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Top Ten Destination Spots in California

Updated on August 19, 2015

Napa Valleys Old Faithful Geyser

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Napa Valley Wine Train

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10. Napa Valley

Napa Valley is most known for its vineyards and wine tasting opportunities. The Napa Valley Wine Train offers wine tasting while enjoying a ride through the beautiful views of the local vineyards.

“Balloons above the Valley”, is a unique way to have brunch and overlook the vineyards in the area from a hot air balloon; Champagne is served with brunch.

The Castello Di Amorosa is a popular winery due to its castle like style. This old world winery takes you back in time. Different wine clubs are available and can be purchased on location or on their website. These wines come in different items and prices depending on the package you choose. There is also a shop where you can taste and purchase the wine of your choice.

Castello Di Amorosa offers different tours including; a tour of the castle and a tour of the vineyard. The tour of the castle and taste testing tours offer different taste testing opportunities and barrel tasting.

A smaller version of the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone is the Old Faithful Geyser in Napa Valley. This geyser erupts every hour.

Some of the tours offered in Napa Valley include; Winery Tours, Horse Drawn Tours and Food and Wine Tours.

The Bale Grist Mill Historic Park is located in Napa Valley and the Bale Grist Mill was used as a water mill in 1846. This mill is a State Historic Landmark and is where the locals would go to have their corn and wheat ground. This mill was in service until sometime in the early 1900's. There is a trail at the mill which leads to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Which is another place to see while visiting Napa Valley.

Don’t forget to see the Napa Valley Symphony before you leave.

Castello Di Amorosa Winery

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Big Bear Lake

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Big Bear Mountain

9. Big Bear

Big Bear is a popular destination which offers all kinds of recreational activities including; skiing, camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking and para-sailing. Big Bear offers fun for everyone and is open for recreation any time of the year.

There are many campgrounds, cabins, hostels, bed and breakfasts, lodges and hotels to choose from.

Big Bear is also home to many boutiques and gift shops to shop at. Alpine Village is another popular attraction and offers horse drawn carriage rides.

Alpine Village is a quaint village which is lined with boutiques and fine dining. There is a bowling alley in Alpine village and since it is located on the banks of Big Bear Lake, it makes it easy to experience water sports or to just soak in the sun. Alpine Village also has a movie theater.

Due to the many spas located at Big Bear, it is a perfect time to pamper yourself. There are several spas in the area and offer; body wraps, foot massages, acupressure, facials and Swedish massages. There are also other forms of beauty treatments depending on where you go and what they offer.

The Alpine Pedal Path is a great trail to walk around and take in the beautiful views of Big Bear Lake and Bear Mountain. This path is also pet friendly and a great place to take your dog to get out for some exercise.

Big Bear Valley

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USS Iowa

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The fountain at The Grove

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The Hollywood Walk of Fame

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8. Los Angeles

Los Angeles has enough attractions that it needs a top ten list of its own. Here are just some of the things Los Angeles has to offer.

Universal Studios is a great theme park to visit and between the rides, shops and even cinemas, Universal Studios is fun for all ages. Another theme park is Knottsbury Farm and isn’t too far from this area. It has been around for years and is still a popular attraction to this day.

Los Angeles also has a variety of different city tours but Starline Tours is probably the most sought after by tourists. Starline Tours offers tours of celebrity homes, the grand city tour and even will take you down into San Diego and Tijuana to visit the sites there.

Another popular attraction is the USS Iowa which is now used as a floating museum and offer tours of the ship.

The best place to view the Hollywood sign is at Griffith Park. Griffith Park is 4,300 acres of beauty and entertainment as well. The LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens are located here along with the Griffith Observatory. Don't forget about the pony rides offered at Griffith Park.

California has many places to shop, but LA is the place to go. One of the malls to visit is, “The Grove”. The Grove is an indoor/outdoor mall that houses many boutiques for shopping or just to browse through. The entertainment here is an attraction since it is close to the animated fountain which is similar to the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas.

This mall is located adjacent to the historical farmers market which will give you the perfect opportunity to go there and pick up some fresh produce.

Another well known area to shop at is the world famous, Rodeo Drive where you will find all the fashion that California has to offer.

And last but not least is the Hollywood Walk of Fame which is lined with stars dedicated to the entertainment world. The Hollywood Walk of Fame had its first star placed in 1960. This star was for Stanley Kramer, a film director and productor.

Bring a camera along to capture all the things that Los Angeles has to offer and the memories you will take home from it.

A View of Los Angeles from Griffith Park

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Stanford Mausoleum

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The Angel of Grief

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7. Stanford

Stanford University is located in Northern California and is one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.

Founded in 1885, Stanford is home to many historical buildings including the memorial church which was founded in 1903. This detailed church is known to be the jewel of Stanford due to the detail in the stained glass windows and the mosaics.

The old memorial church houses four pipe organs and has been through two earthquakes which needed repair after both.

Hoover Tower is a landmark at Stanford and the tower can be seen from the campus due to it being 285 feet tall. It was finished in 1941 and is a prominent centerpiece of the college.

The Main Quad also houses few structures that were not damaged in the past earthquakes of 1906 and 1989.

One of the most visited places at Stanford University is the Stanford Mausoleum and the Angel of Grief. The Stanford Mausoleum holds the remains of Leland Stanford Jr. and his parents; Leland Stanford and Jane Stafford.

The Angel of Grief is a statue of a crying angel and was dedicated to Jane Stanford’s brother, Henry Clay Carthorp. There are tours available to see more of Stanford.

Drop by The Leland Stanford Museum which was opened in 1894. This museum is full of art and exhibits. You will see cultural pieces and archeological pieces as well.

Stanford University

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San Francisco is known for its winding roads

The Golden Gate Bridge

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6. San Francisco

Haight and Ashbury, intersecting streets located in San Francisco, were a big part of the summer of love and attracted hippies from all over to the area.

The Grateful Dead lived there, Jefferson Airplane recorded there and ironically it was the Hells Angels headquarters. This is also there same area as the Patty Hearst safe house.

Although most of these homes having people living in them now, it’s a nice drive to get a taste of what was known as the summer of love.

Of course there are places to shop and you can even experience the infamous cable cars as a mode of transportation to get you up and down some of those steep windy roads that San Francisco is known for.

Some of the biggest attractions are the structures that have some history. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and The Fillmore are just a few.

The Fillmore is famous for its historical venues and popular to the psychedelic bands such as The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, Santana and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

The 49ers came to this area for the gold rush from 1848 to 1855. A replica of Sutters Mill is a landmark dedicated to the Big Gold Rush and an actual piece of gold from Sutters Mill is housed at the Smithsonian. Because of the gold rush, San Francisco grew from 200 to 3600 people between 1846 and 1852.

Sutters Mill

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Mission De Alcala

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The Whaley House

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5. San Diego

San Diego is basically the beginning of California. It was the first city visited in California by the Europeans and started what is now known as the West Coast. The Europeans landed on San Diego Bay in 1592 but the city wasn’t actually founded and settled until 1769. After the Mexican-American War in 1850, California became a US State.

Connected to the Mexican Border, Tijuana Mexico is a popular located to go shopping due to the inexpensive products it has to offer and is very close to San Diego.

Sea World, The San Diego Zoo and The Wild Animal Park are all great places to visit while in San Diego and are probably the most popular attractions in San Diego County.

When the Spanish came in and explored the San Diego area, being catholic, they built many historical missions and Mission De Alcala is one. Founded in 1769, the Mission De Alcala is a National Historic landmark.

Old Town San Diego is a historical district and some of the buildings in the area on average, are built from 1820-1870. The Mormon Battalion Monument and visitor center is close by as well.

One of the most famous houses in the area is the Whaley House which was used for many things. It was used as the second firehouse in San Diego as well as other services. The Whaley House is most famous for the rumors of the haunting that go on there. There are ghost tours available and this house has been named the most haunted house in America on some lists.

San Diego

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Vikngsholm Castle

Mt. Tallac and Lake Tahoe

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4. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is located both in California as well as Nevada and is surrounded by mountains. Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the United States and offers all kinds of recreational opportunities.

Water sports, hiking, biking and skiing are all popular sports that Lake Tahoe has to offer as well as gambling on the Nevada side of the lake.

Emerald Bay is a great attraction to visit. In this bay is Fannette Island which is the only island at Lake Tahoe. Also at Emerald Bay is Vikingsholm Castle which houses 38 rooms and is on the National Register of Historical Places. Vikingsholm was built in 1929 and on Fannette Island is a tea house built by the owners of Vikingsholm Castle.

Donnors Memorial Park is another area located at Lake Tahoe and this memorial is dedicated to a group of Midwest families who left Independence Missouri to reach California. In 1846 the Donnor Party set out to reach California.

The Donnor party started running into hardships around Lake Tahoe. There were 81 people and due to the rough Sierra Nevada’s, 36 people of the Donnor party died. The ones left had to resort in cannibalism to survive.

The Mount Tallac Trail will take you to the summit where you will see gorgeous overlooks of the area and breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe.

Emerald Bay

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Northern Spotted Owls

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Sequoia National Forest

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3. Redwood Forest National and State Parks

The Redwood Forest is in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties in California along with some parts of Oregon. The Redwood Forest consists of four separate parks and some of the trees located there are over 2000 years old and are among the tallest in the world.

The Majestic Redwood Forests cover 38,982 acres and the headquarters is located in Crescent City California.

These redwoods also are home to more than just trees. The other plant life and wild life is phenomenal. These forests are also home to several endangered species including the Northern Spotted Owl.

During and after the Gold Rush, these forests were used for building and continued for years to be logged and clear cut as well. 96% of the trees were logged while 45% remain today.

The Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park is home to Stout Grove and many giant redwoods are located there.

Fern covers the ground which is lush from the swamp which rises and collapses during the year. This is a great place for photo opportunities and the giant red woods are sure to take your breath away.

Sequoia National Park is another area full of majestic redwoods. The Giant Forest is in this national forest and home to the largest tree on earth; The General Sherman Tree.

Stout Grove

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Yosemite Valley Overlook from Wawona Tunnel

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2. Yosemite National Park

Located in the Sierra Nevada’s, Yosemite National Park is one of, if not the first, national park in the United States.

Known for its clear streams and waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is also full of granite cliffs and giant redwood groves.

The Wawona Tunnel is a popular attraction and is made from solid granite and was carved through a giant granite rock. On the other side of the tunnel is an overlook used in many photographs.

Rock climbing is a popular sport due to the solid granite and the strength of the rock. Half Dome is a rock climbers dream and located in Yosemite Valley.

Yosemite Falls is a must see. It is 2,425 feet tall and the 6th tallest in the world according to some lists. The 617 foot waterfall, Bridalveil Falls is another waterfall located in Yosemite National Park.

A great spot with different views is Tuolumne Meadows which is a peaceful areas and full of great views.

Yosemite Falls

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Disneys California Adventure

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1. Disneyland

Anyone who has been to Disneyland knows that it isn’t just for the kids but the adults can have a lot of fun as well.

Disneyland has several original rides still on site including; The Mad Tea Party and The Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through and have both been there since 1955. These two features are just as exciting to see still today.

The Pirates of the Caribbean is also located here and was the inspiration for the popular Johnny Depp Movie, Pirates of the Caribbean. Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain are all rides that have been very popular from the moment they opened and are also still fun rides today.

Disneyland offers many tours and even has theme based tours depending on the time of the year.

Disney also has another section called Disney California Adventure Park and offers rides for all ages. The giant Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel called, Mickeys Fun Wheel, is an easy landmark to follow throughout the park.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror should spook you and most adults will relate to this if they remember the TV Series as well as the movie.

Both Disneyland and The adventure park are full of entertainment, food and parades.

Sleeping Beauty Castle

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A road map to help you get around California

show route and directions
A markerNapa Valley -
Napa Valley, CA, USA
get directions

B markerBig Bear -
Big Bear, CA, USA
get directions

C markerLos Angeles -
Los Angeles, CA, USA
get directions

D markerStanford University -
Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
get directions

E markerSan Francisco -
San Francisco, CA, USA
get directions

F markerSan Diego -
San Diego, CA, USA
get directions

G markerLake Tahoe -
Lake Tahoe, United States
get directions

H markerRedwood Forest National and State Parks -
Redwood Highway, USA
get directions

I markerYosemite National Park -
Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Village, CA 95389, USA
get directions

J markerDisneyland -
Disneyland, Anaheim, CA 92802, USA
get directions

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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      I understand you were limited to ten items here, but the Sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park are magnificent. I am a California resident, and I think that was the most beautiful place I have been to. You should have left Los Angeles out. Los Angeles is a dump. It is just a massive road block you have to get over when driving north from San Diego. Nice work!

    • April Dawn Meyer profile image
      Author

      April Dawn Meyer 3 years ago from Belle Fourche, South Dakota

      Mel, Thank you so much for sharing your opinions. I just looked up Sequoia National Park and it looks amazing! :) I lived in Oceanside for four years and just love the San Diego area.

    • April Dawn Meyer profile image
      Author

      April Dawn Meyer 3 years ago from Belle Fourche, South Dakota

      It is a gorgeous bay. There is a little tea house on the island there. I think its kinda cute. :)

    • mehdii profile image

      otmanè 3 years ago from Isslàme

      Heey : wàwwww...

    • usman41 profile image

      usman41 3 years ago

      Thanks for your informative post...............

    • April Dawn Meyer profile image
      Author

      April Dawn Meyer 3 years ago from Belle Fourche, South Dakota

      Thank you for reading :)

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