It’s certainly a daunting task for visitors to try to hit every iconic landmark in the great state of California. So when planning a client’s getaway, here are some extraordinary landmarks that should get top billing.
Lake Tahoe is a High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border, and is a bucket-list essential for any trip to California. With crystalline water and views of white-capped majestic peaks, Lake Tahoe is truly a natural treasure. Lakefront towns dot the shoreline, each with its own distinct charm. Snow in winter and spring lets skiers and snowboarders carve it up at alpine resorts, while summer makes life on the lake pop with sailboats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and more.
Along California’s Central Coast is one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of coastline. The Big Sur Coast, a 90-mile stretch of redwood and fog-trimmed waterfront between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle, has drawn travelers, artists, writers, and celebrities to soak in the views of bluffs, sea, and sky.
California is also home to the granddaddy of all theme parks, Disneyland. Since 1955 visitors have come from all over the world to experience a day in this land of make-believe.
- This Anaheim institution serves up such supreme rides as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Manson, as well as movie-inspired attractions like Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
- The resort, which consists of the original Disneyland Park and the adjacent Disney California Adventure Park, has themed “lands” with rides, shows, and other attractions.
Edgy, artsy, and at times even odd, Venice Beach in Los Angeles is certainly a landmark that gives a burst of color to the California scene. Abutting Santa Monica’s south side, this region is a blend of new condos and funky beach bungalows. It is most famous for its quirky beachfront boardwalk, where street entertainers and vendors add to the local culture.
Marine lovers have certainly heard of SeaWorld San Diego, with its million-gallon aquariums, interactive shows, and swooping rides. See and learn about life under the sea, from walruses and sea lions to polar bears and penguins.
Hugging California’s northwestern edge is a gorgeous network of parks that protects nearly half of the world’s coast redwoods. These trees can grow more than 350 feet high. Redwood National Park works together with three state parks–Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast, and Prairie Creek Redwoods–to protect the region, which includes grassy plains, rivers, and wild beaches.
As far as icons go, the Hollywood sign is world-renowned. Originally erected in 1923 to promote a housing development called Hollywoodland, this enormous sign–which lost its last four letters in 1949–now acts as a beacon for anyone who has ever dreamed of walking a red carpet.
California has its fair share of mansions, but the most notable one is Hearst Castle. Designed as the private residence of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, this complex is a temple to opulence. The 165-room castle sits on 127 acres of terraced gardens, fountains, and pools, all with wraparound views of the Central Coast.