Renowned for its glitz and glamour, scenic landscapes and top attractions, California is just bursting with things to see and do. One of the most popular gateways for international travellers visiting the United States, California’s suite of landmarks offers something for all.
Whether you want to surround yourself in nature at one of the many National Parks or release your inner child at the happiest place on earth, California has got it all. So, go ahead and make plans to tick these landmarks in California off your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed.
- 20 Incredible Landmarks in California
- Natural Landmarks in California
- Famous Landmarks in California
- Landmarks in San Francisco
- Landmarks in Los Angeles
20 Incredible Landmarks in California
Natural Landmarks in California
1- Yosemite Falls
Located in Northern California, the Yosemite National Park is a spectacular destination and one of the most famous landmarks in California and the United States.
Yosemite is famous for many things including hiking trails, mountains, valleys and rivers, however, it is perhaps most famous for the astonishing 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 to August, however, the peak season occurs in May.
You can experience mother nature at it’s best on a hiking journey to Yosemite Falls.
There are hiking trails to choose from, and you can even hike to the very top of the falls t sweeping views over the Yosemite Valley.f s
Also read: 30 Things To Do In Lake Tahoe
2- Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park
Home to some of California’s most inhospitable, yet eerily beautiful landscapes, the Death Valley National Park is America’s largest national park outside of Alaska.
Spanning 3.3 million acres, Death Valley National Park boasts enormous sand dunes, salt flats, colourful rock formations and deep canyons.
It is also the hottest and driest place in America, with temperatures reaching up to 50°C.
Visitors can choose to drive or hike through the park to see the incredible sights.
One absolute must-visit is the Zabriskie Point Lookout. Here, you can find extreme landscapes formed over 5 million years ago.
At sunrise, the rock formations change colours as the light hits them, which makes for an incredible display of nature.
3- Joshua Tree National Park
Boasting lunar-like landscapes, epic rock formations and giant boulders, the Joshua Tree National Park is a desert jewel.
Covering over 800,000 acres, the Joshua Tree National Park is located in southern California and overlooks the beautiful Coachella Valley.
Here you will find the iconic zig-zaggy Joshua Trees, the fantastic Lost Palms Oasis, the Cholla Cactus Garden and the ruins of the historic Keys Ranch.
Whether you want to take a day trip or spend a night under the stars, the Joshua Tree National Park is sure to impress.
Famous Landmarks in California
4- San Diego Zoo
Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is a wonderful day out for the whole family.
Established in 1916, this spectacular zoo has been entertaining visitors for over 100 years.
Renowned for its famous Giant Panda’s the San Diego Zoo draws visitors from all over the world, to see the endangered species.
Together with the other 4000 animals, including gorillas, tigers, elephants and polar bears, there is so much to see and do.
Spend your day at the zoo getting up close and personal with cuddly creatures, taking part in interactive shows and nature exhibits, and learning about the fantastic rehabilitation work that happens onsite.
5- Randy’s Donuts
The USA is known for its fast food and sweet treats, and one of the best places in California to feed your sweet tooth is at Randy’s Donuts.
Renowned as one of the most famous doughnut shops in the world, Randy’s Donuts is located in Inglewood, California.
This iconic landmark sells some of the tastiest doughnuts and sweet treats, and there’s always a line out the door (but it’s so worth it).
The recipes are top secret and are guaranteed to have you coming back for more.
Randy’s Donuts is one of the top doughnut shops in America for over 60 years.
It has also been featured in some of Hollywood’s biggest tv shows and movies including “Iron Man” and “I Love LA”.
6- Walt Disney Concert Hall
A genuinely remarkable structure located in the heart of Los Angeles, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is a great place to visit on your California adventure.
Renowned for its stunning architecture and captivating shows, the Walt Disney Concert hall plays host to many of the world’s top musical performers.
Whether you want to talk a self-guided audio tour, marvel at the sleek design, or catch a world-class cultural performance, the Walt Disney Concert Hall offers something for all to enjoy.
7- USS Midway Museum
Located in San Diego, the USS Midway Museum is a fantastic landmark that’s the perfect place for history lovers.
What was one of America’s longest-serving military aircraft carriers is now a floating museum, docked permanently in San Diego’s Navy Pier
This astounding landmark grants you VIP access to a historic ship and retired floating city that was once home to 4500 sailors!
You can spend your time touring the ship and the aircraft, learning about the military history and life onboard the USS Midway, as well as taking part in one of the many live talks and exhibits.
Located in Anaheim, Disneyland remains supreme as California’s top theme park.
Known to many families as the happiest place on earth, Disneyland’s iconic rides, attractions, entertainment and shows offer something for the whole family.
From the thrill of the Haunted Mansion, the rush of Splash Mountain, to the Mad Hatters Tea Party, Disneyland is sure to have you smiling from the very moment you arrive.
Be sure to download the Disneyland app and book your fast passes in advance so you can skip the line and make the most of your time at Disney.
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Landmarks in San Francisco
9- Golden Gate Bridge
The crown jewel of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a 1400 ft suspension bridge that is a must-visit landmark.
Built in 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge is an icon of California and spans almost two miles across the water to connect San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.
It’s a landmark to cross while on a California road trip.
Whether you want to drive across the bridge, ride a bike or even walk, visiting the Golden Gate Bridge offers the perfect place to take in the views of San Francisco, and visiting here just feels special.
Best of all, it’s completely free!
No visit to California is complete without visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and one of the way to see it is on a Go Car tour of San Francisco.
Take a step back in time to San Francisco’s dark history on a day trip to Alcatraz Island. Opened in 1934, Alcatraz prison was the home of America’s most dangerous criminals.
Alcatraz is located on its very own island 1.25 miles off the coast of San Francisco and was built in a high current area to deter the inmates from escaping.
Today, Alcatraz is one of San Francisco’s major tourist attractions that draw travellers from across the world and one of the places to tick off your San Francisco itinerary.
You can learn the tales of the inmates, tour the abandoned (and creepy) prison, get locked up in a real prison cell and learn about San Fran’s fascinating history.
11- Fisherman’s Wharf
Renowned as one of San Francisco’s most famous attractions, the Fisherman’s Wharf is a charming landmark of California.
Gracing the northern waterfront of the city, Fisherman’s Wharf is home to shopping, dining, entertainment venues and some of the best views in the city.
Spend your day sampling the mouth-watering clam chowder (with a sourdough bread bowl of course), marvelling at the hilarious sea lions and taking in the postcard views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.
Visiting the fun-filled arcades and watching the street performers strut their stuff is one of the fun things to do in San Francisco.
12- Lombard St
The “Crookedest Street in the World” Lombard Street is a famous landmark in California.
Located in San Francisco (on you guessed it, Lombard Street) this iconic destination is famous for its eight sharp hairpin turns that wind down one of the steepest streets in the bay.
Every year, Lombard Street attracts millions of visitors who come to see the perfectly manicured street and gardens, the panoramic views of San Francisco and some of the most expensive real estate in America.
Getting to Lombard Street is easy thanks to the spectacular cable cars, and is also within walking distance to North Beach, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf.
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Landmarks in Los Angeles
13- Griffith Observatory
Prepare to experience the most incredible views of Los Angeles on your visit to the Griffith Observatory.
This landmark in California offers a host of attractions including telescopes, a planetarium, informative exhibits and talks.
Spend your time learning about outer space, stargazing and looking out over the City of Angels.
Entry to the Griffith Observatory is free of charge and you can enjoy some delicious treats at the onsite cafe but arrive early to beat the crowds.
14- Universal Studios
An amazing California landmark for the whole family, Universal Studios is jammed packed with entertainment and thrilling attractions.
From rides based on your favourite movie sets, to behind the scenes tours of real-life Hollywood movie productions, Universal Studios is one of the most unique amusement parks on earth.
Some of the top attractions include The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, The Walking Dead attraction, the Supercharged ride and the Jurassic Park Ride.
You can also enjoy indulging in some tasty American cuisine, shopping up a storm at the many retail outlets and other various shows held throughout the year.
15- The Getty Museum
A striking landmark located in the Santa Monica Mountains, The Getty Museum is a great place to visit in California and a stunning architectural landmark in California.
Established in 1997, the Getty is renowned for its historical collection of pre-20th century European paintings, sculptures, manuscripts and drawings as well as contemporary and modern art.
On top of the fascinating artwork, the Getty’s captivating architecture, lush gardens and sweeping views over Los Angeles makes it the ultimate day out for all.
Best of all, admission is completely free!
16- Santa Monica Pier
Ahh Santa Monica Pier, it’s that gorgeous place just brimming with excitement.
Opened in 1909, the Santa Monica Pier was once the final destination on the famous Route 66 and a landmark in Los Angeles.
Today it is a lively boardwalk that plays host to some great entertainment and activities.
Picturesque and iconic, the Santa Monica Pier features a range of attractions for the whole family.
From roller coasters and rides to institutional eateries such as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, there’s so much to love about this California Icon.
17- Rodeo Drive
Situated in the affluent neighbourhood of Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive is renowned as one of the most fashionable shopping destinations on earth and a Californian landmark shopping street.
Boasting over 100 stores with big designer labels including Prada, Gucci and Valentino, you can shop in style alongside Los Angeles rich and famous.
Or, if window shopping is more of your thing, you can enjoy touring the beautiful streets and seeing some of the iconic sites from your favourite Hollywood films.
18- Runyon Canyon
Located in the Hollywood Hills, Runyon Canyon Park is a gorgeous place for a hike.
Runyon Canyon is home to three main hiking trails that offer sweeping views over Los Angeles – The Fire Road, East Ridge Trail, and Western Highway Trail.
The perfect hiking spot for all, there is an excellent range of hikes offering terrain for all skill levels.
The Runyon Canyon hike is popular with tourists and locals alike and is popular with Hollywood’s top celebrities.
The Kardashian family are known to visit Runyon Canyon, so if you’re into keeping up with Kylie and Kim, this is the place to do it.
19- The Chinese Theatre
Home to Hollywood’s top movie premiers and red carpet events, the Chinese Theatre is a landmark of California.
Located on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it’s the place where the world’s finest actors come to watch themselves premiere on the big screen.
On the entrance to the theatre, you will find the Forecourt of the Stars, which showcases the hand and footprints of Hollywood’s top actors, including Michael Jackon, Cher, and Jackie Chan.
Visitors can tour this area for free, or opt to take a VIP tour of the theatre itself.
You can even watch a Hollywood blockbuster at the Imax Theatre.
20- Hollywood Walk of Fame
No visit to California is complete without a trip to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Showcasing over 2,600 stars, here you will find the names of Hollywood’s most recognised celebrities.
From Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift to Mickey Mouse and Kermit the Frog, you can find your favourite a-listers right here.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is continually expanding. However, you can find many of the stars along Hollywood Boulevard between Gower Street and la Brea Avenue, as well as Vine Street, and Marshfield Way.
Throughout your journey, you will also encounter some of your favourite characters, including Spiderman and the Hulk, who often roam the streets posing for photos (and tips).
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