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ULTIMATE California Bucket List

ULTIMATE California Bucket List

This California bucket list includes the best things to do in California, where to visit, and what to see, so you can explore the state fully.

California is a global destination for travelers and is a must on your USA bucketlist. The diverse landscape, vibrant cities, and exceptional cultural heritage make it a perfect spot for all touring experiences.

Unlike some destinations, tourists flock to the state all year round, thanks to its mild climate and diverse attractions. 

However, from June to August, summer is the peak season along the coast. Spring and fall are also ideal for exploring its cities and natural wonders, especially if you don’t like crowds. Winter might be cooler, but it is perfect for some activities.

California Bucket List

surfing in Hawaii USA Bucket list

Surfing in Malibu

Surfing is beyond sports. It is an experience that fits this regions’ lifestyle. The beaches and surf breaks make it a world-renowned destination for surfers of all skill levels. Some of the best surfing spots include:

  • Surfrider Beach: This is the most famous surfing spot in Malibu for good reasons. Surfrider waves attract both novice and experienced surfers.
  • Zuma Beach: This is an iconic location with challenging conditions for surfers. This is a great sport for intermediate to advanced individuals, or those looking for a dynamic surfing experience. Zuma Beach also has beautiful scenery and wide sandy shores, perfect for relaxing.
  • Point Dome: This section is perfect for surfers seeking a private experience. It has picturesque cliffs and scenic views you can enjoy as you surf. The waves are less crowded than popular spots, proving a peaceful setting. It also has excellent hiking trails and tide pools.

You should know a few things before visiting Malibu for a surfing experience. For instance, knowing the local etiquette is prudent.

Most beaches, especially popular surfing spots, can get crowded. You should respect the local surfing etiquette, such as not dropping on other surfers, to enjoy your experience. Similarly, always check the wave conditions and tide times before heading out. You should also always be geared up.

Napa Valley on your next road trip from Texas to California

Wine Tour in Napa

Those who love wine know where they can find great wine. The valley is a top destination for wine enthusiasts. A trip to this region is an opportunity to explore endless wine options. You also get to learn the brewing process. There are hundreds of wineries to visit in this region.

This includes small and internationally-known yards. While at it, observe the following wine-tasting tips:

  • Book in advance: Most wineries require advanced reservations for those interested in tasting. You should plan to ensure you get accommodation in these top choices.
  • Pace yourself: With endless winery options, you should pace yourself accordingly. You don’t have to visit all the wineries in a day. Visit a few each day and enjoy each without rushing.
  • Explore beyond the tasting room: Most wineries offer additional experiences to tourists. Include vineyard tours and food pairings in your schedule.
  • Start with sparkling: Start your tasting experience with sparkling wines. Their effervescent delights cleanse and prepare your taste buds for the rich flavors that follow.
  • Know the tasting process: Before sipping your wine, swirl it gently to aerate and sniff it to bring out its aroma. Let the sip linger on your palate for some minutes to feel its flavors and acidity.
  • Ask questions: Feel free to ask questions about the wine you’ve tasted. Winery attendants are knowledgeable and happy to share their insights on winemaking and other topics.

Beyond the wine, you can explore other activities in Napa Valley. This region is known for perfect restaurants, luxurious spas, and wellness retreats.

Golfing in Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach is among the best country clubs in Palm Desert California and undoubtedly among the most iconic golf destinations globally. The beach is widely known for its breathtaking ocean views and challenging courses, offering enthusiastic golfers an unparalleled experience. It isn’t a surprise that playing on this course is on most golfers’ bucket lists.

Holes 7, 8, and 18 are signature holes in this course. For instance, hole 7 remains the most photographed hole in golf. Playing downhill in this course surrounded by the Pacific Ocean requires nerve and precision. Other notable courses include:

  • Spyglass Hill Golf Course: This course is well-known for its stunning views and challenging layout. It starts in the dunes and winds up into the Del Monte Forest, with every hole giving players something challenging.
  • The Links at Spanish Bay: Another truly challenging course that resembles Scotland’s coastal courses. Its rolling fairways and natural dunes make it a visual and strategic delight.
  • Del Monte: This oldest course offers a historic golfing experience. It has a traditional layout and narrow fairways that provide an enjoyable yet challenging experience.

Like wine tasting, you should plan and prepare ahead to enjoy a session in Pebble Beach. Tee times are highly sought after, meaning you should book in advance. Residents of the resort have a better chance of securing the tee time.

That aside, you should also be ready for the coastal weather elements. Weather conditions in this region are highly unpredictable. Dress in layers and have appropriate gear for assured comfort on the course. 

Pebble Beach also offers endless activities for non-golfers. You can explore Carmel by the Sea or the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can also go for a scenic California drive. The region also has exquisite hiking trails and beautiful beaches.

Best places to visit in LA

A Tour of Hollywood

Hollywood is synonymous with glamor, making it a must-visit destination for pop and film enthusiasts. Like the entire Los Angeles region, be ready for iconic landmarks and celebrity sightings here. Most people equate touring Hollywood to walking into a real-life movie set.

From the famous Walk of Fame to legendary studios, there is no shortage of attractions to explore. 

Apart from the Walk of Fame, you should also prioritize the TLC Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Sign. The Chinese Theatre is a historic landmark known for concrete handprints, signatures, and footprints of legends.

Similarly, your visit won’t be complete without touring the Hollywood Sign at the top of Hollywood Hills. Hike into the sign to enjoy stunning city views from various vantage points. 

A trip to Hollywood is a journey into the heart of the entertainment industry. Here, every corner has some history, and every landmark is a cinematic magic.

Whether you want to stroll along the Walk of Fame or hike to the sign, always prepare ahead.

You should also explore beyond Hollywood. While this is the center of attraction, Los Angeles has plenty of cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and dining experiences worth exploring. Lastly, stay safe.

Like most major cities, Hollywood is full of tourist traps in crowded areas. Always be vigilant, especially when exploring at night. Be wary of your surroundings.

visiting a National Park

Yosemite National Park 

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Yosemite National Park is known for its stunning waterfalls and giant sequoias. You can visit well-known landmarks like Ex Capitan, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls but we also recommend taking a scenic trail to appreciate the lush valleys and beautiful scenery. 

You can also see plenty of wildlife whilst you’re here and make sure to head up to Glacier Point for breathtaking views.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is the final stop on your road trip from Texas to California

San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most diverse, exciting cities in the world. From the historic Alcatraz and iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the quirky curvy road and the fascinating neighborhoods, there is plenty to see and do whilst in San Francisco.

Head to the world-class museums in San Francisco, visit the bustling Fisherman’s Wharf, and then enjoy a ride on the famous cable cars. 

Big Sur Day Trip

Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, offers one of the most scenic drives in the world. From San Francisco to Los Angeles, this coastal route features stunning beaches, charming seaside towns, and dramatic cliffs.

It can be a hair-raising journey but it is worth it for the incredible views you get along the way. Make sure to drive the coastline of Big Sur, visit the historic Hearst Caste, and then head the the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge.

Venice Beach

Famous for its eclectic boardwalk and golden sandy beach, Venice Beach is a must-visit for those exploring California and Los Angeles. Visitors can enjoy the lively street performers, artists, and vendors but also check out the nearby cafes and restaurants as well.

You can enjoy swimming, surfing, and sunbathing here but also check out Muscle Beach; a famous outdoor gym that attracts fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders.

Once you have finished with Venice Beach, you need to head to Venice canals for a leisurely, picturesque stroll. 

Joshua Tree National Park

Famous for its distinctive Joshua Trees, this national park is a unique park to explore. Enjoy one of the many hiking trails, experience rock climbing and spend the night at one of the unique hotels in the US located here, so that you can stargaze. 

Also check out the geological formations like the Hidden Valley, Skull Rock, and Cholla Cactus Garden. 

USA Bucketlist Disneyland

Disneyland Resort

The original Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is the original park, which first opened in 1955. You can enjoy classic attractions like the Sleeping Beauty Castle, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain.

When planning a trip to Disneyland, be aware that there are actually two parks; the original Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park. Here you can enjoy themed areas like Pixar Pier and the Avengers Campus along with fireworks, parades, and character meet-and-greets. 

Lake Tahoe USA Bucket list

Lake Tahoe

Sat across the California and Nevada border is Lake Tahoe; a year-round destination, perfect for those that love the outdoors.

In the Winter, you can go skiing and snowboarding whilst staying a the popular ski resorts here. In the summer, you can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing, as well as the hiking trails around the stunning lakes and surrounding mountains. 

San Diego Zoo

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is one of the world’s most renowned zoo. Visit the thousands of animals including the Giant Pandas and the impressive elephants. 

Arrive at the zoo early to avoid the crowds and try to head to the inside exhibits during the hottest part of the day. Download the app or pick up the map on arrival and wear sensible walking shoes.

Whilst planning a trip to San Diego, make sure to explore the Old Town, stroll through Balboa Park and eat some of the delicious food in the city.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park 

Known as a land of extremes, Death Valley offers scorching temperatures and unique geological formations. 

Key attractions here include the Badwater Basin, which is the lowest point in North America, and the incredible Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. 

Tips for visiting Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica historic landmark but also a fun, entertaining attraction in Los Angeles. Visitors can enjoy the Pacific Park amusement park located here, which features an impressive ferry wheel, plenty of dining options, and a fun aquarium.

After exploring the pier, take a walk along the Santa Monica beach and enjoy some sunbathing, swimming, and beach volleyball. This is also the end of the iconic Route 66 drive!

Sequoia National Park for your USA Bucketlist

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Adjacent to one another, these parks are home to some of the world’s largest trees. This includes the General Sherman Tree, which is the largest tree by volume. Visitors can explore the giant sequoia groves, hike the Congress Trail, or climb to the top of Moro Rock. 

Palm Springs

Known as a desert city, Palm Springs offers stylish hotels, a vibrant art scene, and hot springs.

Appreciate the modern architecture here, enjoy the outdoor activities such as golfing or hiking but then relax and unwind in one of the luxury spas.


California is a prime destination for global tourists looking for diverse adventures.

The scenic coastal drives, vibrant cities, and serene deserts make it a recipe for an unforgettable experience for every type of traveler. The success of your trip highly depends on planning. You should have a checklist for everything you bring along and a bucket list to explore.

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