Beautiful Places in California

Updated on March 15, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna loves to travel and share cool places to visit so others can have a wonderful, if not better, time than she did.

California is one of our largest states with some of the most jaw-dropping views. From the highest peaks to the windswept coastal line, no matter how many times you view the rich national parks and painted canyons, there is a location you still have yet to view and marvel over.

Alamere Falls

Adventuresome hikers will savor Marin County’s classic Alamere Falls on Point Reyes National Seashore. Only by foot can you arrive and view the spectacular site starting at the Palomarin Trailhead. The hike to the majestic falls is surrounded by beautiful ocean views along the relatively hard hike to the cascading water into the Pacific Ocean. One of two tidefalls, a waterfall that flows directly into the ocean, in the region, the view remains all year but is best at the end of winter and during the spring rains.

Golden Gate Bridge

Let us start with the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.The structure connects San Francisco to Marin County. The welcoming site highlights the grandeur of the beloved state. Historically, the orange colored bridge offered weary travelers hope for a new life and success if they played their cards right. We reflect as it stands majestically today, and one can't help but pause and feel its serene ambiance and beauty.

Sequoias and Redwoods

Talking about jaw-dropping sites to behold, some call them the redwoods while others say they are the Sequoias. Either way, these two type of trees are distinctly different as sky-scraping forests. They define a backdrop of mesmerizing heights. Faithfully unique in appearance, these ancient forests sustain some of the most intriguing and irreplaceable trees on Earth.

Both openly thriving only in California, these two giants reveal cinnamon-colored bark and the desire for reaching the highest heights with overwhelming breadth. Below in the shade of grandeur, one can witness gardens of fresh, vigorous ferns, rhododendron, lilies, gaultheria, and wild mushrooms.

show route and directions
A markerPoint Reyes -
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, USA
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B markerBowling Ball Beach -
Bowling Ball Beach, California 95468, USA
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C markerSanta Catalina Island -
Santa Catalina Island, California 90704, USA
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D markerPoint Reyes Beach -
Point Reyes Beach N, Inverness, CA 94937, USA
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E markerSequoia National Park -
Sequoia National Park, California 93271, USA
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Mount Whitney

The highest summit in the all adjoining States, Mount Whitney draws hikers from all over the world to climb to the top with an elevation of 14,505 feet. A lottery ticket is required to hike up this incredible trail to conquer the imposing mountain where very few plants grow near the summit and a pristine white butterfly, known as the Apollo, will flutter by as you take the final ascent.

Santa Catalina Island

Whether you call it Santa Catalina Island, Catalina Island, or simply Catalina, the rocky, tropical island in the Gulf of Santa Catalina is 22 miles of jaw-dropping paradise. The island boasts two harbors with crystal clear water shorelines. By boat is the only way to explore this popular island, but don’t let the sight of bison scare you or make you wonder how they got on the island. Well, being close to Hollywood and film production, a crew brought 15 over to shoot a movie and left them on the island. Many film stars lived or frequented the island like Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, and Errol Flynn.

Mount Shasta

Poet Joaquin Miller defines Mount Shasta, "Lonely as God, and white as a winter moon, Mount Shasta starts up sudden and solitary from the heart of the great black forests of Northern California."

Though the 14,179 feet majestic mountain looks lonely, it ranks with the Cascade Range in Northern California. Native Americans behold this grandeur as the center of creation. Spiritualists are attracted to the mountain because of its mystical power. The white-capped snow reflects vibrant colors caused by the sun. The mountain's beauty draws visitors from all over the world.

show route and directions
A markerMt. Whitney -
Mt. Whitney, California, USA
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B markerMt Shasta -
Mt Shasta, CA 96067, USA
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C markerJohnsondale, CA -
Johnsondale, CA 93208, USA
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D markerLake Berryessa -
Lake Berryessa, California 94558, USA
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Lake Berryessa

The largest lake in the wine capital of California, Lake Berryessa is a unique reservoir in the Vaca Mountains. Even though no one would dare to swim near The Glory Hole, this strange waterway stays open, 72 feet in diameter. It's essentially a huge drain, similar to the one you find in a sink or tub. Keep in mind, if you want to see this oddity, the lake needs to be filled to capacity to spill excess water into the creek on the other side of the dam where the drained water flows.

Bowling Ball Beach

The spherical sandstone creations are not truly bowling balls, but they do look like bowling balls. If you head to Mendocino along the Northern California coast, you might have a good chance of seeing the mind-boggling piece of coastline nestled at Schooner Gulch State Beach. The bowling balls are only visible during low tides, so check the tide tables before venturing out, climbing down, and clambering over large rocks to get to the unique bowling balls.

Seven Tea Cups

One of the most jaw-dropping and natural wonders in the heart of the California Sierras is the Seven Tea Cups. In order to get to this place or let alone experience it, you require rigging to climb it. Once you conquer the climb up, the reward on the way back down is awe-inspiring. Simply look at it and imagine what an experience each adventurer goes through cascading down the tea cup. Appetite over teacup.

Natural Bridges Near Vallecito

Natural Bridges near Vallecito beholds a majestic location featuring an enormous creek winding through massive caves. Visitors sport shoes as they venture through the caves with a sense of discovery. The cathedral chamber is breathtaking while the pristine creek water is rejuvenating. The water is not always deep with shallow points at the entrances but deep in the center area. There is not a whole lot of flat area to rest, but there are plenty of rocks to sit on if you are not swimming or drifting through a cave in an inner tube.

Marin Headlands

You need to visit one of the most beautiful views of the Bay area ever is all I can say about this extraordinary hilly peninsula. I went with my husband and daughter. All three of us could not believe the majestic, pristine 360 panorama view. A former military site the area is perfect for those who love to hike, ride bikes, and be mesmerized.

On our visit, we were a bit disappointed because we took a hike down to the black sand beach. The trail was washed out with no foreseen repairs happening soon. A handful of visitors did brave the trail reporting the last bit was rocky. They highly recommend good walking shoes.

Because the park service said the trail was closed we didn't chance it. But, on the hike back up the hill, we discovered a butterfly sanctuary. Along the guardrail were fluorescent colored pupae.

To get to this secret haven, head to Sausalito and then to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Google Hawk Hill, follow the directions and you will reach the highest point of the headlands.

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© 2016 Kenna McHugh


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