5 gorgeous views to discover in California

California offers everything from sun-drenched beaches to stunning coastlines, with many beautiful locations to discover. For travellers eager to explore America’s Golden State, here are some views and landscapes that are worth planning to see on those California holidays.

Bixby Bridge at Big Sur, California Photo: www.titantravel.uk

Bixby Bridge at Big Sur, California

1. The Hollywood Hills

The steep hills overlooking Tinseltown can be reached via narrow roads, winding up past opulent mansions and secluded beauty spots. In addition to the famous ‘Hollywood’ sign, you’ll be treated to the dramatic cityscape of LA – stretching as far and wide as the eye can see. Reaching the hills is really only possible by car, but there are plenty of bus tours that head up from Hollywood Boulevard – pointing out famous locations and the homes of movie stars along the way!

Death Valley Photo: Bust it Away Photography on Flickr published at Heatheronhertravels.com under Creative Commons Licence

Death Valley

2. Death Valley

Death Valley often resembles a different planet: open and vast, views across the breath-taking environment stretch for hundreds of miles, covering terrain ranging from sun-baked plains to the peaks of snow-capped mountains. Nestled beneath Yosemite national park, it’s best to incorporate Death Valley into a wider tour of California. Be sure to bring weather protection as the sun shines constantly and temperatures can be scorching hot.

View from Hearst Castle Photo: CAHairyBear on Flickr published at Heatheronhertravels.com under Creative Commons

View from Hearst Castle

3. Hearst Castle

North of LA, San Simeon National Park’s most striking landmark is the opulent mansion of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was the inspiration for Citizen Kane, and his castle is an extravagant feat of architecture comprising over 200 separate rooms. Visitors can tour the cathedral-like castle or the well-maintained grounds, with dramatic views stretching out over San Simeon Bay, home to a diverse variety of flora and fauna.

Golden Gate Bridge Photo: www.titantravel.uk

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

4. San Francisco

The famous port city of San Francisco makes for an ideal week or weekend break. You’ll find plenty of urban attractions like Chinatown, Union Square or the famously-twisting Lombard Street, along with historic sites, like the island prison of Alcatraz and the Embarcadero. Most exciting of all is the Golden Gate bridge: whether shining in the sun or shrouded in mist, the structure is never less than awe-inspiring. Visitors can walk, drive or cycle across it and take pictures from hundreds of vantage points.

Little Yosemite Valley Photo: Rennett Stowe on Flickr published at Heatheronhertravels.com under Creative Commons

Little Yosemite Valley

5. Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is one of the most diverse, dramatic and beautiful environments on the planet. Whether you’re camping, staying in a lodge or simply driving through, it’s hard not to be affected by the sheer scale of California’s most famous outdoor environment, which teems with wildlife and natural beauty. You’ll find valleys covered in lush pine forest, crystal lakes and towering mountains and you could spend weeks exploring the park’s trails. A memorable experience for any visitor to California – Yosemite harks back centuries to America’s legendary pioneer past.

More destinations in North America and Canada

9 cool things we did in Austin, Texas
Skyscrapers and snow-capped mountains – a winter break in Vancouver
The local’s guide to Cleveland, Ohio

Photo Credits: Hearst Castle by CAHairyBear, Little Yosemite Valley by Rennett Stowe, Death Valley by Bust It Away Photography, Golden Gate Bridge by Titan Travel, Bixby Bridge at Big Sur by Titan Travel

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  • Reply
    March 4, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    My son has just moved to Silicon Valley for 2 years and his wife and children will be joining him as soon as the house and school are set up.

    I agree with your urban attractions like Chinatown, Union Square, Lombard Street, Alcatraz etc – it is a very beautiful city. But they won’t be able to afford the centre of San Francisco itself. So I wonder if the area around San Mateo, Oakland etc is equally as exciting.
    Hels´s last blog post ..Rethinking historical “truths” eg Richard III

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 5, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      @Hels I don’t have any great inside knowledge of San Fancisco myself but I’m sure your son and family will have a great 2 years

  • Reply
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans
    March 7, 2013 at 5:07 am

    I recently posted about Hearst Castle, and I agree that the views from the castle are stunning! I have such a beautiful home state if I do say so myself! 😉

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 7, 2013 at 8:34 am

      @Dana I’d love to visit Hearst Castle – all that opulence in the middle of nowhere

  • Reply
    Dan Johnston
    March 11, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I was lucky enough to experience a few of these views this summer, including the view from one of those fancy mansions in the Hollywood hills. On the drive back from Vegas we decided not to make the detour to death valley…did I miss out?

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      March 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      @Dan There’s never enought time to see it all, so long as we enjoy the moments and places that we do get to

  • Reply
    Julio Moreno
    March 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Hello, I am new to to your blog. No Redwoods National Park? I thought for sure that would be at the top. I am from California, so have been to most of these, but shamefully, not Yosemite (I know).

  • Reply
    August 30, 2017 at 5:43 am

    California has so much beauty! I love that Death Valley made your list. It is one of my favorite parks and doesn’t get much attention
    sherianne´s last blog post ..Muir Woods: California’s Emerald Forest

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