California is a beautiful place to visit, especially in the summer. There’s no shortage of things to do, from hiking through the Redwood forests and exploring Yosemite to relaxing on the beach in Santa Cruz or driving up Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast. No matter your interests, endless activities will allow you to enjoy California’s natural beauty and unique culture. So where should you go?
Best Places to Visit in California This Summer
The best place to visit in California depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want some peace and quiet? The redwoods? Volcanoes? Surfing and sunbathing? Would you prefer the beach or the big city lights? California has all these things, so it’s no wonder that tourists flock here year-round to experience it. Here are the 11 best places to visit in California this summer:
Monterey is the perfect combination of wildlife and nature, with plenty of attractions. The town is located right on Monterey Bay, which means it’s surrounded by pristine beaches, gorgeous coastline, and wildlife-filled waters. First, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium for an unforgettable experience for adults and kids! Then, go souvenir shopping at Cannery Row or whale watching at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. You’ll also find some of the coziest bed and breakfast spots on the Central Coast, so spend a few days here.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks to visit in the summer. It’s located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, so you’re likely to have not-too-hot weather when you visit during the summer season. Yosemite National Park is home to many waterfalls, lakes, and species of animals such as deer, bears, and foxes. During the day, explore El Capitan and Half Dome in the year-round Yosemite Valley. Drive up Tioga Pass Road and Glacier Point Road; both open only during the summer due to heavy snowfall in the winter. At night, the weather gets cooler, and you’ll be able to see some of the best stargazing in California. Stay a few days in a cabin near Yosemite for a combination of authenticity and comfort.
Los Angeles is a city that never sleeps, and you’ll find many things to do here in the summer:
- Visit Universal Studios Hollywood and enjoy rides like The Simpsons and Harry Potter.
- Ride on a Disneyland roller coaster, such as Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
- Take your family to Legoland California Resort for more than 60 rides, 4-D movies, and Lego displays.
- Relax at one of LA’s finest beachfront restaurants with some of the best seafood in Southern California.
Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the California-Nevada border. It’s surrounded by mountains, making for some stunning views no matter which direction you look. The area offers many activities, including hiking, biking, and boating. So if you’re looking for a day trip from San Francisco or Sacramento, consider visiting Lake Tahoe. Highways bring visitors directly to its shores, where they can enjoy everything from swimming and kayaking to golfing and fishing.
Redwood National & State Parks
If you’re looking for a California destination filled with redwood trees, head to Redwood National & State Parks. Hike through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail to walk through fog among the redwood trees. Camp at Elk Prairie Campground and wake up to seeing Roosevelt Elk grazing in the grass. Bike through the curves on Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy. Make sure to check out Fern Canyon before leaving the park. You’ll enjoy the lush fern greenery that blankets the 50-foot canyon, a location used in Jurassic Park: The Lost World. The best part about visiting Redwood National Park is that you’ll enjoy chilly weather even in the summer!
Lassen Volcanic National Park
If you’re fascinated by volcanoes, Lassen Volcanic National Park is the place to be. You’ll see all four types of volcanos: stratovolcano, shield, plug dome, and cinder cone. A combination of these different types of volcanoes makes this park unique! First, check out geothermal areas around the park, including Sulphur Works and Bumpass Hell. Next, hike up the steep Cinder Cone—a large cone-shaped volcano that erupted from lava flows years ago. View the Fantastic Lava Beds and its beautiful landscape from the top before heading back home. Why visit this park in the summer? Due to the park’s high elevation, you will be met with mildly hot days in the summer. Plus, the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway closes from December to May due to snowfall, so plan the trip during the summer.
In the summer, San Francisco is a city that truly comes alive. The weather is perfect for spending long days exploring its many attractions and enjoying the great outdoors. The city’s climate is mild year-round, but summers here are enjoyable, with average high temperatures of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit/20 degrees Celsius. San Francisco’s temperate climate makes it one of the most pleasant cities in the US during both the summer and winter seasons. Because of that, San Francisco has become a top tourist destination in California. Visitors can enjoy museums like the de Young Museum or California Academy of Sciences, take part in festivals such as Pride Weekend, explore recreational activities such as hiking at Muir Woods National Monument or biking across Golden Gate Bridge, shop at Union Square, see shows at theaters like American Conservatory Theater or California Shakespeare Theater Company and so much more!
Head down to Pismo Beach in the summer for its surfing, sunbathing, and whale watching! The surf can be pretty powerful sometimes, so it’s not for the faint of heart or those who don’t know how to swim. It’s good practice, though, if you want to learn how to surf! Then, walk down the Pismo Pier for sunsets over the ocean and to go whale watching. If you’re looking for something relaxing instead of an adrenaline rush, Pismo Beach also has some nice spots where you can relax with your friends or family while enjoying fresh ocean air; check out Dinosaur Caves Park and Margo Dodd Park.
Channel Islands National Park
If you want an adventure without leaving land behind entirely but still want some island time, visiting Channel Islands National Park would be perfect! It’s one of the state’s most remote and rugged parks, so you’ll be surrounded by natural beauty and wildlife. There are five islands in this national park: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel Island, and Santa Barbara. All these islands are located below the city of Santa Barbara on the southern coast of California. You’ll need to take a boat from the park’s mainland visitor centers to reach these areas because there’s no road access available. However, the islands’ waters offer fantastic kayaking and snorkeling opportunities where visitors can see everything from sea lions to whales! In addition, you can spend your days hiking through sandy trails or scuba diving into the sea.
The rugged coast of Big Sur has a special place in the hearts of California travelers. The area is known for its scenic drive that runs along Highway 1, which you can take with your car, a rental car, or on one of California’s many tours. Big Sur has everything you could ever want from a vacation spot — beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs, and rolling hills. The landscape is unlike anywhere else in California; it looks like something out of a fairy tale book cover or movie scene set in Ireland or Scotland. There are also plenty of campsites along the coast where you can pitch a tent and spend days exploring. If you’re looking for something more active than just enjoying the scenery, you can hike at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Andrew Molera State Park, and Point Lobos Natural Reserve. You can wander through forests and climb high peaks; there are also waterfalls along the way.
Santa Cruz is known for its beautiful beaches and surf culture and has been named one of the best places to surf in America. It’s also an ideal destination for summer vacationers thanks to its mild weather and beachside resorts that provide everything from sunbathing opportunities to surfing schools. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the top attraction in Santa Cruz. You can enjoy rides, games, and food at the Boardwalk. There are also plenty of shops where you can find unique gifts for family and friends. If you’re into nature, you’ll love visiting some of the parks in Santa Cruz! Head over to Natural Bridges State Park or Wilder Ranch State Park. Take a hike up one of the trails to see some fantastic views – especially at sunset when everything looks even more beautiful than usual!
Conclusion: Best Places to Visit in California This Summer
If you’re in California and want to take a trip, any of the places mentioned above would be a great day trip. They offer something different, so even if you visit multiple times this summer, you’ll have a different experience each time. I hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing summer, and remember to stay safe out there!