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TOP 25 ATTRACTIONS IN CALIFORNIA


Half Dome, Yosemite National Park San Diego sunset Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Welcome to the Bigroads.com guide to the top 25 attractions in California!

No state comes close to matching the diversity of the great state of California. You'll find many of the USA's best beaches, museums, national parks, geologic attractions, skiing, cities, restaurants, monuments, and more in California.

The list below represents our opinionated selections for the top 25 attractions in the state of California. Please take note that this list is sorted alphabetically (and not by quality or rank).

This list is part of our top 25 USA attractions series.


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ATTRACTION NAME ATTRACTION TYPE TOWN / CITY WHAT MAKES THIS ATTRACTION SO GREAT?
Alcatraz / Alcatraz Island Prison Museum / Prison Tours / Boat Tour San Francisco America's most famous prison; boat trip required
California State Railroad Museum Railroad Museum Sacramento perhaps the finest railroad museum in the U.S.A.
Channel Islands National Park Hiking Trails / Sea-Kayaking / Scenic Views Channel Islands NP California's take on the Galapagos; remote islands
Death Valley National Park Geologic Attractions / Hiking Trails / 4WDing Death Valley NP amazing but barren and inhospitable landscapes
Devils Postpile National Monument Geologic Attractions / Hiking Trails Mammoth Lakes beautiful geologic formations plus Rainbow Falls
Disneyland Park / Disneyland Resort Amusement Park / Lodging Anaheim most-visited amusement park in California
Getty Center, The Art Museum / Botanical Garden / Scenic Views Los Angeles a "miraculous arts center compound"
Golden Gate Bridge Bridge San Francisco beautiful & famous suspension bridge
Inyo National Forest Hiking Trails / Scenic Views Multiple towns gorgeous wilderness park popular w/backpackers
Joshua Tree National Park Hiking Trails / Rock Climbing / Bouldering Joshua Tree NP excellent adventure opportunities & joshua trees
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park Waterfall / Scenic Views Big Sur beautiful Big Sur coastal scenery & McWay Falls
Kings Canyon National Park Hiking Trails / Backpacking / Scenic Views Kings Canyon NP famous for its outstanding backpacking trails
Lake Tahoe Outdoor Activities-Lakes Lake Tahoe USA's 2nd deepest lake; top notch hiking/skiing
Monterey Bay Aquarium Aquarium Monterey one of the top 5 aquariums in the U.S.A.
Muir Woods National Monument Hiking Trails / Big Trees / Redwood Trees Mill Valley closest redwood trees to San Francisco
Pacific Coast Highway (US 1) Scenic Drive Multiple towns perhaps the best coastal drive in the U.S.A.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Aerial Tramway / Hiking Trails / Scenic Views Palm Springs one of the finest aerial tramways in the U.S.A.
Point Reyes National Seashore Hiking Trails / Scenic Views Multiple towns 100sq miles of beaches, lagoons and forested hills
Redwood National Park Hiking Trails / Big Trees / Redwood Trees Redwood NP huge redwood trees
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum Presidential Attraction / Library Simi Valley one of the top presidential museums in the U.S.A.
San Diego Zoo Zoo San Diego easily the finest zoo in America
Sequoia National Park Hiking Trails / Cave Tours / Big Trees Sequoia NP the world's largest trees plus excellent trails
Universal Studios Hollywood Amusement Park / Studio Tours Universal City part real film studio, part theme park
USS Midway Museum Boat Museum / Military Museum San Diego tour an excellent U.S. Navy aircraft carrier
Yosemite National Park Hiking Trails / Rock Climbing / Geologic Attractions Yosemite NP gorgeous granite monoliths & towering waterfalls

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park
Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

tours of Alcatraz Island
tours of Alcatraz Island

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

Heart Rock, San Bernardino National Forest
Heart Rock, San Bernardino National Forest

Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Coast Highway

drive-thru tree in Sequoia National Park
drive-thru tree in Sequoia National Park

Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, Kings Canyon National Park

views along Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park
views along Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park

Cathedral Lakes Trail, Yosemite National Park
end of the Cathedral Lakes Trail, Yosemite National Park

Dante's View, Death Valley National Park
Dante's View, Death Valley National Park

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
ocean views from a bluff within Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
just below the summit of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (permits required)

view from the top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
view from the top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (permits required)

views of Mt. Whitney from the Mount Whitney Trail
views of Mt. Whitney from the Mount Whitney Trail (permits required)

Trail Crest near the summit of Mt. Whitney
Trail Crest near the summit of Mt. Whitney (permits required)

summit sign on Mt. Whitney, highpoint of California
summit sign on Mt. Whitney, highpoint of California (permits required)

Devil's Cornfield, Death Valley National Park
Devil's Cornfield, Death Valley National Park

summit of Mt. Whitney
summit of Mt. Whitney (permits required)

Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park
Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway

Lombard Street, San Francisco
Lombard Street, San Francisco

Redwood trees, Redwood National Park
Redwood trees, Redwood National Park

San Diego sunset
San Diego sunset

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

sea lions along the Pacific Coast Highway / Big Sur Highway
sea lions along the Pacific Coast Highway / Big Sur Highway

road in Death Valley National Park
road in Death Valley National Park

RUNNER-UPS: ATTRACTIONS THAT ALMOST MADE THE TOP 25 LIST



Here are a list of other great attractions in the state of California that we considered for the top 25 list above. Please email us @ gparsons66@hotmail.com if you think there are any other attractions of this quality that we should be considering, either for this runners-up list or for the top 25 attractions list itself.

ATTRACTION NAME ATTRACTION TYPE TOWN / CITY
17-mile Drive / Seventeen Mile Drive  Scenic Drive Monterey
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Hiking Trails / 4WDing / Palm Oasis Borrego Springs
Armstrong Redwood State Reserve Nature Park / Redwood Trees / Big Trees Guerneville
Asilomar State Beach Beach Pacific Grove
AT&T Park Baseball Stadium San Francisco
Balboa Park Urban / City Park San Diego
Bodie State Historic Park Ghost Town Bodie
Burney Falls Waterfall Burney
Cable Cars Other San Francisco
Cabrillo National Monument Statue / Scenic Views San Diego
California Academy of Sciences Aquarium San Francisco
California Science Center Science Museum / Movie Theater Los Angeles
Carmel City Beach Beach Carmel-by-the-Sea
Carmel Village Shopping Carmel-by-the-Sea
Castello di Amorosa Winery / Wine Tasting Calistoga
Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour Aerial Adventure Park / Zip-Lining Avalon
Disney California Adventure Park Amusement Park Anaheim
Downtown Disney Shopping Anaheim
Dry Creek Vineyard Winery / Wine Tasting Healdsburg
Emerald Bay State Park Scenic Views South Lake Tahoe
Exploratorium, The Science Museum / Children's Museum San Francisco
Ferry Building Marketplace Shopping / Farmers Market San Francisco
Fisherman's Wharf / Pier 39 Shopping / Wildlife Viewing (sea lions) San Francisco
Fort Rosecrans Cemetery Cemetery / Gravesites San Diego
Getty Villa, The Art Museum Malibu
Golden Gate National Recreation Area Nature Park / Scenic Views San Francisco
Golden Gate Park Urban / City Park / Scenic Views San Francisco
Griffith Observatory Observatory / Planetarium / Astronomy / Scenic Views Los Angeles
Griffith Park Urban / City Park / Hiking Trails / Carousel / Scenic Views Los Angeles
Hearst Castle  Historic Home Tours / Castle San Simeon
Heisler Park Beach Laguna Beach
Hendry Ranch Wines Winery / Wine Tasting Napa
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Big Trees / Redwood Trees / Hiking Trails Felton
Hollywood Sign Movie / TV Attraction / Roadside Attraction Los Angeles
Hollywood Walk of Fame Movie / TV Attraction Los Angeles
Humboldt Redwoods State Park Big Trees / Redwood Trees / Hiking Trails Weott
Huntington Beach Pier Ocean Pier Huntington Beach
Huntington Beach State Park Beach Huntington Beach
Huntington, The Library / Art Museum San Marino
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park Big Trees / Redwood Trees / Hiking Trails Crescent City
Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park Buena Park
La Jolla Cove Beach San Diego (La Jolla district)
La Jolla Shores Beach / Snorkeling San Diego (La Jolla district)
Lava Beds National Monument Hiking Trails / Volcanic Attraction Tulelake
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens Zoo / Garden Palm Desert
Lombard Street Roadside Attraction / Offbeat Attraction / Curvy Road San Francisco
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park Waterfall Burney
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Botanical Garden Fort Bragg
Mission San Juan Capistrano Spanish Mission San Juan Capistrano
Monterey Bay Coastal Recreational Trail Bike Path / Rail Trail Multiple towns
Mount San Jacinto / San Jacinto Mountain Mountain / Hiking Trails Palm Springs
Mount San Jacinto State Park Hiking Trails / Scenic Views Idyllwild
Mount Tamalpais State Park Hiking Trails / Scenic Views Multiple towns
Mount Whitney Mountain / Hiking Trails / Mountaineering / Highpoint Lone Pine
Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. Hot Air Ballooning Napa
Napa Valley Wine Train Winery / Wine Tasting / Scenic Railroad Napa
Norton Simon Museum Art Museum Pasadena
O'Brien Estate Winery Winery / Wine Tasting Napa
Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits Natural History Museum Los Angeles
Pebble Beach Golf Links Golfing Pebble Beach
Petco Park Baseball Stadium San Diego
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Big Trees / Redwood Trees / Hiking Trails Big Sur
Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery Wildlife Viewing San Simeon
Pinnacles National Park Hiking Trails / Geologic Attractions Pinnacles National Park
Point Lobos State Reserve Nature Park / Wildlife Viewing / Hiking Trails / Scenic Views Carmel-by-the-Sea
Point Loma Scenic Views San Diego
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Big Trees / Redwood Trees / Hiking Trails / Wildlife Viewing Orick
Pride Mountain Vineyards Winery / Wine Tasting St. Helena
Redwood Highway (US 101) Scenic Drive / Scenic Views Multiple towns
Rodeo Drive Shopping Beverly Hills
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Zoo / Drive-Through Safari Zoo Escondido
Santa Barbara County Courthouse Roadside Attraction / Observation Deck / Scenic Views Santa Barbara
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk & Amusement Park Amusement Park / Boardwalk Santa Cruz
Santa Monica Pier Amusement Park / Ocean Pier / Carousel/Merry-Go-Round Santa Monica
Santa Monica State Beach / Santa Monica Beach Beach Santa Monica
SeaWorld San Diego Amusement Park / Aquarium / Animal Shows San Diego
Six Flags Magic Mountain Amusement Park Valencia
Stanford University College / University Stanford
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Nature Park / Scenic Views / Sunset Viewing / Natural Bridge San Diego
Third Street Promenade Shopping Santa Monica
Torrey Pines State Reserve Nature Park / Beach / Hiking Trails / Scenic Views San Diego
Venice Beach Beach Venice Beach
Walt Disney Concert Hall Concerts Los Angeles
Walt Disney Family Museum Movie / TV Museum San Francisco
Warner Bros. Studio Tours Studio Tours Burbank

MORE TOP 25 ATTRACTIONS LISTS



Explore more of our selections for the top 25 attractions of each state:

Alabama Nebraska
Alaska Nevada
Arizona New Hampshire
Arkansas New Jersey
California New Mexico
Colorado New York
Connecticut North Carolina
Delaware North Dakota
Florida Ohio
Georgia Oklahoma
Hawaii Oregon
Idaho Pennsylvania
Illinois Rhode Island
Indiana South Carolina
Iowa South Dakota
Kansas Tennessee
Kentucky Texas
Louisiana Utah
Maine Vermont
Maryland Virginia
Massachusetts Washington
Michigan Washington D.C.
Minnesota West Virginia
Mississippi Wisconsin
Missouri Wyoming
Montana USA




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