Burney Falls is another place that's dreamy as can be. It's 129 feet tall and located in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. From the surrounding ferns to the sun trickling in between the trees, it should be fairly easy to see why this is an essential stop on any hike.

    15. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

    A vibrant field of poppies.
    Melissa Kopka / Getty Images

    From February to May, visitors can check out the vibrant wildflower blooms at Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster. The bold palette will make you feel like you've entered an artistic masterpiece that you'd find hanging on a museum wall.

    16. Santa Catalina Island

    An overhead view of a waterfront town with buildings and boats nearby.
    Backyardproduction / Getty Images

    Located just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Santa Catalina Island is a charming getaway offering sandy beaches, diving, and more. Just take one look, and you'll wish you could teleport straight there.

    17. Capitola Beach

    A colorful row of rainbow houses by the beach.
    Ed-ni-photo / Getty Images

    The rainbow-colored houses that line Capitola Beach will instantly shift you into vacation mode. Enjoy fun in the sun as you lounge on the sand and dip your toes in the water, or explore the town of Capitola, which has everything from boutique shops to tasty eats.

    18. Bixby Bridge

    An overhead view of a large bridge by the water.
    Csondy / Getty Images

    Fans of Big Little Lies will instantly recognize the arched Bixby Bridge located in Big Sur. It opened in the early 1930s and has been a Central California icon ever since. If you happen to be traveling on Highway 1, be sure to drive across this bridge to get a glimpse of the panoramic views.

    19. Morro Bay

    A large rock formation by the beach.
    Mdsansone / Getty Images

    If you ever find yourself in Morro Bay, a laid-back beach town near San Luis Obispo, you'll soon notice that Morro Rock is the centerpiece. It's an extinct volcanic plug located at the end of Morro Rock Beach. Whether you're sitting on the sandy shores or checking out the lagoons, I promise that this underrated spot is 100% worth your time.

    To help those affected by the California wildfires, you can make a donation to the Red Cross, the California Fire Foundation, or another relief organization.

    Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

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