If you’re looking to plan a weekend trip sure to please, you should consider none other than California’s “golden state” as the destination. The state offers something for seemingly any type of traveler, from solo, group, and family outings. You will find adventure, fun, culture, nature, and more.
California has a variety of options. You can fly into the state and take a road trip through its many attractions, like creating memories on the road to the beach, wandering vineyards, or making a day out of exploring a theme park. Going through them all can be overwhelming, so consider using the list below to keep your itinerary nice and simple.
- Take the Coast Starlight
The Coast Starlight is a passenger train that travels from Los Angeles to Seattle. It’s a scenic 35-hour ride that only costs $99. You will come across Santa Barbara, San Francisco Bay, Sacramento, and Portland along the way.
In terms of sights, you should be able to view the Cascade mountain range peaks covered in snow, Mount Shasta, vibrant forests, and peaceful valleys. In the background, you’ll also have the ever-present pacific ocean to keep you company.
For booking, you have the choice of affordable coach seats with enough legroom for the long trip or opt for a cabin room for yourself or your family. You can also choose to bring in a packed meal or dine in one of the cars at any point during the trip.
- Venice Beach
California has over 1,000 miles of beach. Venice Beach is just one of its most famous ones. It has an eclectic, bohemian boardwalk with funky shops, colorful murals, a skate park, and outside gyms.
If you like to get active, you will find paddle tennis courts, a skate dancing plaza, beach volleyball courts, handball courts, a bike trail, fishing, and surfing. You can also take a bike tour of celebrity homes by the beach. If you feel like doing something more relaxing – there are plenty of reputable restaurants, theatre productions, and even spas.
- Big Sur
Big Sur is a rare and long stretch of undeveloped coastline. It’s a natural wonder that offers hiking, lighthouse tours, whale watching, marine sanctuary, camping, and glamping facilities. It’s definitely one to check out for the nature lovers.
- Death Valley
Death Valley is famously considered one of the hottest and driest spots in America; it’s also one of the world’s hottest. Geologically it is described as a vast graben – a sunken fragment of the Earth’s crust. You will find erosion sculptured rocks, luminous sand dunes, lush oases, colorful hills, and canyons. You will also find a 200-square mile salt pan there.
On rare occasions when it rains, you could discover wildflower blooms of over 1,000 plant varieties. Recommendations include hiking, mountain and rock art viewing, and camping.
If you like elegant estates, wineries, or trails with in-town tasting rooms, then you’re in the right state. You will find the world-famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions just an hour away from San Francisco.
The vineyards produce everything, from sweet and dry wines to reds and whites. They also offer wine tasting, restaurants, lodging, parks, and retreats.
California has several theme parks that adults and kids can enjoy, including the iconic Disneyland.
Disneyland is so expansive that you can’t experience it all on a single weekend. But if you want something different, you can visit other theme parks like Universal Studios Hollywood, Magic Mountain, Discovery Kingdom, and Boomerang Bay.
- San Diego Zoo
Nestled in Balboa Park is the San Diego Zoo. It is a conservatory that houses over 12,000 animals and 650 species.
The winding paths can take you to a botanical garden and let you view rare and wonderful creatures from around the world. You can find koalas, pandas, leopards, penguins, baboons, weaver birds, and other unique animals. You can explore the zoo on a tour bus or air gondola.
Alcatraz was initially a military fort and became a prison later. Its stint as a prison is how it garnered infamy; it held mob bosses and murderers within its walls. Notably, Hollywood has used it as inspiration for many films.
Alcatraz Island offers lighthouses on its coast. It’s one of a few available in the state. A visit to the island starts with a ferry ride to its shores. After that, you can tour the cells with an audio headset. You can also hike through the island’s trail, including views of its gardens, the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County to the north, and nearby Angel Island.
- Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a mountainous region that offers excellent hiking tracks. If you are planning to hike with your family you can get kid hiking stuff here. The lake lies between California and Nevada and offers visitors a beach and ski resort to enjoy. Activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, and golfing are all popular choices.
- Redwood Regional Park
Redwood Regional Park is the natural wonder home to the world’s tallest redwood trees. It recently got a new name, which honors Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, a civic leader, to Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park.
You can use its camping facilities to go hiking, and its ample picnic areas can host 50 to 150 people. The rich plantation and animal life will give you plenty to view. You can visit Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and the Marin Headlands if you want more park options.
Use the Oakland best neighborhood guide to check out some of Oakland’s best neighborhoods and what they have to offer. The guide provides a nice detour to check out the urban side of the area after spending some time in nature.
- Universal Studios
One of California’s most famous exports is movies. You can take a glimpse behind the scenes at Universal Studios. You will get to see studio sets, props, and the people behind some of your favorite shows. Time your visit right, and you could catch a show in production. The facility also has rides and shows with themes around the entertainment industry.
California is a state with a lot to offer you and your family. Keep in mind that most attractions need you to book in advance to access them, like touring the vineyards. Whatever you choose to do, you will have a memorable time in a state that has history, natural beauty, and allure.