20 Most Breathtaking Places in California You Didn't Know Existed ...

Sabrina

 20 Most Breathtaking Places in California You Didn't Know Existed ...
 20 Most Breathtaking Places in California You Didn't Know Existed ...

When most people hear that I'm from the great state of California, they think of towering LA sky scrapers, crowded beaches, and cramped SanFran neighborhoods. But CA is a massive state with so much to do and see off the beaten path. If you're curious about what else this state has to offer, just take a look at the most scenic places in California!

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1

Coast Starlight

Coast Starlight If you want to take on the entire west coast, you ought to ride the Coast Starlight. It's one of the most breathtaking train routes in the U.S. which runs from Seattle to LA. You'll not only get to see the many spectacular landscapes of California, but also our lush upstairs neighbors, Washington and Oregon.

2

Half Dome

Half Dome If you want to get out and explore, then your first stop should be Yosemite National Park! We love nature as much as we love our cities over here, which is why our National Parks with their attractions like Half Dome will take your breath away!

3

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach The "lone cypress" is a famous feature on CA landscape. These lonely trees inhabits an otherwise naked ridge at Pebble Beach, CA.

4

The Mission Inn

The Mission Inn I admit I'm a bit biased toward this location, since it's right in my backyard! But regardless of my personal connection to the Mission Inn, its beauty speaks for itself! You can't drive fifty miles in California without seeing the mark made by Spanish explorers hundreds of years ago, and the architecture they left us with is incredible!

5

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway You can't come to California without driving along PCH! Even if you don't experience the entire 655 mile route, driving along a small patch of it will give you a taste of how effortlessly gorgeous the California coastline is!

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is. Hug the curves of the cliffs and gaze out at the never-ending blue of the Pacific Ocean. Feel the sea breeze on your face as you pass by iconic landmarks such as the Bixby Bridge and McWay Falls. Make sure to have your camera ready, because every turn presents a new, Instagram-worthy vista. Whether it's the colorful sunsets or the misty mornings, the PCH is much more than a road—it's an ever-changing experience that showcases the pure magic of California's natural splendor.

6

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Even though I'm a SoCal girl through and through, I admit that NorCal has its perks! One of which is Napa Valley, a spectacular bit of wine country and escape from the bustling Northern cities like San Francisco.  Getting to experience wine-tasting tours in Napa valley will add a touch of luxury and indulgence to your visit.

7

Malibu

Malibu Malibu is by far my favorite beach in California! Lush greenery and incredible houses cradle the crystal waters of the beach. Plus, watching the sunset from in Malibu is the true Southern Californian experience!

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experience. With its broad sandy expanses and iconic pier, it's not just a paradise for surfers but also a retreat for those seeking a tranquil spot to unwind. Whether you're sipping a smoothie at a beachfront cafe or exploring hidden coves, Malibu's charm is all-encompassing. The celebrity homes and luxe boutiques add a touch of glamour, but it’s the untouched natural beauty that truly captivates visitors, making them return time and again.

8

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway Pacific Coast Hwy is gorgeous, and I recommend that everyone check it out, but just because it's the most popular CA route doesn't mean it's the only one! Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is another freeway that goes from NorCal up to Oregon and takes you past unparalleled scenery!

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beauty both geologically and naturally. The route is approximately 500 miles long, weaving through stunning landscapes shaped by volcanic activity. Along the way, travelers can encounter Mount Shasta, a sleeping giant of a volcano, and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, with its deep blue waters occupying the caldera of a collapsed volcano. Don't miss the opportunity to explore Lava Beds National Monument, where lava tube caves and historic battlefields tell a story of geological and cultural evolution. Majestic waterfalls, serene mountain lakes, and fields of wildflowers await those who venture this less-traveled path.

9

Big Basin

Big Basin In addition to Yosemite, we have Redwood State Park. Here, you'll find Big Basin which is so picturesque that you'll never want to leave!

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leave. The ancient redwoods tower skywards, with some dating back over 2,000 years, creating a natural cathedral that silences the outside world and lets you truly connect with nature. Wander through the misty trails as the sunlight pierces through the canopy, casting a magical light that seems to dance just for your delight. And don't forget to look out for the enchanting waterfalls that add a melodic backdrop to this already serene escape. Big Basin is a hidden treasure, offering a profound sense of tranquility and wonder.

10

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, CA We have our oceans, yes, and they're all stunning. But we also have amazing lakes! One of the nicest is Lake Tahoe! If you find yourself there, make sure you check out Emerald Bay!

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Bay, a crown jewel nestled into the Sierra Nevada mountain range. With its vivid, aqua-green waters and endless panoramas, it is a hotspot for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike. Vikingsholm Castle, the historic 38-room mansion, adds an air of mystery and grandeur to the shores. For the active soul, kayaking or hiking the nearby trails guarantee an unforgettable adventure. Don't forget to breathe in the pine-scented air; it's as pure as the crystal-clear waters. Emerald Bay is not just a sight to be seen, but an experience to be felt with every sense.

11

Bixby Bridge

Bixby Bridge Bixby Bridge is a portion of PCH which you absolutely must see for yourself! Like most sites, the photo doesn't do the experience justice!

12

San Simeon

San Simeon Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was just there last weekend, but San Simeon is truly something else! It's one stop you should make on PCH. It's more secluded and serene than most beaches, and just a few minutes away from Hearst Castle.

13

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle Speaking of which, smack dab in the middle of California lies Hearst Castle. This preserved, unfinished—yeah, that isn't the whole thing— 20th century mansion deserves the title of castle for it's massive size, intriguing history, and unmatched scenery. From the castle, you'll have a great view of San Simeon as well as the rolling hills surrounding the castle.

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Hearst Castle isn't just a monument to luxury, but a testament to the ambition of media magnate William Randolph Hearst and architect Julia Morgan who collaborated on this epic project. The estate features 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways, each intricately designed to instil awe. The renowned Neptune Pool, with its Grecian columns and expansive vista, is a must-see. Hearst Castle is more than a home, it's a celebration of art, architecture, and the American spirit of enterprise – a true crown jewel nestled in the California landscape.

14

Moss Brae Falls

Moss Brae Falls Near the Oregon boarder, you'll find Moss Brae Falls. This is one of the most scenic waterfalls in the U.S. by far!

15

Yosemite National Park Waterfall

Yosemite National Park Waterfall We have no shortage of waterfalls here, along with our other natural wonders! Another visually striking waterfall is found at Yosemite National Park.

16

Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants While some east coast states may have us beat in the skyscraper department, we certainly take home the prize for most impressive Redwoods! 51,222 acres of these green giants make up a 31-mile portion of old Highway 101.

17

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo This gem of a city isn't given as much credit as it should be! It's a serene, central California town that's perfect for just getting away from the hustle and bustle of life for a few days.

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days. With rolling hills, a charming downtown area, and the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, there's plenty to explore. Discover the local cafes and boutiques, or take a relaxing stroll through bubblegum alley – a quirky, colorful passage adorned with chewing gum left by visitors over the years. The nearby vineyards offer a tranquil escape with wine tastings amidst the picturesque landscapes of the area, making it a must-visit for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

18

La Jolla

La Jolla Face it—California just does beaches better! La Jolla is one of those places that proves exactly that!

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La Jolla's shores are kissed by the Pacific, with waves that beckon surfers and sunbathers alike. This slice of coastal heaven dazzles with its rugged cliffs and hidden coves, perfect for snorkeling or discovering colorful marine life. The pampered seals lounging at Children's Pool are adorable locals you can't miss! Indulge in the luxury of upscale boutiques and fine dining, or simply stroll the picturesque waterfront for a sunset that looks painted across the sky. La Jolla isn't just a beach; it's a lifestyle—one that exudes elegance and laid-back charm in equal measure.

19

The Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden A quaint NorCal getaway is the Japanese Tea Garden. Located in Golden Gate Park, it's close to the city, but still transports you to a whole other world.

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world of serene beauty. Strolling through the winding paths, you'll be enveloped by the soothing sounds of trickling waterfalls and the soft rustling of maple leaves. The garden's traditional architecture, such as the arched drum bridge, pagodas, and koi ponds, offer a picturesque backdrop perfect for those seeking a tranquil escape. During cherry blossom season, the garden becomes a living canvas of pink hues – an enchanting sight that you won't want to miss. Make sure to indulge in some authentic Japanese tea at the tea house to complete your enchanting experience.

20

Mono County

Mono County Just north of Yosemite, you'll discover this phenomenal place! In Mono County, there is a 760,000 year old saline lake that is sure to astonish you!

To anyone who's ever thought that California isn't the place for you—think again! We have a little bit of everything, don't we? It's hard to choose, but which place would you like to visit most?

Feedback Junction

Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

The architecture and design remind me of Old Town SanDiego. I'm a transplant so bare with me.

Sunshine state where the bomb ass hemp be. Born and raised. Cali pride✨

I'm from the South but Cali is my favorite state! I have seen 8 out of the 20 places listed and want to see the rest. Cali is just so stunning!

I Just Love California😍

I love the Japanese Tea Garden and driving along the Pacific Coast Highway

Gotta love California!! My home 🙌

These are all so beautiful

Gosh beautiful thank you well researched

PCH is the route I take to school

I LOVE California! I went there for the first time on vacation to San Diego and I didn't want to leave. My goal is to move there one day!

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