The most famous landmarks in California boast stunning cliff-lined beaches, rocky national parks, and famous sites that you have to add to your bucket list.
California, coined asCali,West Coast or Tinseltownby the locals,is renowned for its glitz and glamour but has another side to it that is bursting with things to see and explore.
Whether you want to surround yourself in nature at one of the many National Parks or impress your inner child at thehappiest place on earth, Disneyland –Californiahas got it all.
California can be found on the west coast of the United States, with Sacramento as its capital. If you assumed it wasLos Angeles,you are not alone. With a population of around 40 million people and 840 miles of coastline stretching from Mexico and along the Pacific Ocean, there are a lot of California top sights you have to see.
1) The Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles
Is it too much of a cliché to start with this famous landmark in the state? Well, cliché or not, this nine letter word in white is unmissable. It’s visible from many points across LA and is probably one of the most famous sites in California and the world.
Who would’ve thought a sign initially created as an advertisement for a local real estate agency in 1923, would years later be just as recognizable as the Coca-Cola logo?
2) Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
One of California’s landmarks and attractions that you cannot ignore is the Golden Gate Bridge. This famous California red suspension bridge is located in San Francisco and is a real tourist magnet. Over 14 million people head over, eager to admire and photograph its magnificence.
Today, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered as one of the Modern Wonders of the World.
3) Disneyland, Anaheim
You’re never too old to be young at heart. The animations of Walt Disney have played a pivotal part in most of our childhoods. It’s no wonder that Disneyland remains supreme as California’s top theme park.
Known to many as the happiest place on earth, Disneyland’s iconic rides, attractions, entertainment, and shows have deemed this theme park to be one of the most famous places in California.
4) Universal Studios, Los Angeles
Thrillseekers, risk-takers, and families big and small will find themselves at the Universal Studios at some point of their stay in California. This major attraction in California is an amazing landmark for the whole family.
Packed with rides based on your favorite movie sets, to behind-the-scenes tours of real-life Hollywood movie productions. Universal Studios is an amusement park unlike any other.
Some of the top attractions you might be lining up to see include: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Walking Dead attraction, and the Jurassic Park Ride.
5) The Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
The Santa Monica Pier is one of the historical sights in California. Opening its doors to the public in 1909, the Santa Monica Pier was once the final destination on the famous Route 66.
Today, however, it may not be the final destination but it sure is a magical one. The Santa Monica Pier is a picturesque, lively boardwalk that hosts a range of attractions, great entertainment, and activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Not to mention, the red and yellow Ferris wheel has attained a lot of fame and is synonymous with the Santa Monica Pier Boardwalk. This Ferris wheel is completely solar-powered making this construction even more special.
6) The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles
According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, there are at least 20 new stars added to the Walk each year. So, needless to say, it’s not just a historical landmark in California but a prestigious merit.
This 1.3-mile sidewalk celebrates hundreds and thousands of stars who left or continue to leave an outstanding mark in the entertainment industry. So far, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has 2600 five-pointed stars and hundreds of hand and footprints. Even some fictional characters like Mickey Mouse and the Simpsons have their stars placed there too.
7) TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles
The TCL Chinese Theatre is an iconic Los Angeles landmark in California that you cannot afford to miss. Located alongside one of the most famous stretches of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this L.A. spot draws tourists from around the globe. Why? Because the theatre has been home to the most prominent movie premieres since 1927.
With its easily recognizable facade, it hosts over 50 events a year, including movie premieres and festivals. The biggest celebrities have graced the theatre with their presence on the red carpet for almost a century.
And although the outside is impressive, the inside of the cinema palace is even more breathtaking, with elegant velvet seats and an opulent ceiling display. It’s an ideal stop for those eager to sneak-a-peek at how the other ‘half’ lives.
8) Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown Los Angeles
If you thought the magic was done after visiting Disneyland, you can rest assured- it’s only just started. Frank Gehry, is the visionary responsible for the unique design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. This is a modern work of art as well as an iconic monument.
The Concert Hall was commissioned fifty million dollars by Lilian Disney in 1987, as a tribute to Walt’s devotion to the arts and the city of LA. It is currently the home of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
9) The Broad, Downtown Los Angeles
The Broad museum, located next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is named after the philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The pair paid the $140 million it took to complete this iconic place in California.
Works from John Ahearn, John Baldessari, and Cy Twombly are on display here, along with hundreds of other names while also playing host to several rotating exhibitions.
10) The Getty, Los Angeles
The Getty is arguably one of the most impressive structures and institutions in California. It’s both a museum and a cultural center.
The Getty’s rotating exhibitions range from classic artwork collections to more avant-garde photography from up-and-coming creatives. With permanent work on display by Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van Gogh, among a range of other household names.
11) Yosemite National Park
The Yosemite National Park is a northern California landmark and is famous for many things including beautiful Yosemite cabin rentals, hiking trails, mountains, valleys, and rivers. However, it is perhaps most famous for the spectacular Yosemite Falls.
Towering over 2,425 ft, Yosemite Falls are one of the highest and most powerful waterfalls in California. The falls roar from November through to August, with its peak season occurring in May. There are hiking trails you can explore to take you to the very top of the falls, providing spectators with sweeping views over the Yosemite Valley.
12) Joshua Tree National Park
Whether you want to take a day trip or spend a night under the stars, Joshua Tree National Park is a popular landmark in California to explore. With lunar-like landscapes, epic rock formations, and giant boulders, Joshua Tree National Park is a diamond in the rough.
This southern California national park covers over 800,000 acres and overlooks the beautiful Coachella Valley. The park is also famous for some of its beautiful natural attractions. So, be on the lookout for the iconic zig-zag Joshua Trees, the fantastic Lost Palms Oasis, the Cholla Cactus Garden, and the ruins of the historic Keys Ranch.
13) Lombard Street, San Francisco
Excuse our French, but this is the “Crookedest Street in the World” – well, according to the locals of San Francisco at least. Lombard Street is a popular landmark in California, and the iconic destination is famous for its eight sharp hairpin turns that wind down one of the steepest streets in the Bay.
Lombard Street is one of the best California attractions bringing in millions of visitors to the site every year. Alongside those razor-sharp street edges, you’ll spot perfectly manicured street gardens, the panoramic views of San Francisco, and some of the most expensive real estate in America.
14) Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay
You’ve read books about it, seen documentaries about it and now, here is your chance to see it with your own eyes. Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock,” is a small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay with a maximum-security prison that closed in 1963.
Originally developed as a military base with a lighthouse, in 1934 it became home to some of America’s most notorious criminals like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud (the “Birdman of Alcatraz”).
During almost 30 years as a prison, there were 36 prisoners that tried to escape, but none were successful. Today, Alcatraz is one of California’s historical monuments and a popular tourist attraction.
15) Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Observatory is not only a famous site in Los Angeles but also a national landmark in California. It’s a world-famous observatory with amazing interactive exhibits. You could easily spend 3 hours at Griffith Observatory seeing the views of the Los Angeles skyline, and exploring the hiking trails surrounding it.
16) The Huntington Library & Gardens, San Marino
Don’t be alarmed to find yourself in an art museum when you enter the Huntington Library – you’ve come to the right place. The Huntington Library is an art museum and a botanical garden in San Marino, that features over 120 acres of landscaped grounds. Including a “Japanese Garden,” the “Desert Garden,” and the “Chinese Garden”.
The institution was established in 1919 by Henry Huntington and his wife, Arabella, and specializes in 18th and 19th-century European art.
17) Redwood National and State Parks
Dotted all across northern California are the most impressive Redwood Trees. Protected by the US National Park Service, the Redwood State Parks have some of the tallest trees in the world. There are also dozens of hiking trails to explore and camping grounds within the park to enjoy at leisure.
18) Death Valley National Park
You have got to add Death Valley National Park to your California landmarks list. This national park is a desert that stretches from Mojave desert, crossing into Nevada near the Las Vegas area. Out of the many natural landmarks in California, Death Valley National Park is also one of the hottest places on earth during the Californian summer.
The highest temperature to be recorded on the earth’s surface is where the museum and visitor center for Death Valley National Park is located. So, if you can stand the heat, this is a unique must-see attraction.
20) Runyon Canyon
Runyon Canyon Park rests at the eastern end of the Santa Monica mountains. This massive park is the habitat of diverse vegetation and California wildlife. The park is filled with thriving flora and fauna, making it a gorgeous place to take a hike. But the views and wildlife are not the only reason, Runyon Canyon is a fan favorite…it’s filled with Hollywood A-listers.
Because the park is just outside some of Hollywood’s A-list residences, it means that celebrities frequent the canyon. This might be the cherry on top for some of you, who don’t swoon at the thought of hiking. The possibility of running into a celebrity is likely and is a contributing factor to why dozens of visitors flock to the canyon every year.
21) Randy’s Donuts, Inglewood
There are millions of places to chow down in California but none hold a candle to this California treasure. Randy’s Donuts is an iconic landmark that sells some of the tastiest, most delicious doughnuts and treats. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you’ll be lining up for seconds and thirds like the rest of us.
Randy’s Donuts has been featured in some of Hollywood’s biggest tv shows and movies and is one of the top doughnut shops in America for over 60 years.
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The Golden Gate Bridge is probably one of the most amazing landmarks in California. The imposing, world-famous red suspension bridge is located in San Francisco and is a real tourist magnet. Every year, around 14 million people from all over the world come to admire and photograph this spectacular sight.How many landmarks are in California? ›
The table below lists all 146 sites, along with added detail and description. The sites are distributed across 36 of California's 58 counties.What is California famous for? ›
One of the most popular destinations in all of North America, California is famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland, and Hollywood. Other things unique to California are Coachella, the Wine Country, Silicon Valley, and Surf Culture, in addition to less obvious sights and cultural aspects.What is the number 1 attraction in California? ›
1: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the top attractions in California. This gorgeous wilderness rests along the Sierra Nevada mountains. Its granite cliffs and waterfalls are the kind of beauty that only exists along America's West Coast: immense, majestic, and breathtaking.
The Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco is one of the most visited tourist attractions in California and the US. Spanning over the San Francisco Bay for more than a mile, this famous landmark is one of the world's most photographed bridges.What is the oldest landmark in California? ›
According to the website, the oldest building in California is Mission San Juan Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano! Here's what they said about the structure: "Initially founded in 1776 by Father Lasuén, a Basque Franciscan missionary, Mission San Juan Capistrano has a storied history.What is the oldest tourist attraction in California? ›
CALIFORNIA: Death Valley National Park
The oldest rocks in Death Valley are 1.7 billion years old — the average ones "only" date back 500 million years.
- Klamath Mountains.
- Cascade Range.
- Modoc Plateau.
- Basin and Range.
- Coast Ranges.
- Central Valley.
- Sierra Nevada.
New York is the state with the most (270), and New York City, with 114 designations, is the city with the largest number of designations.What are the seven wonders of California? ›
- Yosemite National Park. ...
- Sequoia National Forest. ...
- Channel Islands National Park & National Marine Sanctuary. ...
- Joshua Tree National Park. ...
- Natural Bridges State Beach. ...
- Devils Postpile Formation.
California, the most populous state in the nation, is home to Hollywood's stars, Silicon Valley's technology, Napa Valley's wines and ancient Redwood and Sequoia forests. The Golden State also is one of the country's wealthiest and most socially and politically influential.
Vibrant cities, beaches, amusement parks, and natural wonders like nowhere else on Earth make California an intriguing land of possibilities for travel. The gateway cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are home to some of the state's most well-known sites, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Hollywood and Disneyland.What should you not miss when visiting California? ›
- The Getty Center. 14,636. Speciality Museums. ...
- Alcatraz Island. 55,840. Historic Sites • Islands. ...
- USS Midway Museum. 25,310. ...
- Pacific Coast Highway. 1,670. ...
- Disney California Adventure Park. 15,660. ...
- Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. 9,390. ...
- Monterey Bay Aquarium. 14,347. ...
- Santa Barbara County Courthouse. 2,988.
Santa Barbara is tucked away on the Pacific Coast, ninety minutes north of Los Angeles. Known as the Queen of Missions, it just might be the most beautiful city in California. The picturesque city was flatted after a major earthquake in 1925.
The following attractions are open in some form right now: Picnic by a volcano in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Explore underground lava caves in Lava Beds National Monument (see more about this area on our family's Volcano Road Trip from a few years ago.) Get out on a kayak or boat rental on Shasta Lake.What is the most visited city in California? ›
No surprise here: Los Angeles is the ultimate star-studded destination for global travelers. There is almost too much to do in the vast Southern California city.Why should I visit California? ›
California is known as a premier travel destination, where travelers can Dream Big and enjoy limitless adventures, from the mountains to the beaches, the Redwoods to the deserts and from world-class cities to unique small towns, California inspires year-round travel, one visitor at a time.How many national landmarks are in California? ›
Below is a list of the 29 National Historic Landmarks you can find in our California State Parks.What was the first place discovered in California? ›
On September 28, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo and his crew entered San Diego Bay--the first Europeans to visit California. The land they named "Alta California" was occupied by diverse groups of native people who had inhabited the land for thousands of years.What was the first city made in California? ›
In March 1850 San Jose became the first chartered city in California, by which time it had become a bustling trade depot for the goldfields east of Sacramento.
Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is where the Disney dream began in 1955 and it's still the 'Happiest Place on Earth', never failing to impress with fun attractions for every member of the family.What is the happiest place in California? ›
Concord recorded a happiness score of 79.14 out of 100. Data from the study found that 74.41% of people in Concord were smiling in their photos — the highest percentage in the nation.What is the coolest place to live in California? ›
- San Francisco. Population. 815,201.
- Los Angeles. Population. 3,849,297. ...
- San Jose. Population. 983,489. ...
- Vallejo. Population. 124,886. ...
- Oxnard. Population. 201,879. ...
- Modesto. Population. 218,771. ...
- Fresno. Population. 544,510. Median home price. ...
- Bakersfield. Population. 407,615. Median home price. ...
There is no dearth of places to visit in California as a tourist seeking to explore the region. In fact, it is regarded as the world's most popular vacation destination today, much thanks to its countless tourist attractions, be it cultural, historical or natural, and the great number of things that one can do here.What are things only found in California? ›
Did You Know? Things In California You Won't Find Elsewhere
- Golden Gate Bridge.
- Griffith Observatory. ...
- Hollywood. ...
- Humboldt County's bewildering redwood forests. ...
- Napa Valley, Sonoma County. ...
Mountains, hills, plateaus, and plains are the four major types of landforms. Minor landforms include buttes, canyons, valleys, and basins. Tectonic plate movement under Earth can create landforms by pushing up mountains and hills.What are the 3 main desert in California? ›
The deserts in California are home to many natural features. The three distinctive deserts in California – the Mojave Desert, the Colorado Desert and the Great Basin Desert – have unique features that set them apart from other deserts in the world.What is the most famous valley in California? ›
The Central Valley, also known as the Great Valley of California, covers about 20,000 square miles and is one of the more notable structural depressions in the world.What is an iconic landmark? ›
These top landmarks inspire awe.
Landmarks give us a sense of place. These monuments and natural wonders connect us to a destination and inspire travel. In Paris, it's the Eiffel Tower and in New York City it's the Statue of Liberty.
- Statue of Liberty, New York.
- Empire State Building, New York.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
- Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota.
- Hoover Dam, Nevada.
- Grand Canyon, Arizona.
- Washington Monument, DC.
- Golden Gate Bridge, California.
- The Grand Canyon. Americans have been enchanted ever since they first laid eyes on the water-carved mesas of the Colorado River. ...
- The Eiffel Tower. ...
- Mount Rushmore. ...
- The Pyramids. ...
- Yellowstone National Park. ...
- Statue of Liberty. ...
- The Great Wall of China. ...
- Niagara Falls.
The Seven Wonders of the World are the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, the Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer, Petra, and the Great Wall of China. Our world is filled with the most unique structures that are both man-made and natural.What 7 wonders exist in 2022? ›
- Taj Mahal, Agra, India- An Ode to Love. Previous. ...
- Great Wall of China, Beijing, China. 4.5 /5. ...
- Machu Pichu, Peru. ...
- The Colosseum , Rome. ...
- Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil. ...
- Petra, Jordan - Petra: A rock cut past. ...
- Chichen Itza , Cancun, Mexico.
These 7 natural wonders of the world include the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon, Paricutin, Mount Everest, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Victoria Falls, and the Great Barrier Reef. Many of these naturally-formed displays require an aerial view to capture the vastness of each phenomenon.What's the number 1 city in California? ›
- San Francisco. Of course, the star-studded city of San Francisco comes out on top of my list of recommendations! ...
- Los Angeles. ...
- San Diego. ...
- Sacramento. ...
- Napa. ...
- Palm Springs. ...
- Santa Cruz. ...
Home to nine national parks (more parks than any other state in the country), California is undoubtedly the most beautiful state in America for natural wonders. From sandy beaches drenched in sunlight to majestic granite mountains, arid desert landscapes and the tallest trees in the world, California has it all.Does it snow in California? ›
Surprisingly, it does snow in California in some regions. While Californian weather has a reputation of being always sunny and never too cold, different regions such as the Sierra Nevada Mountain Ranges and Big Bear Lake experience a 'snow season' in winter.Is California the best state in the world? ›
The study found that California ranked near the bottom of nearly every metric and overall was found to be the 48th best state to live in.What are 5 interesting facts about California? ›
- More turkeys are raised in California than in any other state in the United States.
- Castroville is known as the Artichoke Capital of the World. ...
- San Francisco Bay is considered the world's largest landlocked harbor.
- Sequoia National Park contains the largest living tree.
It's free, simple and secure. Craving a new locale featuring plenty of sunshine, easy access to the ocean and delicious food? Moving to California might be for you. California is among the biggest states in the nation, both in terms of land size and population, so there is a huge range of great places to live.What is the best time to visit California? ›
The best time to visit California is summertime from June to August. This is the peak tourism season for the state for good reason. Every part of the state is accessible, making hikes and outdoor adventures in the northern regions possible with mild, comfortable temperatures.Is Disneyland a landmark of California? ›
Here are the most famous landmarks in California. There are many things to do and see in California. Some of the most popular attractions are the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood Sign, and of course, Disneyland.What is the most historical place in California? ›
1. Fort Point National Historic Site. Popularly known as the pride of the Pacific, Fort Point National Historic Site dates back to the American Civil War and will give you a slice of local history. This fort was built to fend off enemy warships looking to attack the San Francisco Bay.What is Disney called in California? ›
Disneyland Park, also known as “Disneyland”, opened July 17, 1955, in Anaheim, California. Disneyland was designed and built under the supervision of Walt Disney.Which Disneyland is the best? ›
1. Disney World, Florida. One of the largest and most famous Disney parks globally, the Walt Disney World in Florida, USA is the top attraction on this list.Why is Disneyland famous in California? ›
Known as the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland opened on July 17th, 1955. More than just an amusement park, this “theme park,” with its five themed “lands,” was the first of its kind, and continues to fulfill Walt Disney's dream of creating a place where parents and children can have fun together.Why is the Valley so famous? ›
The valley is well known for its iconic film studios such as Warner Bros. Studio and Walt Disney Studios. In addition, it is home to the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.Why is the Valley of California is famous? ›
The Central Valley is a region known for its agricultural productivity: it provides more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States. More than 7,000,000 acres (28,000 km2) of the valley are irrigated via reservoirs and canals.Who is the famous valley? ›
It is known to be one of the most beautiful valleys. Pine trees, lush forests, orchards, and snow-capped mountains abound in this region. The Country of Gods, as it is known, appears to be an otherworldly landfilled in beautiful meadows and washed by the Beas river.
Santa Barbara is tucked away on the Pacific Coast, ninety minutes north of Los Angeles. Known as the Queen of Missions, it just might be the most beautiful city in California. The picturesque city was flatted after a major earthquake in 1925.