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Your Ultimate California Bucket List: 7 Must-See Places and Activities

California, also referred to as the Golden state, has a wealth of landscapes to discover.  That’s considering its snow-capped mountains and the epic cuisine.

From the mainstream to the unknown, this article contains the best places to explore. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there’s always something new to discover in California.

So how many experiences have you checked off your outdoor activities in California? Are there some that are pending or will this be your first time in the region? 

The Ultimate California Bucket List

Do you plan to have an adventure in California any time soon? Is it a solo trip or do you plan to bring your family with you? Which places and activities do you have on your bucket list?

Well, maybe you don’t know yet, which is okay. If you’re looking for an article to help you finalize your plans, you’ve just found it.

Source: Pexels

  1. Half Dome

This is an iconic granite mountain at Yosemite National park. It’s one of the most recognized places in California with the Golden Gate Bridge. That’s because a hike to the top of Half Dome isn’t for the faint hearted.

Hikers have to scale a 16 mile feet elevation to complete it. The hike is usually through amazing vernal falls and wet steep steps. That’s why you must have gripping shoes and a jacket to keep you dry. You’ll then reach the amazing Nevada falls, having gone through the rocky terrain with steep ascent.

You’ll also have to go through the Merced River before getting to the little Yosemite Valley. 2.5 miles later, you’ll reach the last tree lines and then to the subdome, and the base of Half Dome. You’ll then climb 45-60 degrees steep, using cables.

The views from the top of Half Dome are some of the most beautiful views of the park. So think about this enthralling experience while planning for outdoor activities in California.

  1. Channel Islands Harbor

Channel Islands Harbor is a small craft harbor in Oxnard, California. It’s the fifth largest harbor for small-craft recreation in California. Some of the recreational activities that you can participate in include:

  • Diving
  • Sport fishing
  • Boat charters
  • Whale watching

While at the Channel Islands California, you can hop on a jet ski and catch a glimpse of a whale. You may be living in California or visiting for a weekend adventure. Whatever the case, the scenic Channel Islands is worth your time.

This adventurous place is only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles.  Thus, whether you’re into surfing less-crowded beaches or strolling in for a museum exhibition, you can come with the whole family. Outdoor activities in California aren’t the only adventure you’ll have. You can wrap up your day with some mouth-watering local cuisine of the region.

If you love live music, there’s no better place to catch a free concert than the Channel Islands. You can enjoy various selections at the concerts by the sea summer concert series. The series is held between July 9th and September 3rd, each Saturday from 4pm to 6pm.

You may want to bring picnics, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy this fun family event. From rock and reggae to blues and country music, there’s something for everyone.

  1. Glacier Point

This is the most famous and unobstructed viewpoint in California. That’s because tourists here are practically right across from Half Dome.

The valley here provides an excellent foreground for photographers due to its vastness. It’s the best spot for stargazing because you can see the outline of Half Dome below the stars. It’s basically the best place to view Half Dome.

A trip to this adventurous place will have you watching the sky behind Half Dome flame pink and orange. All this while the valley sinks into a deep blue shadow. You can explore this region by taking the Four Mile Trail to the top. Alternatively, you can take the bus to the top of Glacier point.

  1. The Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes

You must have seen the Cypress tree tunnel in pictures on photographer’s Instagram pages. But have you ever thought of touring the area?

This tree tunnel is located about halfway between the lighthouse and visitors center. You can’t miss it because you’ll notice the trees about a mile before getting there. The trail is great for walking or birding and it is open all year round. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you for some spectacular pictures

  1. Death Valley

Death Valley for most of the time looks, well, dead. But once in a while when the weather is right, the valley and surrounding mountains erupt. This happens in a spectacular show of yellow, pink, and purple wildflowers.

Be sure to make it a point to experience this rare super bloom once in a while. Apart from this, Death Valley boasts of colorful rock formations.

You’ll also find dramatic landscapes for hiking and picnicking. A ghost town from the gold rush, and the most breathtaking sunrises at Zabriski. You must ensure you have water, sunscreen, and a hat. That’s because Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth. 

  1. Sonoma and Napa Vineyards

California offers some of the best wines you’ll ever find. So it would be a shame not to explore the vineyards of Sonoma and Nepa if you’re a wine lover.

The two wine regions are right next to each other, but they couldn’t be more different. Thus, if you decide to choose one or the other, keep this in mind –  Nepa is quite upscale, exclusive, and expensive while Sonoma on the other hand is more chilled out. It’s also friendly and affordable.

Whatever option you choose to go for, this wine region must be on your bucket list of things to do in California.

  1. Hollywood Sign

This is one of the most iconic symbols of California. The Hollywood Sign is your go- to destination due to its accessibility.

Hiking the famous Hollywood Sign is a rite of passage for many hikers. The hike is easy and anyone can do it. But at the same time, it’s difficult enough to get your heart rate pumping and blood flowing like when hiking in the heat of the summer.

When at the Hollywood Sign, tourists can see a unique view of Los Angeles, which is unlike any other views. You will enjoy the view of the Hollywood Sign with LA behind it. Combine this with the Bronson caves, the Batcaves, and you’ll have a wonderful experience.


If you intend to visit California, you must be wondering where exactly to visit. It could also be that you’re a local and are thinking about the adventurous things to do in California.

California is big and there are lots of things to do and places to visit. Even with a month long vacation, one would still have so much ground to cover. So we hope that this bucket list will help you figure out what to do when you tour California.



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