5 Must-Visit Attractions in California — Plus Tips on Where to Eat

Places to visit in california

California is one of those states where you need at least a couple of weeks to hit all the attractions. From amazing natural parks to manmade adventure parks, California is perfect for quick getaways and long-term vacations!

Still, if you don’t have the time to see everything, here are the top five attractions  you can’t miss. And yes, they are all family-friendly.

#1: The Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park Kayaking

Mother Nature welcomes visitors with beautiful wild landscapes, 1200 square miles of forests, meadows, valleys, and roaring waterfalls. You can hike, camp, or simply drive through this amazing park, but we recommend staying for at least a couple of days.

However, it’s best to check with the Yosemite National Park authorities to see if there are any restrictions or if you need to make reservations to enter. During the summer months, the park gets quite crowded, so the administrators limit who can enter during specific hours to keep the traffic running smoothly.

Where to Eat

Yosemite Valley offers lots of options when it comes to your dining experience. Most of them are managed by Yosemite Hospitality, but you’ll find there is diversity, and you can choose between buying groceries, getting pizza, or enjoying a fine dining experience at The Ahwahnee dining room.

#2: The Disneyland Park & Resort

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, about 30 miles south of LA. So, if you’re visiting LA, you might as well drop by and enjoy a few fun rides (especially if you’re traveling with kids).

The two parks await visitors with tons of fun activities, shows, and other amazing attractions, but it’s best to plan ahead and take tickets online. Otherwise, you might spend the whole day waiting at the box office.

Also, you can spend the night here since Disneyland has a resort with hotels and relaxation areas.

Where to Eat

There are plenty of Disneyland restaurants you should try, both on the resort and around the parks, but you better come prepared with reservations! Yes, even the restaurants are super busy!

#3: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

If you want a different outdoor experience, pack your best large camping tent and camping gear, and prepare for a few nights in the desert.

The Joshua Tree National Park is situated at the meeting of two desert ecosystems (the Mojave and Colorado deserts) and hosts a wide range of plants and animals, among which you’ll also find the famous Joshua tree.

Plus, the landscape is out of this world since it is at the mercy of strong winds and torrential rains. Not to mention that this is a beautiful location for stargazing!

Where to Eat

While you won’t find many eateries in the desert, there are plenty of fine dining establishments around the park. But if you’re looking for an authentic experience, there are a few old western saloons and poolside hangouts where you can meet the locals and maybe make a few friends.

#4: SeaWorld San Diego

You cannot pass through San Diego and miss a visit to SeaWorld! Whether you’re traveling with kids, friends, or solo, this attraction is perfect for a bit of relaxation and some marine life education.

You get to admire a wide range of marine species such as sharks, beluga whales, orcas, seals, walruses, otters, and penguins (among others). Not to mention you’ll find a few terrestrial animals as well.

Where to Eat

SeaWorld offers the unique experience of dining with orcas, but there are other options available as well.

#5: Big Sur Coastline

A car trip through California must include the Big Sur coastline! This is the area that stretches along the Central Coast of California (about 90 miles) between Carmel and the Santa Lucia mountains.

The landscape is stunning, and you will encounter attractions such as the Bixby Bridge (one of the world’s tallest single-span bridges), the Point Sur Lighthouse (which is 40 feet tall and placed 270 feet above sea level), and the McWay Falls (an 80 feet tall waterfall that falls directly into the ocean)!

Where to Eat

The coastline is peppered with restaurants and eateries where you can enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the full beauty of the area.

Wrap Up

bixby bridge california

Of course, California has other amazing locations, such as beaches and national parks, but if you manage to hit any of the five we mentioned, you will feel blessed.

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