4 Top Things To Do In California To Inspire Your Vacation Planning

22 August 2020
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Why is California one of the top vacation destinations in the United States for both Americans and international travellers? Well think perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, star-studded Los Angeles, historic San Francisco, jaw dropping natural wonders including national parks, awesome mountains, forests, desert, and coastal areas, and it’s no surprise that the Golden State is such a massive attraction for short and long vacations.

Whether you are interested in doing a road trip, taking a family vacation, enjoying a city escape, or just looking to do some sightseeing, there are amazing experiences to be had for everyone. The list below of 4 of the top things to do in California from my own personal experience will hopefully get you started in exploring this beautiful state especially if it’s your first time visiting this part of the America.

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge illuminated at night, San Francisco, America

What is it? The world’s most photographed bridge (despite the merry dance with the fog)

Why go? The Golden Gate Bridge is a California icon gracing San Francisco Bay and connects San Francisco with Marin County and other districts further north. The gorgeous 746 foot tall orange structure backed by blue water was at one time designated the greatest man-made sight in the United States by the U.S. Travel Service. Opened on May 28th, 1937, the bridge took four years to build and at the time of its completion, was the longest suspension bridge in the world, measuring approximately two miles in length.

Even when shrouded in fog which can come in quickly, the bridge never fails to impress during the day or night when it’s flood-lit structure strikes a beautiful contrast against the pastel colours of the sky at sunset or the deep blue colour of the sky and water at night. The view is equally spectacular when passing over the bridge with cityscapes on one side, nature on the other and a beautiful shock of blue below.

For Google Map location click here

2. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park, California, America

What is it? One of the most stunning National Parks in America that is packed with famous landmarks, historical sites, epic hikes and breathtaking views.

Why go? Yosemite has long been a place of inspiration for artists, climbers, and nature lovers. Beginning in the 1920s, Ansel Adams’ stunning black-and-white photographs of Yosemite drew attention to the park’s breathtaking landscapes and iconic sites, and it continues to draw huge numbers of tourists from all around the world. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. The most famous and beautiful section of the park is Yosemite Valley with stellar tourist attractions like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls.

Outside the valley, Glacier Road allows access to stunning views over the Yosemite Valley, and Tioga Road crosses the park in an east-west direction and runs through alpine scenery, where there are lovely, and often less busy, hiking trails. Due to the altitude, Tioga Road opens later in the spring than Glacier Road. There are so many exciting things to do all over the park, from camping, hiking with over 750 miles of trails, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, water activities including rafting along the Merced River, fishing, swimming, boating, and winter sports during the cold months.

From the very first moment you enter till the last minute as you leave you will be continuously struck by the spellbinding beauty of Yosmite Valley, and you will like me promise to go back once more to drink in the natural beauty.

 For Google Map locations click here

3. Getty Villa Museum and Gardens (Getty Center)

View from Getty Center Cactus Garden of Los Angeles skyline at sunset with assortment of cacti in the foreground, Los Angeles, America

What is it? A wonderful free art museum set on the top of a hill with beautiful gardens overlooking the ocean.

Why go? A must visit world-famous museum designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Richard Meier that opened to the public on 16 December 1997 housing the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, and the J. Paul Getty Trust. Located above Brentwood on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Getty Villa Museum (previously Getty Center) is renowned for its permanent collection, which includes pre-20th century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, 19th and 20th century American, European and Asian photographs, and contemporary and modern sculpture.

Once you arrive at the bottom you need to take an electric tram ride up the hill to begin exploring the villa which has works displayed in four permanent pavilions, an exhibition space and the adjacent Getty Research Institute. You can slowly meander your way through centuries of art, starting with medieval paintings and sculpture in the North Pavilion, ending with Impressionist favourites and photography exhibitions in the West.

The tranquil inner courtyard of the museum provides lots of opportunities to sit down and get some air whilst taking in the view of the Center’s architecture and fountains, before exploring the delights of the four gardens in the complex. Whilst the four gardens are all lovely to explore the Robert Irwin’s Central Garden with its cascading stream that leads to a lush labyrinth of hedges and pathways, and the cactus garden which provides a postcard-perfect view of the city with a cluster of cacti in the foreground are certainly the 2 that shouldn’t be missed.

The relative inaccessibility due to the inability to get directly to the museum by your own transport, is more than compensated for by the free admission and panoramic views, from the hills and the ocean in the west all the way around to Downtown LA in the east.

For Google Map location click here

4. The Venetian Las Vegas

The spectacular golden armillary sphere and frescoed ceiling of The Venetian Hotel lobby connecting the reception area to the casino and shops, Las Vegas, America

What is it? Located on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, The Venetian Resort succeeds in recreating the glory of Venice and in transporting visitors across the Atlantic.

Why go? When you think of the typical Las Vegas experience, the city’s incredible casinos come to mind first and there are so many wonderful sights to behold. The Venetian resort is one of the most famous casinos on the Las Vegas Strip and is a lavish, Italian Venice-themed hotel with its own replica Rialto Bridge, gondola canals, St. Mark’s Square complete with costumed characters and gelato stands under changing skies, Italian restaurants, and stunning intricate ceilings.

Entering the stunning Venetian Hotel Vegas lobby provides a mind-blowing view of the grandeur and elegance of this truly spectacular hotel and casino, with the incredible golden armillary sphere, gilded columns, acres of Italian marble, and wonderful Italian fresco ceilings and grand arches of the halls.

 There are so many things to do so take your time and walk around the replicated streets, take a romantic gondola ride down a quarter-mile Grand Canal, marvel at the hand-painted frescoed ceilings, and have a bite and drink and absorb it all in.

 For Google Map location click here

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Hello, I’m Ivan. Welcome to my website. I am a travel photographer based in London, United Kingdom, with a love of traveling the world to meet and photograph new people and places. I am lucky to have visited so many beautiful places and look forward to sharing some of my photographs and travel photo tips with you.

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This is a personal blog and all content provided is for information only. All photographs unless otherwise stated are taken by myself and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission to help cover the cost of running this site, if you go through them to make a purchase. See details for full disclaimer information.

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